The Axe Edge Pro is, according to Forme, their sportive ready bike. That said, taking a look at the geometry and overall bike shape, it’s not a model that uses relaxed angles and sizing to achieve its comfort.
Frame & equipment: Ready for sportives despite racy geometry
In fact, the frame’s parallel 73 degree angles, 180mm head tube (on our 58cm test steed) and 995.6mm wheelbase are more what you’d expect of a ride born for racing.
When it comes to specification, you can see the sportive touches, mainly down to the Ultegra gearing and wide-spread 12-28 cassette matched to an FSA Gossamer compact 50/34 chainset. The range is ample for pretty much any ascent you’ll encounter, and a good piece of clever speccing by the designers.
The rest of the bike’s components come courtesy of Belgium’s 4ZA, more commonly seen on the likes of Ridley’s range. But as 4ZA and Forme share the same UK distribution it’s perhaps no surprise. The saddle is well shaped and comfortable and we like the aluminium drop bar’s semi-compact shape, though it’s quite stiff and picks up vibrations from the road.
The real highlight is the wheels. Quality cartridge bearing hubs are matched with great attention to detail to a pair of fine, light rims, adding up to a wheelset that tips the scales a little over 1,550g – that’s about 200g lighter than competition from Fulcrum’s Racing 7 or Mavic’s Aksium. The wheels are shod with good quality, all-weather Schwalbe Lugano tyres that offer great grip in the wet and tough puncture resistance to boot.
Ride & handling: Fast and great on ascents
The Forme’s ride is remarkably brisk, which we’d put down to the light wheelset and good tyres, which mean the weight has been shifted from just where we’d want it reduced. Despite the bike’s middling 8.38kg (18.47lb) weight (relative to other Bike of the Year contenders), the light wheels give the impression of a much less heavy ride. It makes the Forme a great companion on the climbs.
The rear is solid and stiff, which is excellent when you want to be going quickly. Stamping on the pedals doesn’t unsettle the Axe Edge’s composed back end.
Up front, the slim fork is mated to a standard 1 1/8in head tube, so we’d expect it to offer a bit more flex than a more modern oversized and tapered design. It does flex, thankfully not side to side, and reduces twist well too.
Unfortunately, its fore-and-aft movement over rougher roads surfaces means it chatters and pings, sending resonating, hand-numbing noise straight into the stiff aluminium bar. After a couple of hours we found ourselves swapping hand positions regularly and flexing our fingers to alleviate the numbness. We’d suggest double-taping the bar or upgrading to a carbon model.
The Axe Edge Pro is worth persisting with as it’s a great bike with a great set of wheels, and damn good value for money at £1,799.99.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, on sale Friday 1 March and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.