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  1. #1
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    2012 Formula R1 Racing or XTR?

    Looking to replace my Elixirs this season. I'm wondering if anyone has time on either the R1 Racing or XTR brakes. I like that the R1 has a matchmaker type bracket to mount up my SRAM shifter, but am concerned that the R1 rotor clearance may still be abysmal.
    XTR seems like it may be more reliable but with a few grams more weight. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    bt
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    The Formula R1 pad clearance forced me to sell my near new R1's. Picked up some XTR race brakes from Pro Mountain Outfitters and am very pleased all the way around.

  3. #3
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    Are you kidding? R1s are way down on the list compared to XTRs. I'd give Magura brakes a second place in this case.

  4. #4
    bt
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    just ordered another set of XTR's today.

  5. #5
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    I'm running XTR race with HS1 rotors and they are fantastic!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies guys,
    It looks like it'll be XTRs for me.

    I have an old pair of Formula K24s that work great. I was hoping the R1 would be a lighter improvement on that design. They look damn sexy!

  7. #7
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    Formula

    THE ONES

  8. #8
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    I thought The Ones were for ultralight carbon 29ers. Those wagon wheels can't be that hard to slow down.

  9. #9
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    For the record, I like my older Formula Ones a lot and still have them on one bike. The new R1's just never could get them right for my tastes (pad gap) mainly.

  10. #10
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    THanks BT,
    Tree has been praising the Ones since he picked up a set. I'd go that route, but am looking to drop some weight so I can keep up.

  11. #11
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    They are just as light as the xtr's and the R1's are lighter.
    No experience with the R1's though.
    Get some 650b's

  12. #12
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    Not sure what all the bad press is on the pad clearance for the R1's, but I set them up on my bike and have had NO ISSUES. I bought both the XTR 985 race and the R1's and did a side-by-side comparison between the two on the same trail. In the end I sold the XTR's on eBay (I'm an XTR fanatic, so it was a hard decision but had to go with the brake that felt the best overall).

    For the record I'm an advanced rider from the DFW area and my test trail was a fairly technical 20+ mile multi-loop singletrack course. I ran 160 rotors for both XTR and R1ís.

    My bike setup is an Ellsworth Truth, with a Pace RC39 fork and full XTR groupo (except the brakes).

  13. #13
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    The formula calipers are great, but the R1 rotors are terrible for their harmonics. I use older model shimano rotors, and they are dead quiet.

  14. #14
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    Formulas are not very well built. Far down the list.

  15. #15
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    I fell the old Formula K24s I have are as high quality as any of their competitors. They have great power, but not so much modulation, so they're staying on my DJ/urban bike.

    Jarhead, as you've stated, most of negative reviews I've read on the R1s complain about constant pad rub due to tight pad clearance. This surprises me since the Ones get glowing reviews. Did you have to drop the fluid level to get better pad clearance?

  16. #16
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    Only a couple of rides so far on my new XTR Race, but they were easy to set up, easy to bleed, and so far do there job really well.

  17. #17
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    I have XTR Race and last years R1's.
    They are both great brakes.
    R1 is a little lighter.
    My XTR started acting up on a 28 degree ride....( if you never ride in this temp, don't worry about it)
    Pad clearance is tighter on the R1....but I have no problems with it once I spent an extra 2 minutes setting it up.
    Both levers feel very different....I don't have a favorite.
    Price is very different if you have to pay reatil....

  18. #18
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    I'd go with the R1s. Both brakes are pretty awesome, but Formula released that new quick-release hydraulic hose kit this year that you can upgrade those brakes with. How cool is that?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WrecklessREX View Post
    I'm running XTR race with HS1 rotors and they are fantastic!
    same here!

  20. #20
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    I scored a sweet price on Fleabay set of XTR Race's last night. Snipe-a-riffic!

    Still lust after the F1 Racings...maybe next time.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by k1creeker View Post
    I fell the old Formula K24s I have are as high quality as any of their competitors. They have great power, but not so much modulation, so they're staying on my DJ/urban bike.

    Jarhead, as you've stated, most of negative reviews I've read on the R1s complain about constant pad rub due to tight pad clearance. This surprises me since the Ones get glowing reviews. Did you have to drop the fluid level to get better pad clearance?
    My bike and front fork are IS, so had to get the mounting brackets to fit PS brakes, but with a quick (and proper) setup I didn't find any issues with the pad clearance. As far as dropping the fluid level - not sure. I had to shorten the hoses to fit my bike and did a bleed job afterward. I didn't make a conscious effort to lower the brake fluid, but maybe I did anyway?

    I do need to qualify my comments a little as I've only been riding them for a few months and no big wrecks or bends in the rotors. I do notice a squeal on the front pads/rotors but not bad enough that I want to replace anything yet - we'll see after it gets a little worse. I like the comment from another poster that mentions older Shimano rotors to get rid of the noise and may try that sometime soon.

    Anybody else have recommendations on good quiet rotors and pads??

  22. #22
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    a few rides on my xtr race and just loving it...

  23. #23
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    I have the Formula RX on my Mojo SL they're great on normal rides (<20 miles), but my hands start cramping on longer ones with a lot of downhill due to the lack of adjustability.

    Also, getting the pad clearance right on the RX was a pain. I bought and installed a set of XTR Trail brakes and they were super simple to setup. I needed the greater degree of lever adjustability on the XTR vs the RX and I'm hoping modulation is like my Hope X2s.

    BTW, the XTR brakes hoses are all screwy and sit flat again my bar. I've rolled and unrolled them and can't get them to sit right.

  24. #24
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    Formula Brakes are extremely well built,

    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    Formulas are not very well built. Far down the list.
    I ride One's and they are the best brake on the planet.

