The Raleigh Chopper brought the style of Easy Rider to the backstreets of Britain in the 70s. It took the UK youth bike market by storm and probably saved Raleigh from financial disaster. The Chopper was a distinctly different bike for young people and was a first choice Christmas present. However, the Chopper attracted criticism for some aspects of its safety. The Chopper became distinctly unfashionable in the 80s, when BMX became the latest craze.
Raleigh Chopper Mk1
The design for the Raleigh Chopper was revolutionary when it was launched in the UK in 1969. However, the bike style, with its ape hanger handle bars and long padded saddle, may have been more familiar to American children. The original inspiration for the Chopper was the Chopper motorcycle: a cut down, customised machine, which had a cult following with enthusiasts in the US from the late 1940s.
US manufacturer, Schwinn, made bikes with ape hanger handle bars from the early sixties; they were nowhere near as well packaged as the Chopper though. In this market until the Chopper came on the scene, Raleigh played catch-up.
In the US market the Chopper was more evolution than revolution. In the UK market it was something entirely new. Its launch coincided with the movie, Easy Rider, in which Peter Fonda and Denis Hopper cruised around America on two stripped down Chopper motorbikes.
Easy Rider gave the Chopper its cool image and contributed enormously to the acceptance of this radical cycle design in a conservative British market. In 1971 Raleigh reported a 55% increase in cycle sales mainly due to the Chopper. The cycle maker went through lean times in the 50s and 60s as sales of adult bikes slumped. With rising affluence, more people got mobile with cars, motorbikes and scooters and the traditional push bike now had a down market image.
Raleigh was now able to charge a premium for the Chopper over the price of a conventional child's bike. In 1970 it cost £34 19s (£360 in today's money). The Chopper was so popular in 1970 that retailers had to persuade adults it was not a suitable bike for them. It gave the kids of the time something distinctly different from an adult bike, something of their own. The Raleigh Chopper brought the style of Easy Rider to UK streets and to boys in the ten to fourteen age group.
The Chopper was joined in 1972 by a version for younger children, the Tomahawk. However, by then the safety record of the Chopper was being questioned. A competitor, the Morando Easy Rider Bike which was manufactured in Italy, was withdrawn from sale due to safety concerns. Its UK distributors, the Barclay Group (Mobo, Chad Valley and Tri-ang), recalled models already sold.
Raleigh Chopper Mk2
A British Medical Journal report claimed that the high handle bars made steering unsafe. Other people were concerned that it was possible for two children to ride on one Chopper. Safety concerns prompted a revision to the basic design in 1972, with the Chopper Mk 2 having a shorter seat. Raleigh also made changes to the gear leaver style and handle bars. Raleigh even had to defend the safety of the Chopper when questions were asked in Parliament.
The Chopper was a bike that put style before practicality. In the early years of the 70s it might have been every boy's dream, but volunteers for a Which? report in 1972 found the Chopper slow and hard work. Most would have preferred a racing bike.
The Chopper fell out of favour in the early 80s, when BMX bikes became the latest craze. A new model, the Mk3, was launched in 2004, retaining much of the original's style, but without the crossbar mounted gear leaver and banana style seat.
More on the Raleigh Chopper
Raleigh Chopper shoulder bag
I spotted this cool 70s style shoulder bag on Amazon, left. It looks the perfect accessory for the Raleigh Chopper bike. The leather style look with white beading is classic 70s and I love the image of the Raleigh Chopper bike and the rainbow pattern.
Your comments on the Raleigh Chopper
"I HAVE A 1972 RED CHOPPER, NEEDS TO BE RESTORED BUT ALL ORIGINAL. WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ROUGH VALUE." red rider
Early Raleigh Choppers sell for £200 to £300 pounds on eBay, if they are in good condition. The Raleigh Chopper Mk 1 commands a premium over the Raleigh Chopper Mk2. The Mk2 came in in 1972, so yours could be either. Raleigh Choppers in poor condition are worth considerably less. One very tatty example failed to sell for £20 recently. I would recommend having a look at eBay Completed Listings and comparing bikes in similar condition to yours. Retrowow
"I had a Chopper bike. I used it from the age of ten to fourteen. It was fantastic, red colour, the ease of lowrider seat. The banana seat was very comfortable and the gear position was attractive.
