Vintage Raleigh Bikes Identification and Value Guide

The classic vintage Raleigh bikes were first introduced to the market in 1888 by the Raleigh Bicycle Company. With state-of-the-art designs, excellent craftsmanship, and materials considered revolutionary for that time, these bikes quickly rose to set new standards for biking excellence.

Today, vintage Raleigh bicycles remain a favorite among fans and collectors all over the globe. Whether you’re looking for your next fixie or just out to add a bit of retro flair to your collection, you can’t go wrong with a vintage Raleigh!

So we’re here to help with a comprehensive guide on vintage Raleigh bikes – from identification tips to where you can find the best models out there.

The Brief History of Raleigh Cycle Company

Raleigh Cycle has a long and storied history dating back to 1885 in Nottingham, England. Frank Bowden, a French businessman, bought the workshop and founded Raleigh Cycle Company in 1888. It was a time of rapid innovation in cycling technology, and Raleigh was quick to embrace new ideas and designs.

From its very first days in business, Raleigh was known as an industry leader with an excellent reputation for quality products. Over the years, the company produced iconic road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes, and more.

They sponsored professional cycling teams, partnered with other famous brands, bought competitors, and recruited some of the top talents from across Europe and America.

By all accounts, Raleigh Cycle Company reached its peak in popularity during the 1960s and 70s. Throughout this period, it was one of the most recognizable brands in sports history and one of the most desirable labels for cyclists worldwide.

Eventually, after decades of cycling technology and design innovation, the company branched out into other areas, such as motorcycles and electric bikes. Today it’s owned by a Dutch conglomerate, but the Raleigh name still conjures up images of those classic bikes from days gone.

Most Famous Vintage Raleigh Bicycles

Below is a list of vintage Raleigh bike models that are particularly popular among collectors and enthusiasts today.

1- Raleigh Chopper

Raleigh Chopper
Raleigh Chopper MK2: ebay

When it comes to iconic childhood bicycles, the Raleigh Chopper has a special place in the hearts of budding bikers everywhere. This classic ride was an immediate hit when it made its debut back in 1969, quickly earning a coveted spot on kids’ wish lists across the country.

With its iconic banana seat and unusual frame, 3-speed, and 5-speed models, the Chopper oozes cool retro years ahead of its time. Several MK1 and MK2 models were released over the years of production, each with slightly different features.

Raleigh even released a limited edition MK3 in 2004 to mark the 25th anniversary of this classic bike.

So if you’re looking for a way to return to your childhood roots or simply want to reminisce about your favorite freewheeling days, hop on a Raleigh Chopper and take a ride down memory lane! You won’t be disappointed.

2- Raleigh Twenty

Raleigh Twenty
Raleigh Twenty Folding: ebay

Raleigh Twenty also called “Shopper,” is another iconic bicycle range from the 1960s and 1970s. This one was more towards small compact size and came in both foldable and fixed versions.

Twenty was originally released in 1968, but it got real attention in the 70s when Raleigh RSW was discontinued. And in 1977, it became the best-selling bicycle in the UK.

There are different variations of Raleigh Twenty, like Raleigh Eighteen, Raleigh Commando, and Raleigh Twenty. The Raleigh eighteen was especially geared toward children and adults with small stature. Raleigh Commando was a bit more like the Chopper, aimed at young people.

3- Raleigh Grifter

Raleigh Grifter
Raleigh Grifter Bike: ebay

The Raleigh Grifter was a beloved children’s bicycle produced from 1976 to 1983. It featured a 3-speed Sturmey Archer and a handlebar-mounted twist grip, similar to the Raleigh Twenty Shopper bicycle.

The Grifter was part of a range of age-specific bicycles, including the Raleigh Wisp, RSW, and Robin. The Grifter was discontinued in 1983 but has recently grown in popularity among collectors.

The Gifter is quite identifiable by its color range. The MK1 Grifters were produced from 1976 to 1979 and came in Metallic Blue or Metallic Red. The MK2 Grifters were produced from 1978 to 1983 and came in seven shades: Blaze Blue, GS, Silver, Black, Gold Super Grifter, XL, Flame Red, and Blue Super Grifter.

