NOTTINGHAM, England (BRAIN) Monday May 21 2012 3:06 PM MT—Alan Oakley, a long-time Raleigh Bicycles designer best known for the Chopper youth bikes, died Friday. He was 85 and died of cancer, according to a company release.
Oakley was Raleigh's lead designer in the 1960s and 1970s. His wife, Karen, told the BBC that her husband designed the Chopper after seeing the film Easy Rider. He drew the first sketch on the back of an air mail envelope while traveling back to England from the U.S.
Raleigh reportedly sold 1.5 million Choppers in the U.K. alone.
"Alan was a man of legendary standing in the U.K. cycle industry and was instrumental in major product developments carried out in Raleigh Nottingham during his 40 years with the company," a company release said.
Besides the Chopper, Oakley developed the track bikes used by world champion Reg Harris. The bikes' red, black and yellow color scheme carried over to the Raleigh road team that won the Tour De France with Joop Zoetemelk in 1980
Although retired, Oakley kept in touch with Raleigh employees and attended the Chopper relaunch event in 2004.