Like many of the best ideas at Fat City Cycles back in the day the idea for the Yo Eddy segmented fork came straight out of the frame shop where some of the frame builders were experimenting with some radical, cool fork designs.
At the time the box crown fork had been working well for Fat City, but they were conscious they needed something better for the new Yo Eddy frame that was coming out.
Left: 1988 Team Fat Chance Box Crown Fork (Courtesy MOMBAT). Right: 1990 Yo Eddy Fork.
Chris was initially skeptical about the idea as it seemed too hard to design, but in the very best traditions of non-traditional management, which defined Fat City they ignored him and built a prototype anyway! Chris recalls his reaction…
“Yeah, at first I was saying, it would be too hard if not impossible to balance out the performance (strength, lightweight and handling). But then they said, we made one anyway and here it is. I knew immediately they were right. We had to figure out how to make the design work. It just looked way too cool!”
The design was then refined, tested to produce a fork that balanced lightweight and compliance with stiffness and strength. The first 1 1/8” version was launched in 1989 with the original Yo Eddy and at the time it set a new benchmark for how a bike should ride.
The fork contributed to the bike’s incredibly precise handling thanks to the straight blades, “Positive Traction” is what Chris called it, where the front wheel went exactly where you pointed it. For an out and out race bike like the Yo Eddy it was just what the frame needed, and paired with clearance for a 2.5” front tire it proved an instant hit (when it launched it was one of the first frames on the market to fit such big tires).
Left: Mountain Bike Action, July 1992. Right: Mountain Bike Action, October 1990.
The Yo Eddy road version was developed later in ’89 for the Slim Chance, which at 560g (1.25lbs) proved to be one of the lightest forks on the market at the time.
By 1992 and the 10th anniversary Fat Chance, the fork was facing renewed competition from first generation suspension forks so some improvements were needed for this very special edition bike. Reducing the tube size to 1” meant increased lightness and compliance, but to maintain the same level of strength and stiffness the tubing was heat-treated, and the “tears of a crown” gussets featured on the rear of the fork blades as they had done since ’89.
It proved to be one of the lightest forks on the market at the time, but with front suspension gathering pace in the mid-nineties it’s mainstream appeal was diminishing.
Although covered under patent for many years by the mid-2000’s with Fat City not longer around the design started to be a benchmark for other framebuilders to copy and refine, most notably from FAT alumni Chris Igleheart and Independent Fabrication. One of the more creative uses of the design was the wishbone seat-stays seen on Dekerf and Sycip around this time.
In recent years with the increase in popularity of steel frames its great to see the design still being used so widely from entry level steel Mountain Bikes through to high end Titanium commuter bikes and of course the limited edition Yo Eddy Kickstarter frame.
Left: Igleheart Fork. Center: Sycip Seatstay. Right: Independent Fabrication Deluxe Redux.