Russell Worley riding the prototype for the 1989 MBA review
I won't rehash the history and background of the bike as it has already been done by many others. Based on the info contained on Mike's site it appears several replicas of the C-26 have already been constructed with varying degrees of success. However it seems that no replicas of the now destroyed C-26 prototype have ever been attempted. This piqued my interest and I started looking into what it would take to undertake such a project.
The C-26 prototype differs from a "production" C-26 in a several ways:
1. Prototype uses an early FRO rear section with Simplex horizontal dropouts
2. No reinforcement gusset on the drive side chain stay
3. Front derailleur uses cable stop actuation instead of a pulley
4. Top tube cable stops are bonded onto the carbon tube instead of being welded onto the metal lugs
So obviously the starting point for this project has to be an early Yeti FRO.
Back in May FTW put me in touch with a guy here in LA selling a purportedly damaged early Yeti FRO. I took the trip out to meet with him and came home with what turned out to be a very nice, rare round top tube, 1" headtube 87 FRO. Even though the frame was repainted several times over and in sorry shape my hopes of using it as the basis for my C-26 proto replica were dashed as the bike is just too nice to cut up, plus it is not my size. So I started looking for another early FRO with Simplex dropouts, something I thought would take a very long time. As luck would have it I stumbled onto another 88 FRO (S/N 768) in Canada a couple weeks after finding my first one. The new FRO is a much better candidate for a conversion due to extensive damage and modifications to the frame (ruined seat tube, dent in top tube, modified bottom bracket) and it is not one of the rare round top tube FROs. To top it off it's a 19" frame which is a much better fit for me.
At this point I've secured a set of original Yeti carbon tubes and the frame is ready to go. So, now it's up to Chris Hertig to combine those two ingredients to create a replica of the C-26 prototype.
On my end I have most of the components required to complete the bike, including Yeti Fork (pre-Accutrax), Taperlite bar, white Bullseye cranks and Shimano M730 XT drivetrain and brakes.
Missing components include silver Bullseye hubs with a custom Shimano Sante/600EX FW, Gary Fisher evolution headset and Gary Fisher Fattrax 1.95 (aka Slimtrax) tires and the all important prototype FTW stem.
The stem from the original prototype is nowhere to be found, but FTW has agreed to make one for this project.
Stay tuned for more updates on this project as it comes together.