Raleigh releases limited edition Chopper

Emma Woollacott
The new limited edition red Chopper
The new limited edition red Chopper

Back in the 1970s it was the coolest thing on the road - and now the iconic Chopper bike is back on the streets.

Thanks to demand from parents nostalgic for their own childhood, a new limited edition of the distinctive bike, with its 'ape-hanger' handlebars and padded backrest, is back on sale. Only 400, though, of the limited edition versions will be produced.

The black-and-gold model is, says manufacturer Raleigh, designed to evoke the golden age of Formula 1 motor racing. It shares the same basic design as the original Mk 1 and Mk 2 Choppers of the 1970s and the several re-issues of the 2000s, as well as last year's limited edition Beano special.

It features the classic pair of mismatched wheels - 16 inches for the front wheel, and 20 for the back - and adds modern features such as a denim fabric two-piece saddle, light weight aluminium frame and Shimano 6-speed chainset.

'Instant collectors' item'?

"Whether you're young or old it's hard not to be taken in by the charm of the Chopper," says Raleigh marketing manager Ben Hillsdon.

"As soon as we saw the sleek black and gold leaf design of this year's Chopper we knew we were onto a winner. This British cultural icon has bags of personality, and we're certain it will be an instant collector's item."

Meanwhile, Halfords is offering a limited edition red model with a £250 price tag - eight times as much as its 1970s price. The new version will also be available in gold, silver and green.

Inspired by the dragster motorbikes of the 1960s, the Chopper was everywhere in the 1970s. Despite the fact that it was unstable, heavy and unwieldy to ride, the company sold around 1.5 million of the bikes before production ended in 1983. While the Chopper was widely credited with saving Raleigh from bankruptcy, it declined in popularity as BMX bikes took off.

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