Forme Cubley 18 kids bike review
18" wheel kids bikes are an interesting proposition. They nicely fill that gap between a small 16" wheel starter bike and a big 20" wheel geared bike, but there are not that many decent ones around.
We were therefore interested to see that Forme Bikes had decided to offer an 18" wheeled Cubley bike when they launched their new kids' bike range.
And we were really pleased when they sent us one to review!
We asked a keen 5 year old (and her dad Andy) to put the Forme Cubley 18 to the test. Here's how they got on.
Disclosure: Forme Bikes have provided us with the Cubley 18 to review - we were not paid to write this review and all opinions are our own
Bike Model: Forme Cubley 18
Reviewers age: 5 year old
Getting to know the Forme Cubley 18
We’ve been testing the Forme Cubley 18 for a couple of months now and in that time we’ve been on a range of different rides, from short pedals to the park to all day epics around the tow paths and bridleways of the southern Lake District and North Lancashire.
The bike has performed well in almost all locations.
My daughter is five years old, with very rangy legs for her age.
She’s 117cm tall, and has an inside leg of approx 57cm.
Forme say this bike is suitable for children aged 5 to 7 years who are 122 - 127cm tall, with an inside leg of 50-54 cm, so this seemed like a good compromise!
The Cubley has a proportionately long wheel base (the distance between the centre of the two wheels) which has allowed much whizzing along.
We had no signs of speed wobble at a fairly zippy pace (the kind of stuff that provided parental heart flutters as she’s going a lot faster than on her old 16" wheel bike!)
Coupled with its lightweight, just 7.56kg, the Cubley 18 encourages its rider to have fun, and go fast.
The bike certainly inspired my daughter to increase her range, and perform tricks too!
The wide handlebars (for the bikes size) fit well to my daughter’s shoulders, perfect for inspiring further confidence and stability without the rider being overstretched or leaning too far forwards.
Tight turns were no issue and performing wiggly tricks have become commonplace for our tester.
The conjoined stem/bar appears to serve more vanity than function, though Forme claim this is to stop water ingress.
However, the lack of steerer spacers means there are no adjustment options available as your child grows.
This is not such an issue if you opt for an extended loan through the Bike Club, or aren't likely to tinker with the spacers on a bike.
But it's not great news if you choose to buy and plan to keep the bike for a few years, and are confident in making these kinds of adjustments.
This approach from Forme mirrors the Synchros stem/bar system found on top-spec Scott XC bikes, but without much of the same weight-saving or seamless lines of the latter.
The 1.5” wide Vee Tyres appear chunky for their size in scale with the user, inspiring further confidence.
The tourer type tread gives great grip in a straight line as well as through corners on tarmac and gravel paths.
The story changes somewhat if you choose to venture off-road regularly though.
On fine, dry hardpack, these have proven to be a neat fast-rolling choice, but otherwise, I’d suggest an additional knobbly tyre purchase in order to keep the smiles rolling through any sort of bumpy or really muddy conditions.
We tried a few times to venture onto lumpy trails, but mostly this ended in pushing and spent Haribo rations.
Speed of the Forme Cubley 18
The single-speed drivetrain is fairly standard at this wheel size, with only a daring few manufacturers willing to break the mould and provide gears for children of this age.
My daughter has loved the speed she can raise on the flat, a considerable step up from her 16” bike, but any sort of incline grinds everything to a grumpy halt.
This reviewer personally would like to see a few more simple grip or trigger shifter drivetrains at this wheel size to aid with momentum on group spins.
The thin grips are perfect for small hands, and the large bungs on the end of the grips mean that when inevitably, the bike is dropped to the floor, or leant against a car door, no damage should be caused to either bike or car!
Adjustable lever reach on lightweight and functional Tektro brakes and appropriate child-sized pedals and cranks complete the bike, in line with most other bikes in category.
The paint scheme strikes the right balance of basic but bright and robust.
The red colour and simple Forme decals gets my (usually pink and sparkly) daughters seal of approval.
Alternatives to the Forme Cubley 18
Quality 18" wheel kid's bikes are not that common, which is a shame if you have a child who is just that bit too big for a 16" wheel bike, but not big enough to move onto a geared bike.
If you're looking for an 18" wheel bike with gears, and have the budget to suit, then there's the 18" wheel Black Mountain KAPEL (£499).
Alternatively, the Islabikes Beinn 20 Small (£500) is a geared bike designed for smaller riders.
Final thoughts on the Forme Cubley 18 review
The Forme Cubley 18 is a functional and robust, small pedalled bike.
It is affordable and with child-specific parts that have been well thought through and executed.
The only small negative can be found in its lack of available adjustment.
With Forme bikes available at 2” intervals from 12 to 26 inch wheels, the range may be better suited to a bike subscription service, such as the Bike Club, rather than an outright purchase, as you can upgrade a size every time your child grows.
In isolation, this bike has been correctly pitched to provide a set of wheels that can be loved like one's favourite teddy, and not fall apart in the heavy hands of an excited five-year-old.
In our eyes, a high bar that should be hard to beat!
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