NSU Kettenkrad HK101 - Sd.Kfz 2
Made by NSU Motorenwerke AG, Neckarsulm, Germany during WW2, this innovative tracked motorcycle was a concept unique to the Germans.
Just under 7,500 were built, most by NSU but some by Stoewer. Around 250 were built after the war for forestry purposes.
The 1600cc Opel Olympic engine gives a nice quiet tone, until you move off and the distinctive clatter of the tracks overtakes the engine noise.
The steering is clever, just turn the bars a bit and just the front wheel steers, turn further and a yoke on the steering column activates the track brakes, making it a highly maneuverable vehicle. There is also a foot operated drum brake. Add to this 6 speed box in two ranges and it’s a true go anywhere vehicle. Throughout the war, Kettenkrads performed with distinction and were popular with their riders who had an affinity with this exceptional hybrid vehicle.
As with some many military vehicles, tracks are a major operating consideration. With true Teutonic style, each of the 42 links per side has sealed needle roller bearings with its own oil reservoir. These need regular maintenance and it’s a good mornings work to service the tracks. With regular maintenance and good rubber pads you get 3-4,000 miles from a set of tracks – depending of course how good the tracks are when you get them.
Aftermarket nylon bearings are available but they really aren’t good for more than 500 miles.
With the current interest in German vehicles, Kettenkrads are now sufficiently popular to spawn a small industry of specialist restorers and parts manufacturers and suppliers.
One of the nicest around in the UK historic military vehicle and re-enactment scene is Richard Underwood’s Kettenkrad found 5 years ago in Norway with just a few hundred miles on the clock, amazingly original and untouched since the Germans capitulated. This is now a popular Beltring regular and takes part in the major re-enactments. Well worth looking out for.
For fun, style and investment potential, the Kettenkrad is perfect.
You can carry passengers and it’s certainly a military vehicle to own before you die.
If you want a reasonable, ready to ride and show Kettnekrad, you’ll
need at least £45,000. This year one sold in France for well over
£95,000 – and it certainly wasn’t 100% original. A good
one fetched £72,000 at auction in the UK in 2008.
Such is the demand that a restoration project at around £30,000 sold within hours of the advert appearing on MILWEB!
Prices have increased a lot in recent years and most owners agree they are solid investment.
Photos by John Blackman www.militaryvehiclephotos.com