By Vernon Felton
Tomac Supermatic 120-1
$6,000 / tomac.com
One of the newest additions to the growing Tomac line is the Supermatic 120. This new trail bike wrangles 4.7 inches of rear suspension out of an all-carbon frame that weighs just five pounds (including rear shock). So, yeah, it's damn light. The real motivator, however, behind building the Supermatic out of carbon was to boost stiffness. Joel Smith, Tomac Bikes' owner and principle designer, has said that his goal with the Supermatic 120 was to create "a trail bike with cross-country sensibilities and downhill capabilities." It took just a few miles of particularly nasty singletrack to confirm that this is more than just idle talk.
The Supermatic is pin-point precise through rock gardens, root balls and flat-out nasty sections of trail, and exhibits no squirmy behavior from the rear triangle at all. Is this a result of the single-pivot design? The use of a flex pivot on the rear triangle (instead of a bearing or bushing)? The proprietary composite lay ups and precisely shaped tubes designed to resist lateral and torsional bending? It's hard to say which engineering ingredients should be credited, but the overall recipe works.
The Supermatic's rear suspension is also nicely sorted. Smith burned through 30 different shock mules before he and Fox Racing Shox dialed in the perfect rear-suspension tune for the Supermatic. That diligence paid off: The Supermatic proves exceptionally smooth on stutter bumps and roots, yet ramps up nicely mid-stroke. It's truly a bike that rides as if it's harboring a spare inch of squish out back.
What's not to love? If you prize blazing-fast acceleration above all other things, you might be less impressed with the Supermatic. Make no mistake: The Tomac scoots up climbs, even without the assist from ProPedal, but there are trail bikes out there that accelerate more crisply. On the flip side, the Supermatic's rear suspension never feels harsh under pedaling forces, as can be the case on bikes that are designed with heaps of torque-driven anti-squat.
The Supermatic's steering is sharp—as you'd expect from a bike that can pull double duty on XC race courses and marathon back-country grunts—but definitely not twitchy or nervous. The fairly low bottom bracket (13 inches) lends the bike a solid, planted feel. All in all, the Supermatic has a nice, neutral feel to it.
The only clear-cut area where the Supermatic could be improved? Rear tire clearance. The spec sheet suggests you can run a 2.35-inch tire out back and that's undoubtedly true for some tire models, but there wasn't much daylight around our test bike's 2.2-inch Kenda Nevegal. A tad more breathing room between the chainstays would be nice.
Got the spare shekels to bring home an all-carbon trail bike? If so, the Supermatic 120 should be on your short list.