Raleigh Grifter

A history of the Raleigh Grifter

The Raleigh Grifter was the younger brother of the infamous Chopper bike. Popular in the 1980s it was a chunky, heavy and cumbersome bike that felt more like a motorbike than a bicycle. It really was the only bike to be seen cruising around on in the late 70s, early 80s.

The Raleigh Bicycle Company was a British bike manufacturers originally based in Nottingham, UK. They first released their Raleigh Chopper bike for children in the 80s and it was such a huge success that more and more Raleigh varieties started emerging. Many believe that the much sought-after Raleigh Grifter was the perfect bridge between the Raleigh Chopper and other BMX models. It wasn't the intention of Raleigh to eradicate the Chopper, but after the popular BMX was denting sales something had to be done to revive Raleigh.

The Raleigh Chopper was targeted towards younger male teenagers and it enjoyed a position at the top of the range for quite some time. There were limits however. Unfortunately, doe to the limited roadster-orientated technology at the Nottingham factory the bike had be brazed. This meant that it never really stood a chance in popularity against the welded framed bikes being shipped over from the states - it was just so heavy and required a lot of pedal power to build up any good amount of speed to feel the wind in your hair! One positive point of having such a chunky frame was that it could take a bit of battering though - you couldn't offend it by slamming on those insensitive brakes and throwing it down in your front garden. This bike had a heart, but a heart of tensile steel!

Between June 1976 and May 1983 there were six different Raleigh Grifter models available. All kept the same basic shape with large, upright handlebars, crescent seats and rear mudguard but they varied slightly in finer detail.

First up was the Mk1 Grifter. Released in 1976 the Raleigh Grifter Mk1 was available in metallic blue, bronze and metallic red. The Grifter SE came with a black frame and red mudguards. The Raleigh Mk2 Grifter was brought out shortly after in 1979, available in red and blue, although it lost its metallic sheen. Sporting a very similar frame the Mk2 SE Special Edition Grifter was released early in 1980 (although confusingly just after Christmas Day) and was only in one colour - metallic silver. Things got a bit darker and more sinister looking with the Grifter XL out in January 1981 that was only available in black with red mudguards and handlebar tube. The Grifter XL had a distinctive bubbled seat and firey 'Grifter' logo on the crossbar. Finally, in January 1982 the last Super Grifter was released and was available in black and gold or silver and blue. The Super Grifter was available until May 1983.

The Raleigh Grifter had the distinctive styling of motocross and thanks to the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed twist grip handlebars you could really feel like you were on a motorbike when changing gears - a mere flick of the wrist was needed.

With a frame that measured around 13-inches and was made of high tensile steel, the tires of the Raleigh Grifter were pretty big at 20-inches in diameter with 36 spokes per wheel.

Unfortunately, like all good things that must come to an end the Raleigh Grifter was knocked off the top spot in the early 80s. However, at least it was for another Raleigh - the Raleigh Bomber.

Raleigh Grifter trivia

Raleigh is one of the oldest bike companies in the world.

The average weight of the Raleigh Grifter was around 35 lbs - that's a heavy bike!


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Visitor Comments

Bobby G said:
I had a grifter and my brother had a chopper, and we used to argue about which was the better bike. They ended up rusting in the shed, of course.

Tuesday October 21, 2008, 09:25 AM

Lesley said:
I loved my heavy weight grifter but my friend had a equally nice chopper, he ran over me at the bottom of a hill and OMG it really hurt.

Wednesday October 29, 2008, 01:58 PM

steve edwards Raleigh Grifter Forum said:
With reference to your description of the Grifter , i would just like to clear a couple of points up , the silver grifter was just a standard mk2 , it is easily confused with the silver se chopper , but was never called an se , and the last of the line of these wonderful bikes i believe was the GS which are now rare as hens teeth , these were black frames with red guards and were similar to the xl .
Other than that it was a nice piece well written , thank you

Wednesday November 26, 2008, 11:05 AM

fitzy said:
what was the smaller version of the griffter called

Friday June 12, 2009, 04:34 PM

EDDIE said:

Tuesday August 11, 2009, 12:13 PM

max hanson said:
the smaller version of the grifter was the striker and the baby version of the striker was the boxer , i never considered the grifter the younger brother of the chopper , it was technically part of the griffter striker boxer range . The chopper range was Chopper then the smaller chipper , then the baby tomohawk . had all of these and then used to drool over the burner range , there used to be a advertising book for them which had the complete burner range from the mag burner to the much desired ultra burner lol i settled with a night burner with metalic red rim wheels and black frame .

