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My second Yeti

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My second Yeti

Old 09-15-11, 05:12 PM
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ftwelder
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My second Yeti

I used to work at Yeti cycles as a welder and fabricator back in the 80's.

At that point time people on MTB's were experiencing a lot of problems with the chain clinging to the rings while shifting under load and causing severe chain jam between the chainstay and chainrings. Richard Cunningham of Mantis (later MBA magazine) came up with the idea (or at least applied it) of mounting the chainstays above the BB shall in a style known as "elevated chainstays".

Zapata Espinoza of MBA mag approached my boss, John Parker about building what he thought was the "ultimate" bike of the day. My co-worker, Chris Herting built a prototype frame to suit their needs for the magazine article. People began to request a production version of the bike and my job was to produce the drawings and tooling to process the materials to make the production bike.

There is one "prototype" that was made during the process. Chris, John and I worked together to achieve the aesthetic qualities and I fabricated the sample and figured out how to tool the job. The entire rear section was built out of bits and pieces of rear sections I had cut apart for that purpose.

That frame was spray-bombed flat black with a few black colored squares. I think it sold for $3600 a few months ago.

While proving all the tooling, we built a few additional samples. I used all the production tooling and also used the first rear sections from our designs that were supplied by our bending shop in Burbank.

I grabbed one of those bikes for myself. I was also welding bullseye cranks at the time for Roger Durham and had an ongoing relationship with Shimano, Onza and Answer products so the bike was well equipped with prototype shimano shifting system, "my own" bullseye cranks, an "FTW designed" Answer ATAC stem and the Yeti grips I had helped design. The wheels were built by Jed StHenri and have the single purple nipple (only one has been ID'd for sure)

I brought the bike with me to the Interbike trade show in Anaheim CA. (long before las vegas) and left it at a friends house in Tustin.

I was often in LA and usually stayed with these friends. They had kids the same age as ours and we shared many common interests. Except sports. They would break out the basketball and I would grab the bike and head to the hills.

Eventually, I wasn't spending time there anymore and didn't think too much about steel bikes with top mount thumb shifters and rigid forks. They took good care of the bike and used it on occasion but basically it was unused. I knew I could show up at any hour with zero notice and would be fed and cared for and had a bike to ride.

My buddy had worked for the same company his entire life. They had lived in the same house for 25 years. He was laid off, bounced back, laid off again. His wife lost both her breasts to cancer and times were tough. They got the kids through school but things got worse. The bank offered to help when things got really bad. After all, they had given the bank many years of business. BofA ended up selling the house without mentioning it until it to my friends till the deal was done.

At some point in the future this bike will be sold to help my friends. I am looking for photos of the bike being ridden and digging up some soft goods to add to the auction.

I need some tips how this bike should be prepared for sale by laymen. I will be helping but I am not very good at selling and have no idea how to write an attractive description.

I will add more pics when they become available.


Yeti ultimate by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr


IMAG0399 by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr


IMAG0400 by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr


IMAG0401 by barnstormerbikes, on Flickr
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Old 09-15-11, 05:28 PM
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I dunno, what you wrote seems a pretty attractive description to me. Maybe I'm wrong, but the human interest elements would give me more impetuous as a bidder than if I believed it was being sold for profit by a bike flipper. Only thing to add would be more detailed closeup photos, maybe a short summary of the condition, and maybe a spec sheet.
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Old 09-15-11, 05:49 PM
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It's like a placeholder in the history of the cycling sport and industry. This proof of concept bike was a spike in the evolutionary curve of MTBs, in the same way that auto manufacturer's show cars yield radical new production models.

Would it be possible to post MBA magazine pics or maybe incomplete pages that relate to this bike and other prototypes in this series? It's a beautiful design job, and contains much of your creative input from that period, so I'd think it might be okay.
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Old 09-15-11, 06:23 PM
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Frank, Can't help with the write-up, but cool story and bike. I didn't realize you worked at Yeti. Did you work out of the shop in Agoura? I wonder if we ever met "back in the day." I was more into road racing, but a teammate of mine on the Park Pre (Conejo Velo) race team was John Motolo, who went on to win the Jr. World MTB championship (held in Italy). He and Win Allen, another teammate and local wrench, knew some of the people over at Yeti and I visited the shop a few times in the late 80s. (We were just teenagers, so you may have been thinking, "Get these stupid kids out of here so I can get some work done!" )
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Old 09-15-11, 06:52 PM
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Frank, maybe if you could get some quotable comments about the bike and it's significance from Zap, Cunningham or whoever to add to the provenance of the bike. How about Tomac, was he riding a Yeti around then? Unrelated, but when I saw those purple Onza bar ends images of "Hairball" came to mind.
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Old 09-15-11, 06:55 PM
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Frank,

