Words and photos by Jeff Archer
In the world of vintage mountain bikes, the 2014 Interbike show was an exciting event. The annual Mountain Bike Hall of Fame induction ceremony had some company this year with the debut of the Fat Tire Flyer book, written by Charlie Kelly, which chronicles his take on the birth of mountain biking (read an excerpt here.)
But the major unplanned event was the return of Chris Chance, who could be found wandering the convention center with a bright-pink Fat Chance Yo Eddy T-shirt stating, “I’m back…”. Now Chance has successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign to build new bikes and they are expected to make their debut at the 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show. With a new Fat Chance on the way, this is a good opportunity to check out a classic.
Chris Chance is part of a group of Witcomb USA alumni that includes framebuilders such as Richard Sachs and Peter Weigle. Witcomb was an attempt to capitalize on the bike boom of the early ’70s, though it ultimately failed. Chance, Weigle, and Sachs all went on to produce their own road bike lines using their respective names.
In 1982, as mountain biking started gaining in popularity, Chance started producing mountain bikes under the Fat Chance name. This featured bike is number 13 out of 15 Fat Chance bikes produced in 1982. It is beautifully fillet brazed and features a Fat Chance–built box crown fork. One unique component is a Simplex front derailleur that is directly mounted to the frame, similar to what is being done today. Since mountain-bike-specific components were still a year away, this bike uses a combination of touring bike, BMX bike, and motorcycle-derived parts.
While we can’t be sure what direction Fat Chance will take in the future, we can be certain that it will be built on a solid foundation of bikes such as this one.
This bike can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina. If you can’t visit in person, check out the collection at MOMBAT.org.