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posted by charon on Thursday February 16, @05:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-faster-than-walking-now dept.

Grant Sinclair, nephew of Sir Clive Sinclair, is promoting a new version of the C5, his uncle's electric trike of 32 years ago. The new one, called IRIS, is faster and has a weather enclosure. Both can be seen in this BBC article. The original C5 was launched back before people had become punch-drunk with announcements of personal transport revolutions; and in the UK, before the launch, there was great excitement and a general expectation of a small electric car.

However the C5 turned out to be an open three-wheeled pedal car with feeble electric assistance. The C5 (and Clive Sinclair himself) instantly became laughing stock, and it has been described as the "worst gadget of all time" and the "biggest technical flop ever". Nobody thought it was "cool", as the BBC commentator claims.

Arguably, the C5 set back the cause of EVs by a generation, as people assumed that any EV would be similar. One commentator said that it seemed axiomatic that EVs had to be "quirky, ugly and tiny". Indeed, IRIS joins quite a range of similar tiny EVs, none of which are showing much sign of revolutionising transport. Meanwhile conventional car type EVs look set to thrive.

[Ed. Note: The BBC link is a short video. This article on techmash has more words.]


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:17PM (#467882)

    Maybe I'd use one of those on a golf course, but no way I'd take one on the road. I get lighter vehicles are cheaper and can get better mileage, but I'll take an electric motorcycle or moped over that thing any day. It needs to be higher up and a little larger, preferably able to carry two people.

  • (Score: 2) by AndyTheAbsurd on Thursday February 16, @06:05PM

    by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Thursday February 16, @06:05PM (#467901) Journal

    As for the final price of the Iris eTrike Eco will be priced at £2,999 and the Iris eTrike Extreme will cost £3,499.

    Another velomobile [wikipedia.org] that will fail because it simply costs too damned much.

    Can anybody make a commercial velomobile that retails for under $1,000? I can't recall ever seeing one; and I'd build my own but I don't want to get involved in welding together a metal frame and shaping a body out of chloroplast and acrylic myself.

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    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday February 16, @07:37PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday February 16, @07:37PM (#467924)

      It's hard to find an electric-assist bike for under $1000 in the US.
      And that's with 2 wheels, no panels, a tiny battery, no bodywork, and higher sales volumes.

      • (Score: 2) by AndyTheAbsurd on Thursday February 16, @08:35PM

        by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Thursday February 16, @08:35PM (#467944) Journal

        Personally, I do not find [amazon.com] that [roadbikeoutlet.com] to be true [ridegenesis.com].

        Of course, if you insist on buying from a local bike shop (which is probably a good idea), these prices will probably go up any from 10 to 50% or possibly even more, which will put my examples over $1000.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @08:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @08:33AM (#468136)

        I bought one for $800 new off ebay - shipped from CA. That was in 2009-10 and they guy said he was trying to get out of the business. Even by 2012 I was still the only person I saw who had one of these things and I was hardly an early adopter. On the forums, people were excited that cars were becoming electric as it would mean lower prices for the batteries. So I would have expected prices to be lower now. I moved country and sold the bike so I haven't been following developments.

    • (Score: 1) by klondike0 on Thursday February 16, @07:40PM

      by klondike0 (1511) on Thursday February 16, @07:40PM (#467925)

      Another question is whether a company can sell a good bike for less than $1000 -- doesn't seem to happen much (Nashbar maybe?). I think that bikes are one of those things that last a long time and the market is normally saturated, so they have to make more money on something that *should* be quite cheap to produce.

      Look at the way bike parts are overly innovated and the price of them is pretty dern high compared to car parts.

      • (Score: 2) by AndyTheAbsurd on Thursday February 16, @08:37PM

        by AndyTheAbsurd (3958) on Thursday February 16, @08:37PM (#467946) Journal

        I think that depends on what you consider "good". I'd bet we can both agree that if you're buying your bike at Wal-Mart, chance are that it's not good - but I find my Electra Townie 7D to be a good bike and I've only got about $750 in it - including a number of accessories.

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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Thursday February 16, @09:55PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16, @09:55PM (#467977)

          You don't think Walmart bikes are good? Why not?

          I don't have one, but I have looked at a couple somewhat recently, out of curiosity. They have an aluminum hybrid with Shimano components for about $150. It's not the lightest bike I've lifted, but it's also not a pure road bike, it's a hybrid with wide tires, and it seems to be pretty decent quality, and considering the $150 price tag seems to be a steal if you want a bike like that and don't need cutting-edge.

          Now obviously, it's probably not as good as a $2000 bike from a bike shop, but I wouldn't expect it to be either. But is the $150 Walmart bike as good as a $500-1000 bike from 25 years ago? It might be.

          • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Friday February 17, @05:02AM

            by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Friday February 17, @05:02AM (#468089)

            John Forrester devotes a chapter to it in "Effective Cycling".

            Essentially, the sub-$300 bikes are "toy" bikes. Maintenance is an after-thought.

            The plastic parts are often harder to adjust. Before reading that book, I bought a cheap bike because I did not know what to look for.

            Well, I learned that when the chain-rings wear out (one or two seasons with sand/salt/ice), you have to replace the whole crank-set because they are riveted in place.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, @03:50AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, @03:50AM (#471006)

            No, the Walmart bikes are not even close to the quality from 25 years ago. Look up a youtube channel called "bikemanforU", he runs a bike shop in Long Island. He has a few videos where he goes over the most common problems he sees in the shop with "Walmart" bikes. He doesn't discourage people from buying them, he just says that if you do here is what you will run into. The largest problems are poor assembly, no grease in any of the bearings and rims that are so poorly made that they tend to pop tubes or can't be trued.

            If you look back though old (I'm talking all the way back to the 1920's and 30's) Sears catalogs and news paper ads for the name brands of their day, then adjust the prices for inflation you will find that quality bikes have almost consistently stayed in the $400-$500 equivalent range with a few lower and premium brands being more, some times as much as $3,000 in todays money. Bike prices have been pretty consistent though their history.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:06PM (#467902)

    It's a one-seater. The maximum speed is only 25 mph as against 15 mph for the C5. At least it has a windscreen. Does it even come in orange?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by theluggage on Thursday February 16, @10:07PM

    by theluggage (1797) on Thursday February 16, @10:07PM (#467986)

    Arguably, the C5 set back the cause of EVs by a generation,

    Yes, the BBC reporter seems to be deluded about this. Trying to play on the Sinclair name with a new product? - home computers, maybe, electric "cars" - kiss of death.

    One of the tricky market research questions they should ask is "why is there no demand for covered, regular, bikes"? (e.g. they don't fit in cycle parks?)

    The other delusion is that you could ride this bike on cycle lanes - I can't see cyclists welcoming 30mph bike-lane-hogging three-wheelers to the cycle network and it will soon be pointed out (by lycra-clad 'concerned citizens' if not the police) that there are legal limits (at least in the EU/UK) on ebikes that can be ridden like bikes (no license/insurance, use bike lanes): 250W and max assisted speed 15mph (you can do 30mph if you like, but it requires mark 1 muscle-power).

    We already have decent e-bikes. We also have mobility scooters if you want space for the shopping (maybe re-style a mobility scooter to appeal to the zimmerless?)