The Raleigh Chopper
The design of the Raleigh Chopper, a children's bicycle produced in the 1970s, made it into a cultural icon. It was made by the Raleigh Bicycle Company of Nottingham, England, and was inspired by the Chopper motorcycle. This model was a staggering success, and became one of the most sought-after and widely-sold bicycles in England and the United States.
Children dreamt of owning one, and it quickly became a status symbol. The story of this bicycle began in 1968, when the company designer, Alan Oakley, was sent to the United States to study the market for young riders up close. At that time, Raleigh produced a model that resembled Schwinn's Sting-Ray, yet did not sell well. On his flight home, Oakley used a scrap of paper to sketch the model that would later become the Raleigh Chopper.
The Chopper had an elongated, padded seat with a backrest, high handlebars and different-sized front and back wheels (41 cm. in front and 50 cm. in back). The experience of sitting on the Raleigh Chopper was similar to that of sitting on a motorcycle, and thus held mass appeal for young riders. The bicycle was equipped with the Sturmey Archer three-speed gear hub, and its price ranged from £32 to £55.
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