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The Forme Monyash 1 is based around a very good frameset, one that delivers a relaxed ride and allows you to enjoy the scenery, plus with various mounts and wide tyre clearances this is one bike that isn't going to restrict your touring to the tarmac.
Most of my rides tend to be a bit of a smashfest, whether on the road or the local gravel tracks. I'm generally in a rush, there is always somewhere for me to be – the school run, squeezing out a review or two, or just general day to day chores and tasks.
And so it began with the Monyash: I tried wringing the neck out of it and got very little back. But on a beautiful sunny day when I had a clear schedule, it taught me how to relax and we had a lovely little five-hour bonding session.
While weight isn't necessarily the be all and end all, a 10.32kg (22.75lb) bike with a slack front end (a head angle of 71°) isn't ever going to respond to being ridden aggressively, even when you take into account that short front end and racy position.
Back off the pace a touch, though, and the Monyash will cruise along, tapping out the miles at a good pace. It's comfortable, too, you just don't need to give it that last couple of per cent. Hit a climb, just stay in the saddle and use the gears to ease your way to the top. In reality, you're only going to be a few seconds slower and it really is a more pleasurable experience.
Normally I'd find bikes like this boring to ride, but once I'd relaxed a little I found the Forme to be quite fun. It's no razor-sharp handler but even on swooping descents it changes direction nicely while flowing from apex to apex, the 1,018mm wheelbase (54cm size) giving a surefooted stance on the tarmac.
One thing I will say about the handling, though, is that if you find yourself in a tricky situation it hasn't got the speed or directness to get you back on track without a fight.
I have this hill, one I've ridden thousands of times, and it covers everything: cambers on and off, chicanes, long swooping bends and some rough road surfaces. At times I can be touching 50mph, more if the wind is behind me, and if there is the slightest fault in a bike's behaviour it's going to show up here.
I was absolutely wanging the Forme down there, cutting corners and using both lanes, doing everything I could to find its limits, but it was taking it all in its stride.
True, it wasn't quite nailing the line I can get from a race bike, but I wouldn't expect it to, and I was still in control.
Then, on the damp penultimate corner, a long right-hander before a snap back to the left, I saw the rainbow surface where someone had delightfully deposited the contents of their fuel tank. Knowing full well I wasn't going to be making it round while remaining upright, I gave the brakes a controlled squeeze to scrub the speed as best I could and abort up a handy slip road.
The Forme went into a huge steering wobble at the front end with the ask of a direction change and the braking, before I decided a tactical dismount was probably the safest option and began performing a slip and slide on cleats, helmet and rucksack that easily warranted a Dancing on Ice semi-final spot.
This whole episode isn't a slur on the Forme's behaviour, I was pushing it well beyond its design brief and it gave me a nudge to remind me. It's not a fast-riding, sharp-handling gravel/adventure bike – if that's what you want, this isn't it.
Rather, summing up how relaxed the Monyash is, once left to its own devices it cruised down the slip road at 30mph before parking itself up against the bank without the slightest scratch.
Do-or-die descending types aside, the Forme is a very pleasant bike to be aboard.
Once again, the 6061 aluminium alloy frame highlights how good this material has become, especially when paired to a very good full-carbon fork. Road buzz is minimal and it has all the stiffness it requires.
The handling works fine on the road but thanks to its ability to take 35mm tyres, the bike's stability and surefootedness translates perfectly to those not-so-smoothly paved routes.
On the standard 32mm WTB Exposure tyres the Forme was happy taking to the hardpacked byways and canal paths close to home. Even if the surface was a little loose, the relaxed nature of the geometry allows you to control the slide of the tyres with just a shift of bodyweight.
In my eyes this bike would also make an excellent commuter for all-year-round use. Riding on wet, greasy, salt-covered roads would be no issues with such neutral handling, and with full mudguard mounts you'll be protecting it and yourself from the elements, even if you do have a maximum tyre width of 32mm with guards fitted.
On drier days you could stick on some semi-slicks and blast home via the little gravel tracks you see out of the corner of your eye.
The Monyash's 6061 grade aluminium alloy frame isn't the most refined or polished I've ever ridden, but it certainly offers a comfortable and reasonably responsive ride. I like the look of it too, with its smart paintjob and smooth welding.
It's available in just four sizes: a 52cm, 54cm, 56cm and 58cm. This 54cm size on test has a 71° head angle which explains that slackness in the steering when on the road, and gives it its controllable behaviour when away from it.
Up front you get a tapered steerer tube to help resist the forces from the steering and hydraulic brakes.
Nothing is massively oversized about this frame, though, which it doesn't really need to be, and it is good to see that Forme has gone for a standard threaded bottom bracket shell. For the type of riding the Monyash is aimed at, where it is likely to see plenty of wet and muddy conditions, this should prove to be a longer lasting solution than a press-fit.
The frame has semi-integrated cable routing which covers the front triangle, with the front mech, rear mech and rear brake cables and hosing exiting at the bottom bracket. It would be nice to see it travelling right through to the chainstays but this can sometimes be difficult with metal tubing.
At this money it's good to see thru-axles front and rear for resisting the forces from the rotors, especially at the fork – I couldn't feel any twisting or chatter even under heavy braking.
Making sure the Monyash is ready for adventure or even commuter work, it has full mounts for mudguards and a rear rack. The guard mounts aren't on the dropouts so there will be a little bit of fettling with the arms of standard ones, but it isn't a massive job.
