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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Motorcycle Cop: 1922

Motorcycle Cop: 1922

August 1922. Washington, D.C. "Eslie Williams." The officer and his Henderson #1. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Four Cross

wheel spokes. Gives the most "comfortable" ride possible on bicycle wheels.

Re-Tire Time

Looks like a pretty wicked gash at 6:00 on the front tire.

On the "suicide clutch"

my 1936 HD ULH had a foot clutch/hand shift , and it wasn't too bad once you got used to it. The Henderson clutch is double linked, the foot pedal, as noted, and a second hand lever that also worked the clutch, so that if you needed both feet down, you still had control of the clutch. Ace motorcycles had a similar setup.
Hendersons were quick, the 1922 Police model could do an honest 100 mph, although I doubt the brakes were up to the job.


Are you sure that's not a Harley? There's a lot of oil leaking around that crankcase.

Low set handle bars

Re: Painful ergonomics - I thought the handle bars were set low, so the officer could drive with his knees; leaving both hands free for his rolling shootouts with Al Capone and Bonny & Clyde. Then I saw this and it changed my thinking entirely.

Hey why don't you stop by the detectives office

put in a report about your stolen clothes iron.


Is that Griffith Stadium in the background?

Re: Sound

There is a YouTube video of a running 1928 Henderson,
it sounds great!

Too large to embed so here's a link.

Old Bikes

Yes, that is "The" brake pedal on the left. There is no front brake. I would guess the rocker-clutch is on the right side of the bike.

Suicide Clutch

I'm going to guess the left peddle is a suicide clutch (next to the gear shift mechanism levers. So-called because if you are stopped with the machine in gear and take your foot off the peddle (perhaps to maintain balance) you'll shoot forward unless the engine stalls.

[Psst. It's a PEDAL. - Dave]

Harley Who?

The Henderson, built from 1911 to 1931, was considered to be the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles and was the favorite ride of police departments throughout the country. (Rolls-Royces, sorry to say, were not considered to be the Hendersons of luxury cars.)


A motorcycle with a more distinct sound than a HD.

Painful ergonomics

Handle bars set to hit thighs on close turns, seat angled down at the rear, up at the front, oh my. Like the palm-slap horn/siren though.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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