Before we get started with the bikes, let’s kick-off this thing with some unashamedly nostalgic pics of John Tomac “back in the day”…
Tomac the person has 30 years of bike racing under his belt (1975-2005). Having competed in XC, DH, 4X, Dual Slalom, BMX and road racing you could say he’s something of an all-rounder. He’s a 6 time World Champion. And to our mind, he’s still the coolest looking rider of all time (no one does elbows like Tomac).
Tomac the brand began in 1998. The company was founded by Doug Bradbury (ex-Manitou) and John Tomac. Their main thang with Tomac Bikes was to only do high-end bikes, with high spec finishing kit and a lot of focus on the details and “little things”.
For 2010 the new models are the Automatic 120, the Snyper 140 and the Vanish 160. The Carbide SL has also changed in that its lost over a pound of weight but – the designers claim – without losing any strength and stiffness.
Tomac Bikes have a new suspension system for most of their 2010 range: Instant Active Suspension (IAS). The suspension is still a linkage driven single pivot but the swinglink has changed shape. Changing the shape of the swinglink has given the designers increased options on main pivot location (and thus axle path) and shock rates. Fundamentally this new swinglink softens the initial bit of travel. It’s also claimed to deal with bottoming out a bit better. Other side benefits of the new swinglink design is that it offers an interrupted seat tube so you can lower the saddle all the way if you wish.
One thing that hasn’t changed on the 2010 Tomac range is that frame stiffness is at the top of the list. Tomac the company – as well as Tomac the person – really like the lateral frame stiffness that linkage-driven single-pivot designs allow. They claim that designs that have more pivots (especially a pivot on the chainstay) can be flexy under load unless a lot of material is used to beef things up.
Some frame weights for you…
Carbide SL = 2000g
Automatic 120 = 2900g
Snyper 140 = 3100g
Vanish 160 = 3600g
We’ll be reviewing both the Carbide SL and the Automatic 120 in upcoming issues of Singletrack Mountain Bike Magazine. We did a couple of laps of Cwncarn on a Carbide SL and a Snyper 140 during the Press Launch so we’ll give you some brief “first impressions”…
The Carbide SL is still an excellent bike that’s lost some weight but not lost any of its great handling. It’s a low-slung, rocket of a bike that goes much faster than a bike with only 90mm rear travel has any right to. It’s not remotely twangy or twitchy. It’s a bike that punches well above its weight. It’s very much a firm rather than cushy ride. Responsive and reactive. It’s a bike for blasting, not cruising. It can be hard to remember that you’ve only got 90mm of bounce as it’s such a capable point-and-shoot bike. If you’re a old skool hardtail rider that hasn’t been able to get on with full sussers, then you should try this bike. Conversely if you’re used to riding long travel squidge-mobiles and want a lighter, nippier bike for certain rides/trails, then you should try this bike. It’s a closet classic.
Our lap on the Snyper 140 first and foremost demonstrated what a marked difference there is in how the IAS suspenion system delivers its travel. It’s a much cushier ride on all sizes of bumps and lumps. Even on sections where we weren’t using any more travel than we would be on the Carbide SL the suspension behaved very differently. There was much more traction on offer (even taking into account the slightly fatter tyres on the Snyper test bike). Being honest, around most Cwncarn the Snyper was a bit OTT, it wasn’t really anywhere near its limits most of the time. But on the rougher sections – and on the jumps and drops – it really came alive and made sense. Where the Carbide SL could get skittish (albeit in a hugely fun way) the Snyper soaked it up and kept much more momentum and speed. On jumps in particular the way the Snyper’s suspension muted the “touchdown” of good landings and dealt with bottoming out on clumsier landings was great. Predictable and confidence inspiring. The pedaling response was also very good for such a cushy bike. It was no soggy energy-robbing lump. A lot of this is no doubt partly down to the excellent Fox RP23 rear shocks.
Here’s a brief and faintly embarrassing video of Singletrack’s starstruck riding with John Tomac…