Monday, March 23, 2015

1994 Klein Adroit

I've spent quite a lot of time riding my old 92 Adroit and felt strongly that it was one of the best bikes ever made. I've never really ridden an MC2 era Klein, but have heard a lot of good things. So, when the opportunity to buy this bike came up I felt pretty confident that it was a good move to buy it. I've not been disappointed...

The bike here is a rather early one. I think that MC2 Attitudes didn't go into full production until April - May of 1994 and the Adroits a little bit later still. This is the 15th 21" Adroit made, and is dated from May of 1994. It's the earliest MC2 Adroit I have recorded in my database.

Full ride review and proper pics coming shortly




This bike is no beauty queen and has its share of battle scars. As such I've built it up as a full on rider and while I hope to preserve it as best as I can, it's quickly rising up the ranks of my small fleet and will no doubt be a frequent favorite for local rides!






Production stays still have a little of the MC1 square design left, but not quite as much as the original prototype.

Chainstays on the prototype MC2 Adroit, you can see a lot of the old MC1 design still there


Hugi hub lend a little splash of exotica to this bike, plus that sound is simply over the top.


Not a standard MC2 cap, but a later MC3 version. I actually quite like it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1985 Yeti - First Yeti ever sold!

I've shown this bike in a couple of various posts, but never actually managed to get it cleaned up and sorted out. So, here are some quick pics of the first Yeti ever sold, all cleaned up and dressed up. I'll try to do a formal photo shoot before sending it off for display at The Pro's Closet and then at the Yeti HQ in Colorado.


Well here it is. Lots of red here, I kinda wish the cranks were silver or maybe some chrome Bullseye, but this is how I got it after all these years, so this is how it's going to stay.


BMX style bars and stem were a short lived carry over from the Motocruiser days. You can see the foundation of the famous Yeti top tube cable routing, only here it's split across both sides of the top tube.


Famous loop stays, you can see the pronounced OD variation during the transition, I'm guessing JP hadn't quite gotten his sourcing of tubing all squared away.


Shimano 600EX (FC-6206) touring cranks powdercoated red by JP so that Shimano would not ask for them back.


Campagnolo Triomphe front derailleur adapted for Yeti cable routing


Campagnolo Triomphe touring rear derailleur with Bullseye sealed bearing derailleur pulleys.


It took a while to get the 1st generation Yetiman head tube badge redone, but I think it came out great!


Bullseye hubs, straight off of a BMX and adapted for 130mm rear spacing.


Magura brake levers with Simplex friction thumb shifters.


Badge of honor for any vintage mountain bike


The original Yeti decals had the frosted Yeti and the simple black and white ice axe. Later on some more color was added when Yeti used them again on early Ultimates in 89/90.


Weinmann brakes stop surprisingly well, but not that well.


IRC Racer X-1 tires really complete the aggressive look of this bike.


Lots of Campy here, a bit of foreshadowing of the short lived sponsorship of Yeti by Campy in the late 80s.


Bullseye rear hub with a Shimano 600EX 6-spd freewheel.


Trademark Yeti wishbone stay extension with front derailleur cable stop.

I'm very happy with this bike. Seems like a dumb thing to say as it is a very special bike. It's a neat look into the starting point of what has been one of the longest living mountain bike company and one that has really change the face of the sport many of us have grown to love. You can see John picking out many of the parts and hoping they would make the bike standout from the rest. While it's not the best performing bike I am looking forward to getting it out for a easy trail ride and see how it does. I have to imagine it's not going to be too different from a FRO, but maybe...

Monday, February 16, 2015

1991 Klein Adroit Ultra Light

I've built my share of Kleins over the past few years, but I have to say this one ranks up there among the all time greats in my book. Not only is a rather uncommon year, a very rare paint job but also built with a full factory (that is original Klein equipped) Ultra Light package. There is an emerging trend among Klein afficionados to build the elusive Ultra Light package and people scour the ends of the earth to find the unique, hand selected part to make it complete. I've only ever seen three factory built bikes, and this one will make four. All of the parts on this bike are NOS and were one of the leftover UL kits I bought a while back.


