After an initial discussion with the seller, one packet of Yeti Ultimate was on its way to Vintage-MTB-Parts main underground bunker located in central Stockholm – Sweden (it is a secret location).
Everyone seems to like the Ultimate and I think construction wise the frame is really interesting with its combination of bent, ovalized, elevated and welded steel tubes. I think the Yeti Ultimate frameset in combination with the Answer Accu-Trax rigid mountain bike forks would belong and be one of the crown pieces in any collection of vintage mountain bike frames.
Typically e-stay frames have a very aggressive racing look but the Ultimate frame just looks like a double diamond Yeti FRO frame with some added tubes and complexity. It is not aggressive looking but if you like 4130 Yeti frames you will appreciate something different done to the classic Yeti frame details.
Speaking of frame details, the Yeti Ultimate has a massive 1-1/4 head tube size, a clean ovalized (flatted on the sides) top tube with triple cable holders. You need ten special cable ferrules for the frame in order to properly fit bicycle wires to the frame, on eBay these ferrules are sometimes marketed as something worth its weight in gold, but you can find these ferrules in motorcycle shops and hardware stores on the internet.
The down tube are bent and welded onto the bottom bracket shell, from the beginning of the bend a small weird steel tube are formed and welded from the bent tube. This small tube is also pierced by the seat tube. The seat tube is a typical steel 4130 seat tube with a custom massive aluminium seat post collar. On the bottom of the seat tube a pulley riding on a sealed ball bearing is screwed in the frame with an index-bolt so that a bottom pull front derailleur can be used. The pulley is made of aluminium and is manufactured by Bullseye. On this particular frame the pulley was anodized purple.
The rear end features Yeti trademark computer bent chainstays. The computer bent Yeti chainstays are actually one long tube that is bent and then welded to the front section of the frame.
This black Yeti Ultimate from 1990 had a cracked seat tube, a problem many other 4130 Yeti frames share. Not only was the seat post tube cracked at the place where the seatpost collar was fastened, the seatpost –a nice 26.8 mm Suntour XC-pro seatpost- was stuck inside the tube.
It is funny that a frame such as the Yeti Ultimate with a reputation of hardcore riding suffered from cracked seat tubes.
But as the frame was built from steel it was fully fixable once someone with the right skills could repair it (maybe carbon is not the future after all?).
Because there is a lack of skilled frame builders in this country famous for its brutal Vikings and reindeers, fixing the frame was going to be an expensive task since it had to be shipped out of the country and back to Sweden again. So in the end I sold it to someone in England who did a great job in repairing the frame with a steel seat collar welded around the crack.
Maybe you wonder how I got the stuck seatpost out of the frame?
I cut the seatpost off (after 1 hour of twisting the saddle untill the saddle broke). Then I used a narrow saw blade and cut a slit in the remaining post inside the frame, a task that took perhaps 4-5 hours?
When the slit was cut I used pliers and wrapped the aluminium tube over itself, like a rolled cake.
Price: unfortunately, I sold my first retro Yeti Ultimate frame long time ago, but I have a second one, just a tad smaller also with original Yeti paint in storage.