The Vektar, the worlds first computer bike, was launched in 1985 long before we had health and safety laws. Equipped with ‘micro chip technology’ the rider could see how fast they were going, how far they had gone and how long they had been riding for at the touch of a button. The head’s down display ensured that you would ride into the back of your mate or a kerb as you fiddled with the control panel.
If that wasn’t enough you could listen to the radio on one of the three AM preset stations either while riding the bike or parked up hanging out with their pals. Later models came with a MW tuner giving even less crappy sound quality.
The main feature though was the advanced warning and alarm system. Once you had chosen one of the eight sounds from the ‘revolutionary sound generator’ on the top tube mounted control panel, you could use the handlebar mounted controller to terrorise old ladies as you rallied around the housing estate.
The bike came in two models. One without the electronics which was priced at £200 which would ensure you hated your parents forever for not getting you the full blown version with all the gadgets which cost a whopping £300 (around £750 in todays money)
Aside from the gadgets the bike came with mag wheels built from I.C.I.AMX9 plastic which at the time was one of the strongest plastics known to science or mankind. The wheels boasted the toughness of steel with the lightness of plastic and unlike standard AMX9 mag wheels the Vektar had an integrated 3 speed hub ‘for fast getaways and high speed cruising’.
Before the release to market the bike was tested and developed for four long years at a cost of £500,000. According to an RTE news report about the release of the bike in September 1985 “The bike was subjected to ‘sever vibration impact and fatigue tests’ by children from the east end of London. It was tested in 100% humidity, temperatures of up to 40 degrees centigrade and the electronics were frozen solid and thawed out again.” In the same report the Managing Director of Raleigh Ireland John Beatty was asked why the bike didn’t come with lights to which he responded by saying “the target audience for the bike is the 7-12 age-group. These children would only be cycling during daylight hours.” Watch the 2 minute RTE Television news clip here
Here is a Vektar in action out on the open road