Bajaj has reportedly purchased the IP rights to the long defunct US-based premium motorcycle brand
Bajaj Auto has filed a second trademark for Excelsior-Henderson with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on December 15, 2020 under the clothing category which includes riding apparel and gears. It is to be noted that earlier in 2018, the Indian two wheeler major filed a trademark for the aforementioned brand under the motorcycle design class which covers vehicles, spare parts and service.
Excelsior-Henderson – A brief history
Excelsior-Henderson is an ancient two wheeler brand which ceased to exist in its original form in 1931 during the Great Depression. Its origins can be traced back to an entity which was founded in 1876 under the banner Excelsior Supply Company as a cycle and parts manufacturer.
As it entered the new century, the Chicago based company progressed to making motorcycles, and in 1912, an Excelsior became the first motorcycle in the world to be officially timed at 100 mph (160 kmph). In the same year, Excelsior was bought by another Chicago-based cycle maker Schwinn who also bought Henderson Motorcycles in 1917 and merged the two subsidiaries.
As the Great Depression was projected to continue for several years, Schwinn shuttered Excelsior-Henderson’s motorcycle division abruptly in 1931 despite a full order book and shifted focus on the core business of bicycles. After several decades, in 1993, Hanlon Manufacturing Company revived the Excelsior-Henderson marque with its base in Minnesota.
The first production model of the new era was named Super X, a homage to the company’s early 20th-century history. Production commenced in 1999 with retro classic styling. In 1999 and 2000, the company produced a total of around 1,950 units before failing to secure additional funds to keep the operations going.
Though Excelsior-Henderson ceased to exist as motorcycle OEM, the company still exists and owns intellectual properties. Photo from the trademark office confirms that Bajaj Auto has purchased the IP rights to the brand.
Given that other Indian two wheeler OEMs are attempting to revive vintage motorcycle brands as a gateway into international markets, Bajaj Auto could also be working on a similar strategy with Excelsior-Henderson. For example, TVS Motor Co recently purchased British marque Norton, and Mahindra-backed Classic Ledgends has revived Jawa and is reported to be working on bringing Yezdi back to the fore as well.
It is too early to speculate about what the trademark filings would eventually lead to, but it would be exciting to see Bajaj set up Excelsio-Henderson as a boutique motorcycle brand with exquisite designs and limited production runs.