#6Questions with Chris Chance
Photo courtesy Mike Wirth, Mountain Bike Action
Chris Chance was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1990, but aside from the nostalgic paint schemes, his 21st century bikes are far from retro. The innovative spirit that conjured up some of the most desirable mountain bikes of the ’80s and ’90s, is now producing on-trend steel bicycles. Recently, we spoke with Chance about how he got his start in the cycling industry, the rapid innovation he’s witnessed, and Fat Chance’s newest bikes, in our first #6Questions Industry Interview.
How did you get your start in the cycling industry?
In my late teens, I was into racing on the road in Connecticut. In December 1974, at an annual gathering for road racers, I spoke with Richard Sachs & Peter Weigle. They were working at Witcomb USA. They told me the shop needed another person to help with frame building. I became their 4th hire. It’s where I learned the basics of how to build a frame. I got the job only because I was passionate about bikes and loved working with my hands. I had no idea at the time where it would lead me. I left for Boston after a 2 year stint there. When Witcomb went out of business, I bought a frame jig and other equipment from the owners. That was the beginning of Chris Chance Cycles, the year was 1977. CCC morphed into Fat City Cycles in 1982. That became the most passionate endeavor of my life, we now call it Fat Chance Bicycles. And the story continues, as my passion rolls with me into the future. I’m stoked and honored that my zeal for great bikes makes so many people happy! When they come to me so very appreciative and tell me how their lives have been enriched riding a Fat, it helps to keep the fire in my belly burning for more great bikes!
What is Fat Chance best known for and what achievements are you most proud of?
I love that we are known for our passion for quality, clean and efficient design, superb handling, durability and FUN! The acknowledgment of what we put into our bikes has got us/me onto the front page of the New York Times (1991), into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (1990), listed as the 7th most influential person in Mountain Bike Magazine (2000). And the list goes on. I am so grateful for all the kudos.
What are you most excited about for the future of the cycling and the cycling industry.
Innovation – What will the next tire size be? (-: Refinement – What will the next brakes, gear system, suspension system be like? New ideas and approaches to old concepts – There’s so much creativity and ingenuity going into bike and component design now. The good things will be proven and will last. We will all be better off for it.
Can you tell us about the latest and greatest coming out of the Fat Chance factory?
We’ve got several projects in the works that I am very turned on about. More on them as they become available. Right now, I am most excited about riding our 2 new models the Yo Eddy 27fiver Plus and the Chris Cross. Both are a blast to ride. The plus tires keep me almost giggling they’re so fun to ride. Get the tire pressure right and they easily roll over so much you can’t help but smile. And that traction. Gotta love it! The Chris Cross re-ignites that itch for new exploration. It’s an awesome combination of possibilities. With lots of wheel options; 700c slicks for road riding, 700c cyclo-cross tires for smoother gravel-grinding or off-road riding, and up to 2 inch 650b or 27fiver tires for gnarly stuff, it’s a go anywhere machine. The tubing the frame is made of is similar in strength to a Yo Eddy. It can take a lot of punishment. The bike keeps asking me, “Where do we want to go next?” And I think, wherever we feel.
What are you riding now? What is your favorite bike?
The Yo Eddy 27fiver Plus and the Chris Cross, of course.
What are you up to when you’re not riding or building?
I am now in the process of saying goodbye to Marin, CA and packing for my move to Ashland, OR. It’s been a good life here in Marin, my home for over 10 years. And I am excited about all that Oregon has to offer. Lots of great rides in beautiful mountains and a new home for Fat Chance Bicycles. More of the good life awaits me in another beautiful state.