Tuesday, July 5, 2016

1989 Yeti C-26

There really isn't anything about the C-26 that hasn't already been said, but I'll try anyways. There are numerous threads on all the major forums, writeups on other blogs and various fan sites. However, with all of that none of that beats actually seeing one in person, and a real one at that. This bike is just special. It's not just rare, expensive or exotic... it's all those things with an extra of dose of crazy, it's the thermonuclear equivalent to your average explosively cool bike. It's just beyond words.

This particular C-26 is one of the original ten or so bikes built by Yeti. It's not a kit bike, it's not replica, it's not after hours employee project built with stolen tubes. It's the real McCoy... I acquired the bike earlier this year from Yeti where it hung for the past 10+ years. The history of the bike is not really known, but there are a few theories. Based on the size of the frame (19.5) Herting thought it may have been made for J Riddle who worked on marketing the Easton C9 tubing. It may have been a test or demo bike used by Yeti, eventually ending up in the 1991 catalog. The latter theory is supported by the fact that it's seen some heavy use and has identical features to the 91 catalog bike. Regardless of its past the bike is iconic and I'm just glad I had the opportunity to put it back together and preserve it for the future.

I was going to go with a dayglo ATAC stem, but an an Aluminum FTW stem feels so much better here. This particular stem was made by Frank this year and is not a vintage one, but I'm willing to accept that. I know where a couple old stems are and maybe some day I can pry one away from the owners.

The FTW stem is really a work of art, I'd love to see how it feels on the trail but sadly this bike is not really suitable to ride... so I'll just have to imagine. Dayglo Answer Taperlite bar and Shimano M092 brifters complete the cockpit.

Original dayglo Accutrax fork, Grafton Speedcontrollers and Onza Porcupine tires are always right at home when it comes to Yetis.

The only number that counts when talking about Yetis!!!

Vintage Tioga Tension Disk Drive built at St. Henri shop in Malibu. This Disk Drive and the Bullseye cranks are actually ex Yeti kit I got from Herting several years ago, feels good to put them on a deserving bike.

Notice the rear derailleur cable stop. This is one of only a few C-26 to have this old style stop which enables the use of a an adjustable barrel for the rear derailleur cable housing. This was typical on the early Simplex dropout FROs and the first few C-26s. All of the later bikes, including Juli and Johns had the more commonly seen slotted cable stop. This bike has the mix of the later style dropouts and this stop, which is also what the bike in the 91 catalog had, making me think that this is the bike.

As you can see both bikes are larges, both have extra water bottle mounts, both use a front derailleur pulley and both have the adjustable rear derailleur cable stop. Still there is no way to know for sure...

Original Yeti team yellow Bullseye cranks came from non other than Chris Hertings personal stash.

I chose the XT brifters (push-push shifters) in lieu of the more commonly used thumbies because this was meant to be a race bike and by the time 91 rolled along (when this bike 'I think' was used for the Yeti catalog) most pro racers were running that style of shifters.

One way to spot an original C-26 is the 2nd generation Yetiman headtube badge. Most of the kit and after-hours bikes had the 3rd generation sliding Yetiman.

Another sign of an original C-26 is the lack of a reinforcing gusset on the chainstay side of the wishbone. All of the later kit bikes had these. Early pulleys were made by turning down Bullseye derailleur pulleys all of which were red. The later bikes (ARCs, etc) had pulleys that were custom made for Yeti and available in a myriad of colors to match the kit.

One unfortunate bit about the bike is the fact that the seat tube has come unglued from the bottom bracket shell rendering the bike unrideable. I plan on sending to Chris Herting in an effort to repair it, but even if he's successful I doubt I'll ever be able to really ride it on anything other than a gentle trail if that. In the end this seems hardly surprising as these were built to be race bikes that were probably only expected to last several races and then hit the scrap pile. Tomac had three frames on top of a couple all steel FROs for barely one season. Juli only got her's for the worlds in 1990... so they were never meant to last this long.

The seat cluster on these bikes is really cool. Some of the team bikes lacked this stop in between the seat stays and had a riveted on stop lower down on the seat tube. Most of the kit bikes had a stop similar to this, while the after-hours bikes were had clamp on stops for the front derailleur.

Unlike nearly all of the early Yetis which had a 26.8m seatpost, the C-26 has a 27.0-27.2 seatpost which required a custom seat clamp to go over the larger seat tube. I was lucky enough to source an original one which is bored out to fit the C-26.

I should have used a Chris King headset, easy enough fix.