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4- Raleigh Burner

Raleigh Burner
Raleigh Team Burner: ebay

Raleigh Burner range immediately captured the hearts and imaginations when it was first introduced in 1982. One of the most successful models is Aero Pro Burner, released in 1983.

With its lightweight construction and sleek design, this revolutionary BMX bike quickly became a favorite amongst cyclists everywhere. In fact, it was named “Bike of the Year” by popular BMX BI-Weekly magazines.

It was such a hit that Raleigh sold 500,000 Burners in the first two years alone. In response to the overwhelming demand, Raleigh released 13 new MK2 Burner models in 1984. The range was discontinued in 1986, but the Burner remains one of Raleigh’s most popular bikes to date.

5- Raleigh Team Professional Bicycle

Raleigh Team Professional Bicycle
Rare Team Raleigh Track Bike Campagnolo Pista: ebay

A huge series of racing bicycles produced by Raleigh from 1972 to 1984, the Team Professional bikes were favored by professionals and amateur racers around the globe. The bikes featured high-quality components and innovative design elements that set them apart from other racing bicycles of the time.

Some of the most notable features of the Team Professional bikes include seat pins and small flange quick-release hubs. The bikes were also outfitted with alloy sprint rims and Cinelli alloy bend and stem.

These combinations made the Team Professional bikes some of the lightest and most rigid racing bicycles on the market.

Raleigh also offered customization and a variety of colors for the Team Professional bikes. The most iconic colors were Raleigh Blue and Yellow, but the bikes could also be ordered in a variety of other colors.

How to Identify & Date Raleigh Bicycles?

Now that we know some basics about Raleigh, let’s answer the most asked question; how old is my Raleigh bike? Well, there are a few ways so let’s get into it.

1- Decipher The Serial Number

The easiest and most certain way to date a Raleigh is by decoding its serial number. Every Raleigh 3-speed frame has a serial number stamped on the Sturmey-Archer rear hubs. For other models, the serial number is stamped on the seat lug.

But unfortunately, Raleigh has changed its serial number system a few times throughout the years, which makes the method a little tricky. So here’s a quick rundown of Raleigh’s serial number systems to help you date your Raleigh bike.

Before that, remember that serial numbers can cross over in case the company used older frames or had any leftover stock. Raleigh also acquired and absorbed a few other brands over the years; these serial numbers may not work for them.

Pre-1925: Only Digits

 Until 1925, Raleigh used 5 or 6-digit codes. But these codes don’t follow any pattern and are just random numbers assigned to each year. This means you’ve to check the serial number against a list of known codes.

For example:

  1. 7600 means 1891
  2. 10500 means 1892
  3. 328748 means 1911

Things are further complicated because Raleigh reused some of these codes in later years. So you need to be careful while interpreting these numbers.

1925-1947: Alphabet Followed by Digits

 After 1925, Raleigh introduced a new serial number system that used 5 digits preceded by one alphabet prefix. The letters can be A, B, E, G, L, T, W, or Y. Again, there is no pattern or logic to these codes, and you need to cross-check them individually.

For example:

  1. E15693 means 1929
  2. W93161 means 1936
  3. Y184552 means 1937

1947-1957 (Post WW-II): Digits Followed by Alphabet

 If your bike has a 6-digit code followed by an alphabet, it was manufactured after World War II. This time the codes became a little more coherent, but still, they had no pattern or literal meaning.

The examples are;

  1. 695051 P means 1949
  2. 151179 T means 1951
  3. 852312 T means 1956

1956-1966: Digits Followed by Alphabets

This new method was introduced in 1956, but Raleigh continued to use old numbers for a few models, so we can see some bikes with 5 digits and a single alphabet prefix till 1957. After that, all the codes have two letters at the end, except the year 1956, which has one alphabet. The letters can be AB, AD, AF, FE, or EF.

