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Vintage Raleigh Bicycles on

Vintage Raleigh bicycles instantly comes in mind if you are looking for a bicycle with utmost durability and top-notch performance. Raleigh is one of the oldest known bicycle makers in the history of bicycle making.

Did you know…?

Vintage Raleigh Bicycles

Did you know that the Raleigh MK2 Chopper was credited for reviving Raleigh’s flagging sales numbers in the 1970s?

It was considered an innovative upgrade on the original Chopper introduced in 1967. Features that proved extremely popular among cyclists at that time included five-speed derailleur gears and a rear rack for medium-sized loads.

Raleigh’s consistent research and development in the science of bicycle helped the company to survive the difficult times. Raleigh stood abreast with the changing demographic trends, innovative technology and the rapidly changing competition to become a big bicycle giant from a small factory in the Nottingham.

Now-a-days they are highly prized by collectors and also by ordinary people who want a durable yet retro bike to get around town on.

Let’s explore some of the points that made possible for Raleigh to make those still remembered vintage bicycle Raleigh.

The Maker

Raleigh, as said earlier, is one of the oldest bicycle brands in the world. The company started its operation in 1887 in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, UK, under the dynamic leadership of Sir Frank Bowden. His doctor suggested he take up bicycling. Bowden liked his bike so much he went around to the Woodhead/Angois/Ellis shop on Raleigh Street in Nottingham, where it was built and bought the company. In just six years, the Raleigh Cycle Company was the world’s biggest bicycle maker, and the plant occupied seven and a half acres in Lenton, Nottingham.

Raleigh anticipated a boom in business as the colonial empire spread over the world, with endless possibilities to export its products around the world.

The mass production that followed this dramatic increase in sales of the vintage bicycle Raleigh allowed Raleigh to make its bicycle manufacturing more efficient and to lower its production costs. This was translated into cheaper bicycles to the domestic and international markets.

Steel is King

At the turn of the century, steel was king and considered to be the ultimate building material for everything from ships to buildings to bicycles. British steel helped build an empire and Raleigh proudly advertised their “all steel bicycles” when many other bike builders still made some of their parts out of cheaper and cruder cast iron.

While many of the American manufacturers from the same era built bikes like the Elgin Bluebird that were rolling works of art, Raleigh focused on building durable, practical bicycles that were meant to be someone’s main form of transportation.

Raleigh was unique in that virtually every part found on an antique Raleigh bicycle was made in the same 40-acre factory in Nottingham. They made the frame tubing, the frames, the hubs, the wheels – even the saddles which were made by Brooks, a Raleigh company.

Raleigh Sport Bikes

Raleigh bought the rights to the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub in 1902 and began to build three-speed “Sport” bikes that were the company’s staple right up until the 1970s. The Sports model and the more upscale Superbe model were considered to be the flagships of the company’s utility bikes. The Superbe usually came equipped with a Dynohub lighting system, locking fork, luggage rack, and Brooks B66 saddle, an upgrade from the B72 found on the Sport model. The same models were also made under the Rudge and Humber names. Advertising from the early 1960s highlights the fact that the Dynohub lighting system on the Superbe could provide emergency lighting in a fallout shelter.

Famous vintage Raleigh bicycles

Many Raleigh bicycle models were very popular in the US market, as well as in Europe and Asian markets. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Raleigh’s Sports Roadster

This vintage Raleigh bicycle is the greatest landmark of the Raleigh Company. Those roadsters got immense popularity all around the world in 1950’s, and are still in use in various third world countries of Asia and Africa.

The Roadster bikes were built for durability over rough, unpaved roads and cobblestones. No attempt was made to save weight on these bikes and they were often used by policemen and postmen. They can be identified by their big wheels and a gear case that completely covered the chain.


The Raleigh Clubman

During the post war years, Raleigh became known for producing lightweight sport bikes, also called “English Racers,” that they exported around the world. The Clubman was introduced in 1946 and was designed for club riders who rode regularly with other riders in small clubs. They were lightweight, but the geometry was more relaxed than pure racing bikes of the era.

The Clubman was equipped with mudguards and lighting systems. It became very popular in the US and vitally important for Raleigh because after the war, British companies were required to help out with the country’s post war recovery by exporting a certain percentage of their products. The Clubman featured a Reynolds 531 frame and was in production until 1951. It found a ready market among adult riders with a need for speed in the U.S.


Raleigh Chopper

Chopper is yet another landmark of Raleigh Company, whose alone sale in US and Canada gave revenue of billions to the company. Chopper was a kids bicycle with very reasonable price, starting from $50. The wheelie bike design became a style symbol back in 70’s.


Raleigh Burner

This vintage bicycle Raleigh was introduced back in 80’s and was a primitive form of BMX bicycle. The model was later replaced by more advanced BMX bicycle from Raleigh, by the name of Raleigh Grifter.


“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Bill Cosby


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