Throwback Thursday: 1990 Yeti FRO

MTB legend Juli Furtado's first sponsored race bike

Juli Furtado's professional mountain bike career may have spanned just five years but what a five years it was. She was the world champion in 1990, she won three UCI World Cup overall titles, and scored an unprecedented twelve straight World Cup wins before she was diagnosed with lupus in 1997. While her racing days are now long over, her 1990 Yeti FRO proudly lives on.

The story of how this restoration came to be isn't just one of chance. As a long-time resident of Yeti's former base in Durango, Colorado, vintage mountain bike specialist Mike Wilk was painfully familiar with the tortuous route many significant Yetis have taken over time and says that he'd been actively looking for it for two years.

"I was interviewing people, looking in garages, talking to everyone I could," he said. "I knew it was out there but just couldn't find it. This dude popped up on one of the retro internet boards with a question about a newer [Yeti] ARC. I clicked on one of his Photobucket image links and there was a picture of a bottom bracket with the 'J.F.!' on it. I was like, 'holy shit'."

How many people can claim that their frame is personalized with weld bead? there's no serial number required here: how many people can claim that their frame is personalized with weld bead? there's no serial number required here
How many people can claim that their frame is personalized with weld bead? there's no serial number required here: how many people can claim that their frame is personalized with weld bead? there's no serial number required here

This was all restoration expert Mike Wilk needed to see

After more than a year of back-and-forth communication, Wilk and the owner were finally able to broker an amicable deal during a face-to-face meeting in Moab, Utah and then he was off to the races.

As it turned out, though, acquiring the frame itself was one of the easiest parts of the restoration. From there, Wilk not only still had to find out (with a high degree of certainty) what components were on the frame but he had to physically get them, too. Like many athletes, Furtado herself wasn't much help, either, as she was focused much more at the time on the engine, not what she was riding.

Yeti's trademark looped stays, here formed from steel tubing from famed builder chris herting: yeti's trademark looped stays, here formed from steel tubing from famed builder chris herting
Yeti's trademark looped stays, here formed from steel tubing from famed builder chris herting: yeti's trademark looped stays, here formed from steel tubing from famed builder chris herting

The entire rear end on old Yeti FRO frames was made from one continuous piece of 4130 chromoly steel 

"There was only one photo of this bike," Wilk said. "It was really bad, and it wasn't even a driveside photo. I knew it was Campy, and they only had two groups in the early 1990s. After I started interviewing people, I learned that she ran a mix of each component group. I talked to Tracy Wilde, who lives here in town, and she was helpful. Then I talked with Chuck Texeira, who was the Easton engineer at the time and the team mechanic at worlds. He came up with a driveside shot from his own photos and I was finally able to piece it all together."

"The brakes were really hard to find. I got them straight from Italy from some seller who had a bunch of old Campy off-road stuff in his house. I expected to be able to just find a donor bike and pay a lot for it but I had to buy each part individually – and it was a real pain in the ass."

Wilk finally finished the project eight months after getting the frame in hand. While many would find no small amount of pride and satisfaction in such a feat, for Wilk it's almost a bit of a buzzkill.

Yeti doesn't use this head tube logo any longer, which is a bit of a shame since it's awesome: yeti doesn't use this head tube logo any longer, which is a bit of a shame since it's awesome
Yeti doesn't use this head tube logo any longer, which is a bit of a shame since it's awesome: yeti doesn't use this head tube logo any longer, which is a bit of a shame since it's awesome

The fantastic head tube decal on Juli Furtado's old Yeti FRO

"The team bikes, the real special stuff is always more rewarding than just any old bike so I'm always on the lookout. There's so much out there that hasn't been found. Finding the bikes is more fun for me than doing the restorations. The finished product is awesome but it's the journey, not the destination. Honestly, it's disappointing when it's done."

Juli furtado hasn't raced this steel yeti fro in 25 years but if you cock your ears just right, you can almost still hear the roar of the crowd: juli furtado hasn't raced this steel yeti fro in 25 years but if you cock your ears just right, you can almost still hear the roar of the crowd
Juli furtado hasn't raced this steel yeti fro in 25 years but if you cock your ears just right, you can almost still hear the roar of the crowd: juli furtado hasn't raced this steel yeti fro in 25 years but if you cock your ears just right, you can almost still hear the roar of the crowd

Special thanks to Mike Wilk and the folks at The Pro's Closet, who will soon open up a museum of noteworthy vintage bikes at their headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.

Juli furtado looks fondly back at her racing career - and her old yeti

Complete bike specifications     

  • Frame: 1990 Yeti FRO, custom built by Chris Herting for Juli Furtado
  • Fork: Answer Accu-Trax, 1 1/4in threaded steerer
  • Headset: Campagnolo Euclid, 1 1/4in threaded
  • Stem: Answer A-TAC, 135mm x 15° with 1 1/4in quill
  • Handlebars: Answer Hyperlite, 580mm, w/ Onza titanium bar ends
  • Grips: ODI Attack
  • Front brake: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Rear brake: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Brake levers: Campagnolo Centaur
  • Front derailleur: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Shift levers: Campagnolo Centaur
  • Freewheel: Sachs ARIS 7-speed, 13-28T
  • Chain: Sedisport
  • Crankset: Campagnolo Euclid, 170mm, 26/36/46T
  • Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Rims: Specialized GX26, 36h
  • Spokes: Wheelsmith stainless steel, 3x
  • Front tire: Specialized Ground Control, 26 x 1.95in
  • Rear tire: Specialized Ground Control Extreme, 26 x 1.95in
  • Saddle: Selle Italia Lady Turbo
  • Seatpost: Campagnolo Euclid
  • Other accessories: Blackburn Mountain bottle cages (2), custom machined seatpost collar
  • Total weight: 12.88kg (28.40lb)
James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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