Pedaling with Papa: A Granddaughter’s Shared Love for a Raleigh Muscle Bike
Updated: May 10
For this family duo, performance-oriented two-wheels is always better than four.
Bob Ashton may be widely known for his passion for classic muscle cars, but when it comes to shared interests with his granddaughter, Emily, it's all about vintage muscle bikes. They both love pedaling through past eras of 1960s and 1970s two-wheelers with a cherished inclusion being Emily’s ultra-rare 1970 Raleigh Chopper.
A Two-Wheeled Treasure
While the boy's version of this bicycle is highly coveted, this girl's variant (with omitted high center bar) is even more elusive. Produced solely in 1970, many of these once-overlooked girl's bikes were used for parts to spruce up their male counterparts, which makes finding one in its original state quite a challenge. Bob searched for years and was eventually able to locate this Space Blue example through his extensive network of like-minded enthusiasts.
The well-preserved Chopper is entirely original, down to the paint and redline tires, and was purchased at a police auction in Connecticut by the previous owner in 1998. It still retains its period and color-matching front basket accessory.“Another benefit if you can find a complete one, they’re usually a bit nicer as girls tend to take better care of their toys,’ laughed Bob.
Cheeky Competition: Raleigh's Response
The Chopper was Raleigh's answer to the popularity of Schwinn's ‘Krate’ line of muscle bikes, which was taking the US by storm. Following suit, Raleigh designed its own model based on period dragsters.
What resulted was an imaginative speed machine, utilizing a 15½-inch wedge-shaped frame, a 20-inch rear wheel, high-rise 'ape hanger' handlebars, coil-spring shock absorbers, and a high-back L-bucket rolled and pleated saddle. Tucked behind it was a chromed ‘roll bar’. A multi-speed gear selector was the finishing touch to give young riders the thrill of piloting a hot set of wheels.
When new, the bikes retailed in England for around £30 and sold in North America for $37 with marketing slogans touting its ability to ‘chew up the road’ and to ‘eat the competition’.
A Hot One: Joining the Collection
"Emily loves vintage bikes as much as I do, and she's always excited when I come across something new," says Bob. "I bought this one for her, knowing it would be a great addition to her growing collection."
Bob isn't exaggerating about Emily's impressive lineup. She herself owns over 20 vintage and classic bicycles and, while she displays them regularly (including appearances at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals and Detroit’s EyesOn Design) her greatest joy is riding. "Whenever we're together, she always asks me, 'Papa, do you want to go for a bike ride?' Despite having new, modern bicycles, she always prefers the classics – especially this one."