Tomac Mountain Bikes—who pride themselves on the fact that they don’t offer road, cyclocross, BMX or commuter bikes—offers nine models for 2011. The Supermatic 1 works the hardest out of the nine models to appeal to the widest range of riders. This is the bike that hopes to be loved by everyone. And after spending time with the Supermatic, we think it might get its wish.
History in the making: The reason this single-pivot bike
inspires is because there is a lot of history—and trial and error—behind
every aspect of the rear suspension. The Supermatic 1 continues the
Tomac tradition of bikes that reward the rider who pushes the pace.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Like we said, the Supermatic 1 wants to be class president, so politically, it doesn’t just want to hang with one group. It could easily hang with the cross-country race crowd. It would be just as comfortable mixing it up on the lunch or sunset ride. Weekend long-distance warrior? It’s there. The only group it is going to feel uncomfortable with is the chairlift gang.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The frame is a flat-black high-modulus carbon tube wrap over Tomac’s proprietary structure. The head tube is the requisite tapered affair. The stays are carbon fiber, and the one-piece rocker is about the only aluminum piece on the frame. The Supermatic 1 rear suspension does not use the Instant Active Suspension found on longer-travel Tomacs; instead, the simple single-pivot rear suspension goes pivotless at the rear axle and relies on seat stay flex to handle the task.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The latest incarnation of Tomac Mountain Bikes have been beautiful bikes to behold, and the Supermatic does not break this tradition. Tomac knows how to get the heart rate of any rider pumping by spec’ing Shimano XTR in all the right places, slipping on Crankbrothers Cobalt wheels and finishing off any resistance to pulling out the wallet by going the extra mile with a Thomson seatpost and stem. Looking at this bike makes you want to ride it.
Paper trail: On paper the Tomac Supermatic 1 is missing the bells and whistles of other 5-inch-travel trailbikes. On the trail, it ain’t missing nothin’. The bike is fast, fun and solid.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Ergonomics: Call the rider position all-day aggressive. It is not the stretched-out feel of a pure cross-country race bike, but you aren’t sitting upright either. The cockpit puts the rider pretty much dead center between the wheels. Sag is your friend on the Tomac, and we found sagging the O-ring on the shock body 3/4 inches was not overdoing it.
Pedaling: This is a single-pivot frame that comes with a lot of history. That means the pivot is positioned to make the most out of the ultra simple system. Under acceleration
and then at speed, the Supermatic delivers a distinctly firm initial travel with just
enough compliance to kill the harshness of sharp edged obstacles. Staying back on the saddle is by far the best power position for motoring along the trail. Running the Fox shock in the lowest ProPedal setting and forgetting about it worked best.
Jamming: The low standover height encourages you to toss the Supermatic during out-of-the-saddle attacks without fear of banging a knee. The bike responds so well to hard efforts that you could be tricked into blowing all your energy early in the ride. Go for it. It will make you faster.
Cornering: The Supermatic has a neutral feel in the corners, meaning you don’t have to mentally compensate for anything. Just pick the line you want and go for it. More than the frame’s geometry, it is the rider’s centered weight distribution and the lateral rigidity that make this bike so fun in the corners.
Climbing: You get the sense that Johnny T (this Johnny T, not this one) is looking over your shoulder with a smile if you stay in the saddle and push a slightly higher gear than you think you should on the climb. The bottom bracket area is a laterally stiff powerhouse, and the stays and rocker show no weakness. This means all your effort is rewarded with forward momentum.
Descending: On paper, the Supermatic should rank fair to poor on descents. Luckily, you don’t ride on paper. It is not our job to figure out why; we are just here to report the facts, and the fact is that this bike is a blast to ride down fast, flowy, rocky and even tight trails. Sure, the rear end stiffens under braking, but this is not a deal killer. Everything else works so well that you can scrub speed before technical sections and allow the suspension and soft-compound tires to take care of the rest.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The first-generation Crankbrothers wheels took a well deserved drubbing because of reliability issues, but these new generation wheels offered solid performance. The Supermatic 120 will encourage you to push the pace on descents, and that will result in a dinged rim from time to time. The Morningstar Rim ’Rench (tested in this issue) is all you need to fix that. Most riders will find the Fizik Tundra saddle too firm for any ride over an hour. Substituting a saddle like the WTB Pure V or Specialized Henge will make a world of difference.
There is no denying that the Supermatic 1 is a bike that can cover a lot of ground for many different kinds of riders. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles or complexities of other bikes in its class, and that is its strength. The Supermatic 1 gets down with less complexity and drama than its competition. Hey, isn’t that the way Johnny T used to win races?