Specifications

Frame : 1991 Klein Adroit (Titanium BB spindle & brake bosses)
Fork : Adroit fork (carbon wrapped)
Color : Pearl Black
Wheels : Hi-E hubs 28/32h on Campagnolo Contax with Wheelsmith 15/16 gauge spokes (radial front, radial/3x rear), Ringle Titanium quick releases
Freewheel : Campagnolo alloy, modified by Klein to fit 135mm spacing
Tire : Prototype Klein Deathgrip 2.1
Drivetrain : Suntour XC-PRO with Grip Shift shifters
Pedals : Suntour XC-PRO w/ Titanium spindles
Brakes : Dia Compe 986 cantilevers with SS5 levers 
Seatpost : Ritchey 27.2
Seat : Selle Italia Flite
Grips : Grab On MT-1


According to the original owner of this bike he first saw it at a bike show in Los Angeles in early 1991. For whatever reason the bike ended up at a local bike shop and he bought it. He owned it until 2013 at which point I bought it. It was built up with a mix of lightweight and eclectic parts from the era. The fuselage was in amazing condition, a feat mainly made possible the previou owner's use of electrical tape to shield areas prone to damage. It took hours to remove all of the tape and adhesive residue.


The finished bike weighs in a 19.9 lbs, no thanks to the 150mm Mission Control bar/stem combo (a 135mm would have helped).


The color on this bike is absolutely stunning. I've only ever seen two other pearl blacks and each one seems to be different. This particular one has a lot of plum/purple flakes added in, making for a truly amazing end result.



The crown of an Adroit fork is a thing of beauty, it looks as if the fork was blown out of some mysterious glass, the shape and smoothness of the curves is second to none.



One of the unique features of a 91 Adroit is the use of a seat tube reducer to accomodate a 27.2mm seat post. At the time the Adroit came out nobody made 31.6 seatposts, so to use the large diameter (34.9mm) for the seat tube Klein had to weld on a reducing top which allowed the smaller seat post to fit. Frankly I'm amazed these things lasted, but then I have to image there there is a lot of weld material there to reinforce the joint.



I love the outline Klein logo which highlights the paint by letting it show through the decal.



Another unique feature of this bike are the prototype Death Grip tires. There were only a few pairs of these amberwall tires ever made and so having these on the bike add to uniqueness and rarity of the overall build.


One of the identifying pieces of the build is the 28h, radially laced Hi-E front hub. Hi-E hubs were primarily made for road use, but also saw some limited use in mountain bike applications, especially when weight was an issue. Charlie Cunningham was well known to use modified Hi-E hubs on many of his early Cunningham mountain bikes.


Suntour XC-PRO cranks with the 1991 only bronze chainrings, Ti bolt and spindle were used as a part of the Ultra Light package.


This bike and the other factory ULs are the reason why people are always looking for Contax rims in 28/32h combinations...


One of the best quick release, drop-out and FW combinations one could imagine!!! You know there was only one thing on the mind of the manufacturer, weight!



I just can't get enough of this pairing... it's just perfect!


Admittedly this bike looks much worse equipped with 2.1 tires (rather than the 2.35s), but it had to be done in keeping with the spirit of the build.


