The direct forerunner of the Chopper was Schwinn’s Orange Crate from the 1960s, itself an adaptation of bikes cobbled together by West Coast USA teenagers to look like ‘chopped up’ Harley Davidson ‘Kustom Kruisers’.
1950’s motorcycle customisers in America were the first to use ‘ape-hanger’ handlebars and so-called ‘banana seats’.
Enthusiast website raleighchopper.info traces the use of banana seats to US saddle manufacturer Persons Majestic, until just recently the Brooks saddle importer in the US, a company founded in 1892 (and, incidentally, the president of which is a regular reader of BikeBiz.com…)
"Pearsons (sic) Majestic had developed a seat for bicycle polo. The seat was long and thin, and needed supporting at the rear by a tube hoop attached to the rear wheel nuts. [The] Californian younger brothers [of the motorcycle customisers saw] the potential of the seat, the rear support hoop looked like a motorbike sissy bar, and as motorcycles and bicycles shared a similar handlebar thickness, fitting 15 inch high apehanger handlebars was easy….Some unknown Californian kids back in the very early 1960s produced, in their back yards, the first bicycle to bear the name ‘Chopper’."
This street-design was picked up by Al Fritz, concept designer for Schwinn, the Raleigh of the USA. He created the Stingray, released in June 1963.
Five years later Schwinn fitted a 16-inch front wheel to its Stingray, keeping the 20inch rear wheel. The Orange Krate was born. This was later the inspiration for Raleigh’s Chopper, one of the key toy icons of the 1970s in Great Britain.
The all-new Orange Krate – and Grey Ghost, another muscle bike – will be available in the US in "late Spring," Jeff Frehner, Pacific Cycle’s head of corporate development told BikeBiz.com.