Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,810

    Formula 1 Brakes Have Problems

    I've been running Shimano brakes on all bikes for quite a few years with good results and no problems, but I thought I would try something different for the latest build. I did some research and looked at charts and came up with the Formula 1 brakes as being at the top for low weight and high stopping power. I ordered a set from Chain Reaction with a pair of their floating rotors with aluminum centers. Nice looking kit, but the first thing I had to fight right out of the box was both rotors were pretty out of true. The one I put on the front wasn't too bad and with a little tweaking I got it to run basically straight, but the other one was way out in several places. I called Formula and the first guy I talked to said to send the rotors back to them and they would try to straighten them. But that meant several weeks of down time (knowing how these things go) from the new bike I just built up and I wanted to ride it, so I elected to try to solve the problem myself. I probably worked on that rotor for a total of 1 1/2 hours over several sessions. I eventually got it to an acceptable state of bent. It would rub and make noise but not enough to notice most of the time. I could live with that for a while. But the other issue that the tech at Formula said would go away after use is that the pistons in the calipers don't retract enough to let the rotors run free much of the time and it varies for some reason. If you sight down you can barely see any gap or none at all between the pads and the rotors. I road the bike for a couple of months hoping it would fix itself but it didn't and if anything it got worse. I called Formula again and explained both issues. This guy told me to remove the pad and drive the pistons out fairly far from the calipers and clean them with alcohol because there may be assembly grease keeping them from retracting properly. This rep also said that he had no interest in helping with the $99 list price bent rotor issue and to send them back to Chain Reaction in Ireland. That's convenient : / And probably not going to happen, representing even more down time, expense and trouble. I completed his cleaning procedure on the front caliper and saw no improvement. Actually when I got home last night from the first ride since the cleaning the front wheel will not even spin 1 full revolution without dragging to a stop. I'll mess with it some more but it's basically a pain in the as and represents a design flaw as I see it.

    The brakes look great and stop very well and the modulation is spot on. The whole set is lightweight and the aluminum center rotors save a lot of weight over full stainless. It's really too bad that they didn't work on piston retraction more when they designed them or they would really have a winner. Designing better packaging to keep the delicate rotors from being damaged so easily in shipping and handling would be a good idea too.

    Oh well, live and learn. I wanted to support the smaller company but I guess I'll go back to the tried and TRUE good old Shimanos or maybe try Hopes next time and write the bad Formula out of the picture.
    Last edited by modifier; 10-20-2012 at 10:22 PM.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  2. #2
    bt
    bt is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,197
    there is no fix for the undersized pad gap.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3,424
    Quote Originally Posted by modifier View Post
    I've been running Shimano brakes on all bikes for quite a few years with good results and no problems, but I thought I would try something different for the latest build. I did some research and looked at charts and came up with the Formula 1 brakes as being at the top for low weight and high stopping power. I ordered a set from Chain Reaction with a pair of their floating rotors with aluminum centers. Nice looking kit, but the first thing I had to fight right out of the box was both rotors were pretty out of true. The one I put on the front wasn't too bad and with a little tweaking I got it to run basically straight, but the other one was way out in several places. I called Formula and the first guy I talked to said to send the rotors back to them and they would try to straighten them. But that meant several weeks of down time (knowing how these things go) from the new bike I just built up and I wanted to ride it, so I elected to try to solve the problem myself. I probably worked on that rotor for a total of 1 1/2 hours over several sessions. I eventually got it to an acceptable state of bent. It would rub and make noise but not enough to notice most of the time. I could live with that for a while. But the other issue that the tech at Formula said would go away after use is that the pistons in the calipers don't retract enough to let the rotors run free much of the time and it varies for some reason. If you sight down you can barely see any gap or none at all between the pads and the rotors. I road the bike for a couple of months hoping it would fix itself but it didn't and if anything it got worse. I called Formula again and explained both issues. This guy told me to remove the pad and drive the pistons out fairly far from the calipers and clean them with alcohol because there may be assembly grease keeping them from retracting properly. This rep also said that he had no interest in helping with the $99 list price bent rotor issue and to send them back to Chain Reaction in Ireland. That's convenient : / And probably not going to happen, representing even more down time, expense and trouble. I completed his cleaning procedure on the front caliper and saw no improvement. Actually when I got home last night from the first ride since the cleaning the front wheel will not even spin 1 full revolution without dragging to a stop. I'll mess with it some more but it's basically a pain in the as and represents a design flaw as I see it.

