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  1. #1
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    Formula T1 Brakes

    Been underwhelmed by a set of 2013 Formula T1 brakes on my trail bike. So I thought I would throw it out to those on the boards for advise and opinions on these brakes. I have also emailed Formula support for help. Here is what I asked of them:

    I have a set of Formula T1 brakes on a 6" travel trail bike that I need some help with.

    I have bled both front and back brakes and as a result have a solid lever feeling when grabbing the brake lever. Recently I swapped out the brake pads with sintered pads hoping for some additional braking power. This also resulted in little to no change.

    Riding around on a parking lot they feel okay and reasonably grabby. I run the pad contact adjuster in the minimized position and adjust the reach to feel. Once I get on the trails, they quickly become tiring, resulting in hand cramp and several stops down the trail to rest my hands.

    I have tried swapping discs as the wheels from my other bike are setup the same (200 front and 180 back. This change in wheels/rotors also made no difference. As a comparison, my old Avid Juicy 7 brakes on my other bike have way more power than the T1's. Hell even my Avid BB7 brakes on my commuter have more power. If it is any consolation the T1s do have a little more power than the Hayes MX2 brakes on my wife's commuter.

    Last resort I stopped by a local bike shop on the way home from the hill to get them to bleed the brakes for me again as I thought that perhaps my bleed was not done correctly. The mechanic checked out the brakes and commented that I had in fact done an excellent job on the bleed and maybe try a different rotor. As noted I have already tried that.
    Furthermore he indicated that there was some kind of repair / replacement kit out to resolve the problem of lack of power on the T1s. Is this the case?

    I have ordered a set of the new Avid X0 Trails to replace my trusted but old Juicy's. Perhaps I will try them first on my trail bike to see if I can once again get my brakes working. I ride my trail bike way more than my freeride bike, so perhaps the X0 Trails will stay, there along with trusted old Juicy's on the big bike. Pair of T1s up for sale?

    Any comments or help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Update on Formula T1 brakes

    Lots of views, surprised no one has any feedback or advice on this issue.

    Formula support did contact me and was quite helpful. In trying to get these brakes working properly, I have installed a new pair of Formula brand sintered brake pads. I also cleaned the rotors again with Isopro alcohol.

    I manage to track down a set of Formula sintered brake pads for my T1 brakes. In order to ensure that I was starting fresh I also cleaned off the rotors again with Isopro alcohol. Slightly better than the aftermarket pads that were in place previously. Rode back to shop and asked them to comment on the feel and power on the brakes. They had pretty much the same comments as myself.

    Went for a ride up local hill, climbing up a fire ride then descended back down a portion of the hill hitting the brakes, trying to bed them it more. About 1/2 through the ride the brakes felt better again, to the point where I could fully lock up the rear wheel, not so much the front. By the end of the ride it was slightly better. I tried to change the pad contact adjuster from the least amount of gap to the middle and full + settings, all while adjusting the reach adjustment to keep consistent. The most power seemed to be generated with pad contact set at minimum, so I left it there once I was satified that it provided the most power.

    Overall there is definitely more power but not what I would consider strong. I will ride again on Saturday to see if any further gains are to be had. With luck I will have another set of brakes arrive next week (Avid X0 Trails) and can compare the T1 brakes to those as well. At best I would rate the power on the T1s about equal to a set of XT 775 brakes I had a couple of years ago. Decent bite, but not great power. I have rode recently with one group of riders all on Saints, who confirmed that one finger braking was all that was required in all situations on the Saints and no fatigue. Given the review of the T1 brakes in the article below it appears the the T1 should be on par with the Saints. As much as I would like that to be true, it has not been my impression.

    Not certain as to what else I should try.

  3. #3
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    Re: Formula T1 Brakes

    Ok, when I first started using mine they didn't have quite as much power as I thought they should. I cleaned up the rotors and sanded back the pads and then followed the bedding in procedure to the letter. This requires multiple heavy braking stops from a reasonable speed. Once I had done this, heaps of power and one finger braking is all that is needed. My other issue was noise, my brakes howled. I swapped out the rotors for Shimano ice tech rotors. This not only made them quiet, but gave me more power and better lever feel.