One parting shot for the road. It's an amazing bike, really stands out above the rest. In my humble opinion this is what a Klein should look like. The frame is the highlight of bike and the parts just serve as supporting cast, no fancy anodized parts to draw your attention. I guess the only exception is Tinker's Storm Adroit (but I must admit that's a self serving exception). 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Yeti history - 1985 & 86 Early California years

Early Yeti History: 1985 First production run




According to John Parker, upon taking over the reigns of Sweetheart cycles and beginning what would become Yeti he fabricated three bikes. One was built up and sold out of Emily K's Bicycle Clothing Store in Downtown Santa Barbara Calif (the first Yeti ever sold), another one was built for Russel Worley (as seen in MBA) and one for Linda Parker. He thought he may have built one for himself and maybe one other for Matt Sweeney (where the first Yetis ended up getting made), but those may have been later. Today only one of these bikes is accounted for, the bike that ended up being sold in Ventura.  I spoke with the original owner and she confirmed buying the bike in 1985 and sent a few photos of the bike when she owned it. It was sheer luck that she ran into John at a Motorcyle show he was putting on in LA and ended up giving the bike back to him.

Yeti #1


Although this bike was built and sold as a Yeti it’s basically a Motocruiser. JP incorporated many of the modifications he experimented with on Aaron Cox’s and his own Motocruisers (see Motocruiser history) prior to starting Yeti.

These include:
  1. Top tube routed cable routing (brake and rear derailleur on drive side and front derailleur on the non-drive side)
  2. Moving away from full length housing in favor of cable stops
  3. Adding a front derailleur cable stop on the chainstay wishbone
  4. Shortening the length of the wishbone
  5. Using a European bottom bracket 
  6. Using a 26.6mm seat post instead of 25.4 BMX style post
  7. Adding a 2nd water bottle mount on the down tube

According to John, when he took over Sweetheart Cycles he inherited a lot of bad credit left behind in Bicycle Bob’s trail. Among those companies that were trying to collect on Bob’s past due payments were Phil Wood. John wasn’t happy with the oval tubes used by Sweetheart and had his own ideas regarding the profile he wanted to us. However, Phil Wood was unwilling, at first, to make custom tubing for John.  It is because of this that the early bikes didn’t have what would become the landmark oval top tubes seen on Yetis for years to come.

Sourcing components was also a challenge. John ended up scrounging through whatever parts bins he could get his hands on to build this bike. The drivetrains is comprised of Campagnolo front and rear derailleurs, Simplex shifters with Shimano FC-6206 triple cranks running a Shimano Freewheel on Bullseye wheels. The cranks were loaned to John for testing and fearing that Shimano would ask for them back he painted them red to match the frame.

Originally this bike had a black and white ice axe decal on the down tube and a first generation Yetiman on the head tube. The original owner removed the stickers hoping that it would help prevent the bike from getting stolen. Here is a photo of the original down tube decal.



This type of decal was only found on a few very early Yetis and later on made a short lived comeback around 89/90.

The fork is essentially the same as a Yeti fork, the legs are XX OD (vs YY OD on Yeti forks), dropouts are Campagnolo and the steerer is BMX style, just like early Yetis. The one unique thing are the brake bosses which don’t look like anything else I’ve seen on any Yeti. FTW once told me that early on they could not get any brake bosses and ended up buying Dia Compe brakes that came with bosses, used the bosses and threw away the brakes.

One other thing to note is that this bike lacks any serial number.

Russ Worley's race Yeti



Russ’ early race bike has been lost to history and so these photos are about the only evidence it ever existed. At first glance it looks like a more modern FRO, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice the round top tube, the split cable routing, and the rack mount on the rear Simplex dropouts. It appears that this bike is pretty much the same as Yeti #1.

I measured the wheelbase on #1 and it came out to 41.5 inches, which is exactly the same as reported in MBA. The later FROs measure out at around 43" so there were some redesigns along the way it seems.

You can see in the 2nd picture that Russ was riding on BMX style bars at one point before (I assume before) switching to the Salsa stem as shown in the July 87 MBA article. According to JP and FTW Yeti had to modify MTB stems to use them on their early bikes due to the BMX sizes steerers they used early on. I’m assuming that the 2nd photo is and earlier depiction of the bike as Russ doesn’t have any of amazing Cook Bros parts which would become the hallmark of the early Yeti racing team.


