Lifelong Fat-fan Brendan Shafer shares his memories of Yo Eddy! which have shaped his mountain biking life from a very young age. You can follow him on Instagram @brendanoshafer.
The hollow eyes of the crude visage seemed to stare right past me – its serrated teeth and bandaged chin lending the impression that this dude was bad. And by bad, I mean good.
My brother and I had just received matching Yo Eddy! T-shirts, almost matching anyway. His was grey, mine: bright pink. It was the single gnarliest possession of my young life. I was sure that this figure represented the absolute most that a dude (or dudette) could strive to be: Mohawked, bruised, bones literally showing. This was a mountain biker.
A smattering of FAT collectibles from my childhood
At the time I had no idea that this gritty drawing by a guy named Mike Papaconstantine would have such an influence on my idea of attitude.
The year was roughly 1990. I was five or six years old back then and my brother was a few years older. My dad owned a Yo and always referred to that bike as such – ‘the Yo!’. I still have vivid memories of gazin g down at the top of bizarre segmented fork and seeing the face of Yo Eddy! gleaming effervescently, seemingly hovering above the ‘wild cherry’ paint scheme. I didn’t know much, and I still don’t, but that shit was badass.
I must have been pre-occupied with the character for quite some time thereafter. Kids of that age, who knows what they’re thinking?! Somehow, I got the idea to write the folks at Fat City trying to express my enthusiasm. I don’t recall what I specifically compiled in that first communiqué, but amazingly I received a response that I had long forgotten about until a few years ago when I uncovered the letter during a visit to my parent’s house. Apparently I wanted to know the answer to the big question: Who is Yo Eddy!?
I’m a firm believer that people need to experience self-discovery first hand. Could I tell you, word-for-word, what that letter specifically said? Of course I could… But that might ruin the child-like intrigue and excitement that you may feel if you’re still reading this crappy story. I will tell you this – the letter from Fat City was signed with one phrase: “Catch Big Air”.
The response letter sent to me from FCC in 1991
I remember watching my dad on the Yo Eddy! one day. He pulled a wheelie, looped out and crashed pretty hard. HA! That’s what Yo Eddy! was all about I thought. He eventually sold that bike and later bought a similar Yo Eddy! that had been built in the New York factory. I think he sold that before I graduated High School. My brother and my dad were carpenters together – still are. My brother’s gray Yo shirt gradually faded and became covered in wood glue, varnish, blood, and sawdust. I think it finally sprang a leak and disappeared. Sometime between then and now, I decided I wanted to be a bike racer. I had a Mohawk in high school inspired by Yo Eddy! A math teacher once joked in class that I had that haircut to piss off math teachers.
I’m almost 31 now and ironically just landed my first “real” job teaching math at a high school in the mountain bike capitol of the world, Durango Colorado. I coach our high school mountain bike team and work for Ron Andrews of ‘King Cage’ on the side. I still spend my free time collecting random Yo Eddy! crap. That’s why I was stoked when I heard rumors that Yo 2.0 was in the works. I’m saving for a new version of the classic frame but until then, you can find me on ebay, engaging in bidding wars for small collectibles. As I write this, I’m watching the timer run out on a patch that reads ‘FAT’ in classic sans-serif font. I plan to snipe the auction at the last second, hopefully for under fifteen bucks. My apologies if I outbid anyone who’s reading this.
My dad on his Saratoga-built Yo, carting my sisters around central Vermont
Here in Durango, there’s one other Fat Cog living nearby. If you have to ask ‘what’s a Fat Cog’, your Internet chat room style vintage bike geekdom is seriously in question. Pretend you didn’t say anything. Anyway, my buddy (lets call him ‘ameybrook’ or @ridevintagemtb) and I still get together once a week or so to ride our Fats. If you’re ever passing through the mountain bike capitol of the world, post it on Fatcogs, we’d love to shred.
2015: Wearing my FAT 2.0 t-shirt on the trail in Durango with fellow Fat Cogs