For example:

  1. 23839 A means 1956
  2. 27227 AB means 1957
  3. 17910 AD means 1958
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1966-1973: Alphabet Followed by Digits

 The codes became even more straightforward in 1966 with a single letter followed by 4 digits. This time the alphabets progress in a linear fashion, with each year represented by the next letter. So 1966 is A, 1967 is B, 1968 is C, and so on.

For example,

  1. A66234 means 1966
  2. C67123 means 1968
  3. L72036 means 1973

1973-1980s: Alphabets Followed by Digits

 The codes used in Raleigh’s higher-end bikes from 1974 onwards are entirely different and much more sophisticated.

  • The first letter indicates the location of Raleigh Worksop where the frame was built: N – Nottingham, W – Workshop, G – Gazelle, R – Canada, H – Handsworth UK so on.
  • The second alphabet is either A or B: A means produced in the first half, and B means built in the second.
  • The third character is a numeral: Indicating the year of manufacture; a 5 could mean 1975 or 1985. You have to make an educated guess based on the other factors.
  • The fourth part is a sequence of numbers: Like the previous code, this hasn’t been deciphered yet, and we can only speculate.

For example;

  1. GA465432 means Manufactured in Gazelle in the first half of 1974/1984
  2. WB715010 means Manufactured in Raleigh Workshop in the second half of 1977/1987
  3. NB018621 means Manufactured in Nottingham in 1980

Other Serial Number Formats

Raleigh started manufacturing in the USA in the late 1970s, and these bikes have entirely different serial number formats.

It consists of an alphabet followed by 9 digits followed by another alphabet. And it goes like this –

R120362703B

  • The first letter is always “R.”
  • 1st and 5th digits make up the last two digits of the year of production.
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 4th digits indicate the day of production out of 365 days of the year.
  • The 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th digits indicate the product number on the shift.
  • The last letter indicates the morning and evening shifts; A = morning, B= evening shift.

For example;

  1. R120362703B means Raleigh bike number 2703, manufactured on July 22, 2016, in the evening shift

2- Identify Bike Parts – Gears/Handlebars/Seats/Colo

Another way to narrow down the age of your Raleigh bike is by identifying its parts. For instance, Raleigh used elongated narrow seats until the 1970s. Later, when people started looking for more comfort, Raleigh introduced its wider cushioned seats in the 80s.

Raleigh also used classic high-rise, motorcycle-inspired handlebars in the 60s and 70s. The famous Chopper bike is a great example of this. But as the years went by, Raleigh started offering more variety in handlebars, including North Road bars, drop bars, and racing bars.

Earlier models also came in bright, neon colors, which aren’t as popular nowadays.

3- Check Online Catalogs

If you’re still unsure about the age of your Raleigh bike, another way to date is by checking online forums and bicycle catalogs.

Bicycle catalogs often contain pictures and descriptions of the bikes so you can compare and contrast your bike with the ones in the catalog. While forums are a great place to connect with other Raleigh enthusiasts and get advice.

How to Value Vintage Raleigh Bikes?

If you own a Raleigh bike, you’re likely wondering what is my vintage Raleigh bike worth. Unfortunately, there is no surefire answer to this question, as the value of a vintage Raleigh bike can vary greatly depending on its condition, age, and rarity.

But as an estimate, a vintage Raleigh bike in good condition can fetch anywhere from $500 to $2000. Or maybe a little more if it’s a rare model in mint condition.

We’ve selected 8 of the most popular and valuable Raleigh bikes from different eras to give you an idea of what your Raleigh bike might be worth.

Top 8 Vintage Raleigh Bikes Worth Money – $4,250

1- Rare Chopper MK1

Rare Chopper MK1
Source:ebay

Top of our list is this super rare Raleigh Chopper MK1 in bright orange. It has a 10-speed Sturmey Archer and is the only Chopper model to feature this. It’s also in good condition, and everything is original, including the paint, seat cushion, and tires.

The seat is also in great shape with no tears or rips. The only downside is the warped crank guard and a few nicks in the paint, but overall this Chopper has been well cared for, and it shows. It sold for a whopping $4250, making it one of the most valuable Raleigh bikes out there.

