I came across this frame on a German mountain bike forum and while everyone else was hotly debating its merits as O'Shows bike or not, I went straight to the source who quickly confirmed that it looked like one of his early test bikes. So, I quickly pulled the trigger. Four months and three cross Atlantic trips later (thanks DHL) the frame showed up at my doorstep.
At the end of the day this is not much more than a very early ARC. Serial number is A188, which means it's approximately the 88th ARC ever made. The only unique mechanical feature of the bike are the early, apparently hand made cable stops on the downtube. They are a less refined version of the same components found on later ARC, more blocky and less refined from a manufacturing perspective. The last bit are the pair of Johnny O'Mara stickers. Now, anyone could make a set of those stickers and put them on any ARC. However, I don't think that many people knew that O'Show raced for Yeti and so if someone were to knock off a race bike they would have been more likely to do so by putting on Furtado's or Giove's name on it. By the time the ARC series of bikes came around Yeti stopped the practice of welding the initials or name of the racers onto the BB shells and the stickers were the only thing that separated a race bike from one you or I could have bought. So, in the end I think the fact that this is an early ARC (O'Show had his big race season in 1991) with some pre-production elements lends credibility to the claim that it was his bike.
Fairly basic cockpit by Yeti standards, not sure about the grips - might swap out for black ones in the end.
Pre-Answer Doug Bradbury made Manitou forks. A whopping 1-1.5" of travel (depending on the temperature) is not much by any standard, but it made the bike a little more compliant.
Cook Bros RSR cranks add a little bit of flair to an otherwise fairly subdued build.
Not sure why someone thought a security screw (without the security cable) was necessary in this location
Apparently this is not the correct orientation of the Hyperlite bars, learn something new everyday. Early version of a team cut ATAC stem, the only clue to the age of them stem is the flat cuts on the ends of the cable guide noodle, later ones had a bullet shaped end.
Early decals almost appear hand drawn on the back of the clear vinyl, reminiscent of the earlier FRO decals from the 80s.
Here are some pictures of Johnny's actual race bike from 1991. He won the NORBA Expert class that year!!! Not bad for someone who wasn't a professional rider, he's still tearing it up on the masters scene today!
Notice the mismatched silver/black brakes and hub, I think I've seen this done on other team Yetis in the past.
This is a promo shot of Johnny's bike from before the start of the season, you can see it was a little more color coordinated and didn't have the team cut A-Tac stem.