Retro Day: The Chopper

In the year 1969 a movie called Easy Rider was released.  Though the majority of kids could not go see the movie because of its R rating, everyone saw the look of the stars on the poster.  The two guys (Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda) were out on the open desert road wearing their leather jackets and wrap-around shades, riding on choppers.  They looked all too cool.  The movie was a huge hit, and thereafter motorcycles were all the rage.  Unfortunately for anyone under the age of 16, they couldn’t drive one.  So in 1970 the British company Raleigh came up with the perfect solution – The Chopper bicycle, also known as “The Hot One”

The Chopper

Though the bike was not an overnight success in the U.S. when it was launched, it was the must-have item of the 70s in England.  A special feature of the bike was its wide ape hanger handlebars and long padded, high back banana-style seat – very much in the style of Easy Rider. The bike featured a 3 and 5-speed and single-speed Sturmey Archer hub.  Gears were selected on a very rad frame-mounted console gear lever which was largely considered to be the bike’s coolest feature.   The Chopper also had two different sized, super chunky wheels – 16 inches in front and 20 inches in the rear.  To top it all off the super-charged bike also had bobbed fenders, a rear hoop above the seat, and a kickstand that was designed to ape the look of a parked motorcycle.  Though the bike did eventually catch on in America, the competition with the Schwinn Stingray was always tough.

In 2004, a new model was launched, the Mk3. This bike is a safer, more durable model of the original Chopper.  It has a standard bicycle seat, the gear lever on the handlebars, and the bike is now much lighter!  But, the front and rear wheels remain the same, fat 16 and 20 inches.  So don’t worry, you too can have the coolest bike of the 70s, only all new and improved, and be the envy of all your friends this summer!


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