Chopper Designer Alan Oakley Dies

I seem to be writing a lot of Obits lately; it’s perhaps a sign that I am getting on when some of the designers of iconic products from my childhood are shuffling off this mortal coil and through the pearly gates , probably considering a remodel of them, safe in the knowledge that the celestial budget will cover it.

Alan Oakley designed the original Raleigh Chopper in 1967, apparently whilst on an airplane back from the States. It might have been a n American dragster or perhaps a Harley Hog that influenced him, but the Chopper quickly became the bike every boy – and girl – from 8 to 18 wanted. It didn’t look like your dad’s bike, you didn’t need to roll up your trouser leg or put on bicycle clips; it didn’t look like your big brother’s racer or your sisters shopper – it was made for one thing only – making you look cooler than the Fonz. Sure, the ape-hanger handle bars and the asymmetrical wheels could tip you up if your balance was off and you’d career into the frame-mounted gear changer if your braking was even a little hesitant but  add a clicker to the tyre spokes (and not streamers to the handlebars) and it may as well have been a TR7!

Oakley turned around the fortunes of Raleigh in Nottingham but allegedly received no additional pay for his design. Employer’s ownership of copyright and inventions in is a fairly standard term in employment contracts. If you need advice on protecting and exploiting your designs or how to deal with employees’ inventions, contact Joanne Frears on 


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