Planet Sinclair


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Last updated
4 Mar 1998

Bravo, Sir Clive, we all need you

THE TIMES, 1 May 1994


By Peter McKay

Sir Clive Sinclair wobbles through the streets of London on his new electric bicycle, saying it will power up hills at 10 miles an hour. Does he understood the modern bicyclist? Perhaps there was a time when sub-postmistresses and Hovis delivery boys did dream of power which would spare their legs and lungs, but not now. Most of the bicyclists I see in London seem positively to relish the physical hardships. Walking above a lonely Highland glen last year, I was startled to hear hoarse breathing behind me. I turned to find a bicyclist bearing down on me five miles from the nearest track. He carried his "mountain bike" up the stretches he couldn't manage to pedal over. But his 21 gears and chunky tyres meant he could cope. Still, I wish Sir Clive well with his Zeta bike. He's a jolly-looking fellow, obligingly conforming to our notion of the mad inventor powered by individual genius. Some of his inventions, notably the C5 tricycle on which he's thought to have lost more than 8m, have been failures but this has merely made us like him more. Reporters enjoy trying out his devices, knowing their mocking, larky prose will find favour with editors. Sir Clive could unveil a new, massively destructive inter-continental ballistic missile in the grounds of an orphanage and I don't suppose the tone of his coverage would change much. If this worries Sir Clive, he shoulders the burden lightly. The batteries which evidently power his own good humour and tolerance seem very resilient.