Meet The Riders & Their Rides: Tinker Juarez

Tinker Juarez

Meet The Riders & Their Rides

 

Having signed his first pro deal at 16 in 1977, Tinker has one of the longest pro careers in cycling history. Now 59, Tinker says he usually rides about 50 miles in a hard day of training on his mountain bike, and about 70 miles if he’s on his road bike.

Tinker Juarez is one of the legends of cycling. As a teenager, Tinker was one of the top BMX racers in America, appearing on BMX magazine covers more than 40 years ago because of his racing and jumping skills. He was also one of the first BMXers to start riding skateparks on bikes in the 1970s. He became so famous for his skills that he was called “The King of the Skateparks” back then, landing him on even more magazine covers with his high-flying aerial skills.

In 1986, at the age of 25, Tinker started racing mountain bikes. He soon decided to switch from being a full-time BMX racer to being a pro mountain biker. He quickly rose to the top ranks of our sport and was soon battling such legends as Ned Overend and John Tomac at the biggest mountain bike events in the country.

Tinker went on to become the top cross-country racer in America in the 1990s when he was in his early 30s, winning World Cup races, a silver medal in the World Championships, a slot in the first Olympic mountain bike race in 1996, and a gold medal in the Pan American Games. After his cross-country racing career started slowing down, he turned to ultra-endurance races and began winning 24-hour racing championships

Now 59, Tinker continues to race, competing in the pro class in ultra-endurance races against riders in their 20s and 30s, and still making podiums.

We caught up with Tinker a few months ago. He was on a training ride in the mountains, putting in the kind of mileage and effort needed to stay in shape for the ultra-endurance events he competes in today. He’s still battling against pro racers at the top level of our sport, and he’s still making podiums today, more than 40 years after he entered the pro ranks of cycling.

Tinker was more than happy to do a photo shoot with some of his favorite bike components in the mid 1990s, especially when the props included his mom’s home-cooked Mexican food.
Photo by Chris Hatounian

Rider Profile

Name: David Juarez

Nickname: Tinker

Age: 59

Birthdate: March 4, 1961

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Height: 5-foot-8 1/2

Weight: 140 pounds

Shoe size: 42 or 43 cycling size, or 9 shoes

Helmet size: Medium/large

Waist: 30

Marital status: Single

Current home: Whittier, California

Car(s): Nissan NV 2500 van

Started racing or competing: 1973

Turned pro: 1975

Racing/riding specialty: Formerly cross-country, now ultra-endurance, starting at 40 miles to 100 miles or more

Favorite course or riding area: Costa Rica, La Ruta de Los Conquistadores

Favorite course or riding area in Europe: Spain, Gigante de Piedra

Favorite food: Mexican food

Goals: To set a Guinness record for racing the longest as a professional mountain biker

Heroes: God

Favorite recording artist: 1980s hair bands

Favorite movie: All cycling race movies

Favorite hobbies: Riding side-by-side off-road with my son

Jobs held (other than racer): Handyman

Most embarrassing moment: N/A

Always takes on a trip: Cannondale bike, cell phone, Athlos clothing, helmet, bike computer, Gaerne cycling shoes, eyewear, picture of my son.

What you would be if you were not a racer: I was always willing to work hard to make a living, so any kind of this work

Tinker has been with Cannondale since 1994. He took second in the UCI World Championships that year and won America’s XC title for ’94, ’95 and ’98. He raced the Olympics in both 1996 and 2000, finishing 19th and 30th.

Inside The Pros’ Bikes

Tinker Juarez and his Cannondale F-Si race bike

Frame: Cannondale F-Si, medium frame, carbon everything—as much as possible!

“It does everything you dream of as a racer. It’s fast and smooth, climbs like a goat, and goes downhill like a falcon. It gets you to the podium 90 percent of the time.” [Tinker also races on a Cannondale Scalpel with a Lefty Ocho when the course calls for it.]

Fork: Cannondale Ocho Lefty, carbon, 100mm.

“The Lefty Ocho is so perfect; it doesn’t need any custom work. Just put in the right amount of air for your weight, dial the suspension to your liking and you’re ready to shred the trails.

Tires: Mountain bike—Vittoria Peyote, 29×2.10″, front and back, 34 psi. Gravel bike—Super X Cannondale Vittoria, 700x31c, Terreno Dry.  Road bike—SuperSix EVO Cannondale 700x25c Corsa Control.