Regardless of whether or not I'll ever actually ride this bike it's really good enough to just be able to work on it or bring it to an event or two. For me the C-26 is the equivalent of the pre war Auto Union race cars, so few were built, the all created history and then were lost to time. Only now have a few surfaced and been restored to their former glory for all to see. That's how I feel about this bike. It's racing days may be over, but it can still represent an age where performance pushed the boundaries of reason. As Chris Herting famously said about putting John Tomac on the C-26 for the 1990 worlds, "Tomac was worth a million bucks and we could have killed him", that about sums it about!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

1990 Fat Chance Yo Eddy in Sapphire Blue

Lately I've been spending a fair amount of time about how to consolidate and put a nice bow on my bike collection. Largely driven by the fact that it's just too much and in part that some of the bikes either do not get ridden and others have just been hanging around for two to three years and I haven't even built them. Such was the case with this 1990 Yo Eddy. I bought it in 2012 and although I set out to build it I never finished and so it just hung there for the past four years. I've built a couple really nice Yo's in the past, but for whatever reason I don't really associate with the brand and so never felt the motivation to get mine done and check it out. So, now that I'm debating letting a few bikes go it was one of the first ones to not make the cut. But, after some strong urging from a buddy of mine who's a rider I really respect I decided to throw it together and check it out. All I can say so far is "Fuck you Mike!". Ok, ok.. so while I didn't fall head over heels for it immediately (read it's no Merlin) it is certainly showing some serious promise!

The bike certainly looks sporty and really quite modern. I mean if you buy a new IndyFab you get a lighter and more suspended version of this exact bike. What's not to love about that? If you were to distill this bike into a single word, without a doubt in my mind it would be 'fork.' It's what gives this bike the aggressive stance and the no-nonsense character. I'm certain that if the Yo Eddy came with a unicrown fork it would have fallen by the wayside in the annals of historically significant mountain bikes.

The build here is really basic, aside from the space age (at the time) 2.5" tires and a Titanium bar I really didn't do anything special on this build. Maybe that's why it comes in a somewhat hefty 26.2 lbs, which although not egregious is bit more than my 24.6 lbs Merlin (same size).

Say what you will about this color, but I for one really like it. The Grellos and fades are all quite amazing, but what attracted me to this bike was its relative uniqueness and subtlety. I think in a way it complements the otherwise aggressive nature of the bike and gives it a polished demeanor.

I really dig the asymmetrical decal placement on the seat stay, similar to the Yeti bikes of the time.

Bullet capped rear stays, because why not?

More and more I looks for bikes with original shop decals and other little touches that clearly identify the original condition of the bike.

Party in the back, business in the front. This fork is really amazing. I've been told that the 95 and 97 versions of this bike are far superior in both weight and ride characteristics. The later BOI fork, though not as imposing with its spindly 1" legs is supposed to be much more forgiving and compliant. I'll take the fat, non-wandering, wheel rocket anyday!

I really appreciate the work that went into these forks. While I may be somewhat partial to the grove box crown fork, the segmented design has an air of simplicity while still delivering terrific performance and GOBs of style!

This is the only Yo I've ever seen (doesn't mean it is) with these funky head tube reinforcements, not sure if it had something to do with the size or what, but it's a bit unique.

In summary; yeah I get what all the fuss is about. No, I haven't fully drank the kool-aid yet, but I'm getting thirstier.

Need to log a few more miles and file a ride report. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Keeping "on the up and up" with restorations

No matter what the activity, everything has a consequence., every action has a re-action. So, it should come as no surprise that while restoring a bike to as new condition can be seen as a good thing in the short run by the people involved, it can have negative consequences on others in the long run. 

Over the past five or six years I've had part in restoring dozens of vintage bikes and refinishing countless parts. A large majority of those bikes and parts were stripped to bare metal and either repainted or re-anodized. While the people I was working with knew very well what they were getting I've not seen those same bikes, frames and parts resold to new owners and on a few occasions the new owners were not notified of the restoration history. While this isn't completely surprising it is rather unsettling.

For a period of time I had all of the frames I restored marked with a Second Spin label underneath the clear on the bottom bracket shell. But it seems even things seemingly obvious like that can be omitted from a description only to be discovered too late. In other cases I've scribed the inside of the head tube or bottom bracket shell, but again those markings may not be discovered easily. More overt marking may be necessary moving forward.