Saturday September 5, 2009, 10:35 AM

carter said:
theres nothing to touch the grifter in style, a true classic pushbike that has stood the test of time, if you own one, look after it, you dont know how lucky you are!!!!

Saturday November 21, 2009, 09:36 PM

Shane said:
just bought a raleigh grifter and after reading this i think it might be a mk2. Im in Australia and it was $30 AUD it looked cool in the photo im now only starting to understand how cool it is.

Thursday March 4, 2010, 03:02 AM

Shaun said:
Ive got a mark1 grifter and a mark 2 stars & stripes,and dose it bring back the good old days.Long live the 70s

Thursday March 4, 2010, 08:06 PM

could anyone please tell me if a grifter was ever made in metalic green ?

Wednesday March 10, 2010, 10:59 PM

Andy said:
I've just finished restoring an 82 XL back to its former glory, it just puts a big smile on my face when I ride it. Its like being 12 all over again!..... I don't ever recall a metalic green one, although my mate painted his green with dulux emulsion back when we're kids.

Thursday March 11, 2010, 07:53 PM

javier said:
i just got one at the swap meet it had a sticker on from a recycling place

Monday March 15, 2010, 02:42 AM

john said:
the Striker was made in metallic green, and i know they made a yellow Boxer as my younger brother had one around xmas 78' while me and my brother both had metallic blue mk 1's at the same time.good days.

Monday April 5, 2010, 05:34 PM

Andy said:
back in the 70's I was into Speedway and the only bike for me was the Grifter. Luckily my parents got me a mk1 for xmas one year and I loved pretending to be a speedway rider on it! It was the nearest thing to a speedway bike I had ever seen. In those days Raleigh bikes were the best designs ever!

Thursday May 13, 2010, 09:47 PM


Friday May 21, 2010, 09:43 PM

carling said:
Nice bit of info there. The mk1 originally come in two colours, firey red a metallic blue. The later 1977 models had the lighter bronzy red colour.

There are a few rare may 76 pre production models which were shown around bike shows and put on display in raleigh dealerships but the main month of production was june 76. After march 77 the mk1 changed slightly having rounded rear dropouts and no extra bracket for the rear mudguard fixing. The silver mk2, blue and red mk2s were launched in march 79 and had mk1 forks and seat. I could go on but im sounding like a complete nurd now so im off to raid the fridge!

Tuesday May 25, 2010, 04:28 PM

Singapore said:
I got mine in pretty dire straits but luckily all the std parts are they. The bike is unique in a way. Luv the riding posture. So far I've yet to meet another fellow Grifter owner in Singapore. I will be keeping this bike and hopefully hand it down to my son, sort of like a heirloom thing. BTW, mine's a MK1.Blue.

Monday June 21, 2010, 02:08 AM

Eamesy said:
I'm not usually one to be pedantic Max Hanson, but I'm pretty certain that the 2 bike 'families' of the late 70's - early 80's (from biggest to smallest) were as follows Chopper - Tomahawk- Budgie and Grifter-Boxer-Striker. Of these I only ever owned a Tomahawk and then graduated to a silver Halfords 'Bandit' , the Grifters' cut-price bastard offspring!!

Tuesday July 13, 2010, 03:38 PM

fish said:
started with a bright yellow boxer in late seventies then had a red chopper then a red grifter the one with the slightly longer mudgaurds . fantastic bikes better than any mountain bike rayleigh rules!

Friday July 16, 2010, 08:33 PM

Steve edwards said:
If you are still reading this try googling raleigh grifter forum, you wont regret it

Friday August 27, 2010, 11:39 PM

Lee Hocking said:
I had the pleasure of being the older brother, which meant that I had first dibs on the following bikes.. A yellow Boxer (the baby of the range), followed by the metallic green Striker (which had the back pedal rear brake and was amazing for wheelies)! Finally, my pride and joy - the MK 2 long mudguard blue Grifter (with the hologram decals, three speed Sturmey Archer and that cool kick stand). The hours I used to spend with father's Autosol cleaning the chrome wheel rims.. I didn't have it all my own way though.. Following years of hand-me-downs, my brother leap-frogged me and ended up with the yellow and blue Mag Burner ;-) As mentioned before I regarded the Boxer > Striker > Grifter range as cousins to the Budgie > Thomahawk > Chopper range, which a few of my friends enjoyed the 70's / 80's with. Fond and happy days....

