The esteemed motorcycle museum in a fabulous old schloss in Neckarsulm, Germany, has a new director, Natalie Scheerle-Walz, who has expanded its program of exhibitions, with the ambition of transforming this charming cabinet of curiosities (and the oldest motorcycle museum in Germany) into a living cultural history center.  Formally known as the Deutsches Zweirad-und-NSU Museum Neckarsulm, the space has long housed the nicest display of two-wheelers in Germany, including ultra-rare factory racers from NSU, who were based in a factory nearby, on the Neckar river. If you’ve ever drooled over photos of the gorgeous, World Championship-winning 1950s NSU Rennmax racers, this museum is your chance to see them in the metal and up close – definitely worth the visit.

They don’t have to be big to be fast: this 1967 Kriedler Florett record-breaker is a supercharged and streamlined 50cc beast. It took the world 6hr record, but the attempt on the absolute 50cc World Record was scotched by bad weather. It was ridden by Jan deVries and Rudolph Kunz. [Deutsches Zweirad Museum]
The current exhibition, ‘Record Hunting on Two Wheels’, features 18 amazing, one-off factory land speed racers, from the United States, England, and Germany. Stars of the show include Ernst Henne’s all-black-everything 1935 BMW supercharged WR750, the 1930 Zenith-Temple-JAP that was the first motorcycle to exceed 150mph (and which was the subject of a scandal – see our ‘Stolen Record’ article), the awesome 1951 supercharged Vincent Black Lightning built for Reg Dearden, and the remarkable NSU Baumm I, III (the first 200mph motorcycle), and IV streamliners.  The machines date from an original-paint brass-era 1904 Alcyon 1000cc V-twin, to the 1984 Henk Vink ‘Blue Stratos’ rocket-powered dragster, that recorded sub-6second quarter mile times!  ‘Rekordjagd’ is a collection of pure mechanical badass, ranging from the dawn of speed record attempts, through the golden age of World Records in the 1930s, to the early streamliners that define our current era of splitting the wind.

The 1950 Vincent Black Lightning built at the factory with a supercharger for Reg Dearden. Remarkably, the bike was kept in completely original condition, and is mechanical mayhem personified. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
The exhibit was concepted by Andy Schwietzer, and expanded in Neckarsulm by Manfred Ratzinger, and contributors include BMW Group Classic and Audi Tradition (Auto Union/Audi purchased NSU in 1962), but most of these machines are in private collections and not available to the public.  To see these unique and amazing motorcycles is a very rare opportunity, and to see them in one location is a unique event.  Make plans (or bend plans) to see the show before it closes on October 6th, 2019: you won’t regret it!

While housed in a charming 1800s German building, the interior of the museum is delightfully modernized. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
An extraordinary survivor: the 1904 Alcyon racer, a big 1000cc OHV V-twin with twin-cam action…for the exhaust valves only, as the inlet valves were ‘atmospheric’, sucked in by the piston vacuum, as was common in the earliest motorcycles. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
The 1904 Buchet engine used in the Alcyon racer: a masterpiece of design, from the era of total French dominance of motorcycle innovation. French designs, especially the DeDion motor, were the foundation of the global motorcycle industry. Buchet built the most advanced engines of all, especially after they hired Allesandro Anzani to design them. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
Speaking of Anzani…he later exanded his horizons to include car and aircraft engines, and licensed his designs to British Anzani. This McEvoy racers uses a British Anzani 8-Valve engine, which is quite a beast, with twin Amac TT carbs. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
An incredibly rare 1926 Indian A45 OHV 750cc road racer, one of two or three built for European road racing: note the front brake and friction damping for the front forks. This machine was originally raced in Eastern Europe, after delivery to Prague Indian importer Frantisek Marik. Most of these OHV racers were installed in an extended chassis for American hillclimbing competition, which supplanted Board Track as the most popular form of racing in the mid-1920s.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
The business: Charles B. Franklin, famous for creating the 101 Scout, designed this OHV motor, which was tuned to run on alcohol, and included a fully recirculating oil system.  Another A45 was taken by the factory to Muroc Dry Lake in 1927, and recorded a 126mph average speed, which exceeded the World Speed Record, but America was having a spat with the FIM, and this speed was never ‘officially’ recognized.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
The 1930 OEC modified by veteran speedman Claude Temple for the World Speed Record, with a 1000cc supercharged JAP motor, and OEC’s signature ‘Duplex’ steering system, which was very stable at speed. Rider Joe Wright took this machine to the World Speed Record at Arpajon, France, at 130mph: the record changed hands three times that year, between BMW, OEC, and Zenith.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
Plenty of room here! The OEC-Temple-JAP was supercharged, and its chassis proved very adaptable. After the 1930 record spree, the bike was adapted for a blown 4-cylinder car motor, then installed in a streamliner by Bob Berry for a run at Pendine Sands.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
The 1930 Zenith-Temple-JAP, developed by Claude Temple and using a very similar engine setup to the OEC record-breaker. This is the first motorcycle to exceed 150mph, but was the backup bike for a record attempt at Cork, Ireland, in late 1930. It was mis-identified by the racing team, the FIM, and the press, who all gave credit to the OEC for the 150mph record, as OEC were still in business, and Zenith were not…and OEC was paying the bills! Read more here. [Deutsches Zweirad Museum]
On everyone’s list of ‘most compelling motorcycles’, the 1935 BMW WR750, with a pushrod OHV 750cc engine. The bike remains in remarkable, original condition, and is an amazing piece of design that’s inspired many custom motorcycles in recent years.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
Big and Bad: the Dearden Lightning, with its enormous SU carb, sourced from a commercial truck! It, too, remains in original condition, and is simply awesome.  [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
Both sides now: the copper plumbing feeds the cylinder heads from the supercharger behind the motor. The Dearden Lightning retains its original fiberglass streamlining, which has been removedfor the exhibition, because the mechanicals are so much more compelling. [Deutsches Zweirad und NSU Museum]
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