Last weekend I drove my Infra Red chopper down from Coventry where I live to Youngs Cycles, West Wickham in Kent for a respray and rechroming. It is a well-travelled bicycle even before this latest trip. It originated of course in a factory in Nottingham; it carries a sticker from a shop in North Devon (they had stores in Braunton and Bideford), and I bought it on eBay from a seller in Bristol!
The Sturmley Archer hub dates it to 1974 which was probably around the time that I had my first chopper—also an Infra Red of course! I loved that bicycle to bits and was very proud of it. Getting another one as an adult who is old enough to have grown out of such things feels quite self-indulgent. Spending another small fortune doing it up even more so. Still, I have dismantled it by hand – well with the help of my supportive side-kick, Erik, and the super-useful book, ‘Raleigh Chopper Restoration Manual. MK1 & MK2’ by John Lees.
Dismantling the bicycle was mostly surprisingly easy although I would struggle for strength on some of the elements if I was on my own. Some of the key pieces that can be a bit tricky, the sissy and handlebar grips, came off without too much effort. Having said that, we had learnt a lot from our earlier disassembly of my black prismatic—that was much more difficult. But between our experience, albeit limited and the great book by Lees, we managed to do it all, only needing help on the cotter pin which required the use of a vice and the bottom bracket which needed a specialist tool. Some lovely people at our local bicycle shop, Hawk Cycles helped us with these.
After it was all broken down we carefully checked every piece and decided if it needed rechroming or if it was ok. The chain ring as the photo shows was in pretty good condition.
When we dropped it down at Youngs Cycles it was amazing. Martyn has so many Choppers and some of them were just astonishing (he has a gallery on his website). As he specialises in Chopper restoration I felt confident leaving the bicycle in his knowledgeable hands. Now we have a wait of 3-weeks or so until we can pick it up. The paint job will return it to a fresh Infra Red again with the yellow stickers and the chrome should ensure that it looks as new. Can’t wait, Eroica Britannia here I come!