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Last updated
26 Feb 1998

Zike ride raises a smile

THE GUARDIAN, 6 March 1992



IT WAS something of a wobbly start for Sir Clive Sinclair and his latest invention, the Zike battery-powered bicycle.

As the slimline two-wheeler purred down the carpeted gallery at Olympia, in London, yesterday with the inventor atop, onlookers could not help comparing it to Sir Clive's C5 electric car and its fabulous failure. The 51-year-old father of the pocket calculator would have none of it. He admitted the car - which lost his company 8.5 million and had fewer than 20,000 sales - scared people off because it was too close to the ground. But the Zike, he promised, would be different.

''Everyone who rides it gets off smiling,'' he said.

That might be because the tiny wheels and silver frame make it look more like a toy than a practical form of transport.

Sir Clive is seeking an audience outside the nursery. His goal is to sell to anyone over 14 years old and under 17 stone who needs a little help peddling up hill or wants to get to work or school with no sweat.

A fist-sized motor perched behind the cycle chain, can propel the Zike at a maximum of 15 miles per hour. If it went faster it would be classified as a motorbike and riders would need a licence and a helmet.

Put through its paces yesterday, the Zike managed to keep everyone aboard. However, serious bikers questioned whether it would cope with the pot-holes and ruts of city streets.

Sir Clive's inventiveness is neatly packed into the 23 pound frame that houses the motor with rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries. These are lighter than normal batteries and have a life from between 30 minutes and three hours depending on which of the three running speeds are used. They either recharge themselves as the bike coasts downhill or can be plugged into the mains for an hour.

The Zike will sell for 499 and the first models are expected in May.