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Forme, the in house bike brand of distributor Moore Large, makes kids' bikes under the name Formeula. Their kids' brand provides the same 'no-messing' approach as the grown up bikes, giving junior riders the features they need without extraneous bells and whistles. The Formeula 24 is in many respects very similar to the Scott Speedster Jnr 24 we tested at the same time.
The key difference between the Scott and the Formeula is the latter has been designed to run off-road, as well as on. It can be a road racer, or it can be a cyclo crosser. Forme recognise this and supply the bike with fat treaded cyclocross tyres fitted, but with a set of skinny road slicks in the box as standard. Brilliant idea and really sets up the bike to be a partner for any cycling adventure.
The 14.5in frame on the Forme is a beautiful 6061 alloy number, with the sort of attention to detail and clean welds that wouldn't look out of place on a bike costing four times as much. Given its potential for double duty as a cyclo-crosser, the rear end has a little more space for wider rubber than the road-only Scott, though it's patently still a road bike, rather than a mountain bike with skinny tyres.
Frame and colour matched chromoly fork are equipped with neat canti braze-ons further cementing the rig's dirt remit. Guides are slotted, as you'd expect for easy cable care, again handy given the often less than attentive service attitudes of the average child. The transmission is basic Shimano Altus rear mech, though completely serviceable and accurate, it'll do rightly until it wears out in a couple of years.
Forme fit the Formeula up with what they describe as their 1-2-3 fit system, essentially junior sizing everything that matters for smaller bodies. It's not anything the other bikes we tested don't also do, nevertheless it's good to see such care and attention in an industry which has a habit of characterising kids' bikes as 'toys with wheels'. Chapeau to Forme for taking kids seriously.
The theory falls down in the places where all these bikes for real riding kids come up short: they are a bit over-geared. Mostly the problem's too many teeth on chainwheels. The Formeula has a single 36t front ring, which is cool in its no-messing simplicity, but a bit tall for the 11-32 rear cassette. Little legs and 'fast-burn' energy levels need nearer a 1:1 ratio as a bail gear; we'd prefer to see a 34t ring or a cassette with a 36 top sprocket. With only one front ring, there is no STI front gear lever to fiddle with for the left hand. The look of the mismatched levers is a bit odd for adults used to matched levers, but it seems this is invisible to the average ten year old, as none of ours mentioned it.
On undulating road and trails the Formeula rolls with ease, the 140mm cranks delivering just enough torque without killing their budding spin skills. The alloy wheels are tight and burly and run on sealed smooth running hubs. Perfect for using and abusing, without having to worry. The position is perfect for getting into a suitably aero tuck, while still giving control on steep off-road downhill pitches.
Braking was good, though it did take a while for the brakes to bed in. Might've been the machined rim walls, or a hard pad compound, we're not sure. With no cross-top secondary brake levers, there was a moment or two, on early rides, when small hands were tested.
Notwithstanding the small details we'd like to iron out, It's a natural feeling bike that our testers all liked from the first turn of the pedals. Even as kids, liking something as tangible as a bike isn't a given. For example, not all appreciated the outright roadie feel of the Scott in the same way. The Formeula is a felt-tip pen ready to write on anything without thought; the Scott is a Mont Blanc fountain pen: it needs some fine, smooth parchment and concentration for best effect.
The cost of the bike might seem high compared to brighter painted cheaper offerings from supermarkets etc, but make no mistake this is a worthy investment, as are all the upscale kids' bikes we tested. You'll be able to sell these on with ease and make back much more of your money. What with the extra tyres as well, we wish we were still at junior school.
Ideal starter road bike with loads of options for road and trail
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Make and model: Forme Formeula Road 24
Size tested: n/a
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Material 6061 Alloy
Cable Routing External
Bottle Cage Mounts down tube
Front Derailleur none
Dropouts Replaceable forged aluminium rear dropout and derailleur hanger
Fork Chromoly with canti bosses and eyelets and security dropouts
Wheelset Snyper alloy rims with QR sealed bearing hubs. Stainless spokes, brass nipples
Brake Levers Shifters Shimano rear shifter/lever Tektro RL320 left lever
Chainset Badgeless square taper alloy 140mm arms
Bottom Bracket Sealed square taper
Rear Derailleur Shimano Altus
Brake Calipers Tektro ORYX cantis
Chain 8 speed
Cassette Shimano Altus 8 speed 11-32 tooth
Handlebar shallow drop 6061 alloy 36cm width
Seat Post 27.2x300mm alloy micro adjust
Saddle Youth Specific
Tyres Kenda Cross tyres and slick road tyres included as standard
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Formeula is aimed at youngsters who want to get into proper road riding but also have a crack at Cyclocross. It performs as it was intended to with flying colours.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality was very good. clean welds, everything where it should be. Not as light as some on test but lighter than others.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6061 alloy. Standard stuff, not quite as thin and light as that used on the Worx JR24
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Not too sharp, ideal for those learning the ropes.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
About perfect. Right in the middle of the range we had on test.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike was comfortable, maybe not quite as instantly sporty at the Worx or the Scott, but good all the same
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Perfect. No discernible loss.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike could be ridden in a pack without worrying about it twitching into another wheel, yet chucked about on dirt corners if you felt like it.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The single ring and wide spread of gears was useful.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
All components were sufficiently stiff.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The light wheels and fast tyres helped make the bike feel quick.
Solid, not quite explosive.
Once you got it going it was good for sprinting.
Good stability on and off road.
Takes slow grass CX style turns with ease.
Good, only its weight stopped it from really being whipped in corners.
Could do with a lower bail out gear.
Slick and dependable.
Ultimately it's specced to a price and budget kit does get sloppy quicker, though everything was fine through our test.
Cranks could be a bit lighter.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Everything worked well, only time and use and the odd spill would cause upgrade to be necessary.
Two sets of tyres is a nice touch.
The wheels are built tough over light. Good for learning.
Good, but could be lighter. We tried lighter wheels in it and the ride did indeed improve.
The Kenda tyres were very good. No flats and plenty of grip.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Loads of grip and no flats. Left good skid marks. Can't ask for much more from a tyre.
Pretty good considering the price and choices available.
The brake reach and gear operation were still a reach for some smaller hands.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Some of the riders struggled to make full gear lever swings as their fingers are just too short and not strong enough.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Generally, everything components wise was good or better.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
A great all rounder, not as flat out racy as the Worx or the Scott, but a great place to learn the skills of a bike rider.
Age: 41 Height: 5'9 Weight:
I usually ride: My seven titanium My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, sportives, mtb, A bit of everything