There was an eatery in Durango, Colorado, called Stonehouse Subs where the 1993 Yeti ARC ASLT frame of famed downhiller Missy Giove hung on the wall for more than 10 years. When the restaurant closed in 2010, local resident Mike Wilk bought the Yeti and then embarked on a 10-month labor of love to bring it back to its former glory. And oh how glorious it is, 21 years after 'The Missile' took the bronze medal at the downhill world championships in Metafief, France.
Missy Giove's old Yeti ARC ASLT has been restored to former glory thanks to a lot of hard work and dedication
"The walls at Stonehouse had mountain bike race memorabilia from virtually every local Durango pro, and this frame was hung right in the middle of the main wall," Wilk told BikeRadar. "When I moved back to Durango in 2012, after a three-year stint in Denver, I tried to eat at Stonehouse but it had closed. I was heavily interested in restoring vintage bikes, and I had become a big Yeti nut, so I thought it would be interesting to track down the former restaurant owned to learn what happened to all the memorabilia. Turns out the owner had thrown it all in the basement and forgotten about it, including this frame. I promised her that it would be better off living in my garage, fully restored and ridden, than sadly tossed aside in her basement. She agreed on the promise I get it into rideable shape."
Such an endeavor would be nearly impossible to do alone, what with two decades of time under the bridge, the entire team-issued build kit missing, and many of the people involved at the time scattered to the winds. That said, Wilk thankfully had the right connections – including such mountain bike icons as Chris Hjerting, Steve Gravenites, Chris Shaw, Jimmy Deaton, and others – to pull it off.
The current owner didn't restore this bike just to hang on the wall, either - he actually rode it on local trails after he was done
While this bike isn't technically Giove's actual complete bike from 1993, Wilk insists that it's almost completely accurate, right down to the team-only Answer ATAC TIG-welded aluminum stem (which was more aggressively milled than consumer versions to save weight), the ultra-rare DKG rear brake booster (in correct Yeti colors), and even the IRC tires.
"It took six months of digging up old photos from magazines and sourcing the right parts," Wilk said. "I talked to the right people, some of whom still live in Durango and were very supportive of the project. I tried getting hold of Missy herself, but I didn't have any luck. The end result is 98 percent perfect to the day it was last raced. I'm pretty proud of it."
Of course, all of the bits from then-sponsor Ringlé are present and accounted for, with Super Bubba front and Super Eight hubs, Moby seatpost, and the adjustable aluminum bottle cage (Giove used to race downhill with a bottle cage, as she also used the same bike for dual slalom and cross-country races, plus training rides). Completing the anodized ensemble are Joystix cranks and Speed Controller cantilever brakes from Grafton, and a Chris King threaded headset securing a 1 1/4in steerer tube.
Other retro-fabulous pieces include the Onza bar ends, an Answer Hyperlite aluminum handlebar measuring just 580mm in width, an Avocet O2 saddle, Grip Shift SRT-500 shifters, and Shimano XTR M900 front and rear derailleurs, chainrings, cassette, and chain.
Ringlé hubs front and rear
As impressive as it to just gather up all of these incredibly rare parts, keep in mind that there was some work involved to recreate some of the old custom tweaks that were done back then. For example, the fork is a mish-mash of Manitou 2 and Manitou 3 chassis parts, and while one leg has an elastomer stack inside like stock forks of the time, the other was modified to take a coil spring as the team once did to make the setup more active.
Keen-eyed readers might also note the mismatched rims shown here. While the team had several equipment sponsors, rims weren't included. Given how often Giove – and other team riders – chewed through hoops, the team ultimately decided to just use whatever it could get its hands on easily. Needless to say, finding a Specialized BX25 rim in such pristine condition as this one wasn't just a matter of plugging a search into eBay.
The seat stays are connected with a bolt-on aluminum brace
Total weight as shown here is 11.74kg (25.88lb) without pedals.
Impressively, Wilk didn't just restore this machine to hang on the wall. Although he recently contributed the bike to the upcoming museum at The Pro's Closet in Boulder, Colorado, Wilk would still regularly ride this vintage machine near his home in Durango.
"Well, you can't compare it against today's carbon wonderbikes," Wilk admitted. "You have to accept vintage suspension for what it is: dated and flawed. But ultimately this thing did what it was supposed to do: go fast and soak up bumps. It pedals poorly and out of the saddle efforts are downright scary. The rear end sways like a gate under any load. I've ridden many examples of bad-riding vintage suspension bikes and this one blows them away in terms of ride quality. I think a lot of the credit should go to the Risse shock, which, amazingly, still had 20-year-old air in it, and has zero seal problems to this day. It actually performs like a shock should. You wouldn't want to climb Pearl Pass on this bike, but bombing down the backside would be fine."
Such a basic low single-pivot suspension design wouldn't pass muster today but it was state-of-the-art two decades ago
While Wilk is rightfully proud of his work and looks back fondly on the process, he suggests there's more to come – and we can't wait to see it.
"It was a fantastic journey – although the void has been filled with something more exciting!"
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.
Complete bike specifications
· Frame: 1993 Yeti ARC ASLT, team edition
· Rear shock: Risse, custom for Yeti
· Fork: Manitou 2/3 with custom internals
· Headset: Chris King GripNut, 1 1/4in threaded
· Stem: Answer ATAC 'Team Cut', 135mm x 15°
· Handlebars: Answer Hyperlite, 580mm, w/ Onza bar ends
· Grips: ODI Yeti
· Front brake: Grafton Speed Controller w/ Kool-Stop pads
· Rear brake: Grafton Speed Controller w/ Kool-Stop pads
· Brake levers: Shimano Deore XT BL-M733
· Front derailleur: Shimano XTR FD-M900
· Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M900-GS
· Shift levers: Grip Shift SRT-500
· Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M900, 12-32T
· Chain: Shimano 'Narrow'
· Crankset: Grafton Joystix, 175mm, w/ Shimano 24/36/46T chainrings
· Bottom bracket: Syncros Titanium
· Front rim: Mavic, 36h
· Front hub: Ringlé Super Bubba, 36h
· Front spokes: Wheelsmith bladed stainless steel, 3x
· Rear rim: Specialized BXL21, 36h
· Rear hub: Ringlé Super Eight, 36h
· Rear spokes: Wheelsmith 14g, 3x
· Front tire: IRC Claw Comp/Yeti FRO, 26x2.125in
· Rear tire: IRC Claw Comp/Yeti FRO, 26x2.125in
· Saddle: Avocet O2
· Seatpost: Ringlé Moby
· Other accessories: Ringlé bottle cage, Ringlé Ti-Stix quick-release skewers, DKG rear brake booster