I do quite a bit of writing in my line of work. I would be glad to help. What sort of deadline would we be under? Should I start with your description below?
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Old 09-15-11, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JunkYardBike View Post
I dunno, what you wrote seems a pretty attractive description to me.
+1. And man, I loved reading Zap and RC in the mtb mags, cool stuff. I also agree that perhaps having those guys write a little something up would help, too.
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Old 09-15-11, 07:56 PM
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Have you talked to SFMoMA, or is that not really something you'd be into?
Basically, you've got a chunk of history on one of the nicest bikes in the business.
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Old 09-15-11, 08:18 PM
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That is an iconic bike. I can imagine a collector wanting to own it. You might want to consult the folks at First Flight Bicycles in NC, who operate the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology (www.mombat.org) They have a 1991 Ultimate in their collection. Also, a charity auction a-la Jay Leno & Ebay might work well. Bike Forums could be a good platform. As far as text, if you can get some copy from Zap, that would be gold.
Great story.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:04 AM
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Wow, thanks for the great feedback!

Gaucho777, Parker traded a motorcycle for the assets of Sweetheart cycles to start Yeti. I was the first only guy to weld Yeti bikes for several years. We started in a Mexican watering hole in San Fernando, went to Burbank for a couple of years and then to Agoura in I guess around 1988. I might have met you for sure, my welding booth was decorated like a tiki hut.

I remember John and the Park-pre riders! There was some great riding in that area when it was still "remote" LOL.

I have a bunch of historic yeti photos for sure. Not sure if any are relevant. I do know Tomac and we speak when we see each other. I made a mailbox that looked like a locomotive as a wedding gift for him at his wedding. None of those guys really want to talk about old bikes. Scanning some old articles sounds like a good idea. I may have some myself. I have a huge treasure chest packed with jerseys, T-shirts, magazines and jackets.

I don't know what SFMoMA is. I sometimes speak at different events. People seem to enjoy the funny memories etc. I know the material is important and relevant to lots of people so I do my part but I have really had way more than my share of attention over being a frame maker/welder. My memories are all quite fond and I have the greatest respect for the brilliant people I worked with. I often served as support to Chris, Eric and John and just mashed the pedal (welded).

Pastorbob, that would be great. I am trying to close this out within a month from now. They need the bread and don't have a great place to keep the bike. I asked my former wife to help locate photos.

Bluesdaddy, good idea. I really feel like this is a great chance for me to help these fine people (BTW, at the old Interbike shows I used to come in early with 100's of bagels and cream cheese for everyone (or the first 1000) setting up their booths. My Buddy ran the baking company that provided those bagels a huge commercial supplier, Western bagel)

Ya, I don't want to blow this auction. Do you think I should do it from my ftwelder ebay acct? (I can do shamless self promotion on this project LOL)

Should the bike just be left as is? It looks pretty clean.


Interesting ONZA story, Chris at Yeti made the very first Onza bar ends and I designed the "drop arm" version (I called them antlers) you see on this bike. I welded the first 100 of this type that were cut/weld rather than bent also.

Last edited by ftwelder; 09-16-11 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:38 AM
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Frank:

The mtbr.com Vintage Retro Classic forum would also be a good place to post an inquiry and/or advertise this bike. They have plenty of serious collectors over there, maybe one of them would be interested. They also have a "show us your Frank the Welder" thread that has been pretty active.

Just a thought.

Mark
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Old 09-16-11, 04:45 AM
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Oddly enough, this one buzzed the net a few days ago too.
https://www.cycleexif.com/yeti-ultimate#more-6873

These bikes are truly a thing of beauty, not that I know that much about MTB's since I'm more of a road bike guy, but the pics of both the bike in this thread and cycleexif blew me away. I'm a bit partial to the campagnolo equipped though, but that's my addiction.

As someone with a little training in both writing and sales I can help you with some advice, maybe, in contribution to the valuable hints already given above.

-structure your pitch: don't present all the info in a solid block - make clear divisions between the history of the bike and vital sales information like condition, year of build, parts etc. There's a lot to be told about this bike so it's worth your while to summarize the vitals in a header. Put everything in neat paragraphs with clear titles in bold.

-Don't be too nervous about your writing talents. The piece above is very readable in itself! Maybe not as a sales pitch in it's present form, but the build history could be added as an attachment for the buffs and collectors, many guys here and elsewhere love to read these stories from behind the stage. Pictures of the workshop, the process etc. from back in the day are welcome too! It all adds to the provenance (and thus the value) of the bike.
The story about your friends should definitely be included - it is a charity auction after all.

-even though this post probably already did it, make sure the collectors of vintage mtb's know about the sale. It's a unique piece and it shouldn't end up with an uncaring buyer who won an auction that was rushed because of the financial situation of the sellers.

