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The Forme Longcliffe 2 delivers a very good ride indeed, and don't pay much attention to that overall weight – on all but the steepest of hills it feels nippy and surprisingly agile for a bike of its type. If you are looking for your first road machine for fun and fitness or you want a budget winter machine, then it is definitely worth considering.
Not only is the Forme a good-looking bike with that striking blue paintjob, it also delivers a much better ride than I was expecting. Aluminium alloy frames have changed beyond all recognition from those available at the turn of the century, but when you receive what could be considered a budget option you do tend to wonder just how refined it is going to be.
It ain't the most supple out there, but considering the whole bike has an rrp of just £650, it's pretty darn good.
First, Forme hasn't gone over the top with the tube diameters and profiles, though it has gone down the hydroforming route, where the tubes are shaped using moulds and water pressure to dictate shape, curves and wall thickness.
The technology has been around a while, but seeing it on bikes at this price is a real bonus and it really affects the ride, in a good way.
Larger profiles with thicker walls can be added where strength and stiffness are needed, while other sections where that isn't required can be less overbuilt to allow some flex and therefore comfort.
Most noticeable is the top tube, where you can see it is larger in section towards the head tube for stiffness, and the down tube which morphs in shape from the steering end down to the bottom bracket area, where it sees plenty of stresses but in the opposite direction to those at the head tube end.
What that means out on the road is that it is quite responsive in a way I wasn't expecting under acceleration and climbing, which really seems to make the Longcliffe hide its 10.5kg overall weight.
It all has a bit of a buzz about it, in an exciting way rather than a comfort issue, feeling like a race bike but without the associated quick or twitchy handling, which makes it absolutely perfect for those new to road riding or for use in dodgy winter road conditions.
The Forme has quite a comfortable ride too. It's in no way harsh, absorbing much of the road buzz. I covered some decent mileage over three- to four-hour rides without getting off with any pains or niggles.
It has a longer wheelbase than a race bike, giving a stable ride that is quite confidence-inspiring. Its weight actually helps here, as on rough descents or when your speed is pretty high it never gets unsettled by rough road surfaces and feels properly planted.
When flying downhill it handles well, too. Compared to the high-end aggressive race machines that I get to ride, the steering is notably slower through the technical bends, and if you need to change direction quickly to avoid gravel or a pothole there is a bit of lag, but I never found it a handful.
The full carbon fork (yep, full carbon on a bike at this price) offers plenty of stiffness and really adds to the confident feeling you get from the Forme.
When it comes to climbing, again the Longcliffe is a decent performer when you take everything into account. Long, steep drags are the only time you really notice its weight, but the geometry allowed me a good climbing position whether in or out of the saddle.
The top tube is reasonably short but so is the head tube, so even though the geometry is biased towards endurance it still feels like a quick, racy position.
That kinds of sums up the ride all over, to be honest. You get a lot of the fun and attributes of a race bike but when you just want to sit back and pootle along, the Longcliffe just sort of gets on with it; all you have to do is spin the pedals and point it in the right direction.
The frame uses a 6061 grade of aluminium alloy and, like I mentioned earlier, has been hydroformed to give it its smooth shape.
The welding is pretty neat and tidy when you consider the budget, and the blue paint certainly makes it look more expensive. It's not the thickest spray job I've seen but it has been robust enough in use, resisting scratches and paint chips.
The head tube is tapered from 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in to increase stiffness at the front end, and a neat addition is the embossed Forme badge on the front.
The bottom bracket is BSA threaded for use with external BB cups, which suits the type of conditions the Forme is likely to see perfectly.
The whole area is quite slender, and while I detected a whiff of flex under massive sprinting efforts it is well within what I'd expect for this style of bike. For 99 per cent of the riding I completed, the overall stiffness levels were absolutely fine.
The front triangle gets internal cable routing along the down tube and top tube for a clean look, and although they emerge at the bottom bracket and straight into the spray of the front wheel, Forme has allowed the outer cable to run a decent length to the front and rear mech that keeps the inner out of the worst of the muck.
Keeping the bike clean shouldn't be too much of an issue, though, as it will accept full length mudguards; with guards fitted, the bike will still accept 28mm tyres. Some might scoff, but for pure road use I'd say that is plenty, and you are always going to be limited by the clearance of the rim brakes anyway.
You also get mounts on the seatstays for a rear rack, which helps for a little light touring or commuting without a rucksack.
Geometry-wise, this bike is reasonably relaxed. This 54cm model has a 548mm top tube, 155mm head tube with an angle of 71.5 degrees, a seat angle of 73 degrees, and chainstays of 430mm. The overall wheelbase is 1,008mm.
If you go by stack and reach, you are looking at 572mm and 372mm respectively.
The Longcliffe 2 comes with a Shimano Claris groupset, which when it started appearing on road bikes was a bit of a clunker, but since it has been overhauled is a very fun groupset for the money.
In fact, alongside Sora and Tiagra, the only thing noticeably different are the number of sprockets on the cassette. Claris gets eight, Sora has nine and Tiagra is blessed with 10.
The shifting is just as good, plus the levers and hoods have the same easy-to-live-with shape that runs through Shimano's range.
Suiting the style of riding the Longcliffe is aimed at, you get a 50/34t chainset paired with an 11-32 cassette. It's a decent set of ratios that suited me fine, the only drawback being quite a jump between each sprocket.
If you are used to riding 11-speed systems you can struggle to find a happy medium for cadence on some climbs or when riding into the wind, but if you aren't, you'll probably not notice.