Thursday September 9, 2010, 09:30 PM

Andy s said:
I also had the Tomahawk when really young, riding around pretending to be one of the cops of the tv show chips. I pestered my parents for ages and they bought me a mk 1 Grifter for my 10th birthday. In those days it was the bike to be seen on with it's rugged style, twist grip gears and the crumbly foam seats and cross bar protector! O happy days

Tuesday September 14, 2010, 09:13 PM

Paul S said:
I had a metallic blue Boxer and got a second hand Mk1 bronze/met red Grifter when I turned 8. I remember being so upset in 1982 when my other mates in the street got the new blue/silver hologram logo'd Grifter. My parents said if you want to wait until Xmas you can have a new one, if you want one now you can have the neighbours old one. Anyway I still loved that bike. Many fond memories riding around Bulkington.

Thursday September 16, 2010, 10:53 AM

Jay said:
Had a metallic red Mk2 a very classy bit of kit. Used to try and perform jumps went as fast as i could at the ramp but usually ended up in a horrible mess, great days.

Sunday September 19, 2010, 09:00 PM

Biker Gazz said:
Thought I'm the one and only owner of the Grifter in Singapore until I read the post by [Singapore - Monday June 21, 2010, 02:08 AM]. I've not seen another Grifter in real life yet, other than mine of course! I bought it in 1987 and have kept it until now. I still ride it around town to do errands. It's an amazing bike! It beats any cheap bike in the street today.

Sunday November 7, 2010, 07:58 AM

gareth said:
where can I get the 1st version of a raleigh grifter? I'm missdin my red 1 from the 70s

Wednesday November 17, 2010, 09:48 PM

mozzy said:
my memories a bit vague,but remember going to halfords in aug 80,for my crimbo prezzy.salesman told me it was either a blue or red one,no other colours,what model grifter did i get????

Tuesday May 17, 2011, 07:11 PM

Paul e........ said:
Just in the middle of restoring a mk1 grifter (in met blue,defo the best) going on 41 years old,lol. Had one exactly the same when i was 8,1978 that was,many years ago,my first brand new bike. Does anyone remember how much a grifter would have been back in the 70s?? oh and if anyone can remember how to assemble the twist shift gear,was not paying attention when stripping it down. Happy memories on that grifter,good 3-4 years before i got my first bmx...ttfn

Sunday June 5, 2011, 08:52 PM

rretro so said:
I have 2 beautiful grifters. a mk 2 blue. and a silver super. both totally original. i love them. my uncle had one brand new in 76 he thinks he remembers my grandad paying £60 for it.

Monday November 14, 2011, 07:58 PM

Maddog said:
I've got a 1982 Super Grifter in silver/blue with the most extraordinary forks that curve miles forward. It's unlike anything I've found online. Does anyone know what it is? I'm sure the forks are the original ones.

Sunday December 4, 2011, 06:27 PM

Finchster said:
I had the Black and Gold Super Grifter - loved it to bits, even though at +35lbs it was like cycling a tank! The 3 gear grip shift was ace, and the envy of my pals. Sadly I think it went the way of the skip, as did my earlier Boxer...

Friday May 25, 2012, 10:16 AM

Allan said:
Hi, Is there anyone out there can help me source some Grifter XL decals

Friday June 8, 2012, 08:11 PM

brian,n ireland said:
grifter xl decals,all over ebay,cant find the 1s i want but there on there.

Saturday June 16, 2012, 03:13 PM

Alan Howard said:
I got my Grifter for christmas in 1976 and I loved every moment riding it. I used to be able to do good wheelies on it and also sit on the handlebars and ride it backwards.

Friday June 22, 2012, 07:51 PM

BigCAM73 said:
I had a purple BUDGIE first (amazing wheelies) then to my surprise got a sky blue GRIFTER (not so good wheelies) for Christmas which was indestructible until the (toggle chain) gear linkadge snapped HAPPY DAYS. Does any one remember the raliegh BOMBER?