    The brakes look great and stop very well and the modulation is spot on. The whole set is lightweight and the aluminum center rotors save a lot of weight over full stainless. It's really too bad that they didn't work on piston retraction more when they designed them or they would really have a winner. Designing better packaging to keep the delicate rotors from being damaged so easily in shipping and handling would be a good idea too.

    Oh well, live and learn. I wanted to support the smaller company but I guess I'll go back to the tried and TRUE good old Shimanos or maybe try Hopes next time and write the bad Formula out of the picture.
    Bent new rotor is BS.. The One FR I have had a similar issue when new, needed to clean and work the piston in/out blah blah.. that only helped the drag a bit, changing it from drag to slight rotor nicking on climbs. And caliper really needs to be precisely aligned when tightened down.

    For me what worked was degassing the dot fluid and a bleed off the bike, from the caliper up. When I rotated and tapped the lever, noticed more air bubbles were trapped inside from a certain angle. Was pretty annoyed at first (also because of cost). After it broke in and properly aligned, have to say the brakes are great, work very well and I like the pads.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,810
    It was explained to me that the way a piston is retracted into the caliper is by the square edged rubber seal deforming when the brake is applied. Then it returns to it's original resting state when hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder is released, pulling the piston back when this happens.

    So the first thing that comes to mind is make the seal thicker so that it has more "travel" by the square edge being wider and is stiffer to have more retracting force. I suppose they want to make it as thin as possible so that there is as little force to overcome when applying the brake making them feel light.

    I've never had a brake system from another manufacture with this problem so I'm sure it is possible.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    580
    Formula redesigned their brakes for 2013 to have more pad retraction. You are able to retrofit the "fix" into the older brakes. I was quoted $30/brake in parts and $60/ brake in labor by Formula. I am not sure if they will just sell you the parts to do the work yourself.

    2013 Formula T1 Brakes (Formerly The One Brakes) - 2013 Products from Interbike 2012, Part 3 - Mountain Biking Pictures - Vital MTB
    =========================================
    Minnesota Off Road Cyclists www.morcmtb.org

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JChasse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    325
    I've had the same problems as the OP with my Formula R1 brakes, and I've been screwing with them for 2 years now. I finally tried the new XTR Trail brakes, and what an eye opener. I'll take the slight weight penalty of the XTRs any day.

    I'm curious about the retro-fit mentioned above, though...

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,810
    Thanks Tedsti, that is good to know in that it validates my issues and also presents a possible fix.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  8. #8
    Plays with tools
    Reputation: customfab's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    4,283
    Made in Italy, that's all you need to know. Formula makes some great breaks but they are finicky just like every other Italian made bike or part I've come across.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    10
    My formula one"s are much the same, perform great but the are tricky to keep them off the pads. Mine have been ok, the bike came out with them. Slight touch when hard climbing, hope they don't get any worse !

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3,424

    Mine only did that in the beginning..

    not a single problem since. Not sure if it's the tight tolerances, but I like how close to the bar I have the lever. Good modulation in little space

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,810
    Quote Originally Posted by DeerhillJ View Post
    not a single problem since. Not sure if it's the tight tolerances, but I like how close to the bar I have the lever. Good modulation in little space
    How long did it take?

    Mind you have have their aluminum center rotors too which exacerbates the problem since they are not true.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3,424
    I did the bed in on the pads, and then the clean/lube on the pistons w/ dot fluid.. when it didn't go away after that I replace the fluid and all was good ( got all the bubbles out, I have one piece rotors btw). Been using them for little over a year now

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •