“There’s this old picture of me, this little kid riding, standing up on the pedals of an oversized bike because I’m not big enough to sit on the seat, with this big shit eating smile on my face as I ride down the street in front of my house – I’ve always dug bikes and that feeling, like flying.”
Whether working on a client’s body, mind, or bike Chris brings people the feeling of freedom and the ability to get rid of what’s holding them back. He helps them fly.
In ‘72 he was selected to work at Witcomb USA where other bike building greats like Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle, and Ben Serotta also got their starts.
When Witcomb closed in ’74 Chris took some of the equipment to Boston and put his own twist into building for racers and other bike crazed zealots. In a spruced up rat hole tenement once flattened by a falling crane and squeezed in between a seedy bar and a dive liquor store, (but close enough to hear all the technology ideas from Harvard and MIT), Chris developed his own systematic methods to fuse bike and rider. Writing his own code on one of the first programmable calculators, and developing detailed questionnaires, he could dial in your perfect geometry and size. His skill was becoming legendary. That was Chris Chance Cycles of Somerville Massachusetts and the workshop became the mecca for bicycling aficionados throughout New England.
Rumblings about this “new thing” caught Chris’ ear in 1980 and Chris went to Crested Butte to check it out. These “Clunkers” were wicked! Working off of frames built by the builders Joe Breeze, Cunningham, Fisher and Potts, Chris slathered his frame building magic onto a new design; building mountain bikes that were controlled almost telepathically and that are extensions of the riders own body and mind. He quickly perfected a few prototypes and God saw that it was good. In 1982 Fat Chance was born.
Fat Chance became the quintessential “Eastern Style” mountain bike with iconic models like the Yo Eddy, Yo Betty, Wicked, Fat Chance 1, Team Comp, Buck Shaver, and Shock-a-billy. These machines could fly up mountains as well as down and you could pedal through rock gardens and stump clearcuts as easily as a gravel road. This was the early heyday and while other builders came and went, Fat Chance bikes following just grew and grew. The Company grew as well, ultimately spawning over 25 other bicycle companies by people mentored by Chris and the Fat Chance ethos and moving into a huge spankin’ new facility that would accommodate all the industry’s predicted growth.
But in 1994 a recession, consolidation of the bike business by larger companies building cheaply in Asia, and the introduction of affordable carbon frames, meant tough times for smaller companies that had invested for an expanding market in metal. To survive, Fat Chance partnered with his old friend Ben Serotta and downsized, with Ben focused on road bikes and Chris continuing with a scaled down Fat Chance.
After a passionate 20 year affair designing and building upwards of 15,000 bikes that many describe as the most perfect Mountain Bikes on the East Coast, if not the planet, Chris took a break. Intending to re-direct his passion for helping people go beyond their limits he moved to Marin county California where his family and friends were, and started a holistic bodywork practice. But while he took a break, his legacy did not. The modern mountain bike with shorter chainstays, responsive angles and short wheelbase –Chris’ pedigree – that kept jammin’. In 1990 he was honored for this and inducted into the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame .
Destiny? Marin is where Mountain Biking started and the Mountain Biking community wasn’t about to let Chris’ talents alone; in 2015, in response to countless entreaties by locals and international fans, Chris launched his Kickstarter and started up again. After hunting around for the perfect spot for Left Coast fabrication he has now settled into Southern Oregon. He’s Back!