The Swiss Army Bicycle

The bicycle that was first produced in 1905 and is still perfect for everyday use.

Condor Swiss Army Bicycle with original bags
Cosmos Swiss Army Bicycle

If Royal Enfield bicycles used the motto “made like a gun” then the Swiss army bicycle, the Militarvelo MO-05 should have been “built like a tank”. Weighing in at around 23kg these bikes are hefty beasts. They were supplied to the Swiss army in 1905 and were used by the Bicycle Infantry Unit right up until the 1990’s (about eighty-eight years in service) when it was then superseded by the MO-93 model.

The MO-05 was a single speed bicycle and was originally fitted with a rod operated front spoon type brake which was basically a rubber block pushing down onto the top of the tyre. The rear had a coaster brake arrangement. Later a cable operated rear drum brake was also added.

Condor Bicycle badge
Condor Bicycle badge

A lot of these bicycles came with a large leather frame bag and behind the seat tube was a tool bag with the correct tools to strip and rebuild the bike if need be.

Heavy it might be but once you get it rolling you can travel at quite a lick and with its three brakes it’s easy enough to slow down, although the spoon brake is next to useless if it’s wet. There is no ratcheting freewheel on these bicycles so you coast along in near silence, great for sneaking up on the enemy!

They are great fun and I’m lucky enough to own two of them, one built by Condor and the other built by Cosmos which is dated 1944. I use mine as often as I can, the large frame bag makes the perfect shopping bag when a trip to the local shop is needed and a 30km bike ride is easily achievable even if it is just a single speed. So far, finding parts has not been an issue, they are so well made that other than a few service parts, nothing has been needed.

If you are into your old bicycles then I highly recommend that you seek one out and add it to your collection.

Condor Bicycle
Condor Bicycle

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