Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union (NSU) emerged from producing knitting machines and bicycles to motorcycles and cars. By the  mid 1950s, NSU had grown to become one of the largest motorcycle producers in the world. It directly translated great success on the racetrack with the Rennfox and Sportmax machines into showroom sales, as they amassed victories in sidecar, 125cc and 250cc world championships (see Of silver dolphins and blue whales). One of the best translations was the NSU Supermax.

The Supermax was introduced in 1953, and was designed by Albert Roder who had worked on the supercharged racing motors. It was a 250cc 4 stroke single, producing about 18hp at 6500rpm, and weighing just 384lbs. The innovative features introduced included a new “calm” air filtration system, and a chain driven overhead camshaft. At the time, these were somewhat ground-breaking on a production motorcycle. It also featured a four speed gearbox which propelled the machine to 78mph. Very respectable for a 250cc thumper. Brakes were drum front and rear, on 19 inch wheels. Other innovations included the monocoque pressed steel frame, and a short rocker front suspension.

The Supermax enjoyed very good sales, helping to propel NSU to become the world’s largest motorcycle producer in 1955. They also held world speed records in 1951, 1953, 1954, and 1955, including breaking the 200mph mark for motorcycles at Bonneville. The Supermax model continued until it was replaced in 1961.

4 Replies to “NSU Supermax”

  1. The Supermax is a motorbike that I have been tracking for some time, just haven’t found the right one as yet. My friend Whitey Griffin raced these machines back in the 50’s, won a few championships and has high praise for the NSU.

  2. Just returned from a cross country trip and brought home a NSU Supermax from a seller in Kansas. It is almost complete and only 7K miles, but it will need restoring, so I don’t expect to have it on the road anytime soon, but looking forward to working on this machine and can’t wait to hear it fired up.

  3. I own a 54 special max that is runable , and a 55 supermax. There was the max , with steel hubs, the special max with alloy hubs and in 1955 the super max with two spring/shockabsorbers on each side of the swing arm. The models before the supermax had a single spring/shocksbsorber in front of the rear wheel.
    The overhead cam was not driven dy a chain, as in the above article. The advertisement picture shows that on the
    bottom left.
    The 54 special max that i have i used to ride from my home to the german airforce base back in the sommer of 72.
    Is used to take one hour and twenty minutes. Iave very fond memories of that time and the experiences that came with it. My max is available. I live in northern utah. My phone is 435-563-6773.
    Rolf N.

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