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  4. #4
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    Interesting to note. What brake pads are you using? Formula or other brands.

  5. #5
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    I was using Formula pads until they wore out. I'm now using these, they have been good so far, not that much appreciable difference from the originals though. The biggest thing, as far as I was told by my lbs, is that for best performance formula brakes require more attention being paid to the bedding in process. From my experience, this does seem to ring true.
    Real men do it in the dirt

  6. #6
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    I can second that, bedding-in is key on T1s. if you glaze them in the beginning they will never reach max performance. a lot of users here in germany prefer kool-stop or swiss-stop pads. they can be finicky but if you get them right they will rival the saints...

  7. #7
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    Well I have a couple more rides on the brakes. Power is a little better, but not what I would call strong.

    About 1/2 way through the last ride I noticed the front lever was loose. Pulled out the allen keys and tried to tighten, the hex top bolt just spun freely. When I pulled the allen key out the bolt came with it. Apparently, there should be a nut at the bottom. Checked the other side and noticed it was also gone. Had a small piece of tape that was able to be used to ensure I didn't lose the bolts as well.

    Have emailed Formula support to see I can get a replacement nut. Not overly impressed by these brakes. 2013 Formula T1 brakes, a top end offering and not seeing any top end performance or reliability. A little bit of threadlock would have gone a long way to avoid this problem. Who knew to take apart the brake lever to do this.

    Anyone want to buy a set of brakes.

  8. #8
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    Threadlock is a really bad idea if you're using aluminium bits (that's what Formula usually does). Correct torque usually does the same as threadlock.

    After my recent experiences with my own Formula brakes I really have to say that they do need a lot of attention but then they work perfectly fine.

    It starts with cleaning. Make sure the rotors are perfectly clean, don't touch the pads and don't let them get in contact with anything other than the rotor.
    I cleaned mine thoroughly with brake cleaner and rubbed them with isoprop alcohol afterwards to make sure they were clean.
    If your brakes are new you won't need to cycle the pistons but if you've used them previously it's always good to do so. You'll have less issues and much better modulation that way.

    These are very light and very strong brakes. Nothing you can simply "throw" on and use it. It wants to be taken care of.

  9. #9
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    I will be sending the brakeset into Formula to have them looked at. The brakes are only just 4 months old and have never been great. I am actually hoping that something is wrong with the set as I can't believe the poor performance I have experienced with the T1s is as good as it gets for them.

    As I mentioned I have a set of Avid X0 Trails brakes being shipped to me and will definitely be giving them a shot on both my AM and FR bike to see how they feel. Still not certain if I want to sell of my old Juicy 7s. Won't likely get much for them and although they might be old they always seem to work.

    I guess it will depend on what happens when I get my Formula T1 brakes back. Anyone else out there running the new T1s, perhaps the issue is that changes where made from the 2012 The Ones to the 2013 T1s and issues are still being worked out.

  10. #10
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    Sounds like you might have a bad pair perhaps.....bad luck!

    Its funny, as I've had (and heard) almost nothing but good reports on all the current models. I'm now on my second set of R1's and they work really well - but as people report, they are sometimes a bugger initially in the setup phase.
    Rimmer - "There's an old human saying - if you talk garbage, expect pain"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexRandall View Post
    Sounds like you might have a bad pair perhaps.....bad luck!
    I hope so. The T1 is said to be at least on par or stronger than the Saints, with better modulation. The R0 brakes are said to be even stronger.

    Either I am hopeless weak and unable to properly apply the brakes or there is a problem with the T1s that I have.

    Will have to wait and see what Formula service comes back with, at only 4 months old a bad set comes to mind. Hopefully at 4 months old I will not be paying to have them fully rebuilt.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideitall View Post
    I hope so. The T1 is said to be at least on par or stronger than the Saints, with better modulation. The R0 brakes are said to be even stronger.

    Either I am hopeless weak and unable to properly apply the brakes or there is a problem with the T1s that I have.

