In a limited-edition release, we’ve recreated one of the most iconic bikes in Raleigh history. Here’s how we did it.
Have you heard the news yet? The Raleigh Chopper – that iconic, cult-classic bike that defined the 70s for a whole generation – is back. And it’s as cool as ever.
In our latest hotly anticipated remake, we’ve delved deep into the archives to bring back the bike that everyone wanted under their Christmas tree. After tweaking the original MK1 to release the superior MK2 in 1972, this ultra-cool bike went on to sell a jaw-dropping 1.5 million units – appearing everywhere from magazines and music videos to your best mate’s garden.
So it was only a matter of time before we had to bring it back.
But how do you remake an icon? How do you revisit a true, die-hard classic, while still staying true to the original?
Whether you’re an old-school Chopper fan or a lover of all things retro, here’s a closer look at how we developed the new Raleigh Chopper.
Step 1: Reverse engineering an icon
The Raleigh Chopper was an icon of epic proportions. Which is why, for this reissue, we wanted to stick to the original model as closely as possible.
To recreate the magic of that OG bike, we started by reverse engineering an original MK2 Chopper – stripping it down and taking accurate measurements to understand exactly how it was made. We also consulted the drawings used in the original design process, which held the designs for some of the Chopper’s most iconic features – including the sissy bar, the chain guard and the rear carrier.
Step 2: The technical tweaks
From there, it was time to decide what changes to make to the updated Chopper. Because safety standards have evolved over the years, most reissues require a few technical tweaks. So, even when recreating an original model, there usually has to be one or two changes to meet modern standards.
Luckily, we were able to keep these changes extremely minimal. Advancements in manufacturing meant we could make the joins on the frame stronger through tig welding, while elements like the sissy bar and saddle had to be adjusted to meet the maximum height set out in safety rules. These rules also meant the Chopper needed to be fitted with modern brakes the design of those brakes still mimics the original model.
Once these changes had been ironed out, we mocked up a 3D model of the updated Chopper, which then went through virtual testing to make sure the design could withstand real-world use.
To make sure we stayed true to the classic Chopper, we also brought in a couple of experts to share their insights. As members of a committee that organises events to celebrate the Raleigh Chopper, lifelong fans Ken Price and Ron Whitmill were kind enough to lend us their expert eye, reviewing the new model and sharing their thoughts on the updates.
All combined, we were able to design a reissue that – bar a couple of safety tweaks – is nearly identical to the original MK2 Chopper. Same chunky rear wheel. Same U-shaped handlebars. Same attitude.
Step 3: Developing the components
Once the 3D model had been approved, we turned to developing each individual component. Using the 3D design, we created new 2D technical drawings for each element of the Chopper, working closely with our partner suppliers to bring them to life.
That’s when things got even more exciting.
Step 4: The prototype
After reviewing the samples of all the different components, it was time to see the new Raleigh Chopper as a whole – in all its retro glory. It was time to wheel out the prototype.
This stage gave us a chance to check all the little details – how the parts fitted together, how it looked and, of course, how it rode. Then, once all the elements were perfected, it was time to produce the first full model.
Step 5: The final checks
Before production went ahead, we worked with the factory assembly team to conduct sample checks and review the first full build of the updated Chopper. From physical testing and safety checks to reviewing the bike’s look and feel, we made sure everything was perfect for the full launch.
Step 6: Production begins
Then, it was time for production to begin in earnest. Every Chopper was assembled by hand along a moving track, with assembly experts along the line handling various parts. This is when all those finely-tuned details – the decals, the paint job, the epic leather seat – came together to create the perfect Chopper.
To make sure everything ran smoothly with production, Raleigh Technical Manager Chris Bland visited the factory to conduct final production checks – and eyeball the finished Chopper fresh from the production track.
Ready to drag like it’s 1972?
Now, the Raleigh Chopper is ready to ride again. And it’s a thing of beauty.
Whether you’re a fan of the OG bike or you just love all things vintage, this is a Chopper to be proud of. And soon, you’ll be able to get your hands (and feet) on one of your own.
So, mark your calendars – the limited-edition Raleigh Chopper will be wheeling back into the world on the 20th of June at midday.
And that’s not all. Along with the Chopper itself, we’re also releasing a range of spare parts, compatible with both the updated model and your OG Chopper. So, if you’re looking to refurb an original, we’ve got everything you need to create your dream set of wheels.
Want to be the first to hear about the drop? Sign up to the Raleigh newsletter to stay in the loop about all things Chopper related – including details on how to snag yours.
If you’ve had a Chopper-shaped hole in your heart since the seventies, this is your time to cruise again.