We initially wanted the Carbide XC1 for this test, mainly because it came with lighter parts and we thought it looked better with a black swingarm.
However, importer Stif wasn’t keen to send a £3,000 bike, and since both models use the same chassis, it’s simply the difference of a few Gucci parts.
Opting for a carbon rather than an aluminium frame is usually about saving weight and increasing stiffness. Tomac wanted a high level of lateral rigidity in the frame so built accordingly. Stiffening layers have been added to the sides of all the main tubes, resulting in a sort of box-section tube profile. Further layers are added to the bottom of the down and top tubes to distribute load evenly, and the frame has also been reinforced at the head tube and bottom bracket to improve frontal impact strength and power transfer.
Box-section tubing is also used for the chainstays but Tomac reverts to aluminium here because of concerns about chain damage on carbon.
Like older Commençal bikes, the front derailleur is mounted on the swing-arm for consistent shifting and to allow for a more compact, stiffer front triangle. Front shifting is better on the Carbide than the old Meta, which had convoluted routing, but we weren’t aware of it being any better than the other five bikes here.
Despite the compact main frame, the XC2 still accepts a bottle cage, but with a bottle in place you wouldn’t be able to shoulder this bike.
Our medium test bike has an incredibly low standover height and seatpost adjustability, and it does come up slightly small. It’s shorter in the down tube than the Giant and lower at the front, so it might be worth test riding a larger machine with a short stem fitted if you fall between sizes.
The weight of the frame is claimed to be 5.9lb; built up, our test bike is the heaviest here at 27.36lb.
To further improve stiffness, Tomac uses a large swinglink to brace the Fox Float RP2 shock against the main frame.
This houses sealed cartridge bearings but, unlike the Giant, covers stop dirt ingress. Rearwards, there’s flex stay, as on Yeti frames, which eliminates the need for a pivot, saves weight, and means there’s nothing to wear out or need servicing.
Like the Scott, the XC2 came with a Fox 32 F series fork with 100mm travel and rebound adjustment but it didn’t develop the knocking we experienced on the Spark.
The Carbide is the heaviest bike on test, partly due to the FSA wheels, but also the Kenda Nevegal tyres and the 7in front and rear disc rotors, which would be overkill on a 120mm bike, never mind a 100mm one.
When we swapped the tyres for the Maxxis Crossmarks we suddenly got a burst of acceleration, and a swap is something we advise you to do as the Nevegals are draggy. While you’re there, drop the stem 10mm and get rid of the awful WTB lock-on grips and the big rotors.
Despite Tomac’s best efforts to increase rigidity, the Carbide didn’t feel noticeably stiffer than the other bikes here. Some of this is due to the FSA wheels, which seem more flexible than the DTs elsewhere, but there’s also some lateral movement in the seatstays where they overlap the seat tube. Mud clearance in this area is good but clag tends to land on the front derailleur, which might not be good for long-term durability.
We felt the Carbide was a little less nippy than either the Anthem or the Scalpel, despite having a similar head angle to the latter. Where the Tomac does shine though is when you get onto rough, rocky trails, and it also pedals pretty well on loose climbs. The main pivot is on the (middle ring) chain line, forward of the bottom bracket, so there’s some feedback in the granny ring, which might matter if you’re doing back-breaking European marathons but in the UK you’ll be off and walking because it’ll be too slippery.
Although Tomac claims the Carbide XC2 is a general-use/XC bike, with this build we don’t agree it’s a marathon bike. It’s more of a short-travel trail bike, in the same mould as the GT, which could compete if it lost a couple of pounds. So what you have is a cracking 100mm trail bike marked down because this is not a short-travel trail bike test.
MBR RATING: 8/10