    To say that they are not "well built" is retarded. The forging is absolutely perfect.

    If you don't like the engineering, you are hard to please. One finger braking all day in a package that is as light as a cross country set of brakes. Why not the best?

  25. #25
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    Got my XTR races installed and one city ride on them. Great power and modulation. I think the Servo-Wave on the Trails would have been overkill for me since I've got giant meat hooks for hands.

    The lever shape is perfect for one-finger braking and these actually mate up with X0 shifters better than the SRAM levers in my opinion. Happy so far.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by zkampyman View Post
    I ride One's and they are the best brake on the planet.

    To say that they are not "well built" is retarded. The forging is absolutely perfect.

    If you don't like the engineering, you are hard to please. One finger braking all day in a package that is as light as a cross country set of brakes. Why not the best?
    They are not well built. You do know that "Forging" is only to harden the metal right? Saying what you just said, well I won't put it in your terms, but it's much worse. The problems with these brakes are lack of power, flexing, bleeding, and air intrusion getting into the system more so than others over time, getting the pads stay on level over time is also an issue. They are a very finicky brake. No, not the best brake ever, far from it. I'm glad you like yours, and I'm not going to call someone names because I disagree with them, but I know far too many riders and have a close relationship with a bike manufacture whose employees tell me the same thing. You have your opinion, and I respect that, but I have seen so many junked One's to know that they are on average not a good product.

  27. #27
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    Bikeradar recently did a review of the Hope Race Evo X2 here, might be a good contender!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    You do know that "Forging" is only to harden the metal right?
    I stopped reading your drivel right there. Please, please know what you are talking about before you contradict somebody else. 30 seconds on wikipedia's forging page should set you straight.

  29. #29
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    XTR, by a mile. In the "Trail" version.

    Simple to setup and to maintain and perform flawlessly. Formula are good. but by all accounts fussy to deal with (I only have RX with R1 rotors)

    Formula rotors are light but turned out to be very easy to bend - and hard to straighten as they bend close to bolts - with all those thin support legs. Shimano disks do not do that.

    I would only pick Formula for a show off weight weeinie build. (But would certainly pick them over anything by Avid...)

  30. #30
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    If you don't take weight into consideration you'd have to compare the XTR to ROs or The Ones as they're much heavier, especially the rotors (let alone the Trail version).
    XTR already comes with very sturdy rotors and high performance pads, the R1 has light rotors and light pads. The R1 feels different with better rotors (2-piece design or from a different company altogether) and different pads (sintered or at least something without aluminium backplate).
    XTRs will be easier to setup as their pad clearance is rather large, R1 is lighter and can be used with matchmakers and tons of other custom parts.
    I'm using the R1 and I like it even though it needed different pads to suit my riding. I never had an issue setting them up but I have to admit that I love to buy and use "custom" / boutique stuff so attention to detail is nothing out of the ordinary for me. My brakes don't rub (anywhere), the won't make a noise when cornering and they always stay quiet under dry conditions.

  31. #31
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    I am considering the same issue (R1 Racing vs XTR)...

    I have the XTR now and have ridden them since February. I have had to have the rear brake warranted twice for leaking. Once from the banjo/hose connection this last time because the caliper was leaking. I am considering jumping ship to R1's or MT8's because of the lack of home mechanic serviceability of the XTR's. I am not clear on the MT8's but the Formula parts fro rebuilds are readily available.

    I love the power of the XTR and run them with Marta SL rotors( I'd intend to run the MT8 or R1 with the same rotor) but twice bitten...

    The brakes are run on a Yeti 575. Riding is Pisgah, Dupont and Bent Creek in Asheville and all of the normal trails back home in Cincy (EI, Devou, Harbin, Heuston).

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by keeb View Post
    I stopped reading your drivel right there. Please, please know what you are talking about before you contradict somebody else. 30 seconds on wikipedia's forging page should set you straight.
    Perhaps you should take up reading!

    Forging - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I have a close friend that works here.
    Vulcan Forge & Machine Co, San Jose, CA | Spoke
    He told me the process can be extensive, but it's the strengthen/harden metal. I will trust him over somebody on the internet all day long with no valid rebuttal. I showed him the link here, and he laughed at your response. Thanks for playing.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by two-one View Post
    Bikeradar recently did a review of the Hope Race Evo X2 here, might be a good contender!
    I have a set of those on the rear, it's a good brake, pretty strong, but not totally powerful. The M or V2 brakes are much stronger and almost the same weight. The V2 is farly light and is really powerful.

  34. #34
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    Past 7 yrs I had used Hayes juicy 7, hope 2, avid elixir C. And tried XTR few times. Now I am using R1 and RX . Kind of love XTR and R1 the most. R1 racing brake is my favorite now. I just like the R1's design and the feel. I prefer the Shimano rotors cuz formula s rotors are easy to bend . and most of my components are Shimano XT. XTR and R1 are very powerful brake . Can't go wrong with these two .

  35. #35
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    Another Formula R1 rider here. I have them on both my XC race bikes. I'm an advanced rider and competitive endurance racer. The first set I've been using for about 2.5 years. The power and modulation on these brakes is brilliant. You can brake very hard with little effort from one finger. The control you have with these is fantastic. The quality seems top notch to me, not sure what others are referencing there. I've had no rubbing or leaking issues at all. I do tinker and routinely clean the pads (just run them across a dry paper towel on the bench) and adjust the calipers. It's a 5 minute task. I do this after about 10 hours of riding depending on conditions. The organic pads that come with them are great overall, but work poorly in wet conditions. I have a set of sintered as a backup just in case, but have rarely used them. You certainly can't beat them for their sexy factor.

