By Paul Wright
Kids who grew up in the 1970s & 80s were blessed with a golden age of bicycle production. At the turn of the 1970s Nottingham company Raleigh began producing a number of now collectable and iconic models.
Inspired by American dragster motorbikes, the Raleigh Chopper brought a touch of Easy Rider to the mean streets of 70s British suburbia, becoming an icon of the era. Smaller models for younger children such as the Tomahawk, Chipper and Budgie came soon after, followed by the Chopper MK 2 in 1972.
Other classic models produced during the decade, include the rather bulky Grifter in 1976, this came in a choice of either metallic blue or red, complete with a twist grip gear shift. It’s smaller relations the Boxer & Strika followed as well as the MK 2 Grifter in 1978.
Enter the early 80s and the BMX scene found its way over the Atlantic, once again the Raleigh design team produced the goods, this time in the way of the Raleigh Burner in 1982. A later model the Tuff Burner came complete with yellow skyway mag wheels for extra kudos.
Growing up 1980s there was an abundance of kids out in the streets, trying to perfect ‘bunny hops’ and ‘endo’s’ on their BMX’s, giving their mates a ‘backy’ to the shops or bouncing on a new set of stunt pegs. These bikes also gave us the freedom to explore our local areas & estates, helped us on our paper rounds and took us on many a bike ride and summer adventure.
Our gallery below revisits both decades with some of our favourite bike images.
Article by Paul Wright for British Culture Archive. www.twitter.com/mrpaulwright
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