Forme's bikes are designed in the Derbyshire Peak District. Most of the frame names reflect that fact. At £1099.99 the Longcliffe 1.0 sits at the top of the five men's and three women's models in their butted aluminium framed range. This and the 2.0 are said to be triple butted, the other three double butted.
The Forme brand has only been around for three years, with an initial launch of just five aluminium framed bikes back in 2010. The new collection amounts to 40 bikes, including three trios of tidy carbon framed options sitting above the Longcliffes. The Axe Edge, the Thorpe and the Flash start at £1350 and go all the way up to £5000. Longcliffes start at just £530. At that price you get an aluminium fork and a fairly basic 16 speed drivetrain, but carbon forks are already present on the £570 Longcliffe 4.0. It quickly become obvious that Forme's emphasis is strong on value for money.
The detailing on the Longcliffe 1.0 frame seems very much par for the course on lots of other butted aluminium framed bikes between £600 and £1200. The joining welds on the 7005 Kinesis tubes are tidy, cable routing is conventional and there are two pairs of bottle bosses. A tapered head tube and fat biaxially ovalised down tube will undoubtedly add a modicum of tracking stability and a medium length head tube has a 25mm washer stack on the steerer for tuning bar/stem height. The top tube is just 5 degrees off dead flat, giving the bike a fairly traditional rather than compact-frame look. The complete bike weighs in at 8.94kg (19.4lb)
There's room, and threaded bosses, for a mudguard out back but the carbon fork on our bike has no mudguard bosses, although Forme's spec' list says it has. Frame geometry varies with sizing: the 56cm bike has a 73 degree head angle, 73.5 degree at the seat. Horizontal top tube length is the same as seat tube length on the 56cm bike but shorter than the seat tube on the two larger frames, 58 & 60, and longer than the seat tube on the three smaller frames, 48, 51 & 53. The chain stays and wheelbase are slightly longer than on a more purist race bike. This should theoretically create a very stable ride, well suited to relative beginners, and it means there's plenty room for bigger treads than the 23mm Schwalbe Lugano ones fitted: Lugano 23s actually have a higher profile than many other 23mm tyres, usually good news for comfort, as well as puncture protection strips.
Of course, an aluminium frame on an £1100 bike needs componentry brownie points. In the case of the Longcliffe 1.0 those brownie points are earned with Campagnolo Veloce gear mechs and shifters: the market around this price is generally dominated by Shimano and SRAM, but there are plenty riders who'll prefer the gear shifts, lever shape and Italian heritage of Campagnolo. The 10 speed cassette goes from 12 to 25 sprockets and an FSA Gossamer crankset offers 34 and 50 tooth rings. The wheels are 24 spoked Stratos branded 4ZA offerings. Stratos is a house brand of Forme distributor Moore Large. While the emphasis is on value, it all appears to be decent quality stuff and makes up the balance of the finishing parts: brakes, two bolt seat post, saddle, stem and shallow drop 420mm handlebar (different widths on different sizes).
The Longcliffe 1.0 is a good looking machine, finished in currently-in-vogue black, red and white with colour coded bar tape, cables and lever hoods. The women's Longcliffe FE Series bikes are well worth a look too, with aesthetics, sizing, geometry and componentry detail differing in more appropriate ways than on a few other brands.
You can find out more about Forme on their website www.formebikes.co.uk
Full road test of the Longcliffe 1.0 to follow shortly.