  36. #36
    Axe
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael9218 View Post
    The power and modulation on these brakes is brilliant. You can brake very hard with little effort from one finger. The control you have with these is fantastic. The quality seems top notch to me, not sure what others are referencing there. I've had no rubbing or leaking issues at all.
    I am eager to find out what did they improved with the new calipers, allegedly with more retraction. That would fix my only complaint about brakes themselves.

    Another complaint is that the pivot on the lever seems to corrode and get sticky. Easily solved with unbolting and lubing it.

    What I do not like at all is that their 180mm R1 rotors are very flimsy - they bend easily and hard to straighten back. I now have a Hope rotor with RX brakes and it works just fine. Though my favorites rotors now are Shimano ice-tech ones. Light, straight, stiff and that aluminum core does seem to improve things.

  37. #37
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    Rotor gap in the 2013 R1 caliper looks near 2x wider than the One's I have.. a must for the rear.. pistons retract more.. great rear brake w/ one finger modulation. Definitely want to try the Shimano rotors

  38. #38
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    Which one wins in the overall power catagory?

    I'm debating one of these two for my new bike.
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  39. #39
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    Whichever fits your grip better, or cheaper. Funky thing with the formula one piece rotor, I have never had a problem with the larger rotors, only the 180mm's

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael9218 View Post
    I do tinker and routinely clean the pads (just run them across a dry paper towel on the bench) and adjust the calipers. It's a 5 minute task. I do this after about 10 hours of riding depending on conditions. The organic pads that come with them are great overall, but work poorly in wet conditions. I have a set of sintered as a backup just in case, but have rarely used them. You certainly can't beat them for their sexy factor.
    Question: What happens if you don't tinker with them or adjust the calipers? Say for example, you just left the brakes alone until it's time to change the brake pads?

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    They are not well built. You do know that "Forging" is only to harden the metal right? Saying what you just said, well I won't put it in your terms, but it's much worse. The problems with these brakes are lack of power, flexing, bleeding, and air intrusion getting into the system more so than others over time, getting the pads stay on level over time is also an issue. They are a very finicky brake. No, not the best brake ever, far from it. I'm glad you like yours, and I'm not going to call someone names because I disagree with them, but I know far too many riders and have a close relationship with a bike manufacture whose employees tell me the same thing. You have your opinion, and I respect that, but I have seen so many junked One's to know that they are on average not a good product.
    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    Perhaps you should take up reading!

    Forging - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I have a close friend that works here.
    Vulcan Forge & Machine Co, San Jose, CA | Spoke
    He told me the process can be extensive, but it's the strengthen/harden metal. I will trust him over somebody on the internet all day long with no valid rebuttal. I showed him the link here, and he laughed at your response. Thanks for playing.
    Keeb's response echoed mine. Your first post asserted that ""Forging" is only to harden the metal"; this is not correct as evidenced by your second post which says that forging is used to "strengthen/harden metal". You got it mostly right but still missed the other advantages of forging such as a reduction in defects due to working of the metal and better dimensional stability due to superior heat treatment (in relation to casting). Clearly, forging is used not just to harden metal.

    Anyway, I had Formula K18's on my old Trek Top Fuel and really liked those brakes. Quality was excellent, and they never needed to be bled. My main issue with them was noise from my Hayes discs that I could never eradicate. I never tried different discs, so maybe that would have solved the problem. Also, the stopping power, while very good, was not up to par with my buddy's XT brakes (not sure what model). Never had an issue with stopping on long descents.
    Last edited by Mark in Baltimore; 03-02-2013 at 01:37 PM. Reason: grammar
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark in Baltimore View Post
    Keeb's response echoed mine. Your first post asserted that ""Forging" is only to harden the metal"; this is not correct as evidenced by your second post which says that forging is used to "strengthen/harden metal". You got it mostly right but still missed the other advantages of forging such as a reduction in defects due to working of the metal and better dimensional stability due to superior heat treatment (in relation to casting). Clearly, forging is used not just to harden metal.

    Anyway, I had Formula K18's on my old Trek Top Fuel and really liked those brakes. Quality was excellent, and they never needed to be bled. My main issue with them was noise from my Hayes discs that I could never eradicate. I never tried different discs, so maybe that would have solved the problem. Also, the stopping power, while very good, was not up to par with my buddy's XT brakes (not sure what model). Never had an issue with stopping on long descents.
    You're very much correct, but that gets into areas that don't really involved the brakes per say. The Formula brakes have had a terrible rep for years for a variety of problems, mostly due to design. They make a ton of noise, hard to adjust and come out of adjustment constantly. The retraction issue is still a problem with their 13 models. The air issues at least so far this year seems to have been solved, but other issues remain. From a reliability standpoint the xtr is less prone to issues. Although some brakes have been good for some customers, but their qc issues remain.

  43. #43
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    It's not exactly a "ton" of problems and the problems aren't exactly severe. Noise and adjustment only tells me something about the quality of workmanship honestly and I'd rather have a set of brakes that makes noise, but works, than a set that is silent but doesn't bite.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    It's not exactly a "ton" of problems and the problems aren't exactly severe. Noise and adjustment only tells me something about the quality of workmanship honestly and I'd rather have a set of brakes that makes noise, but works, than a set that is silent but doesn't bite.
    If you do a search here on the formula issues, you will see a ton, it's the same thing over and over. Some riders have great sucess with them, but a lot dont either. Enough that a bike manufacture will no longer use them anymore. I would rather have a set of brakes that could do both, bite good and have no noise. I have had great luck with xt/xtr but even better luck with hopes. All I am saying is that I have a lot of personal dealings with a ton of different brakes, and these just seem much more problematic than their worth. Again, not everyone has problems, but i do have to respectfully disagree on what I feel about their current products and the OP was asking about one verses the other.

