NSU originated as the "Mechanische Werkstätte zur Herstellung von Strickmaschinen", a knitting machine manufacturer established in 1873 by Christian Schmidt, a technically astute entrepreneur, in the town of Riedlingen on the Danube. The business relocated in 1880 to Neckarsulm. There followed a period of rapid growth and in 1886, the company began to produce bicycles. By 1892, bicycle manufacturing had completely replaced knitting machine production. At about this time, the name NSU appeared as a brand name.