“Don’t build a bike from scratch. It’s not worth it. I’ve built hundreds and it’s always a pain in the arse.” With the words of the tehnical editor ringing inauspiciously in my ears, I went and ordered the Automatic anyway. My logic was sound – I needed a proven, hard-wearing but relatively lightweight bike, from which I could run a number of different set up choices. The Tomac Automatic was the favourite in two years of picking and choosing from our test rigs; not outrageously priced but unfortunately not available as a complete bike. So it would have to be a custom build.
“I’ll help you, but I can tell you, it’s going to be a ball ache!” warned Burwell. At least he was consistent.
He might also have pointed out it’s not cheap. You could argue it didn’t need a Fox Float 120mm FIT Terralogic fork with Kashima coating, SRAM XO drivetrain, Crank Brothers’ Cobalt 3 wheelset and full carbon finishing kit, but if you’re only going to do it once, why not go to town? Since ordering the frame, 2012 pricing has also kicked in, and UK distribution has switched from Hotlines to Evolution Imports, adding another £400 to the price.
Burwell’s words were already coming back to haunt me, and that was before we discovered the weld at the junction of the seat tube and shock pivot mount appeared to sit a bit too high to comfortably fit a 2×10 front mech – this frame was actually designed before 2×10 made an appearance. Cue hasty emails to Tomac in the US and SRAM Europe. Tomac owner and chief designer Joel Smith confirmed he rides the same set up on his own Automatic. It’s good enough for Joel, but not Burwell, who reckons a direct mount derailleur with an adaptor may work. The gap between mech and rings is currently outside the 3mm norm and the chain drags on the mech in the smaller ring/smaller sprockets. Enjoy the artistic time lapse video here, in the meantime, we’ll be seeing whether this setup actually works and will report back next issue.