Overview6004 South 190th St. Suite 101 Kent, WA 98032
Raleigh Bicycle Company is one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world with origins dating to 1887. Today it still reproduces some of its cult classics like the Vektar and Chopper, but also offers modern mountain, road, comfort and kids bikes.
t: view phone253-395-1100
f: view fax253-872-0257
If you were part of the cult BMX movement of the 1980s, chances are you owned a Raleigh Vektar, a bike that seemed to cross Star Wars with Knightrider and had its own trip meter and FM radio. Or perhaps, if you go back further still, you owned the classic Grifter or wedge-shaped Chopper of the 1970s; names that sound rather James Deanesque. In fact the Raleigh has had an almost equally glamorous history.
The Raleigh Bicycle Company was originally based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom and owned by Frank Bowden. Bowden had been so impressed with his own bicycle, he bought the outfit that had made it in 1887. Within three years he had increased their production rate so much, he needed to move from their address in Raleigh Street but retained the name in memory of the company’s origins.
From there Raleigh blossomed. In 1939 new factories were opened in Dublin and production expanded to include Raleighette motorcycles from 1899 to1908, a two-passenger motorcycle and three-wheel car in the 1930s, and mopeds in the 50s and 60s. Most of these products were later abandoned to concentrate on bicycles, which by 1938 had reached a production of 62,000 per annum.
Production continued to be smooth sailing throughout the first few decades of the 20th Century with sales of the popular sports roadster bicycles. These three and five speed transmissions were lighter and quicker than the old English roadsters and American cruisers and quickly dominated the market. In 1946 English manufacturers, including Raleigh, accounted for 95 per cent of bikes imported into the US. Production hit one million in 1951. In 1960 Raleigh Industries merged with Tube Investments Group and became the world's largest producers of two-wheeled personal transport.
However with the increasing affordability of automobiles, bicycle production declined. But when the Raleigh Chopper bicycle was launched for American children in the 1970s it revived some of the company's fortunes, selling millions worldwide. The Chopper had a wedge-shaped frame, small front wheel and large back wheel. Another cult classic was the Grifter in 1976 and the 1980s BMX bikes including the too-cool, must-have Vektar.
Much reorganization of various outlets of the company occurred in the 80s and 90s. Raleigh acquired the Diamondback Bike brand in 1999, but later in 2001 all Raleigh companies were acquired by the Derby Cycle Corporation who have reworked the brand again, relaunching iconic models like the Chopper and Burner BMX and pushing a range of road, mountain, hybrids, children’s and cruiser bikes. While many people still buy Raleigh for their classic old school look, not all the bikes are just about sitting smooth and enjoying the view, some actually have some speed.
Raleigh is trying to re-awaken its association with cycle sport. The company previously sponsored various professional teams and made race frames. In 1980 a Raleigh bike won its first Tour de France, Team USA was victorious at the Los Angeles Olympics on Raleigh bikes in 1984 and Raleigh sponsored a number of British professional teams in the 80s. In 2009 Raleigh announced an interest in returning to these days, by founding a British cycling team called Team Raleigh.
Raleigh doesn't seem to get the raised eyebrow effect bike companies like Cannondale or Trek receive but they are generally considered value for money with durable, hard working frames. Prices vary depending on what model you want, but the site rates bikes according to dollar signs and there are just six ranges. The cheapest models are rated under $200, the most expensive over $5,000.
Hours of work
Monday - Friday
9:00am - 5:00pm (Pacific Time)
Standard Frames: Yes
Custom Frames: No
Retrofitting old bikes: No
Year Established: 1887
Products Made In: China, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, UK
Availability: Independent Bicycle Dealers
Types of Bicycles: Road and fitness, mountain, touring, trails, town and comfort, BMX, youth, electric, folding
Construction Methods: TIG welding, lugged bikes, carbon bonding techniques
Frame Materials: steel, aluminum, carbon fiber