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Raleigh History

We formed the IRCC in 2002

However for at least ten years prior to 2002
we had all searched for the Holy Grail,
Indivually we had all been visiting old bike shops,
scouring through Buy & Sell
in the hope that we would find a Raleigh Chopper.
Several members found Choppers in the late 1980's but most of us managed to find a Chopper in the 1990's

These are just a few of the stories from our early years.

 

Irish Independent article from 2004

For those of you who have been asking me about the Indo article here it is with the transcript below.
At the time this article had a deeply negative effect on us,
and placed our children in danger as we could no longer allow
them to use the Choppers in case some idiot tried to take their bike !

Even now ...9 years on some people still think that Choppers are worth 3 grand!!

Here is how that myth came about...

The figure of 3 grand actually came about when Jim Bernard was interviewed at the launch of the Mk3... for those of you who don't know Jim is an American collecter who owns the Muscle Bike Museum.

Jim claims to have the oldest Raleigh Chopper in the world valued at $3500 or ... you get the idea.. €3000!!!!
Now its the oldest most sough after Chopper, quite unique.
Its a Horizon blue Mk1 with the cables through the frame.
short sissy bar, No spoke protector
as this was a later design addition.

In todays climate even this Chopper would struggle
to meet its valuation.

If you have a tatty Mk2 of which over a million were made its worth from €70 to €200 depending on condition and if its missing parts etc...
it is NOT worth a fortune, it is NOT an investment.
What it is However is a great piece of modern history and a great memory from our Childhood.

By Paul Melia
Wednesday February 25 2004

They were the bicycles a generation of children worshipped, and now they're back.

But if you were hoping to get your hands on a new Raleigh Chopper, forget it - the initial batch of just 2,004 bicycles has already sold out.

With their distinctive "ape-hanger" handlebars, red-trimmed tyres and an elongated seat the Chopper was the epitome of 1970s playground chic.

The iconic model, launched in 1969, became the best selling children's bicycle - drawing on a wave of enthusiasm prompted by the classic motorcycle film of that year, Easy Rider.

The new model, which will be available in around three weeks, retains almost all the quirky features of the original. The only change is that the gearshift has moved from the crossbar to the handlebars for safety reasons.

Raleigh Ireland said 100 of the first batch of special edition Choppers were destined for here and these had already been sold. A further, bigger manufacturing run will follow later in the year.

Managing director Mel Sutcliffe said what had started out as a "bit of fun" has turned into one of the most eagarly-awaited launches of a new bicycle, with the company getting up to 100 calls a day inquiring about the new Chopper.

Most of the calls are from middle-aged men keen to rekindle their youth, but schoolchildren have also expressed their admiration for the distinctive machine.

And if you're the owner of an old Raleigh Choppers take note - your bike could now be worth up to €3,000.

- Paul Melia

(Choppers were never worth anything like €3000,00)


This was one of our first stories written way back in 2002

August 2002
Could this be the worst Raleigh chopper in the world…. Ever?

This strange looking piece of 70's nostalgia! Arrived on my doorstep or more precisely over my side gate one morning last August.
A good friend of ours who does our dry-cleaning told me of a chap in Leixlip who had a "silver" Chopper.I was of course interested in seeing this as I thought "jubilee model" (which was issued in 1977 by Raleigh to commemorate the Queens silver jubilee. As a result it also became the least popular model in Ireland, which was a great shame.
Today only about 3 or 4 genuine silver models remain in this country.)

Anyway back to the story! …

My wife had just completed the school run and arrived home. To her horror this wreck was dangling off our gate.
"You and your bloody chopper!" she said obviously a little annoyed,"making a laughing stock of you!" she continued getting even more annoyed. "What are you on about?" I enquired; still unsure what had caused this otherwise calm and placid individual to become so agitated. This was completely out of character for her so when she said "Someone has left an old Raleigh Chopper on our gate" I was out in a flash to have a look and sure enough there it was.

I calmed her down by explaining that 1. Choppers are rare, 2. The kids in the estate don't know what a Chopper is! And 3. I had a fair idea who had left it there.

The wreck stayed in the side entrance for a few days while I pondered how I was going to get rid of it.
I decided I would salvage what I could and get the rest into bin bags, anything else would have to go to Ballymount (the local council dump).

So I set about dismantling it, in the photos it looks fairly solid but in fact it was rusted through. The wheels crumbled and the spokes could be snipped away with ease, still both the front and rear hubs were in good condition following a good scrub I found the hub date was 9/76. The frame was a Mk 1 which had a carrier added. The handlebars were also Mk 1 but the sissy bar Mk2. The original colour was yellow and it appeared this bike was rebuilt in 78/79, as the saddle was a late Mk2 solid piece construction.


Following the post-mortem, I got a call from Niall. "How much is it worth?" he asked! "You have to be joking?" I replied. It would cost 10 Euro to dump it in Ballymount. "Oh!" came the reply, "well I will bring it back to him, d'ont touch it!" He said. "Bol**x" I thought, the bike now stripped and ready for the dump.