Tuesday July 31, 2012, 07:07 PM

Greg said:
I used to have a silver Mark II, my cousin had a red Mark I. I always felt mine was the superior bike. However, in terms of stunts, he was the king. He held the record locally for the longest jump....down a gentle hill flat out achieving top speed in third gear by the time we hit the ramp. 13 old style apple boxes cleared at 1 1/2 foot each. Great days.

Monday August 6, 2012, 09:14 PM

Crosbie. Orlando FL said:
The Grifter was the best bike I ever rode. I was 12 when my older brother owned the black and gold grifter. Having the three speed and unique frame, muscle look. I think the grifter will hit the market hard if reproduced. The only thing I would change is the overall weight.

Monday August 20, 2012, 08:29 PM

Bob cottet said:
I had 3 grifters, 2mk1 and 1mk2. I used to wheelie everywhere with it. Good memorys3

Wednesday February 6, 2013, 02:51 PM

nitrovern said:
i had a metallic red grifter when i was a kid.....i used to jump it off everything and anything i was absolutely gutted when the forks snapped on me....my mates dad must of welded them 20 times for me before they were totally goosed.....i bought myself a 1980 red grifter last year and it cost me a small fortune for what it is..BUT.. the moment i sat on it i got my money worth with all the memories it brought back...love this bike to bits and will never sell it.....

Wednesday February 13, 2013, 10:37 AM

eileen c said:

Thursday April 18, 2013, 07:28 PM

JackD said:
Eileen....you wouldn't understand. Go check the dinner....

Thursday April 25, 2013, 08:36 PM

Jez said:
How funny is Eileen, some women do understand JackD! My girlfriend loves the old skool Grifter cos she had one when she was younger, then again she is cool ;0)

Thursday May 23, 2013, 04:14 PM

Ian said:
My brother's got a Mk2 blaze red Grifters for Christmas 1981 when they were 9. They used them for about 5 years and none of us could remember what happened to them.
Not until a few day's ago that my mum's neighbour who along with my family lived there back then told me he had a Grifter in his loft given to him years ago by the boy next house on.
It turn's out that this Grifter was my brother's and in good condition minus rear guard and twist gears. I'm in the process in getting new transfers, tyres, gearing stuff and rear guard and seat reflector. Incredible find and only two doors away after all these years!

Monday June 10, 2013, 07:34 PM

Claire said:
Blimey Ian, how lucky was that for your neighbour to still have your brothers bike and to give it back to you, what a nice bloke. My grifter was a classic red one (not sure what model) and my most memorable moment was when a golden labrador ran in front of my wheel whilst I was going at quite a speed down our lane, I went over the bars and skidded with my face on the gravel, ouch, still here to tell the tale though! Happy Days

Wednesday July 10, 2013, 03:33 PM

The range was grifter,strika,boxer and the chopper family didn't just consist of chopper tomahawk and budgie ,there was also the chipper and the chippy! I had a blue chipper and then a blue mk2 grifter ,the grifter was a great bike !

Wednesday August 28, 2013, 12:38 AM

pauly c said:
In order of size it went (from biggest to smallest) grifter,strika and then boxer.The other bike family(from biggest to smallest)was chopper,tomahawk and then budgie,however,Raleigh also made the chipper(similar size to the tomahawk)and the chippy(similar size to the budgie ),so the family consisted of five! I had a chipper and then a grifter but I always lusted after the chopper.I remember someone wanting to swap his yellow chopper for my blue grifter but sadly I wasn't allowed to ! Having said that the grifter was a great bike.

Wednesday August 28, 2013, 07:00 AM

Camster said:
Can anybody tell me more about the Stars and Stripes grifter because I am buying one tomorrow thanks .

Friday December 20, 2013, 03:34 PM

Rob Newcastle said:
In 1982 a Silver Super grifter mk 2 cost £28.90, i only know as i failed to buy a genuine shop sales ticket last week on ebay, chopper was £31. I owned a Silver mk2 back then until it got stolen, now own 7 bikes in total and 4 of those are grifters, 1 mk2 in metallic silver of course, 2 black and gold super and a silver and blue super, my two black and gold ones were 171 bikes apart on the production line in sept 82, shame you can't share pics on here. it was a pleasure to read the article and all your mad comments to make me feel i am not the only nutter who rides around on 33 year old bikes every time the weather is right