  45. #45
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    The same thing over and over, yes. But mostly things that are solved easily. As most manufacturers over here still use them and the brakes still work very well I really don't see your point.

    Shimano for example seems to have problems with leaks lately. It's just so much easier to mount brakes correctly and be done with all sorts of problems than to look for leaks every other day, isn't it?

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    You're very much correct, but that gets into areas that don't really involved the brakes per say. The Formula brakes have had a terrible rep for years for a variety of problems, mostly due to design. They make a ton of noise, hard to adjust and come out of adjustment constantly. The retraction issue is still a problem with their 13 models. The air issues at least so far this year seems to have been solved, but other issues remain. From a reliability standpoint the xtr is less prone to issues. Although some brakes have been good for some customers, but their qc issues remain.
    What part of forging doesn't involve "the brakes per say [sic]"? The strength part?? Or the reduction in defects part?? Do you really think it's okay to not have brakes that are strong and free of defects?

    Without question, the attributes of forging absolutely do matter for brakes. To even question this makes no sense.
    Last edited by Mark in Baltimore; 03-03-2013 at 09:45 AM.
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  47. #47
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    I think the XTR is the best brakes in the world, only drawback is not being the lightest.
    XTR race at 450g vs. R1 racing 356g +16g for fair comparison with alloy levers.
    The question is how important 78g weight difference to you.
    R1 in comparing to the almost perfect XTR has a few drawbacks.
    1 noise, 2 vibrations and 3 pad clearance.
    I have almost fixed the R1ís noise and vibration problems with use of two piece rotors.
    The rear is complete silent and vibration free.
    The front still has a bit vibrations and in very rare occasions squealing, but I can live with that.
    Pads clearance is still very tight, but I have zero rubbing.
    Good calliper alignment is essential, adaptor facing needed.

    jx
    Last edited by lorteti; 03-03-2013 at 03:28 PM.

  48. #48
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    For a differenze of 80-90g you could either get a T1/RO or use large discs and nicer pads. That's fairly significant I would say.

  49. #49
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    Maz, I have got a friend . . . who is an expert . . .

    [QUOTE=mazspeed;10205815] Enough that a bike manufacture will no longer use them anymore.

    Formula Brakes are made in Italy which is ruled by the Euro. Formula Brakes are expensive due to the Euro. The high cost due to the euro prevents Formula Brakes from being used as OEM equipment for all but the high end bikes (Turner, Ibis etc.).

    We have established that you know nothing about forging metal and we have established that you have an alleged 'friend' who knows a lot about metal. (Everyone should have at least one friend or at least a dog).
    Your friend says this and your friend says that . . . .
    What you are is an internet blow hard.

    Based upon my experience which includes: mtn. bike riding since 1985, some experience working in bike store a decade ago my opinion is different than yours. But, our common ground is that we both like Shimano, Hope's and Magura brakes. I also like Formula brakes.

    The main difference has more to do with the maintenance and set up of any of the brakes. These are all very good brakes.

    Anyone on the Forum who says they bought their brakes based up weight has essentially confirmed that they nothing about performance.
    99.9% of forum readers are no where near world class racers. I am pretty convinced that 200 grams on a bike (6.6 ounces) means absolutely nothing to any rider in any race. I remember listening to two young kids talk about the Ti skewer that one of them bought for his $300 bike. He was convinced that this would make him go faster.

    By the way your maxspeed name sounds like an extra large tampon.

  50. #50
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    [QUOTE=zkampyman;10206871]
    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    Enough that a bike manufacture will no longer use them anymore.

    Formula Brakes are made in Italy which is ruled by the Euro. Formula Brakes are expensive due to the Euro. The high cost due to the euro prevents Formula Brakes from being used as OEM equipment for all but the high end bikes (Turner, Ibis etc.).

    We have established that you know nothing about forging metal and we have established that you have an alleged 'friend' who knows a lot about metal. (Everyone should have at least one friend or at least a dog).
    Your friend says this and your friend says that . . . .
    What you are is an internet blow hard.

    Based upon my experience which includes: mtn. bike riding since 1985, some experience working in bike store a decade ago my opinion is different than yours. But, our common ground is that we both like Shimano, Hope's and Magura brakes. I also like Formula brakes.

    The main difference has more to do with the maintenance and set up of any of the brakes. These are all very good brakes.

    Anyone on the Forum who says they bought their brakes based up weight has essentially confirmed that they nothing about performance.
    99.9% of forum readers are no where near world class racers. I am pretty convinced that 200 grams on a bike (6.6 ounces) means absolutely nothing to any rider in any race. I remember listening to two young kids talk about the Ti skewer that one of them bought for his $300 bike. He was convinced that this would make him go faster.

    By the way your maxspeed name sounds like an extra large tampon.
    hahahahahahahahaha

  51. #51
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    @ Radical53. Some issues can be solved, but the retraction issues don't seem to not be fixed with any kind of regularity. There are just too many issues with Formula brakes and with other makers not having nearly the problems they do, it's pretty easy to think about going in other directions, which is the point of the OP's post, Formula's or Shimano. Yes I have also read some of the leaking issues of the newer model year for Shimano's brakes as well, and they will have to sort those out.

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    Again -> there aren't really *many* issues. They do have issues, of course, and they seem to have kept them alive for quite a long time.
    Other companies, like Avid or Magura, do have their own share of issues too though.
    As most lightweight parts Formula brakes do need some form of maintenance and they need to be set up properly.

    Over here, in Europe, Formula brakes are being used by many manufacturers because they're light, very strong and reliable.
    They surely aren't the cheapest (not more expensive than Avid or Magura though) or the easiest to setup but they do work well.

