1956 NSU Supermax

A nostalgic trip to 1956 aboard a timeless beauty, the NSU Supermax.

| Premier Issue

  • John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax
    John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax is a willing runner. Light and nimble, it’s perfect for running quick errands.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Illustration of a NSU Supermax from promotional materials
    Illustration of a NSU Supermax from promotional materials.
  • John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax is a willing runner
    John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax is a willing runner. Light and nimble, it’s perfect for running quick errands.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan
    Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan.
  • John Gary Brown's 1956 NSU Supermax
    John Gary Brown's 1956 NSU Supermax.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Promotional material for the NSU Supermax
    Promotional material for the NSU Supermax.
  • Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan
    Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan.

  • John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax
  • Illustration of a NSU Supermax from promotional materials
  • John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax is a willing runner
  • Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan
  • John Gary Brown's 1956 NSU Supermax
  • Promotional material for the NSU Supermax
  • Classic bike, classic marketing: NSU’s promotional materials put the company’s products — and its target audience — in the best light; young, modern and cosmopolitan

1956 NSU Supermax
Years produced:
 1956-1963
Total production: 15,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 18bhp @ 6,750rpm
Top speed: 78mph
Engine type: Overhead cam, air-cooled single
Weight: 174kg (383lb) dry 
Price then: $700 (1956, est.)
Price now: $3,000-$7,000

True love kept John Gary Brown and his 1956 NSU Supermax together. Well, that and a dead coil. 

When unanticipated health care expenses forced Brown to part with most of his collection of classic German motorcycles several years ago, he faced an agonizing choice to sacrifice either the NSU Supermax or a 1956 Adler MB250.

Each bike had its virtues. Although the single-cylinder NSU is slow and underpowered by modern standards, Brown saw timeless beauty in its engineering, fit and finish, especially the unorthodox workings of its 250cc power plant. But the teenager in his brain was screaming at him to keep the Adler, which could kick the living sauerkraut out of the NSU in speed and quickness.

Watch the NSU Supermax in action 



"It really was a toss-up," Brown says. "The NSU ran well, but so did the Adler. I rode the Adler in town a lot more than the NSU, in fact, because I could keep up with traffic better."

The Supermax, however, had one crucial part that the Adler lacked — a dual seat for Brown and the love of his life, his wife, Christy. Brown had been unable to find a two-up saddle that looked right on the Adler, and that inadequacy was enough to tip the scales.



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