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Back to the future: Raleigh relaunches iconic Chopper (again)

The latest remake of the iconic bike, Raleigh says, “is as close as we could get to the original Mk2 released in 1972, while still meeting today’s required standards”

Picture the scene: It’s 1972, Ted Heath’s the Prime Minister, glam rock is in the ascendancy, George Best is still plying his trade at Old Trafford, and a certain sideburn-sporting Belgian is busy devouring every bike race in his sight. Oh, and Raleigh has just launched arguably one of the most famous British bicycles of all time – the Mk2 Chopper.

And now, 51 years later, you can relive those heady days (well part from the George Best and glam rock bits) by getting your hands on Raleigh’s relaunched Chopper, updated for the health and safety requirements of the 2020s.

The new Chopper, the product of four years of research by the famous Nottingham bike brand, is the first time Raleigh has relaunched its most celebrated bike for nine years. However, the company says that, unlike that 2014 model, this Chopper stays as close to the original as possible.

Raleigh relaunches Chopper for 2023

> Raleigh launches new tyres for iconic Chopper so owners can revive their retro rides

The new version follows the design of the Mark 2, a mainstay underneath British Christmas trees between 1972 and 1985, and features its sprung one-piece saddle, a (slightly lowered) ‘sissy bar’, mismatched front and rear wheels, and – like the earlier, pre-health and safety tweaking Marks 2s – three speed hub gears and a top tube shifter.

Raleigh Chopper 2023 2

Raleigh has become adept at reviving old classics in recent years, either for its 125th birthday in 2012 or the 40th anniversary of TI-Raleigh’s Tour de France success three years ago, so the team have nailed the formula.

The company says it purchased and 3D modelled several old Chopper frames, as well as using the original technical drawings, to produce new CAD designs for the bike, while spending hours agonising over the details and, most importantly, the decals.

Raleigh relaunches Chopper for 2023

> Reminisce about the iconic Raleigh Chopper, the ultimate Christmas gift of the 1970s

“We had to change the height dimension of the saddle and sissy bar to meet modern safety standards and increase the gauge of the frame and fork tubing to allow the bike to pass physical force testing,” says Raleigh’s head of product management Adam Snow.

“There have also been some concessions to modern manufacturing techniques but all key features from the original bikes, we have tried to keep with this new model. For example, rather than braised joints, the new bike is welded, but to retain the authentic look the head tube has been CNC machined to a fine detail.”

The 2023 Raleigh Chopper – the weight of which, 18.4kg, is similar to the original – comes in the one 37cm size, while the colour choice between Infra-red and Ultra-violet again reflects two of the original Mark 2 options.

Raleigh relaunches Chopper for 2023

> How getting a Raleigh for Christmas changed my life

“The Raleigh Chopper is the most iconic bike Raleigh has ever made, arguably the most iconic bike in British history,” Lee Kidger, managing director at Raleigh, said.

“Selling millions of units worldwide during the 70s, the Chopper cemented its place in British culture and to this day evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the era.

“This new model is as close as we could get to the original Mk2 released in 1972, while still meeting today’s required standards. The Chopper is still seen by the Raleigh team as the jewel in the brand’s crown. A legacy to be admired, protected, and never forgotten.”

Raleigh Chopper 2023

The new, updated Chopper is described by Raleigh as limited edition, with the recommended retail price coming to £950 (a fair jump from the original £32 of the 1970s), so we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes a Christmas stalwart of the 2020s. It will be available to buy online, in the infrared and ultraviolet colourways, from 20th June at 12 noon on Raleigh's UK website

The company is also offering a range of spares with the new bike, which will be compatible with different Chopper models of a bygone era. So, if you have an old one gathering dust in the shed, now may be the time to start practising your wheelie technique…

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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40 comments

Avatar
Rick Dyer | 1 year ago
0 likes

I wish Raleigh would build an adult size Chopper. They built the smaller version branded the Chipper for children too small to ride the Chopper, so why not a bigger Chopper? I fully expect  hilarious branding suggests are bound to follow.
 

Granted the Chopper always was and always will be 'all show and no go', but they only look and feel cool when ridden by a circa 10 year old child. Adults perched precariously on the fully extended saddles look rediculous, and it feels like you're riding a child's bike. 

Avatar
mark1a replied to Rick Dyer | 1 year ago
0 likes

Rick Dyer wrote:

I wish Raleigh would build an adult size Chopper. They built the smaller version branded the Chipper for children too small to ride the Chopper, so why not a bigger Chopper? I fully expect  hilarious branding suggests are bound to follow.

There was of course the Tomahawk between the Chipper and the Chopper, had one of those myself aged 8. 

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rick Dyer | 1 year ago
3 likes

Well, I passed this lot yesterday and they seemed to be enjoying the ride...
(apparently it was the national chopper convention or something!).

Avatar
Smartstu | 1 year ago
0 likes

That's a polished, gilded and vazzled turd of a bike. They were never any good and this is for rich plonkers who don't actually like bikes...
I can see the point of a Burner relaunch - as BMX's were ground breaking and properly cool.

Avatar
Paul J | 1 year ago
1 like

Wow. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between these new ones and the originals. Very very close.

