Out & About

Here, there & ev­ery­where

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

From ARIE VAN BOCKEL, via email: “I came across an ar­ti­cle on the Swiss Army Condor A350, Du­cati en­gine, only 3000 made. I im­ported 13 ex­am­ples of the same, and I thought it might make a in­ter­est­ing story of the his­tory of the condor fac­tory go­ing back to the begin­ning of the 1900th cen­tury and its suc­cess in the In­ter­na­tional 6 day Trails and World records in the 1920s and 1930s. There is a very good Dutch web site on the Con­dors by Ben van Helden of the Dutch Condor club.” From in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by Arie: The Condor story be­gan in 1893 when French­man Edouard Scheffer es­tab­lished a fac­tory in Cour­vaire on the River Some in north east Switzer­land. Ini­tially the firm made bi­cy­cles but by the early 1900s a small mo­tor­cy­cle with a 1.5hp en­gine was be­ing made, fol­lowed soon by a 3hp and a 5hp v-twin. These were sin­gle-speed, clutch­less de­vices in ba­si­cally bi­cy­cle frames. Dur­ing WW1, Condor made bi­cy­cles for the Swiss Army, a tie-up that con­tin­ued for nearly a cen­tury. In the 1920s, Condor’s big­gest seller was the Mo­tochas­sis 250, with a 250cc MAG en­gine and 3-speed gear­box, 3,000 of which were built in this decade. By 1925 Condor had eleven mod­els in the range, us­ing en­gines from var­i­ous sup­pli­ers in­clud­ing Mo­to­sacoche MAG, Zedel and Vil­liers. Post WW2, Condor built their own BMW style flat twin en­gine to power a mil­i­tary model, the A580 and the later A750 (A stand­ing for Army). These mil­i­tary ma­chines were de­vel­oped into civil­ian mod­els in the ‘fifties, along with smaller mod­els us­ing Puch and Maserati en­gines. Again in re­sponse to army re­quests, a new 250cc model was in­tro­duced in the early 1960s, ini­tially us­ing a Maserati en­gine and soon with their own, BMW R26-style 250 sin­gle mo­tor. Around 10 years later another new army model ap­peared, this time with a rub­ber-mounted 350cc Du­cati en­gine – the A350. Be­tween 1973 and 1978, 3,000 A350ps were built. Most of these re­mained in ser­vice un­til 2001, when they were fi­nally pen­sioned off and re­placed by 650cc BMW sin­gles. 1978 marked the end of the line for Condor mo­tor­cy­cle pro­duc­tion, although bi­cy­cles con­tin­ued to be made un­til 1995. The com­pany is still in busi­ness, mak­ing non-mo­tor­cy­cle metal prod­ucts.

Arie Van Bockel’s Condor col­lec­tion.

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