I did however offer to pay 20 Euro for it just to save Niall's embarrassment but believe it or not the owner wanted more!
We may be enthusiasts but we are not idiots.

So there you are that's the story of this poor old Chopper, abandoned and unloved for 25 years allowed to decay beyond any hope of restoration. I suppose there are lots more just like it out there, behind garden sheds, lying at the bottom of canals etc., and now that they have become collectable they are suddenly worth a "fortune"or so people think. Like all other collectibles in the world something only has value if someone else is willing to buy it from you, otherwise its JUNK!

IRCC feature in the Echo Newspaper. May 2003.

More great club news as we are featured in Dublin's local newspaper

"The Echo"

Due to the continued interest in Choppers, we were contacted by Shaneen Armstrong.
Shaneen had been researching her article and wanted to feature the club.

As part of her research she called to the home of our club P.R.O Aiden Herdman in Celbridge to take photos and get the scoop on Aiden's interest in the 70's icon.
We will of course archive the article here on the site for future interest.

 

Kells Choppers 2004


The Only Chopper Club member who actually had a Chopper in the 1970's
is Sean Murphy.

Sean got his Mk2 in 1974,
His dad had borrowed his bike one evening and unfortunately lost it!

Feeling guilty Sean was taken to the local bike shop in Inchicore were we was told to pick out a bike...

He picked a Purple Mk2 Raleigh Chopper... Sean always had expensive taste.
Every week for the next six months his dad put money off this gleaming Mk2..

Sean only had the Chopper a couple of years before in Summer 1976 it was stolen. This was a fate that quite a number of Choppers faced as they were the most sought after bike of the time.


March 4th 2003 on the Ray D'Arcy show

We received an email from Jenny Kelly with regard to an enquiry sent in for fix-it Friday.

A listener wanted to know if you could still get a Chopper

There has been renewed interest in Choppers with the arrival of the Chopper T-shirts in Burton's.

Following on from this Jenny asked John from the chopper club to speak to Ray live on air about the club on Wednesday Morning.

 

So a big thank you to all at Today FM from the chopper club.

With the Launch of the Mk3 in 2004,
There was a flurry of activity
in terms of media.
This to be quite honest is never a good thing because it just can't last !

The Late Gerry Ryan.

The Indo article was read by
Gerry Ryan on his morning show
on Feb 25th,
The launch had been the previous day.
People were calling in as they do to share their memories and of course...
They ALL had a Chopper !!

The biggest problem was that they were all saying that the bikes were like Gold dust.
Now we had at the time a lot of young kids within the Club who would take the Choppers out for a spin.

Only a few months earlier a young boy had been killed in Coolock for his mobile phone, so I needed to set the record straight.

I tried to phone but could not get through, so I emailed Helen (Gerry Ryan's) researcher.
She is on the ball, and called me within a couple of minutes.

I went on air with Gerry, and in his own gruff way we got the story across, only to be joined in the conversation by a couple of others who still Thought the Choppers were worth €3000.00 !!

I just knew after the interview that things would never be the same ...
We could never again let the kids use the bikes on their own, nor could they take them to School..




From the Guinness Newsletter 2003
RECYCLING OF A DIFFERENT KIND

If you were one of those kids who always wanted a Raleigh chopper but were told they were too expensive or If you were lucky enough to own a chopper, but your parents told you that you had spent your next twenty years of pocket money! Then read on.
Aidan Herdman, Keg Plant Dublin and John Hughes are co-founders of the Irish Raleigh Chopper Club. Aidan writes
'We formed the club in Spring 2002 to cater for the growing interest in these 1970's icons. The main aims of the club are to help individuals restore and maintain these bikes and to give practical advice to the 'non-mechanically' minded restorers.
The club also promotes cycling as a family fun pastime and to that end, we take part in any cycling event, which focuses on family participation. The club has gone from strength to strength, we have members ranging in age from seven to seventy and the club received a huge profile boost recently when John Hughes from the club featured on the Ray D'arcy show on Today FM.
We are always a focus of attention at events and are regularly asked by children and adults alike where they can buy these bikes and how much do they cost!!! (Raleigh choppers were last made in 1982). We are participating in the Lucan St. Patrick's Day parade and to promote our ethos of Family Fun Cycling we are dressing in 70's fancy dress and we will also have a 70's mobile disco with music to suit everyone from glam rockers to glam grannies!
So if you have a Raleigh chopper in any condition buried at the bottom of your shed or garage and would like some help restoring it don't hesitate to contact me or visit www.letsgoout.ie and watch out for us at future cycling events
.


When the Mk3 launched in 2004 we did a spate of Radio & TV,

Lots of local radio shows were eager to get us on air.
We appeared on Noel Shannon's radio sow on KFM

Tallaght FM at the time was doing quite well
and suprisingly enough we ended up being contacted by
several people from the area who had Mk2 Choppers.

One of which we later aquired for the Club.

We subsequently loaned Choppers to several
Production companies.
Choppers used on Irish TV in the past 10 years
have been supplied by the IRCC.
However even with all of the publicity..
Kelloggs still used a Mk3 for their retro 70's advert !