On Friday 18th May 2012, Nottingham lost a hero.
Alan Oakley, the man who designed Raleigh's iconic Chopper bicycle died following a battle with cancer on Friday. During his 85 years, Alan’s Raleigh story has become as legendary as the chopper he designed.
The legend, now confirmed by his wife Karen, was that Mr. Oakley drew the design for the Chopper on an envelope as he travelled home from the USA, in 1967. He had been there on a trip that was intended to encourage him to “get to grips” with youth culture. Initially inspired to replicate the design of Peter Fonda's motorbike in the classic movie Easy Rider, Mr. Oakley came up with his drawing as he flew home from the trip.
Sales in the USA were slow at first; they just didn’t take to the modern design that moved away from the traditional, diamond-shaped frame. Mr. Oakley’s design exuded ‘cool’ with its huge handle bars, bulky padded seat, and back rest.
In the early 70’s, sales in the UK exploded, and according to Raleigh, "changed the way a generation of British kids rode".
The Chopper was so successful, Raleigh sold 1.5 million of them in the UK alone, and the strange bike is credited with saving the company from bankruptcy.
Historically, Nottingham is steeped in creative heritage, from textiles to writers to musicians to manufacturing. Pop Up Nottingham, aims to embrace and build upon our history to kick start a creative future.
Mr. Oakley’s legacy is a reminder of what has been achieved by passionate and inspired Nottingham people; it should also act as inspiration for what can be achieved by a new generation of passionate and inspired Nottingham people.
Article by Lucy G / 21st May 2012
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