More than a 100 years ago, in a small town called Neckarsulm, in Germany, Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union (NSU) were making knitting machines and bicycles. They quickly moved ahead with technology though, and by 1905, they were already making a liquid-cooled single-cylinder motorcycle with swing-arm rear suspension and belt drive! By the 1930s, NSU were heavily into motorcycle racing and were making bikes with 500cc, 750cc and even 1000cc four-stroke v-twin engines.
During WW-1, along with other German motorcycle companies like BMW and Zundapp, NSU also made various kinds of motorcycle-based military vehicles, including the famous Kettenkrad. After the war, NSU resumed production of street and racing motorcycles, of which the 125cc Rennfox and the 250cc Rennmax were especially successful racing machines. Hermann P Mueller was the last rider to win a 250cc world championship aboard a 250cc NSU racing bike, the Sportmax.
However, the one NSU which absolutely fascinates us is their 500cc supercharged machine, on which Wilhelm Herz hit 290km/h in the year 1951 – an absolute top speed record for bikes at that time. Later, in 1956, Herz again rode the NSU 500 Kompressor, pushing the top speed record to 338.99km/h this time. The stage was thus set for modern-day Hayabusas and ZZR1400s…Also see:
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That '70s show: The Laverda V6 racer!
Awesome: The 1950s Moto Guzzi V8