The aluminium-framed Forme Longcliffe 0 offers a very good ride, with neutral handling and a decent value spec that includes a full Shimano 105 groupset.
Like most other manufacturers, Forme realised it was time to include a disc brake road bike in its range and the Longcliffe 0 is the result: an endurance style machine with mudguard mounts, and Shimano's ever-reliable mid-range groupset and mechanical disc brakes.
We looked at the Longcliffe Forme 1.0 back in 2013, the model on which this 0 test bike is based, with an updated disc brake-specific fork and modified rear triangle.
Apart from a couple of annoyances, which I'll go into in a minute, the ride of the Longcliffe 0 is very good. It's another aluminium-framed bike that quashes the whole 'harsh alloy characteristics' theory, with a ride that feels reasonably stiff yet with a fair bit of compliance for comfort.
Forme hasn't gone massively oversized with the tubing profiles – you don't really need them on a bike of this type, where all-out performance and power output aren't the most important elements. Apart from a small bit of bottom bracket flex under massive loads (when I was riding the Longcliffe on an interval training day), the stiffness levels are exactly where they need to be, so short accelerations and out-of-the-saddle climbing are dealt with competently.
The Longcliffe is one of those bikes that's great for tapping out the miles, an ideal winter trainer or commuting steed thanks to the geometry.
Our test model has a 180mm head tube length and 560mm (effective) top tube, which, when paired with a 72.5-degree head angle, 73.5-degree seat tube angle and a long wheelbase (1,007mm, the same as the rim-brake version), makes for a very easy to control, neutral handling bike, limiting the number of surprises you receive on tricky surfaces and road conditions.
This doesn't make the Forme boring, though – it's a very capable machine through the bends at a quick pace, with the frameset and components giving you enough feedback from the road for you to know what's going on. The rather short 90mm stem keeps things a little more engaging too.
Stay in the way
So what about those annoyances then? Well, most frustrating was that I kept catching my heels on the wider chainstays. As I said above, the Longcliffe 0 is based on the rim-braked Longcliffe 1, which has that 1,007mm wheelbase and 417mm chainstays to provide clearance for large tyres and full mudguards – measurements that Forme has kept on this disc brake model.
On a race bike, when the chainstays are as short as possible, adding disc brakes often means the stays need extending 5-10mm to accommodate the width of the disc hub to provide heel clearance. Forme could have added a bit more curve to the end near the dropouts, or a slightly increased angle along the entire length from the bottom bracket, but instead the stays kick out at their midway point, and I kept catching my heel on them.
Okay, it's not the end of the world, but moving the bend 20-30mm further back would solve the issue.
The other annoyance is up at the front end with the new fork. The rim-braked Longcliffe has the mudguard mounts at the dropouts, but because of the disc mount these have been moved to halfway up the fork leg on the wheel side.
It's not the only fork to do this, but they do seem quite high up, and mean fitting standard mudguards such as SKS Chromoplastics will need a lot of trimming and bending to the guard stays to get a decent fit. It's a one-off job, though, and to be fair there's always a fair amount of trimming and bending to be done, wherever the mounts are.
I should also say that some of the road.cc team who also run mudguards on their disc braked bikes completely disagree with me on this and reckon the Forme's guard placement makes them a lot less of a faff to fit than fitting to a disc brake fork with mudguard mounts at the dropouts.
One thing that Forme has included that's good to see is a threaded hole in the fork crown for a mudguard; it's very common for disc brake forks not to have them.
It's also good to see a full Shimano 5800 105 groupset at this price point, without any cost cutting to a cheaper crankset, although it's a shame the budget couldn't stretch to hydraulic brake levers and callipers, because the cable-operated R317s are quite underpowered. Even when bedded in a little they didn't offer the same level of stopping power as a set of 105 dual-pivot callipers, although at least they were consistently weak in both wet and dry conditions.
As a late, heavy braker I never felt truly comfortable with their performance, which meant I took things much more cautiously in traffic or descending than I would otherwise.
We reviewed a Pinnacle Dolomite 5 last year, a £1,000 bike with Shimano RS505 hydraulic disc brakes. The vagaries of the post-Brexit vote sterling mean the 2017 Dolomite 5 is now £1,250, but the Dolomite 4 is £1,100 with Tiagra 4700 and non-series Shimano RS-405 hydraulic brakes, so it is possible.
The rest of the groupset performed in its usual reliable and consistent way, delivering snappy gear changes from both the front and rear mechs even under load. Shimano's mid-tier group may not be the equipment most of us swoon over but it really does prove difficult to fault on a bang to buck ratio.
The Longcliffe is equipped with the pretty much de rigueur 50/34 compact chainset and 11-28, 11-speed cassette which offers a decent spread of gears for most riders on various terrain, especially on a bike that weighs in at 9.72kg (21.4lb), although it has to be said the Forme doesn't feel that heavy out on the road.
Wheel-wise, the Longcliffe 0 comes specced with a set off handbuilts incorporating Mavic's CXP Elite rims and sealed hubs in a 32-spoke count front and rear. It's an absolutely solid set of wheels, near perfect in terms of trueness with very high and balanced spoke tension. This is a set of wheels that is going to take a lot of abuse.
The only downside is that the rim is designed for calliper brakes, so looks a little odd with a machined braking surface. You're also carrying a little extra revolving weight because a disc brake-specific rim doesn't need any extra material here to resist the wear caused by a set of brake pads.
