LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — After a nearly 15-year hiatus from the bike industry, framebuilder Chris Chance is resurrecting his namesake brand, Fat Chance Bicycles. Chance, one of the pioneers of mountain bikes, founded Fat City Cycles in 1982 in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Chance, 59, said plans are underway to bring back the Yo Eddy, one of his most popular models. The Yo Eddy was one of the most iconic and collectable mountain bikes of the 1980s and 1990s and continues to have a cult-like following. At Interbike Thursday, Chance told BRAIN he knows one collector who owns 50 Fat Chance models.
He has launched a website—fatchancebicycles.com—to solicit fan input on the design of a limited run of Fat Chance Yo Eddy frames, asking fans about whether to build it in steel, titanium, aluminum or carbon fiber, and whether it should have 26-inch, 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels. Fans can cast their vote for their dream Yo Eddy.
As of Thursday afternoon, Chance said voters were about equally interested in 27.5 and 29-inch wheels, and roughly equally interested in steel and titanium. He said he was gratified to see interest in carbon, a material he's never worked with but would like to.
After a difficult time and several ownership changes in the 1990s, Chance said he needed a break from the bike industry. He wound up living in Marin County — an odd location for someone considered one of the pioneers of the East Coast mountain bike movement. He now lives in Sausalito and for several years has made his living as a Shiatsu practitioner. "It's really deepened me and developed my sensitivity. So I feel like I'm coming back to the bike world with a lot more experience and perspective."
He's been contacted by several magazines over the years for "where is he now" articles, and recently was contacted by a graduate student working on a thesis about the culture of mountain biking. That experience re-ignited his interest in the sport.
"I didn't know what it would be like to rehash all those memories, but I really lit up and I felt all this passion again ... I'm feeling the juices flowing thinking about the design challenges of the new wheel sizes and new ways that people are riding. I'm really looking forward to applying myself to those challenges."
Chance said it's too early to set a time frame on when the first new Fat Chance bikes might roll onto the trail. He expects to work closely with a frameshop, if not weld the frames himself.
"Ideally I would find another (framebuilding) shop to kind of buddy-up with. What's important is that the bikes don't go out until I know they have the right quality and the right feel."
Chance said he expects to start out with a handful of limited edition models that would likely be sold consumer direct, but that eventually he would sell through a small handful of dealers.
"I would love to have dealers once we are ready. My vision is to bring the company up to where it was in the 90's," when Fat City sold as many as 2,000 frames a year.