Bicycles BICYCLES

Spokey Dokeys

No self-respecting child of the 1980s rode a bicycle that wasn’t fully and luridly accessorised. 

Some favoured the plastic streamers tangling from their handlebars; others went for a horn or bell with a cartoon character adorned on it. Personally, I was all about the rainbow delights that were Spokey Dokeys. 

The original Spokey Dokeys were colourful round plastic beads that snapped easily on to your bike’s wheel spokes. (You can see where the ‘Spokey’ part of the name comes from; what the ‘dokey’ bit refers to is anyone’s guess…) 

Gaining the correct speed was a hugely important part of making the most of your Spokey Dokeys. Go too fast and the beads remained motionless, resulting in a disappointingly silent journey. That was always a shame because, as all kids of that era knew, having Spokey Dokeys on your wheels actually made you the fastest rider EVER. That is completely true.  

Despite this, to encourage a noise out of your Spokey Dokeys you actually had to ride at a pace so slow you were always at danger of gently toppling off into a ditch. Get it right and the beads would slide up and down the spokes of your wheel, giving you that massively pleasing ‘click clack click clack’ sound.  Get a large crowd of Spokey Dokey enthusiasts together and the cumulative effect was magnificent. 

(The noise from Spokey Dokeys is not to be confused, of course, with the muted machine gun ‘rat-a-tat-a-tat’ achieved by pegging playing cards to your bike forks so that they caught on the spokes as you pedalled.)

There’s not an awful lot of information available on the invention of these little beauties but they seem to have originated in California. It’s believed that a man called Larry Harmen designed them and sold the licence to a U.S. toy company. They were, at one point, distributed via cereals – remember how breakfast used to be mega-exciting when it was time to open a new packet? Especially if you were an only child, as I was: no fighting over whose turn it was to collect the free gift for me.

Garish and often irritating, Spokey Dokeys were the perfect accompaniment to a decade that is largely remembered for its horrendous fashion and bad hairstyles but, while they’re nowhere near as popular as they once were, the little clicky-clackers have continued to sell. They’ve been available, over the years, in a wide range of colours and styles, including neon and glow in the dark ones, stars, flowers, butterflies and other assorted shapes plus reflective ones for safer night-time cycling. There were also the inevitable tie-ins with big brands, with both Monster Munch and Kellogg’s getting in on the action, the latter with a Simpsons’ tie-in. 

Spokey Dokeys are still available now in a variety of colours and gimmicks, including a natty set of Dennis the Menace ones that I’ve just spotted on eBay.  Wonder if I’ve still got my Dennis and Gnasher Fan Club badges to wear at the same time?

 

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Message boards

Spokey Dokeys! Last post by sixtyten
30 October 2009

Do You Remember Spokey Dokeys?

Do You Remember Spokey Dokeys?

  • Anonymous user
    on
    These were great! The only problem I found with them was the fact that you could only ride your bike at around 3 mph in order to get the great noise from them as they went up and down the spokes!! Used to drive my mum mad when I rode it near her like it. Which I did quite frequently! Lovely child that I was!!!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    I Remember like it was yesterday when I was in the bike shop and my mum brought me some Spokey Dokeys!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    spokey sokeys can be brought from halfords, but colours are more vibrant, and no where near as cool as the originals, i also had the kellogs cockrell reflecters on my raliegh burner, p.s brakes are for wimps, use ur foot on the back wheel
  • Anonymous user
    on
    LMAO... I thought i was the best with my Spokey Dokeys and my brand new BMX. I was awesome! So awesome that I created a fan page on Facebook called Spokey Dokeys. Join up! Too funny!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    spokey dokeys rock!! i had them on my peugeot bmx and i thought i was so cool,
  • Anonymous user
    on
    There the best thing ever invented love them so much
  • Anonymous user
    on
    I had these on my banana seat!! As well as a horn that was Slimer from Ghostbusters.
  • Anonymous user
    on
    My mother always said that Spokey Dokeys were a waste of money so I had to make do with the plastic tags from loafs of bread, I can still hear the other kids laughing.
  • Anonymous user
    on
    I had them on my pick and white bike in an assortment of colours. I remember they made lots of noise when I would ride slowly, but being on my bike I couldn't really see the colourful blur.
  • Anonymous user
    on
    I want to start a campaign to get spokey dokeys fitted to the London Eye :D