“I’ve got one which nobody has beaten yet,” he adds.
“Bearing in mind that Alan Oakley came back on November 3, 1968, I’ve got a hub-dated Mk I Chopper which is from December 11, 1968.
I did a deal with a guy in America, for nine Mk IIs and four Mk Is for the bike.” Part of the appeal of collecting Choppers comes down to their sheer variety.
Currently housed at Brooklands Museum, over 1.5m Choppers were eventually made.
Extreme stunts Comedian Johnny Vegas once rode a Chopper into a swimming pool, apparently after crashing on the first six attempts. Celebrity backing David Beckham was rumoured to have bought one of the Mk III Choppers released in 2004, allegedly reserving number 23 (to match his shirt number at Real Madrid).
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Chopper royalty “It still gives me a buzz,” Sykes says.
“Some of them come with pictures of the kid next to the Christmas tree, and some have the original receipt with them showing how much they paid down at Halfords.” The holy grail of Chopper collecting, according to Sykes, is a certain version of the special edition Chopper released for Christmas 1976 to commemorate the Queen’s silver jubilee the following year.The cult of Chopper even has its own creation myth: the late Raleigh designer Alan Oakley, flying back from a research trip to the US to see the Chopper’s pre-cursor, the Schwinn Stingray, famously sketched designs for the first prototype on the back of an airmail envelope.Also, since they were handmade in Raleigh’s Nottingham factory, the odd ‘Friday afternoon job’ with upside-down stickers sometimes crops up too.1972-3: Chopper Sprint released, featuring drop handlebars.1976: Gold-plated Chopper marks the production of the millionth Chopper.I paid a hell of a lot of money for that: £5,500.” It’s unlikely that many of today’s kids will actually get to experience the thrill of riding one of the brand new Choppers; most of the limited edition new models have already been sold to collectors.