Motorcycle Classics Blogs > National Treasures

National Treasures

A look at the vintage motorcycles on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.


1953 NSU Sportmax

 1953 NSU Sportmax 

1953 NSU Max 250

Engine: 246.8cc air-cooled OHC single
Bore x Stroke: 69 x 66mm
Power: 29hp @ 9,600rpm
Transmission: 4-speed
Suspension: Leading link front fork, mono-shock rear
Weight: 240lb (dry)

1953 NSU Sportmax 

During the 1930s and the 1950s NSU of Neckarsulm, Germany was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer. Founded in 1873 to make knitting machines, NSU became a revered manufacturer of bicycles (in 1886 under the Germania brand), motorcycles (in 1901) and cars (in 1905) that was eventually gobbled up in 1969 by today's behemoth Volkswagen Group.

In 1953 NSU launched their remarkably successful series of street (Max) and production race bikes (Sportmax) with its innovative, air-cooled 250cc overhead cam single. The cam drive was unique, using a pair of "connecting rods" from crankshaft to camshaft. Its cylinder is angled forward in a monobloque (unibody) pressed steel frame with a leading link front fork, all of which was created under the guidance of engineering genius Albert Roder. For the Supermax, an aluminum fuel tank and all-enveloping fairing - often known as a dusbin - was fitted to complete this fast, lightweight road racer.

1953 NSU Sportmax 

NSU won several speed records in the 1950s, being no stranger to the Bonneville Salt Flats. However, perhaps their best-known machine of all is the NSU Quickly moped, of which more than 1 million were sold. By 1969 it was all over; NSU's newly found obsession with the Wankel rotary engine had ruined the company.