Raleigh Bicycles History and Facts

Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Raleigh is one of the most iconic bicycle brands with a history that goes all the way back to 1888.  It was founded by Frank Bowden who bought Woodhead and Angois and changed the name to The Raleigh Cycle Company.  Manufacturing was based in Nottingham, England and by 1913 the company was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. 

Raleigh Head Badge

In 1939 a second factory was opened in Hanover Quay, Dublin, Ireland and produced bicycles.  In 1943 this factory moved to 8-11 Hanover Quay, Dublin.  This plant now produces bicycles and Sturmey-Archer hubs.  The factory produced until it burned down in 1976.

In 1960 Raleigh was purchased by Tube Investments which already owned bike brands Phillips, Hercules, Armstrong, and Norman and formed TI – Raleigh.  The new company controlled 75% of the UK market. 

By the mid-60s the company owned Brooks saddles, Sturmey-Archer hubs, and Reynolds tubing. 

Huffy corporation bought the rights to Raleigh USA in 1982, this gave them the right to design and distribute Raleigh bicycles.  Previously they had been the US distributor.  Production of many models was moved to Japan and Taiwan.  This likely slowed sales in the US as Huffy didn’t have a great reputation for performance bikes and the brand no longer had the mystique of being made in England.

Derby Cycle purchased Raleigh from Ti and Raleigh USA from Huffy in 1987.  They opened a factory in Kent, Washington that produced Technium and Altimetric lines of bikes.  This factory closed in 1994 and all manufacturing moved to China and Taiwan.  TI kept control of Reynolds tubing.

1999 UK frame production was ceased, and they just assembled bikes at the factory.  Assembly was stopped in 2002.

In 2000 Sturmey-Archer and Brooks saddles are both sold off.

In 2012 Derby was bought by Pon Holdings who would sell Raleigh UK, Canada, and USA to Accell that same year.

1974 Raleigh Sports Bronze Green

Brands owned

Armstrong – came with TI merger.

BSA – purchased in 1957.

Carlton cycles – purchased in 1960.

Hercules – came with TI merger.

Humber – purchased in 1932.

Norman – came with TI merger.

Phillips – came with TI merger.

Rudge – purchased in 1946.

Robin Hood – unclear when brand was purchased, but they already owned in 1957.

Triumph – purchased in 1952.


Chopper – Muscle bike

Colt – Kids cruiser bike

Grand Prix – Entry level road bike

Gran Sport – Mid-level road bike

International – Pro level road bike

Professional – Top of the line road bike

Record – Entry level road bike

Record Ace – Entry level road bike

Sports – Cruiser bike

Superbe – Premium cruiser

Super Course – Mid-level road bike

Raleigh Record Ace


Who was the US distributor of Raleigh bikes?

Huffy Corporation was the distributor of Raleigh bikes till 1987.   

Who owns Raleigh?

The company is currently owned by Dutch company Accell, who is owned by KKR. 

Raleigh USA

The website disappeared I believe in 2023 and it appears they are no longer offered in the USA.

What is their head badge?

The badge is the heron bird.

Why did Raleigh decline?

During the 70s and 80s competition among manufacturers increased drastically.  Japanese imports became quite popular and in the US companies like Trek and Specialized started taking market share.  On top of this the UK market shrunk with more common use of motor vehicles.  Then during the 80s the company sold distribution rights to Huffy who imported bikes from Japan and Taiwan.  They definitely lost some of their mystique now that the bikes were no longer made in England, plus Huffy didn’t have a reputation as a premium bike manufacturer.  They became much more like every other import brand.  The company’s ownership then moved around a couple times and is now owned by Dutch company Accell.  This led to less and less market share and now they are no longer in the US market at all.    


Raleigh Cycles

Vintage Catalogs

Published by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Jim has over 40 years of experience with bicycles and loves road and mountain biking and just going for calm cruises. He is a mechanic who has built custom bikes and is also very interested in bike history.

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