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The unabridged and updated version of a paper written by Tony Hadland in June 2000 for the 11th International Cycle History Conference held at Osaka in August 2000. An abridged version appears in the conference proceedings with many other interesting papers on a wide range of cycle history topics. You can order copies of the proceedings by phone, fax, paper mail or e-mail from: Van der Plas Publications, 1282 7th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA, Telephone (USA) 415-665-8214, Fax: (USA) 415-753-8572, E-mail: vanderp@jps.net

poster of range
The Raleigh range circa 1977. Note the preponderance of small-wheeled bicycles.

1. Introduction
Raleigh UK, once the world’s biggest manufacturer of cycles, recently stopped volume production of cycle frames. It is now quitting what remains of the Nottingham site it occupied throughout the 20th century.
This paper examines how, in the period 1975-1999, Raleigh adapted to changing circumstances. These circumstances include customer taste and fashion, developments in marketing techniques, technological change in manufacturing and finished products, and competition from other manufacturers.
To provide context, a brief historical background is provided. There then follows a detailed review of products presented in broadly chronological order. This includes sales trends, product management, the treatment of high-end products and the transfer of ownership from Tube Investments to Derby International. Thereafter there are sections on marketing and production facilities.
The conclusion attempts to assess how well Raleigh performed during the last quarter of the 20th century, and to set this performance in context.

2. Historical background
2.1 1886-1949

Raleigh Street, Nottingham, was the site of a small workshop which in 1886 started producing diamond-frame safety bicycles at the rate of three a week. Frank Bowden, a successful lawyer and convert to cycling, bought the firm in 1887 and in December 1888 founded The Raleigh Cycle Company as a limited liability private company. It grew rapidly and within a few years was a large public company capitalised at £100,000 (equivalent to about £5m today).
In 1902, Sturmey-Archer gears were added to the product range. Six years later, Bowden bought back Raleigh, which was to remain in family hands for the next quarter century. By the early 1920s, Raleigh was a world leader, capable of producing annually 100,000 cycles, 250,000 hub gears 15,000 motorcycles and 50,000 motorcycle gearboxes.
Raleigh survived the Great Depression well. It acquired Humber cycles in 1932 and the following year started producing a three-wheeler car. In 1934 Raleigh reverted to public company status, as Raleigh Cycle Holdings Ltd, with a share issue of more than £2m (= about £65m today). By 1938, its production of bicycles had grown to nearly 500,000 units per annum and the company had stopped making motorcycles and cars.
During the Second World War (1939-45), Raleigh concentrated on munitions work. The name of its budget range, launched in 1938 as Gazelle, was changed to Robin Hood, and Raleigh acquired Rudge-Whitworth.
After the war, despite shortages of fuel and steel, Raleigh’s cycle production rose rapidly. By 1949, it had reached about 750,000, the majority of which was exported.

The main Raleigh plant at Nottingham in its heyday