That 1985 commercial for this loopy Sinclair “e-bike” was years forward of its time

One of my favorite things to do was scour the history books for old tech ads. The best found pieces are those that are so ahead of their time that they’re ridiculously mundane by today’s standards, but also hyper-retro in design.

If you dive a little deeper into these nuggets of days gone by, you will see something deeper: an idea, a vision of what engineers thought the future could and should be. It’s the space between science fiction and reality.

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The Sinclair C5 is a perfect example. The C5 was the brainchild of Sir Clive Sinclair, a famous British inventor who made things like calculators and early personal computers. But the C5 was one of his greatest ideas.

It was so ahead of its time that it wouldn’t be out of place if it were released today – but it was launched more than 30 years ago.

The Sinclair C5 was a recumbent bike with a range of about 20 miles.

In short, the C5 was a sit-on e-bike that had all of the features and benefits of modern micromobility devices. It was cheap to drive, easy to park, and zero emissions. Even modern bike brands like Canyon are reinventing the idea for modern roads.

Even Citroen has an idea for a car that 14-year-olds can drive.

While Sinclair saw the future we all aspire to now, his idea was too far ahead of its time and ultimately the C5 fell flat due to safety concerns and poor marketing.

Sinclair’s C5 may not hold up, but his vision certainly did. Check out the video above and enjoy what could have been.

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Published on February 12, 2021 – 10:26 UTC

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