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Last updated
4 Apr 1998

Zikes! It's that inventor again




SIR CLIVE SINCLAIR, the prolific inventor, yesterday launched an electric bicycle which travels at a top speed of about 12mph, Ian Holdsworth writes. The Zike was unveiled seven years after the spectacular flop of Sir Clive's electric tricycle, the C5. The ill-fated C5 tarnished the reputation of the man who dominated the UK pocket calculator market in the 1970s and virtually created the home computer market in the 1980s.

'One thing we learnt from the C5 which we couldn't have predicted was that people felt insecure because it was low down,' Sir Clive said. 'What we have now is a true bicycle.' The Zike travels for up to an hour under its own power or for longer with help from the pedals and can be recharged in an hour.
Several companies made electrically-powered bicycles in the 1980s but these were generally encumbered with heavy batteries and bulky motors. They usually weighed about 75lbs.

The Zike is much lighter. It uses a nickel-cadmium battery and a motor based on a new form of magnet. Both weigh about a third of their predecessors and are concealed in the frame. Using aircraft-style alloys instead of steel, the Zike weighs 24lbs.

It is assembled for Sinclair Research in Birmingham by Tudor Webasto, a maker of car sunroofs, and will be sold in Britain from May for 499. Sir Clive sees two main markets. 'One is for people who want to use it to go to the shops or for local commuting and the other is for young people for whom it might be their first powered vehicle.'

Since Sir Clive's company, Sinclair Research, sold its home-computer interests to Mr Alan Sugar's Amstrad for 5m in April 1986, it has acted only as a holding company for other Sinclair ventures.