Inner tubes or tubeless system.

“All my bikes are tubeless except my road bikes—been a little slow changing to tubeless for my road bike. Since I don’t race road but am training 90 percent on my road bike, I plan to go tubeless next year!”

Wheels: Enve Carbon 

Brakes: SRAM

Stem: Wren, 90mm, 17 degrees.

“Wren’s alloy stem is the lightest stem.”

Handlebars: Series 310, carbon bars, 6.5-degree sweep, 0mm rise.

Grips: Dreadlocks Signature ODI grips.

“I’m super stoked about the long relationship with ODI, designing my signature Dreadlocks grips.”

Shifters: SRAM XX1

Rear derailleur: SRAM XX1

Pedals: Crankbrothers Candy.

Cranks: SRAM XX1

Chainring: SRAM XX1

Chain: SRAM 

Rear cassette: SRAM XX1

Saddle: WTB Rocket.

Seatpost: Wren carbon post.

Cables and housings: SRAM

Headset: Cannondale.

Water bottle cage: Wren Tinker Signature carbon bottle cage!

Bottom bracket: Cannondale BB30.

Carbon or titanium bolts: Wolf Tooth Components.

Extras: Garmin computer.

Head angle.

“Not sure.” [Cannondale says it’s 69 degrees.]

Bottom-bracket height.

“Not sure.” [Cannondale says it’s 308mm (or 12.13 inches.)]

Weight of complete bike: Cannondale FSi mountain bike—19 pounds; gravel bike—18 pounds; road bike—16 pounds.

The estimated value of bike: Each bike is different, but between $5000 and $10,000.

Tinker was making a brief transition over a road section of the local mountains this day when we spotted him and flagged him down for a quick photoshoot.

MBA Q&A

MBA: Where did you grow up?

Tinker: Norwalk, California.

MBA: What kind of work do (or did) your father and mother do?

Tinker: My dad did district maintenance department work, and my mom worked in aerospace. She was the head of the receiving department.

MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?

Tinker: I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think between 6 and 8.

MBA: When did you start racing bikes?

Tinker: I started racing at 13 years old. I started in BMX first for 15 years, and after that mountain bikes, starting in 1986.

MBA: What were your best competition results in BMX?

Tinker: My history in BMX says it all. I raced 15 years and won so many races, I couldn’t tell you my best results, but when I signed my biggest contract with Mongoose, my results tell everything! I raced for factory Mongoose for six years, and I had the results to be on that team for so long.

MBA: When did you first start racing mountain bikes?

Tinker: I think my first races were local at the velodrome near L.A. riding some cheap bike!

MBA: How did you do in your first mountain bike event?

Tinker: Well, I know I didn’t win, but I know everybody knew I had a future in this sport.

MBA: What have been your best national and international results?

Tinker: I’m a three-time National Cross-Country winner; Pan American gold medalist; four-time National Solo 24-hour Champion; a silver medalist in the Elite Men’s XC World Championship [1994]; three-time World Champion (one time in 24-Hour Solo, and two-time Master Championship)!

MBA: What titles have you won or come close to winning?

Tinker: I won two World Cup races [Mont-Sainte-Anne, 1993, and Silver Star, British Columbia, 1994]. That last one put me third in the overall for that year. In 1994, at the Vail World Championship, I got second place and was only 30 seconds from first at the World Championship. I also got fourth place in 1995 in Germany in the World Championship. I am a four-time 24-Hour National Solo Champion and two-time Master Champion.

MBA: Where did you go to school?

Tinker: Norwalk High school.

MBA: Did you attend college?

Tinker: I was never thinking about it at the time; I was just racing my bike with Mongoose on a good salary. I was only focusing on one thing at that time—riding my bike as long as I could.

MBA: Do you have any other career training?

Tinker: No.

MBA: Did you earn any awards in sports or academics in school?

Tinker: I wasn’t a bad track runner, so I did okay in track.

MBA: What other sports do you do besides mountain biking?

Tinker: I alway love dirt bike riding, road bike riding, camping, fishing, and now that my son is 13 years old, I love doing everything and anything with him. Right now we love riding side-by-sides—a Can-Am Maverick Turbo 1000R in the desert or anywhere.


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