The NSU-MAX model family      

A picture tells more than thousand words, as we say in Germany. So we show you here pictures of the various types of the NSU MAX model family.

  These small pictures are for preview. Click on the picture to get the picture in better resolution.

Is hardly known that there was already before the end of the Second World War a NSU motorcycle with the label 251 OSB

NSU 251 OSB 1940
The 251 OSB was developed in the wake of the Nazi standardization efforts in vehicle (Schell-Plan) to have a 250 cc motorcycle in the program. Apart from the 251 OSL was getting old and their structure with separate gearbox it was expensive to produce.
There some test samples were as far completed, that they could go to the driving test, but the 251 OSB came not in mass production.

After WW2 NSU started the production with the 251 OSL

NSU 251 OSL 1952

Predecessor of the MAX was the NSU 251 OSL from the successful OSL series.
The prewar OSL series were built from 1933 to 1940. After WW2 the production started in 1948 with a minimal modified prewar model. The picture shows the 1952 model.

And then came the MAX.

1952 - 1954 STANDARDMAX


In late 1952 the MAX was ready for sale. It was a hit. Roaring 17 hp (13 kW) from only 250 ccm capacity were a lot of power, especially in a reliable motorbike for everybody, not in a pure sports bike.

The MAX, later called STANDARDMAX, had small cast iron brake drums and a little petrol tank, containing 12 litres.

1954 - 1956 SPEZIALMAX


In 1954 came the SPEZIALMAX with the bigger "buffalo style" fuel tank, containing 14 litres and with big aluminium alloy brake drums, which provided much better brake performance.
These changes SPEZIALMAX acts considerably beefier than the relatively petite STANDARDMAX, although the frame, fork, wheels and fenders are identical of its dimensions.

1956 - 1963 SUPERMAX



In late 1956 came the SUPERMAX. Everybody could recognize her by the two external springs/dampers at the rear suspension. (The earlier STANDARD- and SPEZIALMAX had one single rear spring and damper inside the frame like modern motorbikes) But if you look on the details, nearly each part of the SUPERMAX is a little bit different from those of the STANDARD- or SPEZIALMAX. This makes SUPERMAX parts hard to get...

These were the standard models of the MAX, which could buy anyone at NSU dealer of their choice. In addition to these models for everyone but there were also the famous competition models and some special versions for export.

 Die MAX-TT for USA:

Max TT 1954 
Foto: Frank Schwichtenberg (GNU-Lizenz)

In 1954 offered the American importer Butler & Smith on a sporty off-road motorcycle on Max-base. The Max TT was a true Geländemax early style, so on the Standardmax based with central suspension and sheet-rear. The engines may have done so to 21 hp .
Allegedly some 40 pieces were made. The image belongs to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

  The MAX-Scrambler for USA:

NSU S-20 Super Max Scrambler 1957 

In 1957, at the special request of the American importer, a series of 230 special motorcycles for in America at that time quite popular "Scramble" events, a mixture between motocross and off-road competition. Designed from the Gelände-Max were the most striking features:
Outboard front dampers on extended fork; 21 " -front-wheel; small apron; smaller, easy to take off with electric connector lamp; MAXI-tank ; terrain handlebars; high-mounted footrests; high-mounted exhaust; seat; big tail light (like BMW R27 ) is attached to the shortened rear mudguard; suspension like at Supermax.
The engine corresponded to the normal Supermax series, so had 18 hp, but could be increased performance by installing a racing kit. The supplied silencer corresponded to the desire of the American importer for "strong exhaust sound", but resulted in loss of power.
12 machines were delivered to Yugoslavia, in Germany the MAX - Scrambler was not officially sold.

(from: Stephan Thum, NSU Max 1952 - 1962, alle Ausführungen)

In addition to serial and export models of the MAX, it was for authorities certain machines that were not delivered to private customers:

 Mäxe for Police:

Supermax für die Polizei mit Funk

Leichtes Funkkraftrad NSU-Supermax

SUPERMAX with radio equipment. This is located in the two large boxes. Increased battery was in one of the boxes in front of it - they are originally from the OSL series - housed. The speaker/microphone combination is mounted on a support bar on the handlebar. Next to it is the blue light. How many machines were built is unknown.

Die schnellen Schwestern der MAX:


First choice for off-road racing, especially with sidecar, was the GELÄNDEMAX:
The GELÄNDEMAX was a competition bike, which won the German championship for off-road racing in the 250 cc  class from 1955 to 1960.
Early GELÄNDEMAXes had a 21" front wheel and a longer front fork. Later models had a 19" front wheel and external shock dampers at the front fork.

The engine was tuned and offered a performance somewhere between 19 and 25 german DIN hp.

More features of the GELÄNDEMAX were:

There were only a few "real" GELÄNDEMAXes, which were built by the research department of NSU and there were much more "replica" GELÄNDEMAXes, which were built by the off-road drivers, using more or less original NSU GELÄNDEMAX spare parts.

MÄXE, that did not exist:

The NSU Advertising Department at Arthur Westrup sent every year end of March to all them known newspaper and magazine editors a photo with a press release for publication on the first of April. The picture then a NSU model was seen in a very special design and the text gave the relevant explanations. Often this was so trustworthy written, that the responsible editor did not realize that them wanted to send him and his readers in April.
Whether commented accordingly or not, image and text were published, NSU was on everyone's lips, and that was the main thing.
Relatively well-known is the picture of a Max-sidecar combination, which was mutated to rail vehicle. The photo was taken near the Neckarsulm station. It is not known whether the construction was actually drivable on rails.



last update: 26.10.22