You also get three sets of bottle bosses, with the third set on the outside of the down tube.
Forme has specced a Shimano Tiagra groupset on the Monyash, which is pretty decent for the money especially as that includes a hydraulic braking system.
I'm not a massive fan of the non-series 10-speed hydraulic brake lever/shifter combo as I don't get on with the shape of the hoods, so I'm really looking forward to the release of the new Tiagra groupset with group-specific hydraulic shifters and callipers.
It also comes with a new 48/34T chainset, which would probably suit the Monyash better than the current 50/34 because of its weight and intentions as an adventure bike.
As it stands, though, the groupset works well with decent enough braking through the 160mm rotors and Shimano callipers.
Shifting is sharp enough too, although the hydraulic levers aren't as precise as the Tiagra mechanical options.
Paired to the compact chainset is an 11-32T 10-speed cassette which gives a pretty good spread of gears when unloaded, although on a trek with a rack and bar bag you might need something a little lower. You could swap the cassette out for an 11-34 for a lower gear if you wanted one, but for commuting use, I'd say it's spot on.
Forme provides the stem, handlebar and seatpost, and it's all decent enough stuff. It's all alloy including the post, but it suits the Monyash: it all does the job and the compact handlebar works well for most riders even when you take the short 125mm head tube into consideration.
The saddle is also from Forme and I really liked it. It is quite minimal and race-orientated in its design, which suited me for the majority of the riding I did on the Monyash.
The wheels, too, are provided by Forme and while they bring a bit of weight to the party, they are tough as nails for loading the bike up for an adventure off the beaten track. With 32 spokes front and rear, and double-walled rims, they'll certainly take some abuse.
For pure road use I tried the Forme with some lighter Fulcrum Racing 3 DB wheels I was testing, and it made a massive difference to how the Monyash responded, so it would be a good shout to have a spare pair of wheels for more intense rides.
Tyre-wise, I've never used these WTB Exposure models before but I really like them. The tan walls bring a touch of class to the bike and they also roll pretty well on the road, while being wide enough to not sink on loose gravel tracks. Punctures haven't been a problem, and they have stood up well to the mileage.
As with the wheels, though: if you want to go faster and are sticking to the road, then go for something lighter.
As long as racing isn't your thing, the Forme offers really decent value for money for a bike that covers many disciplines. It'll tackle the daily commute, take on a sportive/club run at the weekend, and if you want to try something a little further afield then it'll handle an audax or gravel adventure with ease.
For £1,325 for an alloy frame and full carbon fork it stands up well alongside the likes of the Rondo HVRT AL at £1,499.99. The Rondo has that clever fork and is a bit more fun to ride on the road, but the Forme brings more versatility.
The Pearson Allmodcons costs £1,400 and while it has a part Shimano 105 groupset, you only get mechanical disc brakes and a non-series crankset. I'd say the Forme nudges it when it comes to ride quality, plus it is more ready for those off-road adventures.
The Forme Monyash 1 is a quality bike that is really very adaptable to a range of riding disciplines, making it ideal for that n+1 alongside your race bike, or if speed isn't a huge desire then it's a proper do-it-all machine.
A proper all-rounder that'll tackle the commute, tour and gravel adventures
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Forme Monyash 1
Size tested: 54cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
SIZES 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm
FRAME 6061 Alloy
FORK Full Carbon
SHIFTERS Shimano 405 STI
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Tiagra
CHAINSET Shimano Tiagra
CASSETTE Shimano HG500
CHAIN KMC X10
BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano Tiagra
BRAKES Shimano 405 STI
HANDLEBARS Forme Alloy
GRIPS Forme Soft Touch
STEM Forme Alloy
SADDLE Forme Sport Plus
SEATPOST Forme Alloy
WHEELSET Forme DSL
TYRES WTB Exposure
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?
Forme says, "The Monyash is not only the big brother disc model to the Longcliffe but also crosses the line between tarmac and gravel. If you are looking for a road adventure bike that you can dig deep on the lonesome roads with, whilst not being restricted to exploration, then look no further.
"With clearance for 32c tyres and mudguards, or 35c without, the all new Monyash is one of the most proficient all round, all day performers within our range."
I found the Monyash incredibly versatile, which increases its value for money.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There is one model that sits below this, the Monyash 2 for £1,045, which comes with Shimano Sora and mechanical disc brakes.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Well finished with smooth welding and a quality paintjob.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from 6061 aluminium alloy and the fork is full carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is definitely relaxed and aimed at making the bike work on and off the road.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The ratio given by dividing the stack by the reach measurements puts the Monyash in the endurance bike category.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, I was impressed with the comfort levels.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
For the type of riding intended, I'd say the Forme is fine when it comes to stiffness levels.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
On a par with what I'd expect.
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?
It's a balance that works on and off-road for all but the most technical of descents.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I wouldn't recommend any changes, to be honest. What the bike comes with works well enough and fits in with the budget.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The components deliver plenty of stiffness for the type of riding the Forme is designed for.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
If speed is your priority then a lighter set of wheels and tyres will make a difference.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's a solid platform when it comes to shifting and braking.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The wheels are solid and will take plenty of abuse.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
I was impressed with the tyres. They are hardwearing but offer decent rolling resistance and grip.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Simple finishing kit that does the job.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are brands that can deliver a cheaper package, but considering the overall quality and versatility of the Forme I'd say it's worth the money.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a little weighty but overall the Monyash offers a good quality frameset with plenty of versatility and a selection of sound finishing kit for the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!