Saturday, April 20, 2013

1983 Fat Chance #1

I had the lucky opportunity to spend this weekend visiting a good friend up in the bay area and check out his amazing collection of vintage Fat Chance mountain bikes. I'll try to do my best to capture and describe a few of the special bikes in his collection starting off with Fat Chance #831, that's the first bike built in 1983.

Chris Chance starting building road bikes in the late 70s, but it wasn't until around 1981-82 that he officially started building under the Fat City brand. He and his partner built their first mountain bikes in 1982, supposedly only 15 were built. The first 'production' Fat Chance bike came out in 1983 and this is the first one built.

This frame is fully fillet brazed, a feature not common to most Fats. It's beautifully made, with great attention to details throughout. A few design details are reminiscent of other brands, such as the seat stay binder bolt a la Ritchey or the custom built bullmoose bars often used on Ritchey/Fisher/Ross and many other brands of the rapidly emerging mountain bike industry.

The components are a mixture of early Shimano Deore (probably not original) rear derailleur, Tomaselli (previously incorrectly identified as Magura) brake levers, Suntour Power Shift shifters and Mountech front derailleur, Avocet hubs, Shimano FC-B124 cranks and BR-MC70 brakes. Seatpost is SR Laprade and the saddle is an Avocet Touring.

I did't have a chance to take this bike on any lengthy spins, but initial impressions were pretty well in-line with expectations based on looking at it. The slack head tube and seat tube angles crate a rather comfortable ride, the steering is relaxed but not slow by any means. The 16 7/8"seat stays were relatively short compared to other bikes from that time period and when combined with a 72 degree seat tube and a longer top tube resulted in an open cockpit giving the rider room to easily move weight back and forth for better traction during climbing. This is a large and somewhat heavy bike and the parts were a bit tired and need need of some service, but it was still a pleasure to ride and I'm grateful for the experience.

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