Raleigh has been making bicycles for more than a century.
The Raleigh Bicycle Company started making bicycles in Nottingham, England in 1887, but it was not until 1939 that the company’s first bicycle factory opened. Key in reviving the company’s fortunes in the 1970s was the Raleigh Chopper for children ages 8 and older. It featured a car-like, frame-mounted gear stick, long padded seat and backrest, 16-inch front wheel, 20-inch rear wheel and and high-rise handlebars. The Chopper went out of production in the late ’70s and was reintroduced in 2004 and again in 2010.
Infra Red with yellow decals was the first color for Choppers and has become the classic color associated with them. This color became Hot Red in 1979. According to the Everything Bicycling website, the Chopper’s frame was built first and then the frame number was stamped on it. It was then booth-painted. Choppers were painted in batches of one color, but the frame number is not an indication of color. Once the paint had dried, decals were attached, dependent upon the color of the frame and front forks.
Built in 1976 and 1977 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Raleigh Chopper Special Edition has become the single most sought-after Chopper model, because of its silver color, which set it apart from other Choppers. The model was phased out after 1977.
With Chopper sales slowing in 1978, the company also added a black with prismatic graphics Chopper to the range, which continued and sold well right until the end of Chopper production in 1982. Between 1979 and 1982, the color range was limited to Hot Red (formerly known as Infra Red), Silver (formerly known as Quick Silver and later Pearl Silver), Space Blue and Black.
The girl’s model Chopper in Sharp Pink was a failure and was discontinued quickly. Still, this model reportedly is the second most sought-after model because of its very limited production period and rarity.