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    I'm in the process upgrading/downgrading to xtr trail from formula one...
    Formula T1 came with my stumpjumper (so unfortunately not only European manufacturers using it).

    The T1 is nice, strong, ergonomic, light, exotic, quality etc., but it is the most frustrating brake I ever had. The problem is the constant rubbing pads, bent rotors (expensive two piece formula rotor bent from factory), very hard (impossible) caliper alignment. Also big problem is the noise. Constant brake rub and noise in 2013?!

    After countless hours of trying to fix (me+lbs mechanics) , and spending money on new rotors, pads, I gave up: enough is enough. The brake is worse than my 2nd generation xt with sticky piston

    (I don't want to bash here Formula, I really wanted to keep this brake, still trying to fix it, hoping I can cancel my xtr order, but no success.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by stmarti View Post
    I'm in the process upgrading/downgrading to xtr trail from formula one...
    Formula T1 came with my stumpjumper (so unfortunately not only European manufacturers using it).

    The T1 is nice, strong, ergonomic, light, exotic, quality etc., but it is the most frustrating brake I ever had. The problem is the constant rubbing pads, bent rotors (expensive two piece formula rotor bent from factory), very hard (impossible) caliper alignment. Also big problem is the noise. Constant brake rub and noise in 2013?!

    After countless hours of trying to fix (me+lbs mechanics) , and spending money on new rotors, pads, I gave up: enough is enough. The brake is worse than my 2nd generation xt with sticky piston

    (I don't want to bash here Formula, I really wanted to keep this brake, still trying to fix it, hoping I can cancel my xtr order, but no success.)
    I started this thread about a year and a hlaf ago. I ended up going with the XTR race brakes and could not be happier with them. I haven't had to touch them except to install new pads. They just work, great modulation, quiet, and stong as hell. You should be happy with them after your Formulaordeal.

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    Are yours the 2013 models with ECT? I just got a 2013 set of R1's and pad clearance is GREATLY improved from my old Oro's. No rubbing at all. I've only got 1 real ride on them so far, but they are amazing! Plenty of power, modulation is good, and they are light as hell.

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    Mine is the T1S. I don't know what is the meaning the "S" (special, oem?). The brake also worked fine for me on the first rides, but started to develop (front only) a horrible noise (from some resonance) on light to medium break. After that we tried to cure it with new and different pads, two piece rotors etc., since then the noise remained and we got rub as a bonus.
    Of course it is possible that my brake has manufacture defect, but I think this is a design failure instead.
    The brake came on 6000$ specialized bike, I can't imagine what was specialized's reasons to select this brake...

    (On my 26er I have a dual control xt with servo wave and xtr rotors, and have not a single problem ever in the past 3 years, also never serviced. Same experience as k1creeker. I expect the same from the xtr trail)

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    Formula has some very strong and very light brakes. In order to get the best out of them you need to make sure that you have

    - very clean installation. No grease, no oil in contact to the disc or pads. Never. Both can/should be de-greased before the first usage/contact to each other (disc especially)
    - attention to detail: Pad clearance isn't very large and even the disc clearance isn't huge so the caliper has to be mounted precisely. Normally it's enough to pull the lever, tighten the screws a little and move the calipre a tenth to the left or right
    - properly bled lines: These lines don't hold a lot of fluid and the leverage seems to be rather high so even a tiny bubble can cause a mess

    Noise can be an issue if you combine a whole lot of very light components and/or high-temperature pads with low-temperature working conditions.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    Formula has some very strong and very light brakes. In order to get the best out of them you need to make sure that you have

    - very clean installation. No grease, no oil in contact to the disc or pads. Never. Both can/should be de-greased before the first usage/contact to each other (disc especially)
    - attention to detail: Pad clearance isn't very large and even the disc clearance isn't huge so the caliper has to be mounted precisely. Normally it's enough to pull the lever, tighten the screws a little and move the calipre a tenth to the left or right
    - properly bled lines: These lines don't hold a lot of fluid and the leverage seems to be rather high so even a tiny bubble can cause a mess

    Noise can be an issue if you combine a whole lot of very light components and/or high-temperature pads with low-temperature working conditions.
    Let's be real honest about this here. Your first sentence applies to ALL bicycle disc brakes. Formula's biggest issue is pad clearance and extended fade, plus other stuff here and there. Pad clearance is due to the bad design of their diaphragm and their MC. (master cylinder) When it heat cycles a few times, the fluid has little place to go, so the pads close in on the rotor. (This is proper brake design 101) In Formula's infinite wisdom, one of their fixes for the 2011-12 model year was thinner rotors which helped not only fade the brakes even more on downhill runs, they also warped and yet still didn't fix the problem. The kit for the fix also was for the most part a giant failure. It did not help most people. The problem with building a super light weight product is that their is usually a downside to it, here it was reliability. Shamino has done the same thing, go to a super light weight design, and their biggest issue is modulation/feel. The servo wave design makes the brakes much stronger initially, but harder to feather and have total control, but it's not that terrible and only a minor drawback. You can Google the formulas and look on the forums here and will see how many issues they have had for the same problem over and over. Till it's redesigned, it's going to have the same problems over and over.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    You can Google the formulas and look on the forums here and will see how many issues they have had for the same problem over and over. Till it's redesigned, it's going to have the same problems over and over.
    All Avid brakes I ever used sucked donkey balls. Formula RX work just fine, using Shimano and Hope rotors though. Even with the previous design with less pad clearance.

    Here is that for anecdotal evidence.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    All Avid brakes I ever used sucked donkey balls. Formula RX work just fine, using Shimano and Hope rotors though. Even with the previous design with less pad clearance.

