The Forme Vitesse is set up for versatility, with a standard drop bar, traditional (non-sloping) top tube and lightweight wheels and tyres, but with plenty of headset spacers so you can decide what sort of a weapon you want it to be. It delivers a fast, reactive ride with conﬁdent handling that won’t startle the less experienced £1,000 bike buyer, but which also provides room for your riding skills and ambitions to grow.
Frame: Reassuringly manufactured by top Taiwanese builders Kinesis, this is a pleasant-handling and versatile chassis that lends itself to speed or cruising (8/10)
Handling: Fast and accurate without being twitchy, and the improved stiffness for 2011 is a welcome change (8/10)
Equipment: Good saddle and gears, with traditional bars for a very classic stance and feel, but a pity that last year’s Shimano brakes are gone (8/10)
- Wheels: A tyre upgrade would be our ﬁrst change to the Vitesse, but the One23 wheels are gimmick-free and should be reliable (7/10)
Forme vitesse: Russell Burton
The bike brand of UK distributors Moore Large & Co, Forme are unusual in admitting who make their frames. Anyone who knows Taiwanese frame builders is familiar with the quality of Kinesis frames, so it’s reassuring to see the name in Forme’s spec list.
The smooth-welded frame is tidily ﬁnished with skinny seatstays and a hydroformed down tube for bottom bracket stiffness and head tube strength. Unusually there are stiffeners between the bottom bracket and seat tube on either side.
We found last year’s Vitesse a bit ﬂexible in this area, so it’s good to see this improvement, and there’s now no discernible ﬂex under power. This year’s Vitesse also gets mudguard eyes out back, so it’ll double as a winter bike.
The overall feel and layout of the Vitesse is in between the upright cruisiness of a sportive bike and the head-down speed of a race bike. That means that, depending on how your riding develops, you could take it either way. Fit a shorter stem on top of the generous spacer stack and it’s a back lane pootler, but drop the bar all the way down and you’ll have a much racier setup.
As a cruiser, the Vitesse is comfortable over bumps and does a decent job of damping vibration. It has an excellent blend of stability and agility, reacting quickly but without demanding too much concentration. Nevertheless, when you put down the power it’s more than capable of getting a move on. It tracks accurately at speed and its only signiﬁcant limitation is its weight, which holds it back a bit on climbs.
As usual Shimano’s 105 transmission works uncomplainingly, and the Truvativ chainset offers a decent range of gears, although we’d be tempted to swap out the 12-25 ﬁtted for an 11-28. Last year’s Vitesse had Shimano brakes but this year they’ve been replaced with Tektro stoppers. They’re good enough, but we’d prefer Shimanos for their superior stopping in the wet. We like the safety catch on the quick-release though, which gives a positive click when the brake is closed.
Beyond the big-name parts, most of the components are branded ‘One23’ – Moore Large’s parts line. The handlebar is unusual in that it has a relatively long throw and drop, which gives ﬂexible riders room to stretch out and to get a deep tuck, but riders who like a more upright position will want to swap it for a short-drop bar.
The swoopy saddle is slightly wider than usual. We found it comfortable, but its shape keeps you planted in one position. It’s mounted on a single-bolt post that provides limited angle adjustment – ﬁne if one of the positions works for you, less great if you’re sensitive to nuances of seat angle.
The Vitesse has shed some mass since the 2010 model and a chunk of that is down to the change to Forme’s own-brand One23 wheels with cartridge bearing hubs. We’d like to see better tyres than the Kenda Kontenders here – they’re adequate, but not the grippiest in the wet. The wheels are ﬁne, though – well built and laterally stiff.