Before we jump in, let’s take a look back: This has been such a fun process to undertake over the course of the past nine months. For those who are just tuning in, I bought a frame from Martin, owner of Second Spin Cycles, last year after he had acquired a substantial Fat City Cycles collection. Among his lucky haul was this Yo Eddy! in the team lavender livery with rack mounts, a pump peg, and some frame damage.
While the bike was in Rick’s care at D&D for some repairs and a paint respray, I began collecting period-correct parts from various sources. After re-finishing some of them and getting the bike back, I just finished the build this week. Monday night was the maiden voyage of the new and improved Yo Eddy! and I took some glamour shots here in Santa Fe, so let’s check this beaut out below!
Why a Yo?
Growing up in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that I got a legit mountain bike. Before that, I had a series of BMX bikes and a few 26″ cruisers, but it wasn’t until I moved away from coastal North Carolina for college that a legit MTB was on my radar. Central NC has some great riding and I picked up a used Gary Fisher Tassajara to cut my teeth on singletrack.
Yet, hanging above the cash wrap in one of my local shops was a Yo Eddy! with that beautiful segmented fork dripping in Suntour XC components. That image has forever remained burned into my hippocampus like a cattle brand. The fork, the graphics, the big tires. It was unobtainable for a college student studying architecture, but it’s why I’m writing about this bike today.
Fast forward to 2022. I’m at our parent company, The Pro’s Closet‘s HQ staring down a Grello Yo Eddy, and I am still wishing I had owned one during my early years of mountain biking. We published the Grello article a few months later, setting the hook. Surprisingly, a large Yo frameset isn’t that hard to find, and here we are today!
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing look at Fat City Cycles and the Yo Eddy!, please read the piece that Mike Wilk penned for us last year!
Perhaps one of the most iconic bikes of the 1990s, the Yo Eddy! needs no introduction here. While the frame has some clever detailing, it’s the segmented fork—the first of its kind—that is the most recognizable feature of the Yo. According to the lore, Chris Chance wanted a more robust fork for his new bike model, the Yo Eddy!, and he wasn’t enamored with a unicrown fork for the build. His early Fat Chance bikes had a large box crown (which was not light and prone to breaking with heavy use) and he left Fat City HQ one Friday afternoon mulling over a new design. While he was away, the team stayed in house all weekend working on a new design.
When he returned Monday, a prototype fork was ready for his eyes. Here’s where the history is blurry. Some people say this was Chris Igleheart’s work, while others credit it as a team effort. One thing is for certain: Whoever designed the segmented fork made the Yo one of the best-looking race machines of the 1990s. These segmented forks were topped with the iconic “Yo Eddy!” character, drawn by Mike Pappaconstantine, and tear-drop-shaped gussets lined the back of the fork, strengthening its blades for the rigors of NORBA racing.
Yet, that wasn’t the only iconic frame detail found on the Yo…
Bullet Caps, aka Domes
Eagle-eye frame aficionados will be drawn to the Yo’s dropouts, where the chain and seat stays terminate. These terminations are shaped, like the tip of a bullet, hence the nickname “Bullet Caps,” or as Chris Chance calls them, “Domes.” Around the 35-second mark in the video above, you can see the process that Fat City Cycles used to create these unique profiles.
Continue watching and you can see where Chris explains the purpose of these oversized, thick chainstays and bullet caps: stiffness for racing acceleration. Some of that is marketing jargon, but it doesn’t make this design detail any less significant in the Yo Eddy! body language.
Fun fact: Gary from Merlin helped Fat City attempt to achieve this detail on their titanium Yo! and almost burned the shop down… there was also a story about argon gas-dipped dead rats that I’ll let be for another day.
1991 Yo Eddy! SN# 864Y1L
If you’ve been following along during my “Restoring a Classic MTB” series, you’ve seen what this frame looked like when I got it last year. You’ve also seen me polish up that tall Syncros post and have likely read up on where I got my parts for this build. If you’re still here, reading this article, thank you! This has been a really fun project!
It’s been a long process and the second “ground up” restoration project I’ve done in recent years. The first of which was my Ritchey Tam build.
This Yo has a serial number of 864Y1L, which translates to the 864th Yo Eddy ever made, built in 1991, and is a size Large. At some point, the frame was sent back to Fat City Cycles for a touring package, along with Fat’s anti-chain suck device, the “tooth picks” added to the underside of the chainstays. These keep the chain from ripping up that beautiful paint behind the chainrings.
Funny anecdote: while I was building up the frame, the chain fell off the inner ring and marred the fresh paint. The tooth picks weren’t installed yet. Wahn wahn. Luckily, I found some nail polish that was a very close fit and touched it up.
While my other bikes rely on a “grip of seatpost,” the Yo utilizes a compact geometry meaning there were three common sizes, S, M, and L, and the more elusive fourth size of XL. That means riders would dial in their fit by extending the seat post for proper leg extension and an appropriate stem length for the necessary reach and “racing fit.”
Back then, you’d go to a dealer and try out various stem sizes before they’d order your bike. For obvious reasons, I didn’t have access to this method, so I improvised. I measured where my ideal reach was on a similar bike, took a photo of the Yo on wheels with my proper saddle height, scaled it, and drew some projections in CAD to determine I needed a 130mm stem.
