Sir Clive Sinclair has new designs on
an old obsession, writes Edward
what you like about Sir Clive Sinclair, he cannot
be accused of quitting. As if he hasn't suffered
enough humiliation, he risked further ridicule
yesterday with the launch of his latest gadget.
innovators will pore over the technical jargon -
the 174 watts' maximum power, 12 volt output, 7AH
lead acid battery and HDT toothed belt. But the
most interesting feature is its name.
Clive has again established his claim on the
buffoonish trademark. First there was the plastic
bone-rattling tricycle, C5. Then the
snazzily-titled Zike bike. Now there is the Zeta
- Zero-Emission Transport Accessory.
worry, I know what I'm doing," Sir Clive
insisted as he unveiled his new creation. But he
failed to explain what he was doing choosing such
a silly name.
Zeta is the latest manifestation of his obsession
with electrically powered transport. Where the
Zike was a custom-built electric bicycle, the
Zeta is an accessory that claims to convert
existing standard bicycles into electric ones. It
aims to take the tears out of pedal power by
providing half the energy needed to carry a
12-stone person up a 1 in 10 hill at 10 miles an
Zeta box, containing rechargeable batteries and
to be sold by mail order for about £150, is
attached above the rear tyre. When extra steam is
needed the rider pushes a button and the box
helps to turn the wheel.
don't think this is a gimmick at all," Sir
Clive said. At the launch of the C5 in 1985 he
predicted 100,000 would be sold each year - the
tally before production stopped was barely a
tenth that. The Zike has sold 2,000 worldwide.
Such commercial failures after the enormous
success of his pocket calculator and early home
computers have cost him dear. C5 alone lost £7
will tell whether the Zeta has more success. But
the inventor is steeled to any eventuality.
"The whole thing about invention is that
some things have to fail."