There is currently a 1974 Condor A350 motorcycle parked in my kitchen. It’s a motorcycle I bought a few months after moving to Asheville, North Carolina, in fulfillment of a desire I’d had for years. I’d ridden a few friends’ bikes in the past, but had never been able to justify purchasing one of my own. After moving to Asheville, I realized my situation had changed – I had paid off my car loan, as well as the last of my debt to my parents a few months earlier, my monthly expenses had decreased drastically, I was living only a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (some of the best riding in the country), and was looking for an exciting new way to undertake my next tour. At last, I felt I could buy a motorcycle without a shred of guilt!
I looked into a lot of different types of bikes – Cafe Racers, Ural sTs, vintage Triumphs, Royal Enfields, and classic BMWs. Finally, I spotted a listing online for this motorcycle at a shop just outside of Atlanta. The next morning my roommate Chris & I got up bright & early and hit the road for Georgia. I fell in love with the Condor A350 immediately, and put a down payment on it that day. It took me the better part of a month to line up financing for the rest of the cost (that’s a whole other story, and would likely involve a good deal of griping and profanity), but finally I rented a motorcycle trailer from uHaul, and Chris & I made the trip back to Atlanta to bring her home.
A few details for the motorcycle enthusiasts – it has a Ducati single motor in it, the same as was used in the late 60s Ducati Scramblers, but with a few tweaks to make it easier to service in the field. Dell’Orto carburetor, Marzocchi telescopic forks, drum brakes front & back. One neat feature is that the rear wheel can be removed without removing the chain, which should certainly make life easier in the case of a flat! It came with the original military-issue toolkit, which includes most everything necessary to work on the motorcycle. Also included was the most recent military logbook, with details on maintenance and records of every trip it made from 1991 until 2001, when it was finally taken out of service. I keep discovering new things about it, as well. After bringing it into the kitchen earlier today and starting to pull pieces off, I discovered a compartment in the bottom of the seat containing a tire pump and a leather pouch containing various documents and reference manuals – all in German, of course, but an undeniably cool discovery.
Oh, and I’m in possession of the first civilian title for this motorcycle. How I managed to get the state of North Carolina to finally issue me that title is another story fraught with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Ah yes, but I still haven’t answered why this motorcycle is in my kitchen. As I alluded to earlier, I’ll be undertaking my spring tour entirely on the Condor, with my guitar strapped to my back. Call me a romantic, but that feels about as close to the ideal of the traveling minstrel as you’re likely to find, nowadays. I thought it would be prudent to give it an overhaul before taking it on a 3,600 mile journey, so Chris & I will be giving the engine a complete rebuild before I hit the road in late April, and will also be making a few additional tweaks to coax a little more power out of her. The only reasonable place we could find to do this was my kitchen!
I can’t wait to see you all out on the road!