Raleigh Chopper designer dies at 85

21 May 2012
imports_CCGB_chopneo_54730.jpg Raleigh Chopper designer dies at 85
Creator of the iconic bike loses his fight with cancer ...

Alan Oakley, the designer of the iconic Raleigh Chopper has died aged 85 after a battle with cancer. He will be remembered for creating one of Raleigh's most recognisable and collectable bikes.

Mr. Oakley originally designed the Chopper on the back of an envelope after a trip to America in 1967. He was inspired by the motorbikes from 'Easy Rider' and wanted to move away from traditional bicycle design. Instead of the typical diamond-shaped frame, the Chopper had huge handle bars, a bulkier frame, the famous car-like gear box and a padded seat.

Although initial sales were slow, things really picked up in the 1970s when the Chopper became the bike that every kid (and perhaps even some adults) was desperate to ride. In the UK alone, Raleigh sold more than 1.5 million and it's often said it saved the company from potential bankruptcy.

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Although production of the famous bike was halted in the 1980s, nostalgia for the Chopper resulted in a limited edition Mk3 model being released in 2004. There were slight tweaks to the original design - including a relocated gear lever - but the instantly recognisable form was still there. In fact, a version of the Chopper is still in production today with Raleigh launching the 'Neon' for children earlier this year (pictured above).

As well as creating the Chopper, Mr. Oakley also helped to launch the Tomahawk and the Chipper, followed by the Grifter, Strike and Boxer, as well as the Bruner range of BMX bikes.