Good luck with the sale and best wishes to your friends.
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Old 09-16-11, 05:46 AM
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From YetiFan.com :

Yeti original prototype ultimate frame. Frank the welder and Chris Herting and Myself worked on this project in Agoura Hills California in the late 80's. FTW was very fond of this bike and gave it a rather wild spray can paint job. Made of 4130 Chromo


I am quite sure the original MBA article on this frame/project has been scanned and posted on MTBR VRC about 5 years ago.

For advise and exposure I would indeed consider sites like:
yetifan.com
retrobike.co.uk
mtbr vrc
mtb-news.de classic
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Old 09-16-11, 06:46 AM
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I think i need to come see that bike in person.... wow

I was already conjuring up a 1961 Bianchi trade situation before i read the rest of the story... and that the last one sold for $3600 whew

I'll be driving up home from NY hopefully with some amazing new goodies to show off on Saturday afternoon, so if you'll be around...
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Old 09-16-11, 08:15 AM
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Hey Frank,
In thinking about this a little more, I'll throw out another .02. You wrote, "Richard Cunningham of Mantis (later MBA magazine) came up with the idea (or at least applied it) of mounting the chainstays above the BB shall in a style known as "elevated chainstays".

Zapata Espinoza of MBA mag approached my boss, John Parker about building what he thought was the "ultimate" bike of the day."


I don't know if you could get RC and/or Zap to write something about this, but with all the millions of people who've read RC's and Zap's articles it seems to me that the most significant "connection" with this bike would be with those two guys, and they're the ones who came up with its original concept (RC's elevated chainstays to prevent chainsuck) and purpose (Zap's request to have you all build the "ultimate bike of the day"). If you can't get them to write something now, I think it would be wise to focus on their involvement with it originally and find any articles, documentation of that, etc. that you can.

Btw, it's an honor to have you on these forums, Frank. You're a part of mountain biking's rich history, and I just think it's so cool to have you here!
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Old 09-16-11, 08:31 AM
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Frank,

Feel free to cross post about this here at BF.
If I can do anything at an Admin level let me know.
you know, I never put together ftweldr and FTW or
Frank the Welder. . .

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Old 09-16-11, 08:32 AM
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That Ultimate in the write is sure amazing. The record OR stuff is crazy rare. Thanks for the kind words and more tips. I should try to find Zap or Richard. Those guys are always busy.

Eric, the Yeti is in Tustin CA.

I was invited to ride an ordinary in a parade sat morning, so I am going to give it a go. I should be back in the afternoon if it goes well. 376 6639
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Old 09-16-11, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by lotek View Post
Frank,

Feel free to cross post about this here at BF.
If I can do anything at an Admin level let me know.
you know, I never put together ftweldr and FTW or
Frank the Welder. . .

Marty
Thanks man!
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Old 09-16-11, 09:01 AM
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Neat, interesting, sad, and inspiring story all at the same time. My initial thoughts were that the bike was coming home to you. Looks like everyone has you fairly well covered on helping your friends out and finding the bike a proper new home.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:01 PM
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bump.
I stuck this thread.

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Old 09-16-11, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by treebound View Post
Neat, interesting, sad, and inspiring story all at the same time. My initial thoughts were that the bike was coming home to you. Looks like everyone has you fairly well covered on helping your friends out and finding the bike a proper new home.
Thanks, I hope it all works out. I am not the type to send Christmas cards and I love these people. I hope this can make a positive difference and people have fun bidding on and seeing a cool bike.
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Old 09-16-11, 03:50 PM
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I like this story, too.

How about having an auction? The trick is to publicize it well, not just putting it on ebay. And I don't mean necessarily using ebay, but it could be worth it.

Do we have a clear list of collaborators for writing the story and sales pitch? I think as the time to sell or auction the bike, the list of writers should be small and controlled, to reduce the number of cooks working on the soup.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:19 PM
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Frank The Welder from Sinister??

SWEEEEEET! You're legendary.
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Old 09-16-11, 06:01 PM
  #24  
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SFMoMA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. MoMA itself is in Midtown Manhattan but has Rockefeller roots (I think David Rockefeller, former CEO of Chase Bank, started it, but I could be mistaken).

There would have to be a call to the curator of industrial design. I'm not sure they do bikes at all, but mountain biking basically started in California (I'm thinking all the action around North Bay that quickly spread all over the place.) It could be of interest, but I'm not really sure.

I don't know anyone there, but six degrees of separation likely exist.

Best of luck with this. I think it's a great idea to write up what you have and send the bike off to someone or someplace that will enjoy it.

Tim

Last edited by TimmyT; 09-16-11 at 06:03 PM. Reason: forgot a few things
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Old 09-17-11, 08:22 AM
  #25  
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Frank,

Be sure to post this over on the VeloBase.com forum as well when you're ready to go. I'll be happy to post a Global Announcement with a link to the auction / forum post with details / etc etc as well.

Also, I would try to get in touch with the folks over at the US Bicycling HOF in Davis, see if they have any ways to promote or other resources. I've got the email address of the board chairman if you want it.
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