The future (and the past) of classic scootering?

Enjoy riding your noisy, dirty, smelly 2stroke while you can ladies and gentlemen. It’s just a matter of time before classic scooters are consigned to “collections” and legislated out of existence… and we’ll all be sitting in our robot driven hydrogen fuel-celled Google cars… maybe. Or maybe the future is electric vehicles… we’ve already seen an Electric Lambretta… and a production scooter from a company with a heritage in classic scoots and electric vehicles is on the way. Albeit a heritage I had absolutely no idea about until yesterday.

First, a bit of history

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Lohner was an Austrian company. G’day! No. Read it again. Austrian. Around 1900 they were producing electric cars… designed by a certain Ferdinand Porsche. Ahead of the curve there! After a rocky history, and  diversifying into many other vehicles such as trams and aircraft… like many companies in the early fifties tried to get in on the booming scooter market. The most well known of these scooters was the Lohner 125 (pictured above). I say it was well known… but it’s a scooter that’s new to me. To my eyes… despite following the germanic “roller” style of having the large enclosed front end incorporating the legshields and mudguard… I’ve seen uglier scooters. After merging with Rotax, who made the engines, they left scooter production behind and became involved in the production of agricultural, military and commercial vehicles. Eventually they were bought by Bombardier.

Now, the future?

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Well, the Lohner name, and scooter is back. From what I can gather from the website, members of the original Lohner family are still very much involved. And in looking to the future they looked to their company heritage for inspiration.  What they have come up with is a “new class vehicle”… the Lohner Stroler… a radical looking  e-biike  – and probably of more interest to readers of this blog, the Lohner LEA. The Roller LEA is a twenty-first century reincarnation of the 1950’s original L125-Roller. IMG_158960635 IMG_159260635 IMG_160317654 IMG_168117654 IMG_168717654

Pretty cool, huh? It’s got that retro thing going with a hint modern hot-rod aesthetic… while giving a big nod to their heritage. A tough trick to pull off, looking funky, modern and old school all at once.

The LEA will go into production in the spring, and is a available for pre-order right now.

Find out more, including full specifications on the website.

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eTropolis Reload, Q electric scooter and other oddities from EICMA

Spoiler alert. There’s NO Lambrettas in this post. Even the “new Lambrettas” are conspicuous by their absence from this years EICMA Motorcycle Showcase. And I don’t like modern scooters. With some very few exceptions. Sounding like a grumpy old man watching Top of the Pops (that ages me), where “It all sounds the same” They all pretty much look the same to me. All angles and plastic. Nah. I’ll stick to something classic and geared. But every now and then something comes along and makes me look twice. Last time it happened it was the Vespa 946. A stunner. Before that it was the back to basics charm of the Honda Zoomer, or Ruckus as the colonials would have it. And this years EICMA has thrown up a couple of interesting little oddities.

First is the all electric etropolis Reload… now metropolis (and the lower case “e” is deliberate btw), are a German company that make some distinctly average looking electric scooters. Which is probably not a bad thing for etropolis, or people that like modern scooters. Just for old farts like me that like proper scooters.ETROPOLIS-RELOAD-Laterale

But their new Reload takes the biscuit… and dunks it. It looks like someone has taken a modern scooter and hacksawed the arse off it… and then sawn any other extraneous bits of plastic off too. And as a result it looks, we’ll… rather good actually. In an awkward, ugly kind of way.