Sunday December 22, 2013, 03:58 AM

Oliver said:
OMG I am just dreaming of that Christmas when I ot the silver Grifter...I rode it from the shop to our house which was quite a distance fir a young boy. I loved that bike and I was the envy ofEVERYONE! All of my friends and also boys may age I never knew befre wanted to ride the Grifter. I usually got annoyed because they did not know how to handle the gears. I ended up ajusting them almost every time someone wanted to take it for a short ride.
This was Germany, mind you...yes, they sold it over here as well !!! but I saw it first on the Belgian coast, where they would rent them out to kids to ride on the "promenade". Then a kid in the neighbourhood sprted a red one and I was adamant to have my very own Grifter as well.
Sad thing: when I moved out of my parents house, they made me give it away. I did not really look for a potential buyer and the day came and the garage had to be emptied because a new car was comng and that was it for my beloved Grifter! Back then, I though, OK there is this kid now who will get this bike for free, hope he will have as much fun with is that I had. Because there was a kid there when I had to put it outside for collection the next morning...
It was in great condition as I looked after my own things!! If onky I could get it back...

Sunday April 13, 2014, 04:39 PM

Davie said:
Does anyone know where I can get Grifter XL decals. Searching net and ebay with no luck.

Wednesday April 30, 2014, 10:03 PM

There is some duff info there....

There was no "Grifter SE" only the silver Mk2 with transfers in a similar style to the Chopper SE.

The last Grifter Model was the GS.

The Raleigh Grifter was knocked off the top spot by the Raleigh burner, not the Bomber.

Tuesday July 15, 2014, 08:34 PM

Barney said:
The average Grifter weighed 35 lbs. I must have been a weight lifter aged seven when as part of a rebellion I decided to go cycling on my Grifter Mk1 around the Isle of Wight ... No lights, no permission and having to carry my Grifter from the garage across a gravel driveway without a sound. The first night I did this was successful. The next night I decided on a 'lap of honour' ... It would be my downfall. I got Dibbled within two hours of setting off! Silly I know. But I don't regret the adventure experienced at the time :o)

Saturday August 2, 2014, 06:40 AM

Chris Cowell said:
I had two Mark 2 Grifters as a boy. The second was a result of the theft of my first one. Many happy adventures on those bikes.
I always wondered how they managed to assemble the bike with the rear brake cable running inside the frame??
Any ideas??

Wednesday August 20, 2014, 06:03 PM

jane said:
did raleigh ever make a pink mk1 grifter

Sunday October 5, 2014, 08:13 PM

ttony said:
I think there is a pink

Sunday October 5, 2014, 08:48 PM

mick said:
I am a lucky boy! got a bike shop and someone sold me an original 1982 gs, good nick too! takes pride of place in the shop!!!!

Monday November 17, 2014, 01:10 PM

Patricia Eales said:
I was lucky enough to be given a secondhand chopper as a child and loved it ( even when I went over the handlebars and broke my nose) but the day came when I got a new bike, a red Grifter. Many happy hours were spent on that bike. I sold it when I was nearly 17, to put the £25 I got for it, towards my first car (1984). It was something I always regretted. I was then lucky enough to find one on eBay and my lovely husband completely restored it for me. I rode it around for a while and so did my children and then it was found a safe place to be kept......it now hangs on the wall above our bed and has been for the last 10 years, only coming down for a quick check over and ride from time to time. Will not part with this one :))

Saturday November 29, 2014, 05:13 PM

Dave said:
Christmas 1976
This was the best Christmas ever,me and my cousin used to look in halfords window at the raleigh grifters and dream. Christmas morning woke up and there is a red raliegh grifter at the bottom of my bed, they cost around £70 which was 2 weeks wages can you imagine that.
Only one other boy in the whole of the estate got a grifter for Christmas.
Not only did I get the best present ever but the wizard of oz was shown on tv for the first time, I can still remember coming in after riding my new bike absolutely freezing and smelling the Christmas dinner then watching the film.1976 the best Christmas ever

Saturday December 27, 2014, 08:54 AM

Mick smith said:
just sold a grifter XL to a lady who was taking it with her to Australia
Pity it has not stayed in the country
Great bike

Wednesday December 31, 2014, 08:03 PM

fastback said:
Lot folk are saying Raleigh striker but it is named strika

Friday February 20, 2015, 11:01 PM


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