Vintage: 1994 Fat Chance Shock-A-Billy

Originally posted on September 1, 2016 at 15:02 pm

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Words and photos: Jeff Archer

By 1994 it was becoming evident that full suspension was here to stay. Most major manufacturers had full-suspension bikes on the market, and the smaller makers were trying to keep up, with quite a few different designs coming out and varying degrees of success. Additionally, many suspension-fork makers were releasing second-generation designs based on feedback gleaned from the first round of forks. Rather than building their own, most bike makers would buy a suspension fork and bolt it to their frame. It was possible to use a rear-suspension design from an outside company as well.

Fat Chance chose to exercise all those options on this Shock-A-Billy by using an AMP rear end and an Action Tec front-suspension design with Fat Chance-built legs. Since the Action Tec linkage was housed under the head tube, it required a specific frame design. Fat Chance customized this bike by using its own Big One Inch-style fork blades. This bike was a prototype to see if this was a direction Fat wanted to take.

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According to Chris Chance, “I was really excited about the Action Tec fork with the BOI lowers, but it seemed like it would have been too pricy to sell many of them.”

Since this is a one-of-a-kind bike, it obviously wasn’t a design they chose for production. Components, though, are typical for the era, with parts from Avid, Ringlé, Sampson and Answer to complement the Shimano XTR drivetrain. This bike frame was restored to the original Team Violet (pastel-purple base coat with sunrise-red pearl topcoat) by Rody at Groovy Cycleworks.

This bike can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology, which is housed at First Flight Bicycles in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina. If you can’t visit in person, check out the collection at


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