The rims themselves are quite narrow too, at just 15mm internally, which means the 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres fitted are already wider than the wheels, and the Longcliffe would really benefit from some bigger rubber, 28mm at least. Without mudguards I reckon this bike would easily take some 32s to become a real byway blaster.
Those Lugano tyres are pretty good performers if you're the type of rider who wants a fit and forget set for year-round, all-condition use. Rolling resistance is okay and grip is impressive for such a hard-compound, durable set of tyres.
Apart from the Forme branded saddle, which I found comfortable thanks to its narrow dropped nose, the rest of the finishing kit is provided by Ridley's in-house brand, Forza or 4ZA. It's some really nice kit, too, with styling that makes it look quite high-end with its mix of matt and gloss decals. The bar is incredibly stiff but somehow never managed to feel harsh at all.
Worth the money?
So to value… how does it compare with the opposition? Ribble's CGR is an obvious competitor, especially with its road-specific setup being priced at a few quid less than the Longcliffe 0. Okay it's a bit heavier at 10.73kg with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, although the braking is hydraulic. There are pluses and minuses with the frame, as the Ribble is stiffer and better handling, although less comfortable than the Forme.
I'd say that when you take a look at the kit on the Longcliffe, especially the 105 groupset, it offers a decent level of value for money, although I'd like to see a set of disc brake-specific wheels to just finish things off.
The frame is good from a quality point of view and in terms of the ride, it's just a shame those niggly details detract slightly from the overall experience.
To sum up, I'd say the Longcliffe 0 offers a good all-round package but personally I'd be inclined to stick with one of the rim-braked models.
A very pleasant ride from a possible year-round machine, maybe best suited to those with small feet…
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Forme Longcliffe 0
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME - Forme 6061 Alloy
FORK - 3K Carbon fork with mudguard eyelets
BRAKE LEVERS/GEAR SHIFTERS - Shimano 105 11 speed
FRONT DERAILEUR - Shimano 105
REAR DERAILLEUR - Shimano 105 11 speed
CRANKSET - Shimano 105 Compact 50x34T
CASSETTE - Shimano 5800
CHAIN - Shimano HG-600-11
BOTTOM BRACKET - Shimano SM-BBR60
BRAKES - Shimano R317 mechanical disc
HANDLEBARS - 4ZA Cirrus flat top stealth black double butted alloy 6061
BAR TAPE - Forme PU bar tape
STEM - 4ZA Cirrus stealth black alloy 6061
SADDLE - Forme Road Pro
SEAT POST - 4ZA Cirrus carbon
WHEELSET - Mavic CXP22 rims built on to sealed bearing hubs
TYRES - Schwalbe Lugano 700x25
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Forme says, "The Forme Longcliffe 0 is the first road bike Forme have ever created using discs. Disc brakes on road bikes have become more and more popular and Forme have delivered one at a great price point with little compromise. The Longcliffe 0 features a higher quality complete Shimano 105 11 speed groupset for smooth and accurate shifting, handbuilt wheelset consisting of sealed bearing polished hubs and Mavic CXP22 rims. Rivaled by only a few competitors at this price point, the complete 4ZA Cirrus stealth cockpit gives professional control."
I think the Longcliffe 0 offers a comfortable and stable ride that makes it ideal for a whole multitude of uses, though there are some little niggles that take the shine off.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Overall build quality is very good, with the welds being left natural adding to that functional sort of look. The matt paintjob is pretty hardwearing too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is manufactured from 6061 aluminium alloy, with the fork being a mix of aluminium steerer tube and 3k carbon fibre legs.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
With a long wheelbase and slack angles at the head and seat tube, the Forme has a very relaxed and stable ride. Full details are here - http://formebikes.co.uk/forme-longcliffe-0-road-bike.html
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Even with this 56cm model having a 180mm head tube, you can still achieve quite a long and low position should you want to put the power down.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes. Ride quality is impressive from what looks to be a pretty simple alloy tubed frame.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
At absolute full power effort I could get some flex from the bottom bracket area, but bearing in mind that this is no race machine it's unlikely to see such abuse in its daily routine.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yeah, pretty good. Seated acceleration felt smooth too.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
That neutral handling makes the Longcliffe ideal for non-perfect conditions like wet roads or bridleways.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I was a big fan of the Forme branded saddle with its slightly dropped nose.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The 4ZA bar doesn't move a millimetre, it's very stiff indeed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I wasn't a massive fan of the Shimano cable operated disc brakes, which I don't think offer the same level of stopping power as a set of 105 dual-pivot callipers even when bedded in, so you have to ease off for the corners much earlier than normally, which affects rhythm.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 does its usual excellent job, but the side is let down a bit by the R317 brake discs.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
The handbuilt CXP Elite wheels are very well put together with plenty of tension in the spokes. They are narrow, though, bucking the latest trend for wider tyre use, so I'd swap to something wider and a disc-brake-specific rim to save a little revolving weight as no brake track is needed on the rim.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
The Schwalbe Luganos are a decent entry-level tyre for all-weather riding with impressive grip and durability.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Forza components are really good quality and add a nice finishing touch to the Forme. The stem supplied on the 56cm model is very short, though, at just 90mm long.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, when I wasn't whacking my heels on the chainstays.
Would you consider buying the bike? No
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your score
The Longcliffe 0 offers a great-riding frame with a lovely balance of comfort and performance, though I found the chainstays and front mudguard mounts a little frustrating.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!