I ordered a 130mm Salsa stem off eBay and sent it to Rick at D&D with the frame to paint it the same color. When it returned with the frame, I used NOS Suntour Rollercam pulleys for the stem and front derailleur pulleys. As for the stem and post extension, the fit is perfect for me, but I’ll admit it took me a little bit to get used to seeing all that exposed silver seat post!
While discussing build details, let’s look at the parts kit.
A 1990s Build Kit
Earlier this week, we looked at the build kit for this frame. I chose an early Suntour XC Pro group with a 7-speed freewheel. I could have gone 8-speed, but felt like since this was an early Yo frame, I’d go with early XC Pro. I’m a big fan of Suntour—its history, the minds behind the MTB line (which we’ll touch on later), and the fabled “Grease Guard” system.
What is Grease Guard? It’s a brilliant design that allows the user to keep their components feeling fresh by injecting fresh grease into ports throughout the components and, by doing so, the old grease is forced out. Grease Guard was used in headsets, pedals, hubs, and bottom brackets. It’s such a genius design, but for some dumb reason (read: late capitalism), it died when Suntour shut its doors.
Although Suntour is no more, one component manufacturer I specced here is still thriving! I love Paul Components and wanted to incorporate some of Paul Component Engineering‘s vintage bits into this build. Here are Paul Stoplight cantilever brakes, the first gen Moon Unit cable yoke, and the first gen short pull levers, with the comfort pad intact!
The most noticeable feature of the Stoplight brakes is the elegant arms, drilled out through a process called “drillium,” also known as “Swiss cheese” drillings. Then, have a look at those brake levers. The ends are elegantly bent, giving you a solid ergonomic grasp while pulling those cantis as hard as you can on a steep descent. I love how the comfort pads match the Grab On grips so well. Foammmmmmmm.
Inspired by the Grello Joey shot, Tasshi built, and Mike wrote about, I wanted to use a complimentary color for the housing, taking inspiration from the yellow Yo Eddy! decals. I chose the Italian-style Nissen cable housing (5mm) available at Crust Bikes. Now, indexed shifter housing is typically 4mm, but I have no issues with the Suntour shifters and 5mm housing. It seems 7 and 8-speed indexed shifting works great with 5mm housing.
The handlebars are Full Metal Cycles repro bars, made to mimic Titec, Bontrager, or WTB titanium bars. I happened to be online on the Facebook boards when this last batch came out. I felt like it would add a bit of bling and personality to the build and since vintage bars were often chopped to unreasonable widths, it would save me the hassle of extending them. They also have a good deal of flex, which softens the stiff ride of the Yo Eddy! fork.
The last touch was an unexpected one. When Ultradynamico dropped its Mars 2.22″ tires in grey, I had to buy a set for the Yo. They look just like the Specialized Ummagumma tires that were so iconic in the 1990s and I knew they would be a perfect fit for this build, which was looking a lot like a rolling Easter egg.
While the Yo was reported to fit a Specialized Ground Control Extreme at 2.5″, I will say there ain’t no way in hell a 2.5″ tire will fit in this bike! This tire measures 2.3″ and it barely fits. I want my money back! ;-)
All that work went into producing a bike that looks pretty close to passing for new-old stock, straight from the pages of a 1990s magazine review, yet, most importantly, is ready to ride! I took the Yo on its first dirt ride Monday night after photographing it, and the Yo is worlds apart from my other vintage bikes. It’s stiff, has steep angles, and is ultralight. The complete, as shown, weighs 22 lbs on the nose. For an all-metal steed, that ain’t bad!
What’s most noticeable about the Yo Eddy! compared to, say, my 1980 Ritchey is how the bike wants to be ridden at full tilt. It accelerates quickly and careens and glides around tight singletrack due to the steeper angles and shorter rear end. The steeper seat angle puts you further over the bottom bracket when the going gets steep and vertical. Overall, it’s clear the Yo is a racing machine, and even for someone who lives for the casual pedal, it’s fun to rip around on.
I’m done spinning yarn, er rather, spinnin’ bullet stay caps about this bike; check out plenty of detailed photos in the gallery. I also wanted to thank everyone who helped out with this one! Martin from Second Spin, Rick at D&D, Paul and Travis from Paul Component Engineering, and Bailey at Sincere Cycles for assisting me with the build.
Frame: 1991 Fat Chance Yo Eddy SN# 864Y1L
Fork: Fat Chance Yo Eddy
Headset: Chris King Gripnut
Stem: Salsa Motoroller
Handlebars: FMC Ti
Grips: Grab On MTN-2
Brake levers: Paul Short Pull
Front brake: Paul Stoplight
Rear brake: Paul Stoplight
Front derailleur: SunTour XC Pro
Rear derailleur: SunTour XC Pro
Rims: Weinmann BCR1
Hubs: SunTour XC Pro Grease Guard
Skewers: Ringle Holey Stix
Front tire: Ultradynamico Mars 2.22″
Rear tire: Ultradynamico Mars 2.22″
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo “Perforated”
Seatpost: Syncros Polished
Seat collar: DKG for Fat City (with NOS moisture seal)
Pedals: Suntour XC Pro w/ Grease Guard
Housing: Nissen “Italian”
Got questions? Memories about the Yo Eddy! or other ephemera to share? Drop ’em in the comments!