    Here is that for anecdotal evidence.
    I agree with Avid's not being very good with a multiple issues in a lot of cases, but formulas are in the same boat. It is a better brake for the most part, but they all have problems. After taking a few minutes to do a formula search with pad clearance issues on here and pink bike reveled around 80-90 threads about the same issues on a variety of models. Some Hope rotors are thicker than formulas, so the problem would be worse.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    I agree with Avid's not being very good with a multiple issues in a lot of cases, but formulas are in the same boat. It is a better brake for the most part, but they all have problems. After taking a few minutes to do a formula search with pad clearance issues on here and pink bike reveled around 80-90 threads about the same issues on a variety of models. Some Hope rotors are thicker than formulas, so the problem would be worse.
    I do not care what Pinkbike peeps may say. Mine work fine. Take it for what it worth. I bolted them on, centered around the rotors with pads out, as I usually do - squeeze and tighten method is not as reliable, and they work, no rubbing. Now on Swisstop pads. Yes, clearance is less than what I prefer, with Shimanos in particular, but it just takes a more careful setup. Given that they claim to have improved that, I would not hesitate about getting some R1X, as they are cheaper. But on the topic of the thread, I would rather take XTR trail. Excellent brakes.

    R1 one piece rotors had been made of cheese and smelled funny.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    Let's be real honest about this here. Your first sentence applies to ALL bicycle disc brakes.
    Well, no. Yes to being honest but no to this being applied to each and every bicycle brake out there.
    It's always a relative term, of course, and Formula has both the lightest brakes around and some of the strongest brakes around. The mix, strong and light, is unique as a result.
    The real problem with pad clearance, to me, is solely on the user's side as many people have trouble getting them installed correctly.
    So far I've had issues with fading (using 3rd party pads and discs) but never had issues with the fluid (or pads closing in once it gets warm), even when going through the Alps. I must admit that I'm using a different fluid though (higher boiling point).
    Now that I'm using original Formula 2-piece discs and some pre-treated pads I don't have any issues with fading anymore.
    Yes, they have to be installed accurately in order to work well. Yes, they need to be bled once the hoses are cut and they will need their fluid renewed annually (depending on the fluid of course) but that's about it for the issues, at least for me.

    Personally I came from a "DH" 4-piston brake with braided hoses and all that. Going to a Formula set, while maintaining the disc size, I saved no less than a third of the original weight.
    On that brake pad clearance wasn't any better than Formula's and installation even a tad harder as the caliper was so much larger.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    I do not care what Pinkbike peeps may say. Mine work fine. Take it for what it worth. I bolted them on, centered around the rotors with pads out, as I usually do - squeeze and tighten method is not as reliable, and they work, no rubbing. Now on Swisstop pads. Yes, clearance is less than what I prefer, with Shimanos in particular, but it just takes a more careful setup. Given that they claim to have improved that, I would not hesitate about getting some R1X, as they are cheaper. But on the topic of the thread, I would rather take XTR trail. Excellent brakes.

    R1 one piece rotors had been made of cheese and smelled funny.
    That's great, glad they are working for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mazspeed View Post
    Till it's redesigned, it's going to have the same problems over and over.
    They have redesigned, 2013's all get ECT (enhanced caliper technology) and pad clearance is greatly improved as well as pad rollback, to the point of it not being an issue at all.

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    Unfortunately pad clearance not improved, at least not on mine.
    Read some article (german bike mag) that the "improvement" is from 0.56mm to 0.6 mm: so 0.04(!) mm "increase"

    Radical_53 is right: it is possible with big luck to set it rub free (it is really impossible with the squeeze and tighten method, which means for me a design flaw). But the rub comes back after the first big descent...

    mazspeed, thanks for the background info, that helped not feeling myself an idiot, who cannot setup a disk brake.

  66. #66
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    It should go away again after the second though With proper installation it should be rub-free almost all the time. Apart from the installation, system stiffness makes a big issue here.

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    I have 2012 R1, no rubbing problems.
    It's more difficult to get it setup rub free than Shimano.
    But itís perfectly possible.

    There are two important things that need to be done right, besides having straight rotors and good oil-bleed.

    1. Calliper alignment with the rotor in both top and side planes.
    Top plane alignment is easy, just look down the calliper gab between the pads and rotor, simply adjust the post mount.
    However side plane alignment is not always aligned, and difficult to check, because the calliper itself blocked the view.
    If the calliper is not side aligned with the rotor, the rotor will rub on the edge of the pads.
    And because side alignment is not adjustable with screws.
    To get this right, you need to do facing work on the post mount.
    Sometimes its 5 minutes work, sometimes an hour to get it perfect, based on using a metal-file.

    2. Both pistons need to be pushed the same amount distance from the calliper.
    Because the calliper gap that accept the rotor is very narrow.
    If one side piston pushed out more than the other, the rotor will rub on the calliper, not on the brake pad, you will hear a metal rubs on metal sound.
    To get this right is not easy, because 50% of the time both pistons donít push the same distance, not very good calliper design.
    You need to hold one piston in place, while let the other piston to push forward, and also keep enough space for the rotor.
    Trying a few times should do the job.

    Hope this helps,
    jx

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by stmarti View Post
    Radical_53 is right: it is possible with big luck to set it rub free (it is really impossible with the squeeze and tighten method, which means for me a design flaw). But the rub comes back after the first big descent...
    No, it does not. About 6k ft of descending last weekend, still no rub. Just set it up centered. (And no, not by squeeze and tighten.)


    Quote Originally Posted by lorteti View Post
    To get this right, you need to do facing work on the post mount.
    This. Not all frames are perfect, and wheel alignment can change if dropouts are worn, or chainstays are out of alignment. Worth checking at least once.

