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Reports of the death of the 26-inch hardtail may be premature.
In fact, a few weeks ago MonaVie-Cannondale team manager Matt Ohran was quick to point out that on the very same day that the 26-inch hardtail was reported to have suffered an untimely demise, two European national championships were won on new, 2010 Cannondale Flash carbon hardtails. 26-inch hardtails, to be precise.
“That day, two Cannondale-sponsored riders who normally ride Scalpel full-suspension bikes had just received new Flash hardtails, and won their respective national championships,” said Ohran, referring to Roel Paulissen of Belgium and Marco Aurelio Fontana of Italy.
And while he acknowledges that the style of race courses in Europe can be quite different from those in the United States, Ohran was adamant that 26-inch hardtails will always have a place in North America.
Tinker’s 2010 Flash hardtail
One place for a 26-inch hardtail is under Cannondale rider Tinker Juarez. Like his European counterparts, he’d received a Flash hardtail frame just days before the Intermontane Challenge in Kamloops, BC. Tinker didn’t hesitate in getting the parts swapped off his old bike and onto the new frame, despite having virtually no time to get used to the bike before the five-day stage race.
Juarez and his bike survived the stage race, which was meant partly as preparation for the Leadville Trail 100. He and the rest of his MonaVie-Cannondale team turned out in Colorado for Leadville aboard sub-18 pound Flash carbon hardtails.
The day before the Aug. 15 race, Ohran said noted that the team had had a bike weigh-off, and Juarez won. His Cannondale Flash reportedly weighed just 18 pounds.
We caught up with Tinker and his bike two weeks before Leadville, at the Intermontane Challenge. According to Ohran, nothing changed in terms of spec for Leadville. In fact, Ohran said that in contrast to Dave Wiens, who was using sturdy UST tubeless tires, Tinker was planning to gamble and use lightweight Kenda Karma non-UST tires (with Stan’s No Tubes sealant).
The rest of Juarez’s Flash is similarly hung with a slew of feathery parts. For starters, he runs a Cannondale Lefty 110 Solo Air SL fork and a 2-chainring Cannondale Hollowgram SL crankset. Cannondale ti-carbon bottle cages are light and tight.
The wheels are Stan’s ZTR Race rims built on American Classic hubs-a combination widely used and one of the lightest available. Adding to the weight savings in the wheel department are Scrub Components aluminum brake rotors (but Juarez has been known to occasionally run a standard stainless steel rear rotor for wet conditions).
In the drivetrain department, Juarez uses a SRAM X0 rear derailleur paired with a Shimano XT front. SRAM X0 shifters, a Shimano XTR 11-34 cogset and a Shimano HG-91 chain complete the package.
UK component brand Ultimate Sports Engineering (U.S.E.) provides Juarez with an Alien carbon seatpost and a Spin Stix rear quick release skewer. Contact points on the bike include a Fizik Dolomiti saddle, ODI grips, and Crank Brothers Quattro 4ti.
Unfortunately, a broken seat collar ended Tinker’s run at Leadville, but with his ultra-light Cannondale and tenacious fitness, you can bet he’ll be a force to reckon with in many races to come.