In recent times the name 'Tinker' Juarez has become synonymous with US cross-country mountain bike racing. He captured three NORBA overall titles, the US national crown in 2001, represented his country at two Olympics and was even inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
These days, the former BMXer is still competitive on the trail but now as a dedicated endurance-distance racer - whereas once his finish times would be around two or three hours, something in the order of a full day or more is now the norm.
Though 24-hour racing can be notoriously hard on equipment, Juarez's compact 63.5kg (140lb) build allows him to run some of the lightest equipment around without too much trouble. His Cannondale Scalpel Team frame and matching Lefty Speed Carbon SL fork are barely 3.3kg (7.28lb) combined, there are just two rings on his feathery Si Hollowgram bonded aluminum BB30 crankset, and he's also running Stan Koziatek's lightest NoTubes ZTR Race wheels. In race trim with tools and a chunky Garmin Edge 705 computer mounted, total weight is still just 10.3kg (22.7lb).
Drivetrain bits consist of a SRAM X.0 long-cage rear derailleur and matching trigger shifters, a part-titanium Shimano XTR cassette, and KMC's milled-out KMC XL9-CP chain. Even the already-light Magura Marta SL hydraulic disc brakes haven't been left alone. Instead of the stock stainless steel rotors, Juarez prefers to use metal matrix discs from upstart company Scrub Components - but not when it's wet as Juarez says they tend to wear pads a little quicker.
When we caught up with him back in June his bike was set up with a stainless rear rotor as an upcoming event looked to be decorated with rain. "In dry conditions I haven't had a problem with them," he said.
Some data has suggested that lower tyre pressure may lower rolling resistance comparative to higher pressures but Juarez doesn't care, insisting his typically firmer setup - even higher than what's recommended for his ZTR rims - feels quicker. "I like to start off around 36 or 37psi - pretty hard," he admitted. "I even sometimes run them close to 45psi. I've always liked higher pressures just for the faster rolling resistance, at least for me. In 24 hours I also have time to dab out air if I feel like it's too hard... usually something like seven hours in."
Long-time 'Tinker' followers will also remember his steadfast adherence to Look's original off-road clipless pedal, the S2R Moab, even long after they were discontinued. Though incredibly durable and offering a substantial platform, they're also notorious heavy at over 500g per pair. Finally, however, Juarez has now switched to the more modern - and far lighter - Crank Brothers Quattro 4ti.
"Once something works, I just don't want to change," said Juarez. "But when I switched to Diadora shoes I said, 'why not try swapping pedals and shoes?'. I decided to use the Quattro [4ti] because of the bigger platform and I like the shorter Q-factor. For me, when I'm pedaling, I like the shortest spindle on earth."
Ironically though, Juarez has once again dedicated himself to a pedal system that is no longer in production (Crank Brothers ceased offering the Quattros this year). However, just as before, there's apparent safety in numbers: "They said these are repairable pedals and once again, I have a boatload of them around and they're still sending me some," he said. "But I think my next generation will be Candys because they also have a shorter spindle."
Juarez can't afford to go too light though and has to make some concessions in order to make it through the night. His fi'zi:k Dolomiti is more heavily padded than most pure race saddles and his ODI Cush grips are decidedly on the squishier end of the spectrum.
In addition, he also makes sure to be reasonably self-sufficient during races in terms of on-trail repairs. "The seat bag is the most important thing. I always carry one tube, if not two, plus two quick fills in case I end up screwing up with one, an extra link in case the chain breaks and some tools."
For night time laps, he swaps out the seat bag and transfers those essentials to a hydration pack - but he still uses a frame-mounted bottle for liquids. According to Juarez, the pack is mainly just a means to carry his lighting system battery as it's up closer to the helmet where it's mounted and easier to access by his support crew.
Juarez's Scalpel may be an object of desire for most consumers but even he admits he's not always at on top of things gear-wise as someone with his status perhaps should be. "I try to go as light as possible but it always seems like I'm always a few months behind on equipment. I'm really excited to get on the new SRAM XX stuff. That 36T cog with the 29T will be a sweet gear. I'll get it sooner or later."