Web Analytics

 NSU - 1500 Kettenkrad
 Back to brands list

NSU Kettenkrad motocyclette motorrad motorcycle vintage classic classique scooter roller moto scooter
Photo ou archives : D. Ganneau

Capacity : 1500
Model : Kettenkrad
Production : 1941 -
Category : (Off-Road) Military


HK 101 "Kettenkrad" - 1941

The smallest half-track

When the German army wanted a light, offroad, load-carrying vehicle that could be used by soldiers accustomed to handling motorcycles, it laid down a strict specification. BMW and Zündapp built motorcycle combinations with powered sidecar wheels, while NSU employed a more daringly original concept.

Automobile Power Unit

The Kettenkraftfahrrad – or "Kettenkrad" – was the smallest halftrack vehicle built. Because NSU didn't make a suitable power unit, the 1.5 liter four-cylinder Opel Olympia engine, built by the German arm of General Motors, was used (NSU had ceased car production in 1932 and did not resume it until 1958). The three-speed transmission of the Kettenkrad was fitted with a two-speed transfer box, making six forward speeds in all.

Tight Turning Circle

The front wheel was really only there for its psychological effect, for it had no effect on the steering. Turning the handlebars applied brakes to the caterpillar track on the inside of the turn, making the Kettenkrad effectively skid around corners. This gave it a very useful turning circle of 10 feet. It was capable of carrying two passengers seated with their backs to the rider and hauling heavy loads down tracks little more than 40 inches wide and across rivers 20 inches deep. The Kettenkrad was widely used by the Germans on the Eastern and Mediterranean fronts; it first went into action during the German landings in Crete during 1941. Total production was 7813 between 1941 and 1948.


Engine: 1478cc (80x74mm) water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke

Power Rating: 36 hp @ 3400 rpm

Valves: side

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 6-speed, caterpillar track final drive

Suspension: girder forks (front); bellcranks (caterpillars)

Brakes: on differential

Wheels: 3.50x19 inch (front)

Weight: 2722 lb

Maximum Speed: 50 mph

The NSU Kettenkrad is difficult to classify, for it has to be the heaviest "motorcycle" ever made, yet it isn't quite a tank; what's clear is its sheer versatility.


Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.