The Steve Bailey Story    


Who is Steve Bailey you are all saying to yourselves? He is just a normal type of guy that was lucky enough to have a Raleigh Chopper as a kid and wants to rekindle his youth like most of us.

Steve's story has quite a meaning to it and is very apparent to many of us chopperists.

As a kid Steve's Mum won 70 on the Bingo she took her two sons down to the local bike shop where sat two Golden Yellow Mk 1 Choppers all alone separated from the rest.

Their dad said how about taking them for a ride, Steve and his brother where well excited then his dad said ride them home.

They had been bought for them out of his mums bingo winnings.


click on any image to enlarge

18 months later Steve's chopper  went back to the shop in exchange for a 5 speed Puch and his Brother Gary's was sold about two years later to a  local lad,  In later life Steve had a very traumatic time then one fine day Steve thought he would relive his happy days as a kid and went on a mission to find someone to build him a Golden Yellow Mk1 Chopper.

After sending many e mails out Steve visited many chopper people and finally ended up her in Sunny Herne Bay. He had already visited Martyn Green and Gary Hughes before coming to myself but was overwhelmed when he saw the quality of my  bikes stating that "I had the best bikes he had ever seen" (he blows my trumpet better than me) and that I had gone just that Extra mile as he was looking to display the bike inside his home which is what his intentions are for it.  (These are Steve's Own Words)

With this in mind and his cup of T dribbling from his mouth as he drawled over my Golden Yellow 3+2 and the Girly Mk1, I obliged to take on the challenge of building him a bike. Enter the Mk1 at this stage in its life Orange, Oh No.

          I bought this bike to ride but Steve twisted my arm and I parted company with it.

The costly challenge had begun,      ( A complete costing record will be published when the bike is finished to prove this is a big boys game to play)

I was lucky that I had a NOS shifter in stock, then later that day I won a pair of NOS pedals on eBay so it seems pretty plain sailing from here on in as the very hard to find parts where now sourced.

I still continued  Browsing eBay every day to source the few smaller parts that we needed.

Now to the Sand blasters then to Paint and along to the Chromers up to Niven for a seat refurb then  a long wait whilst all the parts return one by one,  and getting ready for the long road back to reassembly.

Having had Niven refurbish the seat it wasn't up to what I would have expected from him so we went down the route of sourcing a NOS one unfortunately it had a Mk2 seat strap and as the original bike had an Orange one I have struggled hard to find a mint or NOS one,  Although the one I did win on eBay was good I am still looking for a better one.

"Oops a problem has arisen mid resto, Steve has caught the bug,  Steve has decided he liked my Girly Chopper so much he has gone off and bought a mint example from our mate Jim in the USA" (this will be another resto story for later) One for the daughter I presume?  

First parts arrived back from the chromers which included the wheel rims and hubs so I thought I would conquer these first. I rebuilt the wheels using stainless steel spokes (from john Lees of course) for low maintenance in the future.  I have now sourced a pair of NOS tyres,  ouch at a cost of around $300.00 it is these details that will set this bike apart from many others.

I then sent the wheels down the road to have them balanced by the local bike shop (Canterbury Cycle Mart) as although I have mastered the art of spoking them I haven't a clue when it comes to truing them.

Then the fiddly diddly bits like rebuilding the brake callipers and levers, again every nut bolt, washer, brake block and spring has had the chrome treatment.

In my infinite wisdom I decided I would practice some old skills and lead fill all the imperfections in the frame, this was the downfall of the project as when I painted it and baked it the lead moved and created a mountain of problems we had humps and bumps all over the thing, hours of prepping gone in 20 minutes. Still never mind we have the technology so we just rubbed the frame down and started again. This time I got it better than perfect.  

Now for the rebuild I was hoping to get the bike ready for Christmas but this isn't going to be possible. When I rebuild a bike I make sure that every detail is correct as I only want to do it once.

Steve has sort of given me a bit more leeway with his cheque book so I have don't have the problem of scrimping around for bits I can just go and get them.  we fitted our own decals to the frame which are made from 10 year vinyl which is very thin but in time these will be changed for our new 'Dry Rub Stickers' that are being manufactured at the moment. (these where what was fitted at the factory in the 70's)

Realising this bike is going to be as controversial as my SE was when I burst into the Chopper scene some three years ago. Steve wants nothing less than Concours which inspired me to spend 4 hours  polishing the s**t out of the underside of the shifter on Christmas eve. (I do this to all my bikes especially on Christmas eve NOT)

I have also refurbished the head badge and refitted it with brass rivets (compliments of John Lees)

It is Christmas eve 2003 and I wanted to have the bike done by now but with the chromers on a go slow and having to repaint the frame again this has not been possible, However the Girly Chopper arrived from Jim Barnard today so Steve will get a present from Santa after all.

"Building this bike is bringing back some fond memories of when I was a kid (still am at heart) as this is the exact bike I had, at  one stage I offered Steve his money back as I wanted it for my selfish self.  I have learned over the last few years that everything comes to those that wait and I will have one again one day as its about the only thing in my collection I am missing."

It has been a while due to a delay in the chroming and CRS doing a bunk with a few parts we have had to source just a few bits and bobs but we are on with the project now at a cost of 1410 we peruse onwards and upwards.

Nearly done,  just waiting on a bit more chroming.

I managed to win a pair of NOS handlebar grips which are rare enough to say the least so these will have to go on the bike.  The low backrest is just for mock-up whilst the replacement for the lost original is being chromed.

Mid September 2004 the final parts arrived from London Chroming.

The first rear mudguard that came back from the chromers was not quite up to scratch  so we binned that and very reluctantly took the one from the girly which was as new and had it rechromed,  being a bit of a fuss pot to say the least we got London Chroming to chrome the inside as well as the outside (much to their disbelief). the comments from London chroming where "they had met fussy but this takes the biscuit"  A great job and a big thanks to Mick and Phil for all there help here on this one. we do appreciate that you cant make a silk scarf out of an old rag but I have and continue to do so.

Now as November closes nearly one year on to the day the project reaches its final stages.

At a cost of now 1600 +  and still in need of a NOS Mk1 seat strap to bring the bike to concours the bike is now finished and ready to go home.

The 23rd November 2004 the bike takes up residence in Steve Baileys house and just like the tandem we did for Lee Malin this is one bike I really don't want to see go.

Providing Steve agrees I will do a spreadsheet of the costing so you can all see that restoring choppers is not for the faint hearted and when someone quotes you a figure as much as you try to keep to it, It just doesn't happen.

The bike was initially started on a 1000.00 budget which was a quote Gary Hughes had given him which on paper looked very near the mark, however the best made plans always go adrift and this went over budget a bit, had I have had my way it would have gone way more than it did, The bike is now resident in its new home and some pics will be up soon.

Steve can be contacted by e-mail by clicking this link if you have any questions you may have to ask him.

"Lets hope Steve's brother doesn't have the same idea I say I couldn't do it again but as being the bike I once had I am sure I will pave the way for its twin sister."

click on the pics for enlarged images


We have had one email in stating that the seat which is NOS is not up to scratch and Steve Welch recommends we take the NOS seat to Niven and have one of his replacement covers fitted to it. (sap is the word that comes to mind)

We are aware that the seat STRAP has a very small scratch on it but we look on for a mint one  The only place on the net to find what is what with Raleigh Choppers




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