Raleigh Chopper Owners Club     ( www.rcoc.co.uk )                     



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Guardian Unlimited






UK news New look Chopper hopes for cult revival

Matthew Taylor
Friday January 16, 2004
The Guardian

The classic bike that defined a decade for many a parka-clad youngster is back after more than quarter of a century. The new look Chopper will hit the shops in April, when the first 2,004 go on sale.

The Chopper was a "must have" item in 1970s Britain, when 1.5m were sold. It has since built a cult following, with fan clubs round the world.

Gary Hughes, manager of the Raleigh Chopper Owners' Club, said its return was great news. "It's fantastic for all the fans of these wonderful bikes. People all over the world cannot wait to get their hands on one. We've got members in Australia, Singapore and the USA who are all excited about this."

The new Chopper will be available only in its original Infra Red, with the red-lined tyres and distinctive "ape hanger" handlebars, elongated seat, back rest, and chrome seat loop. One difference will be the gearshift, moved from the crossbar to the handlebars for safety reasons.

Despite this Mr Hughes thinks it will prove just as popular. "It was an absolute classic then, and it still is today," said the 39-year-old City trader. "It had a big seat so you could take your mate for a ride, and it had the shift gear stick just like your dad's Cortina. When you look in bike shops today, it's like modern cars - they are all the same boring design. The Chopper is different, it's got style; and that is why it is still so popular."

Among fans are the England goalkeeper David James, and Blur singer Damon Albon.

Loz Cox, product manager at Raleigh, said: "It 's taken us nine months to redesign, and we know it's going to prove as popular as it did in the 1970s."

Raleigh shut its Nottingham factory, which once employed 8,000, at the end of 2002. The bulk of production has moved to Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Thailand, although some wheels are still made in the UK.

Instant nostalgia

1970s: When not falling off their hard-to-ride Chopper bikes, children had innocent hobbies. For outdoor types it was bouncing - either sitting on a Space Hopper, or standing on a pogo stick. For those with less ambition (and less pocket money) the must-have items were yo-yos or, if you were desperate, Clackers. And for an embryonic gaming generation, the "computer" game Pong, allegedly based on tennis, was as hi-tech as it got.

Today: PlayStation 2 and the X-Box console offer limitless fantasies in front of the TV. For a truly interactive experience mechanised pets are hard to beat. For the more traditionally minded, Beyblades, hi-tech spinning tops, are popular, as are Bratz: "funky dolls with a great range of fashion accessories".





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