    Will have to wait and see what Formula service comes back with, at only 4 months old a bad set comes to mind. Hopefully at 4 months old I will not be paying to have them fully rebuilt.
    Hi rideitall,

    I have been running several of the Formula brakes including the last of the The One's before they became the T1's for 2013, and with all of them, I have had great braking power.

    Key, is to bed them in sufficiently and keep the rotors clean. They need a longer bedding in process than Avid or Shimano, but once bedded in they develop great stopping power.

    Something to also note. In order for brakes to have their full stopping power, they need full contact between pad and rotor. Full contact is only given once a pad and rotor have been bedded in together and both surfaces match. If you switch rotors or pads, the bedding in process will need to be repeated in order to create a perfect match between the new rotor and pad. It can help to give the pad a quick rub with sandpaper to freshen up the surface, ensuring the surface remains perfectly flat.

    The older generation TheOne and R1's have alloy bolts on the lever pivots etc, the newer ones have nichel bolts. Both require medium strength locktite, otherwise they come loose. In my experience there has been too much loctite in some cases, and requiring a heat gun to release the bond. Maybe on your set there was a tad too little.

    Do you mind me asking which Formula service you have sent the brakes to, if you have already sent them in?

  13. #13
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    Spooky, the rotors were bedded into the pads. Even with the first set of pads the braking did not feel great. Rotors were cleaned with brake cleaner a couple of times and also with iso alcohol (not certain if one is better than the other).

    There has to be a problem with my set of T1s especially with all the folks I have spoke to professing how strong they are. The Bike Radar review evaluated a number of brakes ranking the Formula R0 and T1 above the Saints for power.

    They are at the service center in the Vancouver area to be given the once over. Should know the outcome in a day or two. I want to like these brakes; light weight, tool free reach and pad contact adjustments, and supposedly more power than Saints with better modulation. What is not to like (except the price) and currently the performance of the set that I have.

  14. #14
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    Formula T1 Brakes

    Quote Originally Posted by rideitall View Post

    Still not certain if I want to sell of my old Juicy 7s. Won't likely get much for them and although they might be old they always seem to work.
    For what it's worth I went from juicy 7 to r1 and am quite happy. I did not like the feel of the new avid brakes at all (actually I hate them) however really liked the juicy 7. I would say the r1 give slightly more power than the juicy 7 but not much. I have no problems 1 finger braking on a 160mm rotor on my 150mm Mach 5.7. I have raced these brakes plenty of times and ridden places like North Star etc without any problems. Depending on conditions I have no problems locking the front or getting the rear to lift off. The brakes have enough power I find if I try and shift my weight as far back as I can (to keep the rear down) I can brake quite hard.


    One thing I will say is when I replaced my front rotor the brakes were super useless. It really requires it to bed in. I am currently running an r1 rotor in the front and an avid xx rear rotor. It took a few rides (maybe an hour of descent time) before I think they reached 100%
    Last edited by litany; 05-04-2013 at 10:46 AM.

  15. #15
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    Well got word back from service on the brakes. Was advised they bled the brake again and got out a small bit of air. Also the bleed port and banjo was slightly loose on the rear brake. I was also advised that I should use Formula adapters and be running only the Formula rotors to get the best performance out of the brake.

    To that end, he said he included a new 203mm rotor when shipping my brakes back to me. Should have them back today. Should be able to get them back on the bike tonight and out for a ride tomorrow on them. I will bed in the pads to the new rotor and really hope these will work the way I expect them to work and that so many other report they do.

    Here is hoping.

  16. #16
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    Unless you are real heavy or DH, I wouldn't mount that 203mm. Way overkill.

    Clean rotors, sand pads do a new brake in with them and see how they work.

  17. #17
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    It's enough to be heavy, normally. I never ran less than 203mm and even then I had my share of problems (some rotors and pads aren't really up to it).
    As long as you can get your pads to fade a bigger rotor might help.

  18. #18
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    Interesting feedback for sure.

    Yesterday was a good day. Not only did my repaired T1 arrive, but so did the new Avid X0 Trail brakes I purchased.

