1968 Condor A250

Passerby:  “Hey!  What kind of motorcycle is THAT??

Motorcycle rider:  It’s a Condor!

Passerby:  “A WHAT?”

Motorcycle rider:  A Condor 250!

Passerby:  “What’s a Condor?

Motorcycle rider:  It’s a Swiss bike.  It’s a Swiss Army motorcycle!

Finally, the passerby relents, allowing motorcycle rider Ted Kucharski to motor on his way on his recently-acquired 1968 Condor A250.  Kucharski says this exchange is common when riding his rare, Swiss army bike.  “I went on a thirty kilometer ride and I was stopped six times!  People go crazy when they see it!”, he exclaims.  A similar scenario played out when Kucharski rode the Condor to a vintage motorcycle rally in Ponoka earlier this summer.  “People were chasing me to find out more about the bike,” he says.

It’s not surprising this forty-one year old motorcycle draws so much attention.  Even among hardcore motorcycle collectors, very few recognize the Condor marque, a Swiss company that started building motorcycles in 1901.

“I started looking for a Condor in 2006.  This bike is very cool.  It has a small engine with shaft-drive, a combination you can’t find here.  And it has a classic look that’s very pretty to me!”, he exclaims giddily.

Kucharski’s Condor A250 has a mere 16,000 kilometers on odometer.  Most of the bike is original, including the army green paint, leather panniers, right down to the “AMP Hinwil” decal on the headlight shell, which identifies the machine as “Army Military Police” stationed at Hinwil, Switzerland.

The 4-speed transmission gearshift is on the right side with rear brake pedal on the left.  The A250 is rare; it’s believed that fewer than 600 were built for the Swiss Army for convoy traffic control.  “I love the build quality of this bike.  When the Swiss Army ordered it, cost was no object.  Hence, the shaft-drive.”  The Condor boasts some unusual features such as identical size front and rear wheels, a hinged rear fender to ease rear wheel removal and a (now antiquated) 6-volt electrical system.

The Condor A250 was not built for speed.  “It’s too slow for the highway”, the owner says.  Still, on a recent trip to B.C.’s Kootenays, Kucharski says on tight, twisting mountain roads, the Condor’s small overhead valve engine perks up when revved high and ridden briskly.

“This bike always starts first kick”, Kucharski beams.  To prove his point, he starts the bike with one easy motion, and the Condor ticks over like an electric sewing machine.  “And”, the inveterate collector says, laughing, “it’s the most reliable motorcycle I own!”

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