Rubbish bike though. Awful awful bike. Yet so cool.  1 Every kid wanted one. Never got a chopper, but I did have a Grifter in the 80s. Wanted a Burner though.

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Sriracha replied to Paul J | 1 year ago
1 like
Paul J wrote:

Every kid wanted one.

Indeed. Not convinced the same is true today. Who do they think will buy today's version?

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Billy1mate replied to Paul J | 1 year ago
0 likes

Did you fold the plastic mudguard lip under so it rubbed on the back tyre and sounded like a motorbike?

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wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like

Nostalgia was kicking in, I remember riding a hand me down chopper and I loved it. Hopefully the cranks are better than they used to be; when I crashed it after a jump off of a speed hump the crank bent and wouldn't rotate past the chainstay, until a remedial hammer was applied when I got home.

I was a teenager, so not much shorter than I am now, could I get one and use it for commuting? definitely worth a few hundred pounds.

But not for nearly a grand, even after seeing Hawkinspeter's promo photo.

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hawkinspeter replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
2 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

... even after seeing Hawkinspeter's promo photo.

That's not actually me in the pic

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OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
2 likes

Does the new one retain the original rubbish brakes?

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Off the back replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
1 like

By Brakes, do you mean jamming your foot between the frame and tyre knacking your trainers? 

 

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Bucks Cycle Cammer | 1 year ago
8 likes

The original had braised joints? Was that for when you got hungry whilst out with your mates?

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Bmblbzzz replied to Bucks Cycle Cammer | 1 year ago
3 likes

It was the 1970s, so they weren't those sort of joints.

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
3 likes
Quote:

£950 (a fair jump from the original £32 of the 1970s)

According to the Bank of England, £32 in 1970 is worth £409 now. So yes, after taking inflation into account, they have more than doubled the price.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation/inflation-calc...

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henryb replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
4 likes

£950 does seem a bit steep for a kids' bike. It makes me think they might be targetting it at Nathan Barley-ish hipsters instead.

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Sriracha replied to henryb | 1 year ago
1 like

I do wonder who it's really aimed at - presumably the board room briefing included a target demographic. I can see how in its day the original would have appealed to kids, but I don't see that same appeal today. And whilst I can understand the grown-up kids shedding a tear of nostalgia, whether they actually want to own one again, without the cachet of it being an original, I doubt it. They certainly won't want to be riding it much.

Avatar
brooksby replied to henryb | 1 year ago
2 likes

henryb wrote:

£950 does seem a bit steep for a kids' bike. It makes me think they might be targetting it at Nathan Barley-ish hipsters instead.

Well of course - I mean, that bike is totally Mexico  3

Avatar
Paul J replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
0 likes

Original chopper was produced in fairly large quantities. This one will be only a limited amount (what nutter would buy a chopper today?  1 ). So the development cost overhead is amortised over a far smaller production run.

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Sriracha replied to Paul J | 1 year ago
0 likes

Shouldn't be any development cost since it's just the same old shite over again - at least that is the sales pitch!

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Paul J replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
0 likes

Someone had to do the work to dig up the specs, and check it against modern regs, and update the design to meet those; and find suppliers; and coordinate the manufacturing, the marketing, etc.. All costs time and money.

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Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
7 likes

The promo shots are not the same without those suburban wasteland photoshots and the smouldering pyres of festering debris. Adorned with broken asbestos sheets, dessicating the landscape. Lovely stuff.

Yes. I'm a proper 70s kid and I loved my chopper!

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Rendel Harris replied to Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
16 likes

But could there ever be a more iconic promo picture (possibly not just for the Chopper but in the history of cycle manufacture) than Sid James riding his Chopper ("wha ha ha ha!") whilst smoking a pipe? 

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mark1a replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
10 likes

Rendel wrote:

... Sid James riding his Chopper ...

Ooooh!

 

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Fignon's ghost replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
7 likes

As a party trick. I managed to PERFECT Sid's LOL. Wasted nowadays!

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Rendel Harris replied to Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
1 like

Fignon's ghost wrote:

As a party trick. I managed to PERFECT Sid's LOL. Wasted nowadays!

Same! 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
8 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

But could there ever be a more iconic promo picture (possibly not just for the Chopper but in the history of cycle manufacture) than Sid James riding his Chopper ("wha ha ha ha!") whilst smoking a pipe? 

Avatar
PRSboy replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
5 likes

Makes a change from squirrels! 

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Fignon's ghost replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

This arty piece reminds me of another beloved 70's past time had with my Chopper.
I'd often use the seat as a makeshift ladder to get over the wall of my local Chapel. To get at those lovely apples.

My nan would cook up the best apple pies...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
2 likes

She is presumably whom Sid was chasing after with that big grin on his face, "Come back I just want a hand with me Chopper" etc etc.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

She is presumably whom Sid was chasing after with that big grin on his face, "Come back I just want a hand with me Chopper" etc etc.

More likely he was chasing Barbara Windsor - he was having an affair with her for over 10 years. His wife also had to put up with his gambling and he arranged with his agent that he wouldn't tell his wife how much he got paid so that he could gamble away a portion of his earnings (and inevitably lose it).

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