Last year we tested the Forme Peak Trail 1, which was a decent enough city and leisure bike but not without its issues. The new Peak Trail Pro addresses those, and adds more. It’s more expensive, but overall better value because the experience of riding it is so much better... in short, I like this one!
What’s changed? Well for a start, it feels like a more considered bike overall. The original Peak Trail felt like a first go, and there’s been plenty of tweaking here to make the new bike a better option. The Bosch Performance Line motor is the same, but Forme has moved to a 500Wh internal battery that’s both bigger and better looking. The fork is upgraded from the Suntour NVX unit to a Suntour NCX, and the 9-speed Shimano Deore to 11-speed XT. Lighting, mudguards, rack and a wheel lock are included as standard equipment, and the bike gets slightly more tarmac-oriented Schwalbe Big Ben tyres. The Bosch Intuvia display is upgraded to the new colour Kiox.
All of those changes add the best part of £400 to the price – the Peak Trail 1 ELS is still available at £2,275 – but it’s definitely money well spent, because this is a much better bike. Right from the off, the Peak Trail Pro E feels like the real deal. It’s well put together and very easy to get used to. It’s fairly heavy because of the full spec at over 25kg, and if you have to negotiate stairs or steps regularly it’s a bit cumbersome; but that’s easily outweighed by the power available from the excellent Bosch Performance Line motor.
If you’ve been following motor development you’ll know that Bosch recently unveiled its new, lighter Performance Line motor, which moves to the full-sized chainring design that Bosch first used with the redesigned Active Line motors. The new motor is a bit lighter and quieter, but the outgoing motor with its small drive ring has always been well-liked here and that hasn’t changed. With 63Nm of torque available it makes mincemeat of Bath’s many and precipitous hills, and the 11-speed, 11-42 cassette gives you enough low gears to get up even the very steepest stuff round here - and Bath's steep stuff really is steep. The main downsides of the motor are that it’s a bit noisy, and above the assistance limit the geared internals feel a bit draggy. This isn’t really a bike you’re likely to spend a lot of time above 25km/h on though, so the second isn’t really an issue. It’s not the newest motor now, but I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Coming back down from 25km/h, braking from the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes is nothing short of excellent.
The new Kiox display is a joy. It’s small but it’s easy to read, and it has lots more information to hand than the Intuvia or the Purion, easily accessible from the nicely-designed remote. You can sync a heart rate monitor with it if you’re into that sort of thing, and also use Bosch’s smartphone app, ebike Connect, to record your rides and combine the GPS data from your phone with the bike data. My favourite thing is the power reading you get from the torque sensor which shows how much work you’re doing, and how much less it is than when I’m doing the hills under my own steam (a LOT less).
The riding position of this bike is fairly classic city fare. It’s reasonably upright but not to the extent that it’s a short, sit-up-and-beg kind of a bike. There are three sizes available that should cater for most people, but if you’re really small then even the smallest 46cm size might feel a bit rangy. The contact points are pretty good, with comfortable grips and saddle, and decent enough pedals. The adjustable stem gives you a bit of leeway with the fit. Out on the streets (and light trails) it’s generally very good. The Schwalbe Big Ben tyres are very good on a range of surfaces, and the NCX fork is a big improvement on the NVX that’s specced on the cheaper bike. I mean it’s not amazing or anything, but it’s not dreadful either. The rear rack is decent; it’ll deal with general commuting loads but you might find it’s a bit flexy if you’re loading it up with a week’s worth of shopping. If you are popping into the shops then the wheel lock is a really useful addition to immobilise the bike for short periods.
The lighting is controlled from the Kiox display, and it’s decent. The AXA Blueline front light has a German-style cut-off beam that directs all the light to the road, and though it’s not the brightest it’s plenty for city use and even unlit lanes provided you’re not in a hurry.
In terms of range, the Peak Trail Pro E is good. I get five full commutes out of the 500Wh battery, so a full working week. That’s not a huge distance – just under 50km – but it does involve nearly 800m of climbing, and that’s on Turbo for everything except the last go where I had to nurse it a bit in Tour. That’s above par compared to other bikes with the same nominal capacity. If you lived somewhere flatter, or your daily commute was flat, you’d get up to twice as much pretty easily. Forme have neatly integrated a charge port into the seat tube so you can charge the battery in situ.
Overall, I really like the Peak Trail Pro E. It’s not cheap at £2,650, but it feels like a good value proposition because you’re getting a bike that doesn’t fall down in any category. It’s easy to ride, the motor is powerful and it’s really well specced. You can do a lot worse at this price point, and it’s definitely one to try if you want a bike for day-in, day-out use. The heavy build probably won’t suit smaller riders or anyone that has difficult access to their home or place of work, but for anyone else it looks like a very good buy.