"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'."
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.
"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.
'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.'"
-James Huang // Bike Radar