Planet Sinclair


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Last updated
24 Feb 1998

Japanese electro-bikes will not
outrun the Zeta, vows inventor




There was potentially bad news for Sir Clive Sinclair yesterday when Honda and Yamaha announced plans for cheaper ranges of their electric bicycles. Sir Clive, you may remember, invented one of the earliest electrically powered bikes when he launched the Zeta in 1994. This is a power unit that, when attached to the back wheel of a bike, turns it into a mini-moped. Puffed-out cyclists flick a switch to get battery-powered assistance when climbing uphill.

Honda will launch a Racoon series of electro-bikes in Japan in February at prices starting at 79,500 (421). Yamaha is also getting in on the act with a lower-priced range in January.

Sir Clive remains unfazed, however. 'I'm not in the slightest bit worried. Their products will probably be much more expensive than ours - too expensive for the volume market, I suspect. But they will give credibility to the marketplace.'

Sir Clive says he has sold 15,000 Zetas so far, priced at a Honda-whipping 145.

So pleased is he with sales that he hopes to increase the marketing spend next year. Hopefully things will go more smoothly than at one press test at the time of the launch. Then, a pre-production Zeta surprised its rider when it shot backwards and crashed into a bus shelter.