1951 NSU Ladies Tourenrad Model 55
Being a longtime fan of the NSU Quickly moped, I’ve always had a soft spot for NSU bicycles too.
They’re well made, I like their design, and they are good for riding.
The front end of the bike is one of its most interesting features, typical of German design of the period. For example, see how it integrates the contrasting paint colours.
Many German bicycles retained front paddle brakes until the 1960s, whereas they’d been updated on British bikes by WW1. German bicycle manufacturers found there was always a market for one loopframe model in their range that retained the early 20th century style.
I like the extra badges fitted to the front mudguards of most German bicycles. The ‘fender ornament’ on NSU is similar to that used on the range of NSU mopeds that quickly dominated the cyclemotor market from 1954 until the Honda Cubs took over in the early sixties. Compare the badge below (on a 1958 Quickly Model L).
1951 NSU PROSPEKT
[1951 Brochure with thanks to http://www.fahrrad.nsu24.de%5D
With frame number 472449, this NSU Damenrad was built between October and November 1951.
The company was started in 1873 in Riedlingen an der Donau, Germany. In its early years, its founders Heinrich Stoll and Christian Schmidt produced knitting machines. They soon moved to Neckarsulm, and adopted the name NSU from NeckarSUlm.
When the bicycle market started to boom, NSU joined many other bike manufacturers and their cycles proved very popular. Below is a photo of my 1910 NSU Gents cycle (sold in 2009).
Developed from a bicycle, their first motorcycle was introduced in 1901; it was fitted with a 1.5hp Swiss Zedel engine.
The picture below shows their factory in 1904. By then, there was already a choice of 6 different models.
In due course, they added cars, taxis and trucks to their comprehensive motorcycle range (in 1909 they even made a 990cc V-twin motorcycle). The car division was sold to Fiat in 1928. However, NSU did build a car a few years later: in 1933, they were commissioned by Ferdinand Porsche to build 3 prototypes ‘Type 32’s’ – this was in effect the first Volkswagen Beetle. One of these original cars is in the VW museum, and you can see below how similar the NSU Type 32 is to the eventual Beetle design.
NSU built many fine bicycles motorcycles throughout their history, and to my mind their name is synonymous with quality German engineering.
1953 NSU Damenrad for Comparison
As well as their nostalgic loopframe model, of course NSU also had the latest modern style of bicycle on offer.
My friend in Germany sent me pictures of this beautiful 1953 model, which he has for sale.
Prewar NSU bicycles had a different shield on the front.
Below you can see the Torpedo rear hub.
In the close up photo below you’ll see the number ’49’ which shows the hub’s year of manufacture as 1949.
VERIFYING THE AGE OF NSU BICYCLES
(translated from German)
There’s no definite official information about part numbers and corresponding registration years. This data is approximate. With an accuracy of + / – one years, but they are assumed to be relatively safe.
1900 ~ 7000
1910 ~ 18,000
1925 ~ 550,000
1929 ~ 675,000
1930 ~ 685,000
1931 ~ 692,000
1932 ~ 700,000
1933 ~ 720,000
1934 ~ 770,000
1935 ~ 920,000
1936 ~ 1,000,000
1937 ~ 1.200.000
1938 ~ 1,300,000
1939 ~ 1,450,000
1940 ~ 1,550,000
1941 ~ 1,650,000
1942 ~ 1,700,000
1943 ~ 1,750,000
1944 ~ 1,800,000
1945 ~ 1,806,000
1946 Renumbered: Prewar numbers re-used. For example, 800,000 might be 1935 or 1956.
1947 ~ 55,000
1948 ~ 100,000
1949 ~ 175,000
1950 ~ 320,000
1951 ~ 420,000
1952 ~ 570,000
1953 ~ 650,000
1954 ~ 700,000
1955 ~ 750,000
1956 ~ 800,000
1957 ~ 900.000 to about 990.000
From 1957 / 990,000 Onwards: NSU used the same numbers as prewar again, so it’s confusing.
DATING FROM TORPEDO REAR HUBS
The best bet on post-1957 machines is to check the Torpedo rear wheel hubs. Since around 1920 they used a production stamp, with which they can be dated:
“36”, therefore stands for example for the production date in 1936; later, there were also some 1-digit numbers:
“5” or “55”, built in 1955
“6” or “56”, Built in 1956
“7”, built 1957
In 1958 there were also letters:
“A”, built in 1958
“B”, built in 1959
“C”, built in 1960
“D”, built in 1961
“E”, built in 1962
(Front hubs do not have date indicators)
Thanks again to the excellent NSU enthusiast website http://www.fahrrad.nsu24.de