Ace 4

William G Henderson started the Ace Motorcycle Company in 1919, a few short months before he was to make available to the public the first Ace Motorcycle, in 1920. A few years prior, he had designed and manufactured the Henderson four cylinder motorcycle, under the ownership and employment of then Excelsior Motorcycle Company, hence the Excelsior Henderson. Dissatisfied with Excelsior's business philosophy, he got together with Max Sladkin, a wealthy financier, and plans were underway to design and manufacture a new four cylinder motorcycle, starting with a clean slate. The result was to be the Ace Motorcycle, which do not share common parts with Mr Henderson's previous four cylinder machine.

In the three years that follow, small improvements were incorporated into the motorcycle. These improvements do very little to alter the overall profile of motorcycle. Some of these improvements or changes were performance-based, and yet others were economy-based. Regardless, these running changes were incorporated as parts were used up at the factory floor. Therefore, it was sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact model year.

Tragically, William G Henderson was killed while test riding one of the new Aces, in late 1922. At that time, the Ace Motorcycle Company was about to launch the new Sporting Solo model, featuring several performance refinements which were supposedly ahead of its time. His passing was a slow turning point to the ultimate demise of the company. The company was sold in 1925 and its real property, assets, and design rights were divided up. Efforts to continue manufacturing the Ace Motorcycle fell into the hands of later owners, until it was finally sold to the Indian Motorcycle Company in 1929. Since then, the Four was modified and updated by Indian until 1941, when the last Indian Four rolled off the assembly line in Springfield, MA.

The Ace Four, given the opportunity to thrive, and if Mr. Henderson was not lost in the automobile accident, could have been widely available today. Unfortunately, the few that survived reside in private collections and in museums, as static displays. One can only imagine what it would be like, if a pack of American Ace Four cylinder motorcycles are out on the open roads today, joining in the camaraderie of V-Twins, riding into the wind. To most of us, it remains only an imagination, perhaps until now.

This website is dedicated to the revival of the Ace Four, the original American Superbike.

Ace 4