Unless you are a Swiss army conscript or a military enthusiast, you almost certainly have not learned of Condor-Werke AG.
It is one of Europe’s sleeper marques, and began assembling bikes for the Swiss military in 1893. (Yes, that is a year before Hildebrand & Wolfmuller launched the first generation bike to authentic.)
The machine is a Condor A580. It is possessed by a collector who wants to stay anonymous, but is happy to share a little history as well as pictures.
The likenesses between modern BMWs and the Condor are clear. The Condor isn’t an immediate copy, but it is a bulletproof, good-engineered air cooled boxer with rotating shaft drive.
The BMWs used by German troops during the second world war were coveted by the Schweizer Armee Condor got the job of designing a Swiss equivalent. The A580 has telescopic forks, plunger-design back suspension, hydraulic self-adjusting aluminum cylinder heads and valve lifters. German flathead boxer versions certainly inspired it’s –such as the Zundapp KS600, R6 or R12, as well as the BMW R71.
The motorcycle we are looking at here spent a decade in service before being auctioned off. The 1970s was locked away, and forgotten till the 21st century, when it arrived.
It is now been treated to a restoration job that was classy, but keeps a number of the battle scars including several broken cooling fins on the cylinder heads. The tires are a period- Metzeler Block C pattern that is right –difficult to come by now, however a fantastic finishing touch for the restoration.
The subdued military paint is gone, replaced by a reddish colour that Condor used for its civilian versions, which sold for the cost of BMWs that are modern. Nevertheless, the uncommon gear ratio decrease lever (below) stays, mounted on the correct part of the transmission.
This lever provides eight gears to the Condor –four for the road and four for difficult terrain, which reduces top rate from around 110 to 50 kph (31 mph).