By the spring of 1967, Raleigh was already offering a staggering range of no less than nine mopeds, the RM5, three models of RM6, RM8, RM9, RM9+1, RM11 & RM12; but one more extraordinary machine was yet to join them. The story starts with the unprecedented popularity of a humble bicycle that caught the imagination of the swinging sixties and found the factory swamped by demand, leaving customers queuing their orders on cycle shop waiting lists. Then, at the height of the craze, in a marketing masterstroke, Raleigh ingeniously installed the RSW16 bicycle with an engine to create one of the ‘smaller’ icons of the time. As much a symbol of the period as Mick Jagger, The Mini Moke and Hot Pants, its flashing gold or blue colours glinted in the eye of fashion and anyone could become a part of the ‘with-it’ world, simply by riding – The Raleigh Wisp!
Of course now, we all put them down as an eccentricity of the day, but the Raleigh Wisp is actually one of the Great Classic Mopeds! It broke the mould and captured the spirit of the time. Ride a nice one through the town centre traffic on a sunny day and watch the smiles – people love it.
– Mark Daniels, The Moped Archive, August, 2001
The Raleigh Wisp was a hybrid machine, incorporating the small wheels and frame of the RSW, with a small 49.9cc engine. It was developed with a fully automatic transmission, meaning that the rider controlled their speed through a simple twist-grip accelerator. The Wisp was the focus of a two-pronged advertising campaign. On one hand it was advertised squarely at men, giving much technical information, whereas the campaign to attract female riders focused on the ‘fun’ aspect. The most famous adverts featured the swinging sixties model Twiggy, in a photoshoot entitled ‘Young Idea’s Shorts Supply’ for the June 1967 edition of Vogue magazine.
1967 Raleigh Wisp Moped
Registration NNX 69F
Original ‘Swinging Sixties’ Transportation, with original logbook, old MOTs, etc
DVLA Registered, new MOT and Ready to Ride
I bought this classic sixties moped from Julie, who had purchased it in 1977, when she was eighteen. She rode it for several years and then parked it up at her father’s house (it has been registered in his name since then). I have three old MOTs from this time. I also have the original logbook, which shows that it was originally sold by Scooter Sales Ltd of Nuneaton, to a Miss Linda May Wightman of Hinckley; her surname changed a year later, so presumably she married …and maybe even met her husband as a result of riding her Wisp?
The machine has been serviced in our workshops, has a new MOT and is ready to ride. My inspection reveals only one thing wrong with it – the rear 6v lightbulb needs replacing.
The Wisp retains its original registration NNX 69F, which is transferable, and has a value of £200.
SHORT VIDEO OF ‘NNX 69F’ ENGINE RUNNING
HISTORY FILE FOR NNX 69F
THE RALEIGH WISP: 1967-1969
The RM 7 Wisp was introduced on 14th April, finished in either Fiesta Blue or Spanish Gold and fitted with the 1.76bhp engine restricted to 1.4bhp. Single-speed transmission, 12 inch wheels, rigid front forks and drum brakes front and rear plus a large rear mounted shopping bag. It was priced at 57 guineas (£59-17s-0d).
In January 1968 the Wisp rear sprocket was changed from 44 to 36 teeth to raise the gearing after many engines had been replaced due to over revving. The Wisp frame was modified at this time with an increased angle on the head tube, and the handlebars altered to suit the new angle. Production offically ceased in September 1969 for all models with the exception of the basic RM 6.
RALEIGH WISP SALES BROCHURE
VOGUE MAGAZINE: JUNE, 1967 SPECIAL BEAUTY ISSUE
Cover photograph by David Bailey
This was the issue with the Raleigh Wisp ridden by Twiggy – a six page fashion shoot for young summer, photographed by Traegar. Also included Francoise Hardy, Julie Christie and Bridget Bardot and Jean Shrimpton.
A real shot of the sixties with the hair piece ad, After Eights, and Lightening Zips (for the many who made their own clothes from the Vogue patterns). Many of the fashions would not be out of place today but the advertisements speak of a different era entirely.
Mark Daniels on The Wisp – http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pattle/nacc/arc0319.htm