In addition to refinished or restored parts/bike there is a whole new cadre of people completely remanufacturing old parts. Copies of Grafton perches, Ringle cable hangers, IRD seatposts. As far as I can see nobody is marking the parts as replicas and to the untrained eye they are nearly identical to the originals. 

Now, more and more I see repainted frames or complete bikes, refinished or replicated parts getting posted up for sale with minimal descriptions and often even passed off as brand new originals to unsuspecting buyers who end paying top dollar for things that end up falling short of the mark.

I would strongly urge anyone who is considering a repair or a refinish first take a second though and reconsider and leave it original, but if that's not an option to take steps to brand or mark the bike or part so that it can't be passed off an original down the road. I wish painters would do this as rule of thumb, but I see the conflict of interest in the desire to get business and keeping customers satisfied. Afterall, it's not the painter's job to keep people honest. I for one plan to do this on 100% of the items that pass through my shop. There will always be people who try to game or profit others and that can't be helped, but those of us who are truly passionate about this hobby need to maintain a degree of integrity that ensures that it continues in a positive light.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

1987 Bradbury Manitou Elevated Chainstay

This Manitou is one of those 'so strange it's cool' sort of bikes. While Doug was not known for making elegant and sophisticated bikes, this one really takes the proverbial cake. However what it lacks in style and finish it makes up for in character and uniqueness (this is the only elevated chainstay bike that Doug ever built).

When I originally acquired this bike I assumed it was an 89/90 build, possibly 88. This was mainly because Doug said that he built the bike for a guy who wanted really short chainstays and so he copied Richard Cunningham's elevated chainstay Mantis Valkyrie. When I got the bike the build was largely a mix of Shimano XT, Dura Ace wheels and a few miscellaneous parts. Basically a late 80s mountain bike. So when I set out to rebuild it I naturally tried to stay within that era but push the wow factor a bit. While I'm satisfied with the build I have since figured out that the bike was built in 1987, was one of first 10 bikes Doug built (listed 3rd on the build log), and was designed to be a trials bike (hence the short wheelbase). So, I think I went a bit overboard with the build... We'll see how it rides and decide if it stays like this or gets a bit dumbed down.

Here is how I got the bike a couple year ago:

A Rock Shox?? Really???

Here is how it was originally built

Here it is today :

The more I look at the bike the more I like it and appreciate it's, ummm... aesthetic.

I was never quite sure what fork to put on this bike. On the one hand it's a rare and special bike and deserves a solid build with all the Doug made bits and pieces. On the other hand it was a rush job with some critical details missing, and so maybe anything is good enough. In the end I decided to use a roller cam equipped Bradbury fork with 115mm front hub spacing. Since I built this bike I acquired a similar fork but with 100mm spacing and given that this frame does not have the wide 145mm rear spacing (like later Manitous) I may swap forks and re-lace the wheel with a regular Bullseye hub.

Tall headtube gusset is very characteristic of the early DBMs, they got shorter and flatter as Doug evolved the design.

The lack of a cable guide for the rear derailleur was a bit of an omission by Doug, and one that still had him scratching his today. I improvised by adding rack mount I had leftover from my Cunningham and repurposing it as a cable guide. The Suntour XC9000 derailleur is about the only original part on this bike. Unlike other derailleurs from that era it has a very short pivot arm allowing it to fit under the rear stay and still operate freely.

Closeup view of the custom cable guide and front derailleur.

Doug used his traditional rear entry, horizontal dropouts but rotated them 90 degrees and modified the derailleur hanger. I've not seen this used on any other bike. I did find one more set of unused dropouts in one of the boxes of loose parts I got from Doug earlier this year. Wonder what he was saving them for?

Cook Bros cranks and Manitou, go together like a horse and carriage.

IRD progressive u-brakes with replica stiffener plates. I may replace these for original DBM plates I recently dug up.

IRD macaroni stem with a Cook Bros Titanium handlebar and Shimano XT controls round out the cockpit. Again, these parts just barely make the 1987 cutoff and infact the bars are probably cheating a bit,

Front derailleur housing runs nearly the entire length of the frame. In addition to that there was no cable guide underneath the BB and the cable simply ran over the BB shell. I added a plastic cable guide wanting to prevent any further damage to the frame.

Matching IRD brake in the rear. This is my first so equipped bike and I'm looking forward to seeing how these brakes work in real life.

I really like this junction, so much going on here.

If I could only find an IRD bar...

The only thing left to do is to take this thing out on the trails and see how it rides. I have to admit I am very curious but have some reservations. I hope to have a ride report soon.