Fat City Cycles is back!
What? You’ve never heard of Fat City Cycles?
If you’re a millennial, that’s understandable. But if you were born before the early 1980s, you have no excuse. The brand, which was active from 1982–1999, was touted as the maker of some of the best-handling bike frames on the market and in many ways served as a springboard for a host of frame builders currently operating today. Among the brands that can trace their roots back to Fat City are Independent Fabrication, Seven, Geekhouse, ANT, Maietta, Saila, Royal H and the original Merlin. After closing its doors in 1999 and sitting dormant for roughly 18 years, Fat City Cycles is back with famed builder Chris Chance at the helm.
First, a little history lesson. Chance got his start building frames in the same shop as fellow legendary frame builders Richard Sachs and Peter Weigle, Witcomb USA. After the shop went under, Chance bought Witcomb’s equipment and struck out on his own. Fat City and Fat Chance changed hands a few times and ended up closing doors in 1999 — resulting in countless other bike brands spinning off, along with even Ron Andrews’s King Cage water bottle cages. (Andrews was a tool maker at the original Fat City Cycles.) After ceasing production, Fat Chance enthusiasts across the globe maintained a strong cult following on forums like Fat Cogs, or the Fat Chance Owners Group — particularly in appreciation for the brand’s Yo Eddy mountain bike frame.
Slim Chance 2.0
Material: True Temper OX Platinum steel
Sizes: extra small thru 2XL
Use: spirited road rides with friends
Price: $2,395 for frame and fork
This time around, Chance will be in Marin County, California instead of on the East Coast. Chance is using the same skills that he cultivated over a 30+ year career in the industry, paired with the latest technology and building materials available. Two different frames are on offer: the Slim Chance 2.0, a limited edition of the original Slim Chance constructed entirely from True Temper steel; and a new version of the Yo Eddy.
I had the pleasure of ripping through the roads around New York City on the Slim Chance 2.0, leading me to conclude that those cult Fat-heads that stuck with the brand through 18 years of defunctness weren’t crazy after all. Chance’s knowledge of frame building shines through abundantly with a comfortable yet racy geometry, good responsiveness, and a supple ride that did a shockingly good job at absorbing NYC road chatter. This isn’t your typical ultralight, ultra-high performance road bike, but it isn’t trying to be. Chance, above all else, is concerned with handling and ride quality — two of the greatest strengths of the Slim Chance 2.0.
This isn’t your typical ultralight, ultra-high performance road bike, but it isn’t trying to be.
The Slim Chance is available in a host of bright colors, with or without a custom painted ENVE stem, with or without a custom painted Silca frame pump and a Chris King headset in your choice of color. It merits mentioning however, that the current True Temper limited edition of the Slim Chance is a dying breed. True Temper has decided to cease production of its highly desirable steel bicycle tubes. The final ship date for tubes from True Temper is March 31, 2017.
Does that spell the death of the made-in-the-USA steel bicycle? Certainly not, nor does it mark the end of the Slim Chance. But if you’re a cycling enthusiast, Fat Chance aficionado, or collector of all things Americana, don’t sleep on the Fat Chance Slim Chance 2.0. It’s an American frame made with American steel — an old school breed of bike whose future is muddled with question marks.