Back to the future with Sir Clive Sinclair

Paul Raven @ 05-11-2010

If you’d asked me what the twenty-tens would look like back in 1985, I don’t think I’d have said “1985”. But that’s the oroboros of culture for you, I guess; not only are the streets of big cities packed with preening hipsters dressed exactly like the alpaca-esque post-punks I used to be somewhat intimidated (yet subliminally inspired) by as they lurked moodily around the local war memorials, but Sir Clive Sinclair – the chap who gave his name to the ZX Spectrum computers that lurked in the corner of every second British kid’s bedroom around that time – is once again making a bid to populate the urban streets of Britain with what is in essence an electric-assisted bicycle in a plastic shell.

You’ve got to admire Sinclair’s classic British pluck, really; the C-5 remains an iconic example of duff eighties futurism, a gloriously eccentric failure and testament to well-meaning but ultimately misguided innovative engineering. The C-5 was ugly, fragile, and more than a little silly. So, has Sir Clive learned from the mistakes of the past?

The Sinclair C5, circa 1985:

Sinclair C5

The Sinclair X1, circa 2010:

Sinclair X1

I’m going to go with “no”. Once more unto the breach, wot? Ours is not to reason why…

OK, I’m being a little over-snarky here, perhaps; I’m a big supporter of urban cycling and alternative transport, and I’d love to see the take-up on affordable and predominantly human-powered urban vehicles increase dramatically. But – and please forgive my cynicism – I don’t think that thing’s gonna do it. [images ganked from Gizmag]

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5 Responses to “Back to the future with Sir Clive Sinclair”

  1. Andrew Curry says:

    Not sure the design is any worse than those ‘covered two wheelers’ that BMW makes. The differences between this and the C5 are a more upright position, which means you’re less likely to be mown down by a bus (and even see the bus coming) and it keeps the rain off without requiring the additional plastic sheeting that I recall was a feature of the C5. There were similar bike pods reviewed recently (I think at Low Tech magazine) and it seems likely to me that designs like this – combining assisted, power, weather protection, and light-ish materials – will be on the raods in the future. Whether Sir Clive is a winner or not comes down to how hard they are to propel, and the price point.

  2. Doug Lance says:

    It doesn’t look cool, though. It must if the designers want people to adopt it.

  3. Sarah Ennals says:

    It looks like a single-person version of those eco-taxis, which I’ve rather liked when I’ve ridden in them.

  4. Sarah Ennals says:

    Admittedly, I’m the sort of person who thinks driving around in a giant tupperware container sounds like fun.

  5. Roger W. says:

    If the X-1 had TWO articulating rear wheels (tilting body), it would be better suited for rough roadways, and could be ‘locked’ in an upright position for parking. This would not increase the width of the vehicle, but make it more stable.