In 1888, Sir Frank Bowden’s doctor told him that cycling could improve his health.
He bought an interest in a small bicycle company in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, where 12 men were making three bicycles a week.
By 1896 Raleigh owned a factory that employed 850 people and international champions were winning races on Raleigh bikes.
Every young boy’s dream, the Raleigh Chopper (with three speed Sturmey Archer hub and a T-Bar gear stick) was the coolest bike to be seen on – even if it was impossible to ride without falling off and grazing your knees.
Styled on the dragster, with a long seat and larger back wheels, it was the first designer bike for kids, and possibly the ugliest and most unstable bicycle of all time.
The concept was initiated by Tom Karen (who also worked on the Reliant Bond Bug).
A triumph of style over ability, the Raleigh Chopper was released in 1970 – covered in knobs and whistles that didn’t really do anything, except the gear lever that made you fall off when changing gear!
Originally priced at £32, it came in cool and outta-sight colours, like Infra-Red, Ultra-Violet and Fizzy Lemon. Despite its impracticality, by 1973 it had become the country’s best-selling bike and is now an icon of the Seventies.
As motorcycle stuntman, Evel Knievel’s popularity reached its height, Chopper even released a Knievel bike – complete with a fake exhaust pipe.
The Chipper (with detachable crossbar) arrived in 1971 for girls, and the Tomahawk for younger boys came in 1972.