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    Sorry to dig up an old thread but this has been very informative to me. I have a set of Elixer's on my Niner HT and hate them. This bike has turned into a weight weenie project over time. My buddy told me about Formula R1 race brakes and since the colors matched my set up I was intrigued.

    I have have Shimano XTR race brakes on my full squish trail bike and they are the bomb. I don't like brake rub and hate constant maintenance for brake rub/noise. Steering towards another set of XTR's and spend the extra dough somewhere else.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  70. #70
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    Correction to my post above. I have Shimano XTR Trail brakes on my FS bikes.

    Upon further research the Formula R1 Race brakes advertise at 267grams. The Shimano XTR Race brakes are listed at 220grams. I've seen people post weights around 240-250grams.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  71. #71
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    The R1 is 270g with disc. The Shimano may weigh 220 without it It's much, much heavier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    The R1 is 270g with disc. The Shimano may weigh 220 without it It's much, much heavier.
    Makes sense. Is the advertised weight with the 160/1-piece rotor that weighs 101grams?
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

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    I went from Elixers to Formula the Ones on my Slayer last year, and for the last year I've done nothing but work to eliminate rubbing, screaching, or warbling from these brakes. After reading and trying eveything I could here on MTBR (and elsewhere) about how to fix this issue, and taking it to 3 different shops, I finally got the rubbing to stop completely two weeks ago.

    It was easy to stop it short term, but it would always come back sooner rather than later, so I was thrilled last week to finally get 3 rides in that were quiet. Then yesterday I realized they were so quiet because I had finally almost worn through my pads, putting new pads in made it clear the process would start all over. Ordered a set of XTs last night, I'm done with the Formula brakes.

    They look awesome, super light, but have almost too much stopping power for me. Very easy to lock up when things get rough, not much modulation at all IME. I'd rather have a slightly heavier brake that works well, rather than revisit all the time I spent trying to get the Formulas to work like a brake should out of the box.
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  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
    I went from Elixers to Formula the Ones on my Slayer last year, and for the last year I've done nothing but work to eliminate rubbing, screaching, or warbling from these brakes. After reading and trying eveything I could here on MTBR (and elsewhere) about how to fix this issue, and taking it to 3 different shops, I finally got the rubbing to stop completely two weeks ago.

    It was easy to stop it short term, but it would always come back sooner rather than later, so I was thrilled last week to finally get 3 rides in that were quiet. Then yesterday I realized they were so quiet because I had finally almost worn through my pads, putting new pads in made it clear the process would start all over. Ordered a set of XTs last night, I'm done with the Formula brakes.

    They look awesome, super light, but have almost too much stopping power for me. Very easy to lock up when things get rough, not much modulation at all IME. I'd rather have a slightly heavier brake that works well, rather than revisit all the time I spent trying to get the Formulas to work like a brake should out of the box.
    After much reading and research this is pretty much my conclusion. I'm going to go ahead and get the Shimano XTR Race brakes and experiment with lighter rotors. I rode this weekend in the rain and mud with my XTR Trail brakes and they performed flawlessly. In fact out of seven riders mine where the only ones not squealing. Even with the rain and mud.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by In-Yo-Grill View Post
    Makes sense. Is the advertised weight with the 160/1-piece rotor that weighs 101grams?
    The weights Formula has posted are pretty accurate normally.
    Shimano has both the heavier caliper as the much heavier disc, so if you'd only go by that (or say weight doesn't bother me) you should rather compare the XTR to the T1, or even Oval.
    They're much closer in weight and, once you put them on one weight level, you'd be amazed how much power Formulas can generate.

    As I just saw your second post: Try it the other way around. Light caliper with heavy rotors. Works much, much better.
    I had it the other way around, strong/heavy caliper with lightweight discs. It works, yes, but you'd gain a lot with sturdy rotors. Much more so than a heavy caliper could ever deliver.

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    The weights Formula has posted are pretty accurate normally.
    Shimano has both the heavier caliper as the much heavier disc
    Ice-tech disks are not much heavier. But they are much better.

    Larger Formula rotors seemed to be made of cheese.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Larger Formula rotors seemed to be made of cheese.
    This. Mine are both 203mm and they rarely stay true more than a few rides, and this is with no hits to them or anything, just braking. Albeit long and fast descents like we have out here in WA.
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    Yeah it's not even close to the two piece, just too damn light.
    ...

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Ice-tech disks are not much heavier. But they are much better.

    Larger Formula rotors seemed to be made of cheese.
    The two-piece rotors are very stiff and very strong. They're 140g in 200mm/8". Shimano Ice-Tech is much, much heavier (especially if you need a CL adaptor) and the aluminium core is known to cause trouble on long descents..
    I think the disc alone is around 170g at least, the solid core version is at least 200g.

    It'd still be better to use those heavy rotors than a heavy caliper.

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    aluminium core is known to cause trouble on long descents..
    Bollocks. But it should be used with Shimano ice-tech pads for good results.

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    Great argument. #1.


    Benchmark tests have proven their failure and even users were able to reproduce this.
    It takes a while, of course, but ultimately they will fail.

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    Benchmark tests have proven their failure and even users were able to reproduce this.
    It takes a while, of course, but ultimately they will fail.
    They work perfectly fine.

    Formula rotors, on the other hand, can not keep straight. That's a fact. See post above.

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    So your's is fact and mine's bollocks? Great argument #2

    I'm 220lbs and I don't have any issues with the two-piece Formula rotors. They do stay true, at least if you actually heat them up. As long as they only get "luke warm" on descents they may start to "ting", that's about it though. Once they get hot the noise is gone again.
    The other problem is maintenance. Formula brakes can have stuck pistons rather easily, another problem if you don't pull the lever hard once in a while. So uneven piston movement would look like problems from the rotor, initially it's a problem of the caliper though.

