Forme’s Thorpe Elite looks great value, with Dura-Ace, Easton kit and light aluminium wheels, Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres and a classy FSA SL-K chainset.
Frame & handling
The British designed frame uses quality carbon fibre from Japan’s Torayca, which provides base materials for the likes of Pinarello among others. The geometry is classic high-performance race, with a 73.5-degree seat and steep 72-degree head angle, matched to a low (135mm) head tube on a wheelbase under a metre, giving the Thorpe sharp-feeling handling and agility.
At the core of the frame are an oversized BB30 shell and large multi-shaped chainstays that keep the bike’s direct feel constant, even under hard pedalling. It’s a frame absolutely suited to those wanting to go fast and remain aggressive throughout a ride.
It’s not the most comfortable over coarse surfaces, but it never became unstable and the vibration damping through the rear end is still impressive, helped enormously by the excellent Easton EC90 seatpost and the generous amount of post exposed by the sloping geometry frame.
The straight-bladed fork has impressive stiffness side to side and does a reasonable job of reducing road buzz with some fore-and-aft movement.
Groupset, gearing & wheels
Forme have combined a quality drivetrain, from the BB30-specific FSA SL-K Light with standard 53/39 rings, matched to shifters and mechs from Dura-Ace: smooth shifting and light. 53/39T rings matched to a close ratio 12-25 may be a little on the tall side for some, though the Thorpe’s racing potential suggests it warrants such ratios.
Forme again score well on the wheels front, matching Schwalbe’s ZX Ultremos with Easton’s EA90 SLX wheels – impressive in this company and light at 1,390g, running on super-smooth cartridge bearing hubs. It’s a difference you can feel especially on the climbs, though we did get a little flex from the front wheel under hard sprints – easily cured with the attention of a spoke wrench.
The Thorpe stays with Easton for its finishing kit – the stem reassuringly stiff, the mid-drop bar comfortable on the hoods and drops. Its textured bar tape offers a deep, padded feel that stays grippy when wet.
The seatpost is the excellent all-carbon EC90, weighing just 200g. Forme’s Ergofit saddle is deeply padded with a pressure-relieving channel, but though the the hull is well shaped it’s also rigid, and over a few hours’ riding we did notice its solidity.
Forme have put together a great race bike. The Thorpe Elite, with its class-leading kit and responsive ride, is hard to beat if racing rather than sportives is your thing.