Unfortunately I can’t find any more pictures of the bikes from the first production run. There are a couple bikes I have come across that share some similarities with the first production run bikes, but it’s hard to say if they were built at the same time or later on.

Matt Sweeney’s FRO?


I have not been able to confirm the true history of this bike. It doesn’t seem to have a serial number, however it may be hidden under two coats of paint (the bike was originally white). It has traits of later bikes and so I am a bit leery of whether this could really be one of those first 3-5 bikes. At one point it was said that this was Linda’s bike, but the size doesn’t match up with that theory as Linda was not very tall. Unlike #1 and Worley’s bike this bike has more traditional cable routing with all stops on the drive side, a trait characteristic of production FROs.

The ‘Team Shrew’ decal was something John gave out to his close friends and is only found on a select few bikes (John’s MC, Worley’s 411 FRO and this bike). The fact that this sticker is here lends credibility to the theory that this was Sweeney’s bike, just not that it was an early bike.

Early Yeti history – 1986 First FROs




Chris Herting and Jim Emerson had a shop in San Fernando (John used to call it a "Mexican watering hole" which was true) and Frank was doing their welding. Both Chris and Frank were in there when John answered an ad in BMX plus and wanted to make bikes. They built our first 20 or so bikes there. We then moved manufacturing to Burbank California and worked in the back of a special effects shop called First Take Production (some machining work was also done at Matt Sweeney's special effects shop). This arrangement continued for another year or two before moving to Agoura.




According to Frank, prior to the start of Yeti, the top tubes were made from the same Phil Wood material that was used for the chain stay mono tube which was tall and very narrow. It was in San Fernando that we started using the Redline tubes (the well known shape) for the top tube, purchasing a huge pile of them along with Dia-Compe canti bosses (along with the brakes which they tossed LOL). Frank recalled welding more than one round tube frame during that period in between the switch.

Frank figured out a way to put the cable stops all in a row by welding the backs of them together but John had the idea of placing them in a row. Chris rotated the dropouts and improved the frame in many subtle ways when they first started building them. The tooling was rough when they started and it was Chris who did a great job sorting it all out. Frank recalls it was a hoot working for John and with all those guys there!

As mentioned earlier early on Yetis used some tubing sourced from Redline tubes. Included in this were bottom bracket shells, which carried the XR designator (stamped by Champion). Hence the very early FROs (approximately 50 or so) have serial numbers that start with XR. Furthermore, the number sequence started with 300 because John wanted to make it seem like they already made a lot of bikes. According to John, Linda was very engaged in order fulfillment and production and therefore bikes are built in sequential order. So, for the sake of argument we can assume that a bike with a lower serial number predates another bike with a higher serial number.

Yeti FRO XR309


This is the lowest serial number FRO known to be in existence and was most like a team race bike. I don’t know who it may have belonged to, but judging by the size it may have been either Greg Dress or Rob Nielsen.

Features:
  1. Round top tube
  2. 2 o'clock cable stop location
  3. 26.8mm seat post
  4. BMX head tube
  5. Machined down stem to fit steerer
  6. Simplex dropouts
  7. 1st Generation Yetiman head tube decal

Here is a photo of Rob Nielsen with his Yeti. You just barely make out the shadow left behind by the same COOK BROS RACING sticker on the top tube of my frame.

This FRO features basic Yeti cycles decals on the down tube and a first generation Yetiman on the head tube. There is also a 100% sticker, which was a personal favorite of Johnny O’Mara and he was known to put them all sorts of stuff in the Yeti garage.  It also carries a small shark decal identifying it as a frame painted by Land Shark.

FRO XR314


This is another very early example of the FRO and another probable team bike. Yeti had a fair number of racers across several classes at the time and the build on this bike points in the direction of a team kit.

