Derbyshire-based Forme are new on the scene, but their two ATT bikes are well worth a look for those who want to get maximum speed for an affordable price.
Ride & handling: Efficient position, comfy ride, light responsiveness
A forgiving saddle is at a premium on the Forme, as it’s a bike that likes to be driven from the rivet if you’re racing. That’s not to say it doesn’t cruise well, as the front end of the frame is well damped from vibration and bigger hits. The Kenda tubular tyres also offset the vertical stiffness of the slab-sided wheels with a naturally buoyant and pothole-proof ride.
The springy cantilevered armrests and generous pads on the Vision bars also take a fair amount of frame sting out of the equation once you’re settled into a tuck. The relatively short head tube offers plenty of potential to get properly low if your back can hack it.
While the thin-axled FSA cranks aren’t the stiffest around, reasonable overall weight makes it easy to work up to speed on the flat or climbing. Given the comfort level, we were surprised how often we got into the biggest gears and how long we stayed there, and shifting was easy and crisp. This all creates a bike that we repeatedly stayed out on for longer and rode further than we had originally planned, too.
There are some downsides you need to be aware of, though. Firstly the skinny, cutaway ‘throat’ of the frame and the slim fork give a relatively limp grip on control. This is particularly obvious on tighter, descending corners, roundabouts or when the wind gives the front wheel a shove.
The inconsistent brakes don’t help confidence on downhills either, although you will get used to the frame and braking feel over time. Giving it full gas out of the saddle out of corners or up climbs can also create a lot of flex in the frame and wheels.
That means it responds better to a kind word in the ear than a hard jab with the spurs when you need to get a gallop on. It’s still a decent, comfortable distance machine that offers easy speed.
Forme att carbon: Future Publishing
Frame & equipment: Good price but limited frame sizing
Having tested both the ATT 1 Alloy and ATT Carbon bikes, it’s definitely worth digging £400 deeper into your pocket for the carbon frame. It’s a full 350g lighter, a lot more forgiving of rough surfaces on long rides, and the different sizing format means the medium frame itself is also a bit longer. This synced better with our test team when they pushed forward onto the saddle nose for a steeper, more run-compatible seat angle.
Aerodynamics follow simple, widely used principles of minimal frontal area and tapered tubes. This starts with the flared leg, straight gauge steerer fork and pointy-fronted head tube. Slim mainframe tubes have extensive cutouts for close wheel clearance, and a potentially super low front end.
The gear and rear brake cables vanish into the down tube and top tubes respectively. The seat tube fin wraps round the rear wheel, with a teardrop seatpost extending the drag reduction right up under the saddle.
The dropouts at the end of the chunky chainstays are a conventional vertical rather than adjustable horizontal style. The own-brand Forme brakes are mounted above the wheels rather than hidden out of the wind. Forme only offer three frame sizes, so you can stop reading now if you’re particularly small or tall.
The default ATT Carbon comes with adequate 4ZA Cirrus all-rounder wheels and excellent Schwalbe Ultremo ZX HD tyres for £1,999. Our sample was supplied with the optional deep-section race wheel package to hit our grouptest price target; the 4ZA T100s are light and offer an aero advantage in calm conditions.
However, the flat sides make them vulnerable to bullying from sidewinds or traffic turbulence, and glue-on tubs won’t be to everyone’s taste. For the price difference between the two bikes, you could get a similar set of extra wheels that would leave you with a training and racing set.
The Forme brakes are really spongy compared with SRAM and Shimano, which makes the already random response from the carbon rims very unpredictable in the wet. Forme are keen to point out that the bike comes with a proper aero FSA aero bar and extensions, although light weight comes at the expense of limited adjustment without reaching for a saw.
Otherwise the componentry is best described as a mixed bag. An aero-profile FSA chainset pulls a KMC chain through Shimano 105 and Ultegra mechs, controlled by Microshift tip levers.
The chainset is very heavy (963g) but the 28T large cog on the cassette gives you a winch option if you need it. The soft-nosed, tri-style saddle is as good as most better-known branded gear.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.