Easy Rider: 1971 Raleigh Chopper Mk 1

050416 Barn Finds - 1971 Raleigh Chopper - 1

Get your playing card and clothes pin out, this is one cool bike! This 1971 Raleigh Chopper is all original and it’s a rare one. It’s on eBay in Crewe, Cheshire, United Kingdom with a current bid price of.. are you sitting down? £2,850 ($4,129)! This is a very rare bike, the ten-speed models are few and far between so if that’s what you’ve been looking for to relive your childhood, this could be an auction to check out. This bike is from California and the seller talks about how Great Britain didn’t get the ten-speed Choppers, just the three-speed. I don’t know if that’s correct or not, but hopefully one of you will know. The bike seen here is missing the seat strap. Here’s an old brochure showing the Chopper and some other Raleigh bikes. I’m not sure what’s going on with the knees on the lads in the 5th photo, yowsa; maybe some knee pads would be a good idea for those two. The movie, Easy Rider, was the inspiration for Raleigh designer, Alan Oakley, after visiting the US and on the plane trip home he sketched out what would become the Raleigh Chopper.

050416 Barn Finds - 1971 Raleigh Chopper - 2

These bikes weren’t the safest ride out there, which is probably why kids loved them! They were meant to mimic the tough biker motorcycles of the era. I had a Sears version of this bike, a “Sears Screamer” except it was a single-speed and the shifter didn’t change gears, it was a parking brake. It was like the one shown on the left in this old brochure. The Raleigh Chopper Mk 1 was supposedly unsafe due to the long seat which made it seem ok to give rides, and it would flip over. Not to mention the “groin-catching” gear shift lever; ouch. By the time that the Mk 3 came out the gear shift was changed to the handlebars. I have a Raleigh mountain bike that I ride a couple of times a week so I’m a huge fan of Raleigh bikes. Are you into vintage bikes?

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Comments

  1. Cebo

    The only new bike I ever had. My brother bought it for me. I was the coolest kid in the neighborhood till it was stolen…😟

  2. Van

    Just need to tie sisters barbie to a string and pull behind back.

    Like 1
  3. Braktrcr

    So what size engine did they have? I can’t even see where the engine goes.

    Ya pedal it? Wow, interesting.

  4. John H

    The lad seated on the bike looks like he already had knee replacement surgery!

    Man, does that top picture ever bring me back to the late ’60s — early ’70s. My chopper started out as a run-of-the-mill single speed 20″ in a nice metalflake blue. My parents splurged one Christmas and bought me a 3-speed rear hub, stick shift gear changer, hand brakes, and a chopper seat. Loved it!

    Mine didn’t have the cool springer action on the seat, though. :-(

    Absolutely amazing price!

  5. Howard A Member

    I bet everybody here over the age of 50 immediately had a flashback to their childhood. Makes old injuries ache once again. It seemed, Raleigh always played 2nd fiddle to Schwinn, but they made quality bikes. My 1st new bike was a 26″ Raleigh 10 speed. Chopper type bikes were kind of our “2nd” bike, and I made my own,( as did a million other kids) with “butterfly” handlebars, and “banana seat” out of my old 20″. Schwinn Sting Ray’s were all the rage, and not many of these were around. These were cool bikes, but as stated, not the safest, but we’d pull wheelies for a block. I know Sting Ray’s can be pricey, but not this pricey. Great find.

  6. Dutch 1960

    From personal experience, the danger to one’s privates from those gear shift levers was real. Borrowed a friend’s Schwinn Fastback, and was so happy to hand it back after a couple of painful experiences.

  7. cliffyc

    This 10 speed is rare over here in the UK. We had the Sturmey-Archer geared bikes with “Three on the tree” and smaller children got their own version the Chipper (see what they did there?). IIRC Choppers had red bands on the tyres so these would be worn out by now. Nice bike all the same.

    Like 1
  8. Rando

    I had a Ross Apollo, 3 speed bike. Like a cross between this one and a Stingray. Howard A is right, because I flashed on mine right away.

  9. Dave

    Always thought these bikes were so cool growing up in the ,70’s. I never owned one as a kid, folks thought they cost to much, I had to ride an old 10 speed put together with parts. I never even knew they came with a 10 speed ! I love in the old brochure they refer to the back rest as a padded rollbar !! Very cool bike. I tried to build one out of parts, that’s the closest I came to owning one
    !!

  10. Fred

    My practical parents got me the 26″ Sears “tank” bike on the same Christmas my friend got a metallic green Chopper. I then learned the definition of the word “envy”. My friend is childless to this day. He learned the definition of the word “Ouch”.

    • boxdin

      Now that’s funny. And the “butterfly” handlebars we called ‘Ape Hangers”. I’m an old fart but still like to bike and am looking for a Sting Ray as we speak.

