First Ride: Tomac Supermatic 120 £1999.99 (frame + shock)
The Supermatic 120 is Tomac’s new short travel trail bike sporting full carbon fibre front and rear triangles. Tomac has employed the latest carbon manufacturing technology – with custom weaves and high force vacuums to eliminate bubbles and irregularities in the carbon lay-up – increasing consistency during production and final frame strength.
To keep weight down and improve stiffness the traditional seat stay pivot has been replaced with a carbon flex stay. Seeing as the stay only sees 2deg of rotation over the full 120mm travel range, this was one area that Tomac felt it could lighten the frame without compromising the suspension performance. Frame weight, including the 2in stroke Fox RP23 rear shock, is an impressive 2,270g (5lb).
But the new Supermatic isn’t just about saving weight and increasing stiffness – Tomac also wanted to reduce chain growth and give the bike a more neutral suspension response under power. To achieve this, the main pivot on the Supermatic is slightly lower than on other Tomac designs, resulting in less pedal feedback and better grip.
Tomac offers the new Supermatic in two models; the Supermatic 120 1 is the no holds barred version while the 2 shares the same frame and shock with a more affordable parts package. In the UK the Supermatic 120 will only be available as a frame only option, priced £1,999.99 including shock. Frames are available in four sizes, small through to XL. Tomac’s sizing chart recommends that riders from 5’4” to 5’8” run a medium frame and puts riders from 5’8” to 6’ on the size large. We took a quick blast on both the medium and large size Supermatics to check Tomac’s recommendations, and found them to be spot on. Standover clearance on all four sizes is pretty much identical, so if you find that you are in-between sizes, we recommend upsizing and fitting a shorter stem.
Size: S M L XL
HA: 68.5 68.7 68.7 68.9
SA: 73 73 73 73
BB: 335mm 335mm 335mm 335mm
CS: 433mm 433mm 433mm 433mm
FC: 633mm 663mm 689mm 708mm
WB: 1,066mm 1,096mm 1,122mm 1,141mm
Having ridden in Phoenix before, on a 160mm travel bike, I knew that the trails were technical, rocky and demanding – in many way it’s the ideal winter location for testing handling and suspension and a real challenge for a 120mm travel bike.
So after our initial shakedown loop, to clear our jetlagged heads and check that the suspension settings on the Supermatic 120 were to our liking, we headed out to sample the more hardcore trails South Mountain has to offer. Climbs are a mix of steep flowing singletrack, littered with rocky sections that require a spot of trials to negotiate if you want to say on your bike. Connecting the fun stuff are flatter fireroad sections, so there is pretty much the perfect mix of trails and gradients for trying all chain ring combinations. Which is exactly what I did. The pedalling action on the Supermatic felt neutral in every situation – no noticeable pedal feedback in the granny gear, good grip on loose sharp rises in the middle ring and efficient power delivery hammering along the fireroads in the big ring. The rear suspension felt tight enough to load the tyre for grip but still offered plenty of pop, for springing up onto the rocky ledges that peppered the climbs. I swapped between ProPedal on and off, settling on the latter as the bike pedalled perfectly well without it. Also, the fully open position offered better grip on the steepest climbs. And if the bikes ability to impress me on the way up wasn’t enough, Johnny T’s ability to climb sections of trail that looked impassable totally blew me away.
So the Supermatic passed its first test with flying colours, but the entire time that we were climbing I had two niggling concerns. The pressing one being that there was no way that I could sustain the blistering pace set by the Tomac crew, and that any bike that climbs this well is going to struggle on the descents.
Fortunately, for me, some of the other journalists were in worse shape, and after catching my breath at the top I seized the opportunity to tuck in behind Johnny T for the ride back down. Well, who wouldn’t? Swept along at an eye-watering pace it all felt so effortless following the most rounded cyclist of all time. A little hop here, a manual there and Johnny had me hammering through sections that I really should have stopped and taken a look at first. This reckless abandon was only possible because I felt so relaxed on the bike, and the buzz of riding with ‘the legend’ had me pushing the Supermatic to the max. It wasn’t until Johnny rounded a corner and doubled down from one rock outcrop to another that reality came back with a bang. As I stood by the side of the trail fixing the first of many pinch flats, I had plenty of time to reflect on what we’d just been riding on 120mm bikes. I was impressed. The length of the size large Supermatic gave me the confidence I needed on the steeps and the balance suspension response banished my initial concerns about race-focused geometry. But by far the biggest confidence boost the Supermatic offers comes from the frame stiffness – there’s no windup in turns or that vague feeling you get with lightweight flexy bikes on super rocky terrain. With the Supermatic 120 you always feel in control because the bike goes exactly where you point it. I’m convinced that this is the main reason that I could ride the bike harder than the travel and geometry suggest.
My program for the remainder of the product launch pretty much mirrored the first day, excluding the set up ride but including more pinch flats trying to follow Johnny T’s lines. During that time, I never had to fiddle with my initial suspension settings, nor did I find anything about the Supermatic that bugged me or prevented me from riding to my full potential. Fast up hill and equally rapid down, the Supermatic 120 is Tomac’s best bike to date, and one of the most rounded 120mm bikes I’ve ridden. All that remains to be seen is if good old British mud and roots can unsettle the surefooted American’s confidence. www.hotlines-uk.com