Peak District-based Forme have been around for a few seasons and are starting to gain traction in the UK market. The Longcliffe has some real highlights, although they come at a cost elsewhere.
With its generously sized, triple-butted alloy tubes promising responsive stiffness but equipped with mudguard and rack eyes ready for commuting or weekend work, the Longcliffe is potentially an appealing bike for a lot of riders. Six different frame sizes mean most buyers should find a good fit too. Overall weight is acceptable even if the frame is slightly heavy.
The normally-reserved-for-four-figure-bikes Mavic Aksium Race wheels are another big draw at this price. They’re not particularly light but their accurate ride is clear in the Forme’s precise handling. A decent width bar and long stem give it useful high-speed authority that we appreciated on twisty roads. We also appreciated the sharpened stopping performance of the cartridge brake pads. The long rear end and long stem do mean that it can lurch around a bit out of the saddle, but this is more a characteristic than a complaint.
Despite stiff wheels, a large-diameter seatpost and an obedient frame, failure to dodge potholes or rough patches isn’t punished too harshly, with the Kenda Kriterium tyres adding appreciable float. Add front and rear mudguard eyes and the known quality of the Mavic QRM bearings, and the Forme is a promising choice for high mileage, all-weather commuting work.
As much as we like to ‘big up’ the underdog, microSHIFT’s Bona shifters are definitely more mongrel than pedigree performers. The rear shift through the Shimano 105 mech is workable in an agricultural sort of way, but the amount of lever swing needed to get a front upshift is ridiculous and even then the chain is very reluctant to lurch across.
Downshifting isn’t much better either, often needing double shifts to get the chain where you want. It’s not the only spec compromise either, as the skinny-armed chainset runs on a very thin 18mm axle. This creates obvious power flex that undermines out-of-saddle response and made the many steep gradient arrows of our test route a test of patience, not an invitation to play.
This is a real shame as, according to our ‘get the best frame and wheels you can’ bike-buying mantra, the Longcliffe looks promising. We’d save a bit more to get the £1,100 Longcliffe 1.0, with Campagnolo Veloce and 4ZA wheels.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.