    • Van

      lol

  11. George

    I had a Huffy Sllingshot. It had a dual shifter console with 5 speed and a parking brake. There was a “racing slick” tire on the back. Over time, only the parking brake reliably worked to stop it…. No pictures of mine, but this is what they look like. http://s192.photobucket.com/user/raleighrons/media/Muscle%20Bike%209/71Slingshot1.jpg.html

    Like 1
  12. jim s

    would be nice for wall art. i think this style of ” chopper ” were/are not very safe to ride. still glad a bike got posted as i am still able to and do ride. i was out yesterday for some miles. bikes done right are a lot of fun. great find.

  13. PaulG

    There’s a whole community of “Muscle Bicycle” enthusiasts, an easy Google search will let you re-live your childhood dreams.
    We had a Western Auto that had some wild variations of these bikes, complete with crazy handlebars…

  14. William H

    Wow, major flashback. Never had one of these bikes but we did get to ogle the ones like it at Sears when my parents took us in to town to get Lee’s Toughskin jeans for school. As we got older and were taught how to weld and such, we made our own out of junk bike we collected from around town. Spliced on fork extensions cut from the forks of other bikes then raked the front end. Leaned back banana seat. Ape hanger handle bars. It was an absolute necessity to apply a custom Krylon paint job of some sort.

  15. peterj

    I actually dislike these bikes for being impractical, as well as having been a part of the down fall of the american bike industry, but dam do they look cool. My current daily bike is a 1978 Panasonic Sport 1000, but I also have a WTP BMX bike, a Trek fuel EX5, a 70s WF Holdsworth, and some others I’m spacing on at the moment.

  16. Jubjub

    Totally cool, but totally anatomically incorrect.

    I worked at a Schwinn shop in the late ’80s and this kind of thing would come in for repairs or trade from time to time. Paid like $75 for a really cherry Apple Krate. I sold it for good money but if I’d only held on to it longer.

    Those Jesse James…or whoever it was… Schwinn Sting Rays from the 2000s were even worse to ride than any of these ’70s choppers. Rode one for like three blocks and my body was tweaked.

  17. Robert P

    The ebay link is an ad with no pictures and a price of 575 pounds. ???.

    I have a pristine 1972 3 speed I bought a few years back at a bike expo for $125. The guy didn’t want to take it home so, right place at the right time.

    • Scotty G Staff

      Gaa! The seller must have switched something around, the 10-speed Chopper doesn’t even come up with a search; I wonder if it was sold already?

  18. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    Looks like a lot of bike enthusiasts here, a lot of bike collectors are also car guys, before our driver’s license we had to settle for non powered 2 wheelers. I took a 20 inch Stingray copy frame, and put a banana seat with high rise sissy bar and handle bars, even cut an extra fork and extended mine, you had to make sure your fork extensions were tight or it would drop off on a wheelie. My brother bought a 69 Apple Krate with paper route money, I was never good at saving mine but had a Raleigh chopper on lay away for a while, never did pay it off. Over the years I now have a 5 spd Apple & orange Krate, a coaster Lemon Peeler, a repro coaster Pea Picker, 69 red Fastback original nice paint, and a 2006 adult size chopper by Schwinn called a Spoiler. The last bike I added was a 1970 3 spd Raleigh Chopper in Lime Green, yard sale buy.

  19. eric hunter

    Baa! A nice Cherry Bomb, Apple Krate or Orange Crush with springloaded front fork with a 12″ wheel, PNDL gearshift and banana seat with dual rear shocks, front n rear hand brakes. If you had this bike as a kid you ruled the hood…till the kid with the 20″ hand made moto Schwinn with scabbed on MX cycle bars jumped the wood ramp waay better than you.

  20. Larry McGaw

    Here in Canada these were marketed as Fastback 100’s. My very first new bike. I remember they came out with a Fastback 101 for girls — purple, I recall. Mine was $60 plus another $3 for the provincial government. Maybe I should have kept it.

  21. Markone

    I had this bike. Same color even. Used to suspend my newspaper delivery bag between the handlebars. Left the house at 5:15am to do the route in a hilly Vermont town. Coolest delivery vehicle one could drive without a license.

  22. Monsieur_le_baton

    the 3 speed was known as the bollock (ball) crusher – if you had a crash on your chopper, you slid off of the seat straight into that raised gear knob – worst kind of pain

    Like 1
  23. Dougm

    really wanted the Chopper during early 70’s high school years as it seemed like all the neighborhood kids had the Schwinn Stingrays but with a 4 mile one way (uphill both ways) ride after soccer, basketball, track practice I decided on Raleigh’s Gran Prix model. It would be great to have one of these now though I probably couldn’t get far from home without killing my knees.

  24. Steve

    Growing up in Western Maryland that was my EXACT bike!!!!! I would LOVE to have it but not at that price. I’ll just download the photos and fondly remember.

  25. Mario

    As a teenager I owned one in South Africa.
    Still a true classic, I had one just like it but in a deep purple, plenty chrome too.

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