It’s electric, so the performance and range are going to be pretty appalling, but at least it looks, well, different. I like it. Until of course Etropolis go and load it up with more carriers and shopping baskets than a Tescos carpark. Oh well.RELOAD-BAULETTO-PORTA-MERCI-Laterale

Worse, for me than a generic modern scooter is a modern scooter trying to pass itself off as a retro classic. Vespa have managed to pull it off, just about (he says through gritted teeth), and are even improving. The new 946 and Primavera are very pretty scooters. The recent reinvented “Lambretta” LN, LJ and LT made a decent enough fist of it, capturing some of the spirit of the original Lambrettas… but unfortunately, despite good reviews, it appears they haven’t been able to challenge the likes of Piaggio. Peugeot Django peugeot-django-2014-20-8764-1383648863

Likely to be more successful, unfortunately, are these ‘neo-retro’ monstrosities  from Peugeot… just horrible, bloated and obese looking machines. In my opinion of course. Which is a shame, because they made some decent looking scooters back in the day… well the arse end looks ok, don’t think much of that fugly fender…Peugeot S57

Jumping back to electric scooters, and another honourable mention goes to another back to basics design the “Q” , a dutch design that is all about the frame. It kind of reminds me of the FIDO concept, I posted on my original “CrocodileJock” blog, way back.  Q Electric scooter

But what really caught my eye at EICMA this year wasn’t a scooter at all. It was a brace of bikes from someone who traditionally doesn’t even make bikes. British Car firm (and there’s not too many of those about) Caterham, (yes THAT Caterham) have launched their first ever motorcycles. And they are stunning. Really eye-catching radical designs… with three very different models, the beefy Brutus 750, (which can operate as a street bike, off road machine or even a SNOWMOBILE!!!) the “Classic E bike” an electric bike that harks back to the earliest days of motorcycling for it’s design inspiration, and the “Carbon E bike” another e-bike, but rather than looking like it’s come from some reimagined steampunk past, this one is straight from a science fiction future. Find out more, here. And there is a Lambretta link, of sorts… the designer behind the brute that is the Brutus is Alessandro Tatarini. If that name rings a bell, it may be because you recognise it from the Lambretta LN launch… yes, he was the designer behind that, too.  caterham-brutus-750caterham-classic-e-bike-03caterham-carbon-e-bike-01

I think they are absolutley stunning designs…  and while there not going to be everybody’s cup of Tetley, that’s kind of the point of them. An alternative two wheeler for people who “Think Different” and the stars of the show for me. That and the Scomadi’s of course.

KTM Electric Scooter

ImageImageI’m not usually one to post about modern scooters, with a few notable exceptions (Honda Zoomer/Ruckus some ItalJets, and *gasp* the forthcoming Vespa 946 ) I’m generally not a fan. They’re either pretty generic… or poor retro style rip offs of classic lines of Lambrettas and Vespas. But here’s something that looks like it’s come straight from the futre… and being electric, it probably does herald the future for scooters. Unlike (most) other electric vehicles, this one seems to have the performance to back up it’s looks too… Performance comparable with a 125cc Petrol Scoot.

Though not for me, I like my scooters a bit more traditional… but if I were a young ‘un… maybe this is the sort of thing that would turn my head.

Find out more at Scooterfile.

If, like me, you like you’re scooters with classic italian lines, check out these previous posts:

EcoLa: An electric powered Model D

Ebretta: Classic Lambretta looks with an electric powertrain

Welcome to Lambrettista

This Posterous stuff is getting addictive! I think I was posting a few too many scooter related links over at CrocodileJock, (my other blog) which was originally intended to be a general design blog. I thought the Lambretta stuff might be turning some readers off, and the design stuff turning the scooter crew off. So here goes, a dedicated Lambretta blog. There may be some Vespa (cough, splutter!) stuff posted here from time to time, and other scoots… but I will veer towards the vintage stuff rather than modern, “twist and go” scooters, unless there’s something that interests me of course. So, to kick it off (and while I work out how to re-publish the scooter stuff from the CrocodileJock blog), here are some interesting concepts for a modern Lambretta, dating from 2006. Rather a good effort, I thought. I’m trying to track down some more information about the creator, Robledo.

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Oh, and the other difference between this blog and the CrocodileJock one is I’s like this site to be a bit more collaborative, so if you’ve got any Lambretta (or other scooter at a pinch) related pictures or stories to share, get in touch.