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Golden Gear ConsolesI’m sure there’s a joke in that title somewhere, but I just can't think of it. Over the last few years I have occasionally seen very late model Black Choppers with a golden sticker on their gear selector consoles. To be quite honest, I assumed it was a reaction in the pigment used to print the last console stickers, and paid it little attention.

However, in conversation with Raleighchopper.info`s staff photographer, Alex Jewell, it became apparent that the golden gear console sticker was actually intended to be gold, so I decided to do some research.

Late Gold Console Assembly (Picture from the Alex Jewell collection.)

The Black Chopper, with prismatic stickers was released around 1978, and joined the Red, Blue Silver Yellow and Purple bikes n Raleigh’s catalogue.
The colour range was streamlined a little in 1979 leaving only the Red, Silver Blue and Black.
The Black bike had shiny silver stickers, so why, and when, was a golden gear sticker introduced?
The why comes first. Back in the seventies, black and gold were seen as complimentary colours, being used extensively on the John Player Special Lotus Formula One racing cars. Black and gold was used on many items. Lotus lost John Player as sponsors in late 1978 (First Martini, then Essex replaced them) but half way through the 1981 season, they returned to Formula One with a vengeance. Essex went bust and John Player stepped in after 5 races and pulled Lotus out of a very stick situation. In typical John Player style, their return to Lotus was very heavily publicised.
Black and Gold was everywhere that year.

1981 was a crunch time for our old friend the Raleigh Chopper. Old was the operative word, the bike had been in continuous production for over a decade, time and fashion had moved on. The design department at Raleigh had a clear choice, re-vamp or phase out. By this time only the black Choppers were being produced and a re-vamp consisting of a decal change was decided upon.

Raleigh decided to re-sticker the bike in Black with Gold diffraction stickers. They already had a “racing car” theme, in truth a cartoon of an exhaust pipe on the chainguard, so the gold stickers were decided upon to jump onto the J.P.S. Formula one bandwagon

Unfortunately the decision to phase out the Chopper altogether was made higher up the Raleigh management structure at this point. Guess what? The order for the re-designed gold stickers was never made, but the Gear Change console sticker, which needed merely a colour change, was in fact implemented. The production line got gold console stickers sometime in 1981.

So here we come to the ‘when’. The last ever batches of Choppers were dressed up with gold gear changer stickers, to match up with gold frame stickers that never materialized.
Because the Chopper was phased out, not just stopped, the final dates of our beloved bike are clouded slightly by the mists of time.

To determine the span of these stickers, if you have an all original black bike with a gold console sticker, please e-mail us at CatfoodRob@RaleighChopper.nfo with your frame number and/or rear hub date, so that we can add the final unraveling to our mystery.