30 Years in Storage: 1960 NSU Supermax

041716 Barn Finds - 1960 NSU 250 - 4

Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union (NSU) had its roots in the knitting machine manufacturing industry, starting in 1873. By 1892 they had moved to bicycle manufacturing and in 1901 they made their first motorized bicycle. This 1960 NSU 250 Supermax has been stored in a garage since the mid-1980s and, as you can see, it’ll need some work to get it back on the road again.

041716 Barn Finds - 1960 NSU 250 - 1

This bike has aftermarket leg shields, crash bar, and windshield, but other than that it looks pretty original. In 1953 NSU produced the 250 Max which had a pressed steel monocoque frame which was innovative for the time. By 1955, NSU was the biggest producer of motorcycles in the world.

041716 Barn Finds - 1960 NSU 250 - 3

I’m not sure what’s going on there, an electronic ignition or some sort of non-stock device that I would take off in the first seven minutes that I owned this bike. The seller says that the bike isn’t “running but does kick over”. This is a one-cylinder 247cc with 18 hp; quite a thumper for its day.

041716 Barn Finds - 1960 NSU 250 - 2

I think this is a great looking bike, especially with all of the shields and smooth-styling and those fun little saddle bags. And, that it’s a single-seater is great, usually they have a big, full-sized seat which really takes away from the sleek design, in my opinion. You could restore it or just get it running and drive it as it looks here.

This great project is on eBay with an asking price of $3,000 or make an offer. It’s in Parlin, New Jersey so if you’re on the east coast it’s a no-brainer, and even if you’re not it’s a great project for the summer. Would you restore this bike or just get it running and ride it as is?

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Comments

  1. skloon

    brings a new meaning to supermax

  2. Matt Tritt

    These are fantastic bikes and I sure wish it were closer. I notice that the pillion seat and one side cover are MIA, but were replaced by the truly dorky windscreen, knee bars and leg protectors. This model NSU was very popular with West German Police departments when I was stationed there in the 60’s. It hink that the price is pretty fair considering the scarcity of them here in the states.

  3. Doug Towsley

    I learned all about NSU when a guy down the road gifted me one he found on a property he purchased here in Oregon. It was up in the woods leaning against a tree and we could not find any history on the prev owners, but researched them and found a large subculture of people who are REALLY into these and the NSU Microcars. I sold mine to a guy who came up from Oregon to buy a Micro car and this bike. The motor tech is amazing and precision built,. They look like 2 strokes but are not. The motors will rev to very high RPMs and very smooth.

    I DO NOT believe the claim NSU was largest bike manufacturer in the 50s. That would be BSA.

  4. Matt Tritt

    I lived right accross the RR tacks from the NSU factory in Neckasulm in the mid-60’s. They truly might have been the largest if you count all the zillions of smaller MC’s and mopeds (and bicycles) they produced. LOTS!

    • Doug Towsley

      The issues has been debated over the years. Generally speaking, most sources credit BSA Group and have been hearing that for decades. However, BSA like others had a lot of scooters, mopeds and other small bore entry bikes and commutter bikes. The issue becomes muddied when you start looking at how many machines were built with spec built motors (often 2 stroke) like Villiers engines.

      (I am a proud owner of a 1948 Famous James 98cc with Villiers engine)

      But when you are talking STRICTLY regular motorcycles, 200cc and larger, then I still tend to believe BSA was the largest.

      It appears WIKI agrees with the NSU claim See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_motorcycle

      The BSA Group purchased Triumph Motorcycles in 1951 to become the largest producer of motorcycles in the world claiming “one in four”.[citation needed] The German NSU was the largest manufacturer from 1955[citation needed] until 1959 when Honda became the largest manufacturer.[35][36]

      A 1962 Triumph Bonneville represents the popularity of British motorcycles at that time
      British manufacturers Triumph, BSA, and Norton retained a dominant position in some markets until the rise of the Japanese manufacturers, led by Honda, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The role of the motorcycle shifted in the 1960s, from the tool of a life to a toy of a lifestyle. It became part of an image, of status, a cultural icon for individualism, a prop in Hollywood B-movies.
      ——————————————————————

      However period advertising for BSA ALWAYS claimed they were the largest all thru the 1950s and I guess we can ALWAYS believe advertising right? But I still think proper motorcycles and not scooters and mopeds, BSA led the charge. but ive been wrong before.

  5. Robert White

    Ultra cool bike that I have never heard of before now.

    Bob

  6. Matt Tritt

    Back in the day, NSU was a very famous company – partly because they broke the 200 MPH mark with their 500 cc supercharged motorcycle. Beforre the war they were a big deal In Germany and all over Europe with very advanced engineering and ground breaking pressed steel frames. People now don’t know that Japanese motorcycles copied NSU, Triumph and others – making them cheaper by mass production. NSU was better made than the Asian copies but couldn’t compete in the volume and marketing areas.

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