With the first batch of Fat Chance kickstarter frames being finished at the time of this writing, the resurrection of an iconic mountain bike is an imminent reality. Although a few of these posts have touched on how Fat Chance will fit into the current bike industry, we shouldn’t neglect to consider the actual changes in technology and design that bicycles (especially of the off road variety) have undergone since the last Yo Eddy was in production. Some of the innovation we’ve seen has maybe seemed a bit contrived, maybe even silly; some of its been fleeting – only a flash in the pan leading from one new standard to another. We complain about bicycles and their lack of standards but you have to admit, the bizarre, goofy and wide range of products is also what makes it fun. The recent advancements in mountain bike technology have arguably happened fastest due to the ‘enduro’ craze. The need (or market) for highly capable bikes with longer travel that also climb efficiently has driven the development of technology that I don’t know how I ever lived without. The release of a new generation of Fat Chance bicycles couldn’t have coincided with better timing in terms of having access to these technologies and being able to apply them to a timeless platform.
If we consider the bikes being made by Fat City through the 1990’s, most of the endearing nostalgia comes from the workmanship and attention to detail that translated into such high quality steel frames – and that has remained timeless. This version of the Yo Eddy surely has all the character and quality that was inherent to the vintage version.
However, much has changed as well. The last Yo Eddy would have been designed for use with a suspension fork – probably with an 1 and 1/8” steerer tube; cable actuated Rim brakes of the linear pull, or ‘V brake’ variety; 26” wheels with at most a 2.2” tire with a tube inside; a threaded bottom bracket shell meant to accept a square taper bottom bracket; the 29.4 mm seat post that has become so highly sought after by collectors (this is because the 29.4 size was proprietary at the time); 135 mm spacing in the rear drop outs meant for a 3 x 8, or 9 drive train; and geometry meant for shredding singletrack in an aggressive position, most likely with a stem over 100 mm long and bars less than 600mm wide. There’s nothing wrong with these features. When used together, the bike handles as it was designed – and those of us that love vintage bikes can still appreciate those ride qualities. Here’s where the amazing innovation happens though.
Let me start with my personal favorite. Don’t laugh.The dropper post. The dropper post has earned a special place in my heart as the single best invention since gears. Around my hometown, I’m often laughed at for being a technology curmudgeon, but since I started using a dropper post, my entire persona changed and I went from being a Willy Nelson to a Miley Cyrus! I was amazed at how often I use the thing! Luckily for me, the new Yo Eddy has been spec’d with a 30.9mm seat tube to accommodate most dropper post designs. Furthermore, nothing bothers me more than extraneous cable housing and hydraulic hose so the new Yo has the ability to run ‘stealth’ hose/housing routing through the seat tube for a streamlined look.
Moving on, I’m torn between my next two favorite innovations: Disc brakes and wheel size. I suppose the most significant and contentious debate has been over wheel size. While coaching a high school mountain bike team in Durango, Co and still being a retro grouch, I’ve heard all the arguments across the spectrum. 29’ers a fad; 29’ers are stupid; 29’ers are more stable; 29ers are faster; 650b wheels are better for jumping; 650b climbs better…BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. Let’s face it: the big wheels are sweet. No, 29’ers are NOT a fad. YES, they are faster and more stable. YES, 650b is also pretty sweet. The new Yo Eddy is available in both wheel sizes, which I think is pretty cool and a major innovation since the last Fat Chance bikes were around.
Now stop me if none of this comes as news to you. If you’re in the choir that I’m preaching to, just move on and watch the latest sick mtb edit on Vimeo – you don’t need convincing here. I really want this to help my fellow retro grouches understand the sweetness and shredability that is available to us through these new fangled gadgets.
OK, disc brakes. You know they’re sweet. They work better for longer in more conditions. They look sweet. I remember when a friend of mine had just custom ordered a frame from Curtlo in Washington it was the first time I saw a steel hardtail without cantilever brake bosses on the seatstays – disc only! It was bad-ass. Now that sleek ‘disc only’ look has caught on with the cyclocross crowd, and coming soon to a peleton near you…pro road racing in 2016. Everyone’s doing it.
My next favorite innovation: the 1x____ (pronounced “one by”) drivetrain. Nothing is more freeing than letting go of your front derailleur. Trust me on this one. If you’ve ever ridden a single speed, you know how the simplicity and quiet operation affects your riding style. The ‘one-by’ drivetrain does just that only with a huge range of gear options and all while freeing up real estate on your handlebars. The newest standard is 1×11, which requires slightly wider spacing in the rear end, and usually a through axle rather than the old style 9mm quick release. That’s why you’re seeing 142mm wide spacing and 12mm through-axle compatibility on the new Yo Eddy.
Another big change has been in suspension technology. If you own a suspension corrected Yo Eddy, chances are the fork only moves about 80mm max. And that 80mm of travel probably either feels like a pogo stick or mashed potatoes. The new Yo Eddy falls into the ‘trail bike’ category so the geometry allows it to be set up with a bit more travel than even a cross-country bike. Also, the 44mm headtube means you’re taking advantage of another new technology – the tapered steerer tube. These forks are wider at the bottom of the steerer tube providing a much stiffer front end. Ultimately, this translates into more suspension travel that’s going to turn your mashed potato into a curly fry…with butter.
As for the wide bar/short stem thing, it feels right, I promise.
I hope my fellow luddites have read this with an open mind, and are maybe even ready to adopt some of these things themselves. If not, I understand, I was once like you too, baking cornbread on the woodstove and riding my mule to town, but I promise, if you install a dropper post on that same mule, you will be PUMPED. One thing that’s for sure: The more things change, the more they stay the same…The newest generation of Yo Eddies will be just as rad as the original, regardless of technology.