Thursday, October 6, 2011

1989-90 Yeti C-26 - 20th Anniversary Special

Everyone has a holy grail.

When I started collecting and restoring, there were certain bikes that guided my passion and served as inspiration for my builds. Unusual gems seen only in pictures, talked about in stories, but rarely seen in the flesh. Although the object of a prolonged endeavor gives a collector direction and purpose, for about a year , this project was an unhealthy obsession. My Dark Tower. My White Whale. It has been said these builds can be like a journey, and that is exactly how I felt. I languished fitting the last part, as I knew it would be over. But I can honestly say I am ecstatic with the result.


The C-26 name was derived from Chis Herting's first initial and his age at the time he designed the prototype. Essentially, it was a FRO frame using Easton C9 tubes. Herting needed a way to lighten the race bike, and Easton's design seemed the best fit at the time. Yeti produced one bike in 1989, and it made its rounds beneath team rider Russ Worley. After the interest generated from the MBA test in June, Yeti decided make it a production frame and brought it to Interbike. In 1990, select team riders raced on C-26s, however, most of its fame comes from its use during the inaugural UCI World Championships in Durango. Juli Furtado won on her C-26, and John Tomac placed 4th and 6th in the downhill and cross country on his C-26 with drop bars. Sadly, by that time, the sun had set for the project. Yeti boss John Parker never trusted the design, and he shelved it after worlds.

Part of the mystique surrounding these is that no one can seem to agree on how many were built, to whom they were given, and their current whereabouts. Rumors range from three to twenty frames, but I have on good information that seven actual frames were built at Yeti in Agoura, but I can only confirm the location of five.

The full history, a long with tons more info on my bike can be found at

^ postscript to these words I wrote in 2008. Almost four years later, I still admire the final result, although it simply hangs on the wall. Everything that's great about vintage mountain bikes in one package: Small, aggressive companies dedicated to racing pushing and exceeding the limits of available technology. The C-26 project was a failure from the start, yet the legend lives on 22 years later. In 2009, a C-26 that was built as a prototype for John Tomac sold on ebay for $12,000. Small ebay photo:


Eventually this bike will end up in a home where more people can view and appreciate it.


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