BMX Bikes / R / Raleigh / Raleigh Bicycle Company History

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Raleigh were a little slow to enter the BMX market and didn't get a range of bikes together until around 1982. The original line-up consisted of five bikes:

The Raleigh Burner was the bog standard model and sold by the shed load. It had a steel frame and forks, steel rims and cranks and - I think - alloy V-handlebars.

The next model - the Tuff Burner - was a little more expensive and featured yellow Skyway Tuff II mag wheels, but other wise the two bikes were identical.

Next up was the SuperBurner - essentially a Burner but with a kind of gold chrome finish on the frame. It looked pretty trick but if memory serves the spec was about the same as the standard Burner.

By the time you get to the Ultra Burner however, things move up a gear. Araya 7X rims, Suntour loose bearing hubs, Sugino one-piece chro-moly cranks and spyder with alloy chainring and Suntour power handlebar stem were pretty trick for a bike bought in Halfords. The frame was the same steel frame as the Burner (but with a different finish) but the forks were chrome Tange TX1200W items, though (I think) still made from steel and not chro-moly. Alloy V handlebars and budget, but genuine, dia-compe brakes complete the Ultra Burner.

This was my first bike and retailed in Halfords for £130. Mine however came from the Earls Court motorcycle show 'Bike '82' in which Ammaco had built a wooden BMX track and were running demos throughout the exhibition. A dealer at the show was offering Ultra Burners for £117. The £13 saving represented quite a few weeks of my paper round so it was worth it. And I'll never forget my overwhelming joy as I wheeled my new bike out of Earls Court - still flat packed and wrapped in cardboard - having worked and waited for two years to finally afford my own BMX bike!

Top of the range was the Pro Burner. Similar spec to the Ultra Burner but with a full Chro-moly frame and forks with 'race proven' geometry. I think it retailed for around £225 and as such I didn't see too many of these around.

The Raleigh Burner range went on to become one of the best known brands in BMX at the absolute street level. Parents knew and trusted Raleigh's name and reputation and the 1985 UK race team line up of Andy Ruffell, Craig Schofield, Martin Jose and Stu Diggins gave Raleigh real credibility on the race circuit.

Raleigh was to the UK what Huffy was to the USA. Lest we forget the importance of the humble Burner.

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