My Difficulties were: whobbles, wheelies were not uncommon, hard to run or make long distances with it." Chopper Lowerider
"I am looking to buy a mark 3 chopper but finding it extremely hard as they only made 400 . I'm thinking and correct me if i'm wrong but would they go up in price. If you know anyone or a good website that are willing to sell tell me in a email mine is Orcf@hotmail.co.uk. ps. i have only 200 to spend." oran cowell-fergusson
"i had a 'Raleigh chipper' (it was the smaller brother of the chopper) my dad brought back from the dump and restored it, but nether fixed the broken front seat bracket, so the whole seat used to tilt upwards exposing the stem, once i was out over the park on it, stood up to give it fast burst of accelaration and sat back down, you can guess the rest! it was about a week before i was able to ride it again! thanks dad." robert
"I rode a yellow Raleigh chopper from the mid-seventies right up into the mid-eighties and came off it most memorably as it wobbled out of control while I was freewheeling down a hill. I lost half an eyebrow and bear the scar to this day. Another time I almost castrated myself on the famously malpositioned gear lever. Not long after that I got a racer but missed the upright sitting position and the comfort of the wide saddle with its sturdy suspension." Chopper cropper
"i have the very one chopper bike mk1 it was my husbands he holds the bike and he goes on about the past on this ike he still thinks that this bike is the very best bike for any one still to have we like this to go to a new home to some one who would now give it the home it really needs any one intreasted pls contact me on 01902828217" wrs emms email: email@example.com
"hi ive just got one im having dowts on weather its a mk1 or mk2 its got gear solector in between your legs witch is the T bar shaped and the top of the seat back grab rail is curved squair not like a arch if you can help please contact me thanks damo" damion milner
Hi Damo, It sounds like a Mk2 to me. The Mark 1 gear stick is left, the Mk2 is as illustrated above. Retrowow
"I want one so badly but i don't know where to get them but i wanton for £99.99 please do you know where i can get one???" Nisa
"this is the best bike of the word .... i use 2 have 2 before .... and i wish 2 have 1 now" musaab alkhayatt
"Hi I have an original purple and orange chopper. It is in quite poor condition, but apart from 1 wheel it is all original features. I'm trying to find out it's value and where I could sell it Any help much appreciated! Thanks" marsha
"I have an original gray chopper. Its in a good condition and i would like to sell it for 250 euros. It has all original. Who is interesed in it contact me on my email.My email is firstname.lastname@example.org." neville
"eek, i have vivid memories about the 'purple raleigh chopper' and that 't' bar geat changer....it almost turned me into a gelding... after one particular top spec crash....lol great days" tim
"Im looking for a set of chrome mudgaurds for a mk3 chopper.Must be new or in excellent condition.Can anyone help...Many thanks Ian.Birmingham" ian
"Hi,I have a mk1 chopper in fair condition, a friend wants to buy it of me he has offered me 60, do u think this is a fair price or would it be worth more." Shane
Hi Shane, That sounds a little on the cheap side to me. Check out eBay completed listing for a proper valuation, but I'd say around £100 if it is usable, but 'fair' condition. Retrowow
"I have just discovered that my mk2 Raleigh Chopper is actually a Mk1. However, it has mk2 gears and pedals. My parents bought it second hand for me 29 years ago. We think it is dated 1970 from the crank. Anybody got any ideas why it would have the wrong gear?? Thanks!" Lor
"i have a raleigh chopper mk111 arrow wedge that id like to sell its in vg condition how much it worth or eanyone intrested semingly only 400 were ever made." murray
"lor,the mk1 chopper was going through a change over to the mk2 in 71 72 for safty reasons so the late mk1 was fitted with mk2 parts when going through the change over,hope this helps," john
"I am now 49 years of age and in the 1970s had an original chopper bike, I still remember it to this day as it was such a sturdy and fun bike to ride. probably the best bike I have ever owned . I am looking to buy an original chopper in good condition soon if I can find one and keep it for prosperity." kevin hull
"i have a mrk 2 raleigh chopper ive restored it its in fab condition but its an un usuall colour its the golden yellow wot they only did in the mark 1 its not the fizzy lemon in wot they did in the mrk2 is it worth anymore can any 1 help thanks !!!!!!!!!!!!!" tango
"I am looking to buy a mk1 or mk2 raleigh chopper for restoring, Email me with what you have at email@example.com i live in the south west.05/01/2010 Peter in Devon " Peter
" I have a limited edition totally original chopper, seat gears wheels, grey colour. Its been in the family since new 1970's. I don't know a lot about it but it 's in ok condition. all offers welcome. If you want to come and view the bike you won't be disappointed. west London" JOANNE firstname.lastname@example.org
"Hi i am looking for a handle bar stem bolt and nut for a mk1. does any one have one, if so how much would it be. cheers" john
"Hi, I'm in Australia and looking for someone to sell me a MK1 or MK2 (any condition) - I realise the postage and packing will be extra to send me one from oversea's but I would love to get one now as I was one of the few dreamers as a kid who never got one. Would also consider a Raleigh Grifter as well. How cool to have both haha. email@example.com" Neil Driver
I'm after a Mk 2 raleigh chopper, I live in Cornwall, anyone nearby selling one? Ideally in pretty good nick?
Lizzi.firstname.lastname@example.org" Lizzi Larbalestier 14/11/2010
The rustier and cheaper the better,I'm in Southampton but will pick it up or arrange couriers wherever you are.
Anything considered." Scott 27/01/2011
I haven't been able to find a mk3 mudguard anywhere, will a mk2 mudguard fit onto it?
Also would I be able to fit lights from the mk1 and the raleigh origianl badge from an mk1 to my mk3?
Thanks." Bowiegirl13 11/05/2011
could i fit the original seat from an mk1 or mk2 onto the mk3 ?" Bowiegirl13 11/05/2011
Only thing missing is the chain Guard- pretty good condition- use to wax this bike on a regular basis - I know kinda weird but do the same to my cars now.
Make me an offer. I am in IL
At email@example.com" sal 13/09/2011
Unto £150" Dimitri 16/11/2011
Rough restoration projects are selling on eBay for £100+. It depends a lot on condition of course.
Mint examples sell for £500+.
best regards" Steve 09/05/2012
My son is looking to sell his 2004 Limited Edition Chopper (red bike with yellow writing) - unfortunately we have misplaced the certificate due to several house moves. The bike is in relatively good condition (it has been in storage for some time) with only a couple of scratches on the paint work as it was well used. Please contact me for further details. Tyne and Wear area......" Suzy 31/05/2012
http://www.nemusclebikes.com/bc27.php" Mark 10/10/2012
I am new into this and searching for websites or forums that can help me build it.
Thanks.." Glafocs 21/01/2013
many thanks martin" martin d 08/02/2013
I am the owner of a Raleigh Chopper MK3, purple, 2004 edition.
Due to a horse riding accident that occured shortly after receiving the bike, it has never been ridden and has been kept in the shed ever since.
I am looking to sell this bike now, as I have no intention of riding it any more.
If you are interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
West Midlands Area." Natasha Clifft 15/04/2013
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