The Lohner is a stylish electric bicycle that’s perfect for the city. But what sets it apart is that it’s made for two…
Lohner is one of the more obscure family names in motoring. It dates back to the 1820s when Heinrich Lohner set up a coach-building business in Vienna. By the end of the century, his grandson Ludwig had taken over and had decided that so-called “self-propelled” vehicles were the future. He hired a brilliant young designer and in 1900 the two of them created the world’s first hybrid electric car. That designer was Ferdinand Porsche and their car was the Lohner-Porsche Electromobil. It seems ironic that hybrid-electric cars are still being touted as the future of motoring…
After that first vehicle came all manner of grand engineering products, from propellers to trams, culminating in 1957 in another breakthrough – the Lohner Sissy. It was the world’s first two-seat moped. It was a great success, but I’m not sure that name would work quite so well these days.
After that the company went into a period of dormancy, having been bought by the giant Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, and all seemed lost for the famous Lohner name. But now, after more than half a century of inactivity, another Lohner has come along to make his mark. This time it’s Andreas, Heinrich’s great-grandson. He, too feels that that a “self-propelled” hybrid electric vehicle is the way to go, but this time it is a bicycle – the hybrid element being an electric hub engine combined with your leg muscles.
Andreas took his inspiration from the Sissy. Cheap, metropolitan and with room for two, it was his ancestors’ great gift to dating. On it a young man could give a woman a lift home, free from the prying eyes of their guardians, and with arms and legs wrapped round each other, they were half way there before they had even set off.
The bike is the Stroler. It has an electric engine built into the back wheel and, crucially, room for a passenger. It’s eyecatching and stylish, its long, curving lines giving it a wonderfully retro aesthetic. But beneath the old-school frame are some clever technical innovations.
The bulky battery is hidden beneath the saddle, while the “petrol tank” is actually a small, lockable compartment which houses the plug for charging. It also leaves you just enough room in there for all today’s essentials – a wallet, phone and make-up bag.
Lights are built in so it is safe year round and the big, rubbery wheels make it comfortable as you bump over speed humps and potholes. It is power assisted as oppose to being a straight power bike, so as you turn the throttle it automatically adds power to your pedal strokes. This means you effortlessly whizz along and have the pleasant sensation that maybe you’ve had a thigh transplant from Chris Hoy.
It takes six hours to fully charge, but you can top it up to 80% capacity in an hour. For that, you can cruise along at 15mph. When the battery dies the hybrid becomes a human and you are left to pedal alone, which I wouldn’t recommend as it’s a hefty 36kg.
The bike comes in five contrasting colours, but if you really want something special, I am sure Andreas would oblige. He tells me that delivery companies are already having bespoke liveries created, and he says one of his happiest customers so far is an estate agent who always used to struggle with parking.
It’s pricey, yes, but for a city-friendly vehicle with a heritage like this, it will repay your outlay – and you never know, you might find someone special to give a lift home…