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2- 1976 Raleigh Gifter – $2,631

1976 Raleigh Gifter
Source:ebay

This mid-school Raleigh Gifter is a one-of-a-kind BMX bike in metallic blue. It has Sturmey Archer shifters from England and an internal Sturmey Archer 3-speed. The hinged lever is a nice touch, and the wide BMX handlebars make it perfect for doing tricks.

The seat is also unique and very comfortable. It comes with a vintage kickstand, a rare find on BMX bikes.The only downside is that it needs some parts, but it still sold for a very impressive $2631.

3- Vintage Raleigh Tourist Cruiser -$2,499

Vintage Raleigh Tourist Cruiser
Source:ebay

This vintage Raleigh Tourist cruiser is a 1952 model with all the right retro touch you’d want. The steel frame has a black finish, and it’s equipped with a Sturmey Archer internal hub and Raleigh metal brakes.

The pull-up brake calipers are a nice touch, and the cruiser bars make riding very comfortable. It also comes with a kickstand, fenders, and an adjustable seat. The bike is in excellent condition, and it sold for $2,499.

4- Raleigh 1960s RSW – $1500

Raleigh 1960s RSW
Source:ebay

This Raleigh RSW is a 1967 model made in France. All the features, including a classic high seat, high handlebar, and deep red color, give the classic vintage shape. It’s a rare find and all original except the seat. The bike has not been in use for decades, but the seller says it works fine.

The bike has a light patina and some rust on the wheels. The tires are old but work fine. This beautiful bike is listed for $1500.

5- Raleigh Rodeo From 1967 – $1400

Raleigh Rodeo From 1967
Source:ebay

This Raleigh Rodeo is a true vintage bike from 1967 or 1968. All parts are original and in great shape for their age. The beige color is also very unique. The seller mentioned that the bike originally came from an estate sale.

The seat cushion is original and in good condition. The handlebars are the classic wide style and equipped with a sport-shift 3-speed Sturmey Archer. There is some discoloration in the paint and a few nicks, but overall this bike is in great condition. It sold for $1400.

6- Raleigh Competition GS – $500

Raleigh Competition GS
Source:ebay

This Raleigh Competition GS is a 1979 model. It’s 100% original and new; the seller claims it’s never been used. All parts are original, including the tires and brake pads. Even the handlebars have the original 70s rubber grip.

It’s equipped with Weinmann rims made in Belgium, a Brooks Professional saddle, and Reynolds’s 541 tubes. The only downside is that it’s missing a small piece towards the rear, and there are some gnat bites on the top tube. But even so, this bike sold for $500.

7- Raleigh Vintage Folding Bike – $600

Raleigh Vintage Folding Bike
Source:ebay

This is one of the famous folding bikes from Raleigh. It’s a 1981 model in carmine red, and it’s from Japan. The seller claims it’s in mint condition, and it’s been in storage for 40 years. It comes with the original box. The bike is equipped with a Super Record 10-speed.

This bike is very rare, and it sold for $600.

8- Raleigh Technium Vintage Road Bike – $436

Raleigh Technium Vintage Road Bike
Source:ebay

This Raleigh Technium is a classic vintage road bike from 1986. It’s made of thermal-bonded steel and aluminum, which was Raleigh’s latest technology at the time. The bike is equipped with a Sakae SA crank-set, down tube shifters, Shimano light action derailleurs, and side pull Weinmann brake calipers.

It also has drop bar handlebars, clincher tires, a bottle cage, and reflectors. This bike is in great condition, and it sold for $436.

Conclusion

Raleigh has been making iconic bikes for over a century. For some, Raleigh bikes bring nostalgic childhood memories, while others appreciate the classic design and craftsmanship.

Either way, if you’re lucky enough to find a vintage Raleigh, you could be in for a real treat. These bikes are not only great collector items, but they’re also great to ride. So whether you’re looking for a vintage piece or just want to feel like a kid again on your commute to work, vintage Raleigh bikes are definitely worth checking out.

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