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post
    So your's is fact and mine's bollocks? Great argument #2

    I'm 220lbs and I don't have any issues with the two-piece Formula rotors. They do stay true, at least if you actually heat them up. As long as they only get "luke warm" on descents they may start to "ting", that's about it though. Once they get hot the noise is gone again.
    The other problem is maintenance. Formula brakes can have stuck pistons rather easily, another problem if you don't pull the lever hard once in a while. So uneven piston movement would look like problems from the rotor, initially it's a problem of the caliper though.
    Isn't this another argument against Formula's?

    Formula's may be good brakes if you take the time to figit with them. The question is are they worth the weight savings/price over a set of XT's or XTR's that are set it and forget it kind of brakes.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  85. #85
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    No, it's not another argument. It's an explanation why people may be having trouble with their rotors. To an unexperienced rider, it all "sounds" the same, although the issue is different.

    What I'm saying is, and I'll repeat it, that Shimano brakes are heavy enough to be compared to Formulas DH brake lineup, not their XC line.

    If you'd compare T1/RO with large, two-piece rotors to Shimanos, they wouldn't look "flimsy" anymore. They're at least as strong when you compare brakes of the same weight.

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    Point taken. I guess my summation in all this is that if they are POTENTIALLY that much trouble then they are not worth the weight savings. Right now, all of my bikes are set up with reliable parts that only get replaced if they wear, break or I get bored with them. I don't want to worry about parts that are "grumpy"
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

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    Yes, that's how I prefer my stuff too. As long as these brakes get ridden, get used, they'll be fine.
    If they stand around too long, if they aren't used to their full potential (gentle lever squeeze all the time) or get no maintenance at all, well, then they'll be causing headaches here and there. Nothing a short service wouldn't fix but it'll come back if the "usage pattern" persists.
    Just like soft tires won't stay soft for ages, or smooth suspension won't stay smooth if all the oil sits deep down in the lowers for years, these brakes will do alike.

  88. #88
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    Formula brakes are the grumpiest bike part I've ever experienced in 12 years of riding
    Tarekith.com

    '17 Specialized Enduro Elite 29

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
    Formula brakes are the grumpiest bike part I've ever experienced in 12 years of riding
    Apparently you've never had Avids!

    I had older T1's on my hardtail and the current model Formula Ones on my FS. I just switched that bike to new XTRs. Rode the hardtail again yesterday with the old formulas. All in all I like the XTRs best, the old Formula Ones second, and the newer Ones third. The older formulas were heavier but had more modulation and were much quieter. Also I have to say in the 2 seasons I ran formula brakes on both bikes, they've been trouble-free... no rub, no fade, no need for bleeds. Great ergonomics and light. Really my only complaint was the noise in wet conditions with the newer formula levers.


    Thats a real contrast to my Avid experience. I ran multiple sets of Avids for 2-3 seasons and found I had to bleed them every 6-8 weeks to keep them operating acceptably. In fact, between my experience with Avid brakes and with Rockshox reverb posts, I'm now avoiding SRAM products at all costs.

    But in all fairness this thread could be called "Mineral Oil vs. Dot"....I think my issues with SRAMs were with DOT fluid in a poorly sealed system. I've had previous generations of shimano brakes and it seems like mineral oil requires a whole lot less maintenance.

  90. #90
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    Actually I was running '12 Elixer 9's before the Formulas, and yes they are a very close 2nd place in terms of grumpy parts. Mainly because from the factory the bleed was terrible and it took me 3-4 bleeds before I could get them to actually bite where I wanted. Once I got the bleed sorted, they would at least last a couple months without needing any adjustments. The Formulas I had to work on every 2-3 rides to keep them quiet.

    I'm just excited for my XTs to get here next week, the prospect of a largely set and forget brake system is a totally new experience for me an mountain biking. Just hope they live up to that hype.
    Tarekith.com

    '17 Specialized Enduro Elite 29

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
    Formula brakes are the grumpiest bike part I've ever experienced in 12 years of riding
    Sounds like you haven't tried much. Yet.

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    I've run all the major players but Shimano and Hayes brakes at this point. Not all the current models obviously, but it's not like these are my first brakes
    Tarekith.com

    '17 Specialized Enduro Elite 29

  93. #93
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
    The Formulas I had to work on every 2-3 rides to keep them quiet.
    .
    which is totally opposite my experience- Formulas were super reliable while Avids required constant attention.

    I'm guessing you had the 2pc rotors. I actually ran avid 1pc steel rotors with my formula brakes, which created more pad clearance... and they stayed straight.

    Another factor- you can easily get small parts for Formulas, and shimanos you can at least buy calipers, levers & hoses all separately. SRAM does the "take it to your LBS for warranty and we'll send you back something completely different".

  94. #94
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    Using the one piece rotors actually.

    It is nice that companies like Formula and Hope let you buy small parts, though often times they are so rediculously expensive I'm going to cobble together a ghetto fix anyway. I had one of the pins that holds in the Formula brake pads strip out the head, and it's like $20 for one little pin. I bought a brand new 2013 XT brake system (caliper lever hose) for $100.

    Obviously everyone has different experiences with bike parts. For whatever reason the Formulas were nothing but trouble for me. Even when I had them working well and quiet, there was almost no modulation in them at all. Riding rough terrain like Slingshot Wookie or Cypress Mountain had me locking up my brakes unintentionally all the time, with both organic and metallic pads.
    Tarekith.com

    '17 Specialized Enduro Elite 29

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    2012 Formula R1 Racing or XTR?

    Can please someone tell me what kind of bolt (size/length) goes onto formula R1 lever clamps? Is it M5 or M4?

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