Aside from slightly different cable routing this bike is virtually identical to XR309. Both have first generation Yetiman head tube badges, round top tubes but while this bike appears to have a 26.6mm seat post XR309 is 26.8. This bike is a stunning example of what a properly built, early Yeti team bike should look like. I actually think that this bike, with it's 26.6mm seat tube and the 3 o'clock cable stop location may have been built before XR309 as those features point towards an earlier build style. Also, it's possible that FTW did 2 o'clock and CH did 3 o'clock and they were going through left over tubing hence the variety in the early frames. We still see 26.6 seat posts used well into the high 300 serial numbers.

Features
  1. Round top tube
  2. 3 o'clock cable stop location
  3. 26.6mm seat tube
  4. BMX head tube
  5. 1st Generation Yetiman headtube badge
  6. Simplex dropouts
XR315



This is another very nice example of an early FRO that is not a race bike, meaning not all XR numbered FROs were team bikes. This bike is virtually the same as XR309 and XR314 and originally came with a matching fork and stem.

Sadly, I don't know the owner of this bike so I can't verify too many details in person.

This is the sister bike to this lovely FRO (link, serial number unknown)


FRO XR 325 – Paul Thorson’s race bike


This is Paul’s actual race bike. The above photo is the only photo of the bike from his days on the team. It has since been repainted and stripped of most of the exciting components. However, the frame, fork and bar/stem remain together.

Features:
  1. Round top tube
  2. 3 o'clock cable stop location
  3. Simplex dropouts
  4. BMX head tube
  5. 26.8mm seat post

FRO XR341


This bike appeared rather suddenly on eBay in 2014. The seller claimed that the bike was a team bike was belonged to Johnny O’Mara and was even used by Tomac at one point or another. None of those claims were substantiated and the bike changed hands a few times before settling in Europe. On the surface this seemed to be a regular FRO, however the presence of the Aluminum FTW stem and carbon seat post (similar build to Worley’s 411 FRO) lends some credibility to the theory that this bike was in some way connected to the factory team.

Features:

  1. Oval top tube
  2. 2 o'clock cable stop location
  3. 26.8mm seat post
  4. BMX head tube
  5. Simplex dropouts
  6. FTW alloy stem (probably added later)
Russ Worley's race bike 411


This is Russ' 2nd FRO that he raced on during the 1988 and 89 seasons. The bike has lived a hard life after that and is currently undergoing a mild restoration.


Here is one of the only photos of Russ (1989) I could find racing this particular bike. Notice the alloy FTW stem and blue/turquoise anodized bars. Also notice Slomac next to Russ on his Ti Mongoose!

Features
  1. Oval top tube 
  2. 2 o'clock cable routing
  3. Simplex dropouts
  4. 26.8mm seat post
  5. BMX headtube
I included this particular FRO as it serves as a nice transition point between the early FROs and what we can start calling production FROs. Not that the early bikes were dramatically different and magical, but there were still variations and changes over the first year or so. But, by maybe mid to late 1986 things started settling down and the design remained largely unchanged until about 1989, which I will cover in the next chapter.

Summary/Conclusions:

Based on my small serial number database (30 early bikes spanning first 400 builds) I can draw the following conclusions

  1. Round top tubes were predominantly used on the first 70-80 FROs (again for a short time around the low 600s)
  2. Cable stop location moved around a little bit in the early frames before settling down at the 2 o'clock position
  3. Seat post sizes on the early FROs seemed to vary between 26.6 and 26.8mm, there doesn't seem to be any pattern, maybe the reaming process wasn't very consistent
  4. Very early FROs had custom stems adapted for use with BMX style forks
  5. A majority of CA build FROs (up to S/N ~800) had Simplex dropouts and BMX headtubes
Essentially if you have an 86 FRO or an 88 FRO they are essentially the same bike. Sure it's nice to have one with a low serial number, or a round top tube. But, in actuality they are all virtually the same. Along the way some bikes broke and were repaired with seat post sleeves and wishbone reinforcing gussets, it's a common thing to see.