When launching a new mode of transport, if at first you don’t succeed then it’s entirely possible that the market is telling you something and you should cut your losses and do something else.
Those of us old enough to remember the 1985-launched Sinclair C-5 may recall seeing the contraptions languishing in electricity board showrooms, looking for all the world like three-wheeled, battery- and pedal-powered death traps.
Incredibly, around 12,000 of them were produced, which sounds like a lot given that here is one person at least who never saw a single example on the roads at that time.
However, whatever the actual number produced and sold, the C-5 became something of a byword for commercial failure back in the eighties. Not to be deterred, the man behind the C-5, Sir Clive Sinclair, is having another go at offering innovative personal transportation in the form of the X-1.
We would describe the machine as a not-quite-fully-recumbent bike with a full fairing and the option of switching to battery power.
It is due to go on sale next summer with a list price of £595 and orders are currently being taken with a £100 deposit. The X-1’s makers are calling it an “electric vehicle” rather than a bike and say that with pedal assistance it can be “driven” for 10 miles at a cost of 10p.
The machine uses a 24v Lithium Polymer battery driving an MCR pancake motor linked to the rear wheel by a fixed gear drive chain.
The motor is rated at 190 watts, the wheels are 16 inch and disc brakes are fitted fore and aft. The waterproof acrylic bubble includes an integral roll cage frame bonded to a monocoque chassis and the whole unit weighs 30 kilos.
At first glance it may well have a better chance of commerical success than its cumbersome and terrifyingly low profile mid-eighties predecessor – the makers point out that the X-1 has “strong visibility to other road users such as cars and lorries" and say that "built in front and rear lights aid visibility."
But equally it may fall into a nomansland somewhere between "normal" electric bikes and the increasingly popular mobility scooters.
Either way, we all love a tryer and you’ve got to admire Sir Clive’s pluck in attempting to crack the problem of providing an affordable, low running-cost, eco-friendly, personal transportation solution for the masses.