Tektro provides the callipers for braking and they aren't bad. Having a taller arch to accept mudguards, callipers like this often have more flex than normal dual calliper brakesets so don't offer as much braking power, but once bedded in I was happy with them.
They certainly performed better than the cheaper cable disc brake options out there.
When it comes to the other components, the majority of it is Forme-branded. The alloy handlebar, stem and seatpost all do a decent job for the money and I found the Forme saddle, the Sport Plus, comfortable. It's a slender design with the right amount of padding to take the sting out of the ride without feeling squidgy.
As with any sub-£1,000 bike, the wheels are a bit of a compromise but that's not to say they need changing straight away.
With 28 spokes front and rear they are reasonably tough, but they are a little on the heavy side. Out of the box they were running true and they have remained that way. If I was buying the Longcliffe I'd run them into the ground before an upgrade, and the frameset is ripe for it.
I was testing the Scribe Race wheelset at the same time and stuck them on the Forme, and what a difference that made.
Yes, at £360 they are more than 50 per cent of the bike's value, but it isn't an over the top investment, plus they really highlight how good the frame and fork are. The resulting weight and performance was noticeable.
It's the same sort of deal with the tyres, really. The Kendas are tough as old boots and will last for thousands and thousands of miles because of their stodgy compound, so when you get to the summer months they are definitely worth an upgrade. Not only can you shed some weight, you can also improve the grip.
Having such a firm rubber mix doesn't get you a huge amount of grip or feedback, especially noticeable in the wet where you really can't let the bike go. When traction starts to break, it is so instant there is little you can do about it.
With the Panaracer Race Evo 4 TLC tyres fitted to the Scribe wheels, they certainly helped transmit information from the frameset through to me, plus the extra grip allowed more confidence in pushing the Forme to its limits.
The Forme is £50 more than one of my favourite bikes at this price point, the Specialized Allez, which costs £600 and also comes equipped with a Claris groupset and pretty similar components to the Longcliffe. The Forme has a very similar ride quality to the Specialized, which shows how good it is, but although the Allez is a kilo lighter, it can't take full mudguards, which reduces its capabilities as a winter bike.
Another top choice for me at this price point is the Vitus Razor VR. At £599.99 it is another quality bike for not a lot of money, but the latest version I tested in 2018 had been revised, taking away its ability to take full guards and a rack.
The Forme sits alongside both of these bikes when it comes to quality and comfort, and is more versatile than either. It shows that you really don't need to spend a fortune for a fun day in the saddle.
Great ride quality and sorted geometry make the Forme a fun choice, especially when conditions aren't brilliant
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Forme Longcliffe 2
Size tested: 54cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
SIZES 48cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm
FRAME Alloy 6061, Internal Cable Routing, Smooth Welding
FORK Full Carbon Tapered Steerer
SHIFTERS Shimano Claris 16 Speed
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Claris 8 Speed SS Cage
CHAINSET Shimano Claris 34/50T 170mm-175mm
CASSETTE Shimano HG41 8 Speed 11-32T
CHAIN KMC Z 72, 8 Speed
BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano Claris, External Threaded
BRAKES Tektro Caliper Mechanical
HANDLEBARS Forme Alloy, 75mm Reach 400-440mm
GRIPS Forme Soft
Soft Touch Foam/Silicone
STEM Forme Alloy
90mm-110mm 4 Bolt
SADDLE Forme Sport Plus
143mm Black/ Black
SEATPOST Forme Alloy
Twin Bolt Micro Adjust 27.2mm x 350mm
WHEELSET Forme CSL Rims
700c Double Wall 28h
700 x 28c
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 Longcliffe series delivers our no compromise values to cyclists looking to add speed to their ride and open the door to road cycling whilst continuing to benefit from Forme's comfort and versatility features. The robust, hydroformed frame inherits a relaxed road geometry with a slightly shorter and more upright riding position, wider gear ratios and considered handlebar and saddle touch points."
The Longcliffe offers a very good ride and works perfectly as an all-season ride or commuter.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There are two models in the range, this Longcliffe 2 and the Longcliffe 1 which has a Shimano Sora groupset and an upgrade to Schwalbe Lugano tyres for £825. Arguably better value if you can stretch to it.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
For the money it is well finished and if I'd spent £650 on it I'd be well chuffed.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from hydroformed 6061 aluminium alloy while the fork is full carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is endurance based with a short top tube for a more upright position. It still feels quite racy overall though as the head tubes aren't massively tall.
Full figures are here - https://formebikes.co.uk/longcliffe-2.html
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The height and reach of this model gives a ratio of 1.53 which is well within the endurance range of bike style.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes it's comfortable. It's not the most refined alloy frame I've ridden but for the money it can't be knocked.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It's stiff enough for what the bike is designed for.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, on the whole. Lighter wheels show how good the frame and fork are, though.
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 handling is easy to live with, and with the stability of the long wheelbase it is a very confidence-inspiring bike to ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I liked the saddle. Slender enough to be a race saddle with firm padding and decent levels of comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
For the style of riding the Forme is aimed at, everything does its job.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The cassette is a little gappy between ratios but it does offer a decent spread of high and low gears.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Claris setup works well. Shifting is good and the braking through the Tektro callipers is competent enough.
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 fine, but the frameset can take take an upgrade.
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?
They are hardwearing and will last for plenty of miles, but they do lack ride feel 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?
The components work well enough, especially the saddle. The handlebar has more of a pistol grip than a full bend but that might well suit those who aren't confident in the drops.
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 is some tough opposition from the likes of Specialized's Allez and the Vitus I mention in the review, but the Forme holds its own.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Longcliffe 2 is very good, punching above its weight when it comes to performance and comfort versus value.
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!