    I mounted the X0 Trails first. Should note these are brand new, so no break-in has been done. Rode around the back alley to try them out. Definitely a different feeling at the lever. The lever feel was not rock hard but solid, resulting in either locking up the rear wheel or picking up the back of the bike without much effort. Overall they felt great.

    Removed the Avid's and installed the T1s with the new 203mm rotor up front. Rode around for about 5 minutes trying the brakes and bedding them in. The lever feel is not as solid as compared to the X0 Trail and the clearly power is not as strong. I left the T1s on the bike and will get out for a ride after work tonight. I will continue to bed them in before the ride including a ride up a relatively steep hill that I can descend will scrubbing the brakes hopefully gain some additional power.

    Right now I am not overly confident the power will increase substantially from the past experience on the T1s, especially now comparing to a set of new X0 trails that haven't been bedded in at all and have loads of power right off the bat.

    So a question to those Formula users that get good power out of them doing to bed them in? I am willing to try a different process if it works.

  19. #19
    yet another stupid german
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    as said before, be gentle to them during bed-in, if you glaze the pads they're history. I for one am well aware that they are divas. if everything goes right you will love them, if not you'll most likely hate them. it's comparable to owning an Alfa Romeo or older Ducati, it's a love/hate relationship kinda thing At the moment I have 3 sets on different bikes, 2 I'm loving with the third it's, well, like we're still getting acquainted...

    if they don't float your boat mount the X0s,sell the T1s and forget you ever tried them....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by raschaa View Post
    as said before, be gentle to them during bed-in, if you glaze the pads they're history. ....
    What do you mean by be gentle. I read and was told to ride along on flat ground and lightly apply front or rear brake to bed them in.

  21. #21
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    Bedding in Brakes

    I think I answered my question:

    Found this info from a Google search.

    Rotor and Brake Pad Bed-in

    To achieve full braking power the brake pads and rotors should be fully bedded in before the first ride. Proper bed in can prevent noise and vibration in a system, if done incorrectly these problems cannot be solved without pad and/or rotor replacement.

    The purpose of bed in is to apply a thin even layer of pad material to the brake rotor. At a basic level this layer allows the brake pad material to generate friction on the rotor surface in use. Bed in should be done on a new brake and after any pad/rotor replacement.

    To achieve proper bed in the rotors and pads must be brought to operating temperature allowing a transfer and then allowed to cool fully. During this process it is very important the rotor does not come to a complete stop with the brakes applied, this can create a thicker layer of material at one point leading to vibrations later in use.

    To bed in a rotor:

    1) Select a riding area which allows for a moderate speed, for safety remain seated.

    2) Accelerate to a moderate speed and apply brakes evenly, slowing to a walking pace. It is important to prevent a complete stop. Do this 20 times, braking power will increase during this process.

    3) Accelerate to a slightly higher speed and apply the brakes, slowing to a walking pace. Do this 10 times, do not come to a complete stop.

    4) Allow the brakes to fully cool before riding.

    After the bed in process the brakes should operate at full power without noise

  22. #22
    yet another stupid german
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  23. #23
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    Update

    Okay update on brakes.

    I did get out for a ride yesterday and made it a priority to bed in the pads and rotors as best as possible. I shuttled a local trail on and got dropped up the hill from the trail entrance. I was able to ride down the hill at varying speed and bed in the brakes. This definitely worked as there is more power. Just before hitting the trail I stopped in the bush near a creek and splashed down the rotors to cool them off.

    I did finally experience decent power out of the brakes. That is the good news. The concern I am having is that the brake levers are still pumping out quite drastically. I literally start with the reach all the way in, the levers pretty much touch the bars, after any extended braking the levers are almost fully away from the bar which for me becomes tiring to have the reach so extended.

    Is this normal to have the lever pump out to that extent.

  24. #24
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    No it is not, is there a reach adjust that is loosening while riding?

  25. #25
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    No the reach adjustment does not auto change when riding. There are very noticeable clicks when adjusting the reach of the lever, I would guess this also keeps the lever adjust from auto adjusting from bumps while riding.

    Brakes are working as they should, just pumping out during a decent causing to lever reach to expand.

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