Founded in 2010, Derbyshire-based Forme bikes identified a gap in the market for high-quality British-designed road bikes. With testing taking place on their home Peak District roads, we’re expecting a strong performance from their entry-level tri steed.
The most striking feature about the Forme is its curvaceous, rear wheel-hugging seat tube. It certainly makes the 7005 hydroformed aluminium-tubed frame stand out. The alloy frame is of excellent quality with the welds some of the neatest we’ve seen. A bladed carbon fork rounds off the heart of the build and should help reduce any alloy frame road buzz.
Coming from the cobble-heavy roads of Belgium, the 4ZA Stratos wheels have a reputation for toughness. But, not hugely aerodynamic and on the heavy side, they’d soon be relegated to training duties. Schwalbe Ultremos are a solid tyre choice.
The groupset is a mixed bag, with Shimano providing both derailleurs – 105 rear and Tiagra front – and a hill-friendly Tiagra 12/28t cassette. The chainset is an aero-looking product from FSA Vision, with ‘pro compact’ 52/38t chainrings offering a good midway compromise.
The bar-end shifters are from Microshift and, having had issues with their STI shifters in the past, this’ll be our first experience of their TT ones.
The brake calipers are own-brand and look fairly standard non-aero; we’d certainly like to see the cabling tidied up a little. The FSA Vision bars offer a fair amount of adjustability, but are quite hefty and show some rather agricultural welding. The handsome One23 saddle sits atop a knife-like, own-brand aero-profile carbon seatpost.
Finding your position on the Forme is easy enough, with the cockpit offering a good amount of adjustment. But with no length adjustment on the extensions, riders with shorter arms might have to wield a hacksaw to dial it in.
Rolling off, it wallows a little at slow speeds and can tend to suddenly dive into corners after initially displaying the turning circle of a cruise liner. A few pedal strokes in, though, it wakes up and, dancing out of the saddle up a short rise, becomes positively sprightly.
Getting down on the aerobars for the first time, your position feels good and, although not having the super-steep seat angle of some TT bikes, it still has a fast, powerful feel. It punches through the air well, but there’s audible turbulence through the bird’s nest of cables. These could have been more neatly routed behind the stem.
Our doubts about the Microshift shifters are soon dispelled as they deliver crisp and accurate shifts. Ride quality is surprisingly good for an alloy frame; you do take a bit of a pounding at the rear and there’s buzz through the front end, but we’ve certainly ridden far worse. It’d be fatiguing on a rough long-course bike leg but, for sprint, Olympic and middle-distance racing, it’s within acceptable limits.
It climbs far better than you’d expect considering its rolling stock and 9.38kg weight. Short power climbs and rollers are easily conquered and, keeping a lively tempo, longer climbs aren’t too much of a drag. Let the speed drop too much, though, and it suddenly remembers its ballast.
Downhill, it handles adequately for a TT bike and the relatively relaxed seat angle means you never feel as if you’re falling forwards when the road rises. It’s stable rather than nimble but, if you’re willing to push and explore its handling limits, you won’t lose significant time descending.
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