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    Formula Oro Puro Disk Brake - Pro Review

    Formula Oro Puro Disk Brake - Pro Review
    By: Karl Etzel from
    Date: Aug 28, 2006


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    Formula Disk Brakes has been increasing their presence here in the US and I've had the chance to race the season on two bikes set up with their K-24 Oros (on my Trek Fuel full suspension) and the Puro Oros on my Sycip hardtail. Although Formula is often known better for their downhill brakes, used by none other than Cedric Gracia, they have a fine offering of cross country brakes, as my experience has confirmed.

    This was my first time setting up hydraulic disk brakes and setup was a piece of cake – install the calipers and rotors, grab the brake lever, and tighten the bolts down. Shortening the hoses was easy as well, with the kit included by Formula in the brake set. One minor complaint was that the blowup diagram in the directions could use a few modifications to make the explanation easier to understand. Once I figured it out it was straightforward, and can be done with one pair of skilled hands. If you have a helper you can reduce any loss of hydraulic oil and the need to add back in any fluid. I have done the hose shortening on all the brakes myself and three of four went without a hitch. I botched the fourth because I got cocky and was in a hurry. Can't blame Formula for that. You will need a set of Torx wrenches in addition to hex keys to tighten up all the levers and rotors.

    The Puros are among the lightest brakes on the market at 341 grams and with the gold tone and carbon levers are very attractive. The Puro and K-24 have the same design and function, the only difference is materials. The Puros go all out with titanium hardware, Kevlar lines, aluminum backing plates on the brake pads, and carbon fiber brake levers to shave weight. The very distinctive gold finish would make any Italian proud.

    Formulas ship with organic pads, which don't have the life of sintered pads but offer better modulation. As a cross country racer I am more interested in speed control than stopping power and disks have so much power anyways that I am happy to get the improved modulation at the expense of a little durability. For races that offer up truly horrid conditions (like the Solo World Championships at Whistler last year – 22 hours of rain in 24 hours of racing) I can see myself going with Formula's sintered pads to save my pit crew some work but for the vast majority of cases I'll stick with the stock pads.

    The FCS (Feel Control System) adjustment provides some variation in lever feel although it is not exactly a mechanical advantage adjustment (like the El Camino, or the Avid Sped dial mechanical levers). It feels more like it simply adjusts the lever throw prior to brake engagement. I only spent a few minutes dialing in the lever reach, then played with the FCS adjustment to give me a feel that I liked, and haven't messed with it since. Formula says that they really intend the customer to dial the power up or down with rotor size, and you can get 160, 180, and 200 mm rotors & adapters from Formula to go with your Oros. The 160's come stock and the upgrade is $10 and $20 respectively for 180 & 200 mm rotors. I think this is a smart way to go as is makes the levers less complex and lighter.

    Performance was everything I hoped for from hydraulic brakes. Powerful, predictable, and totally consistent. After 24 hours of racing the brakes felt just like they did on the first lap, which is good when your brain starts to zone out. The levers are wider than the Avid speed dials I had before, and I really liked the comfort provided by the wider surface area. For my hands the folks at Formula got it just right. The levers are flip-flop so you can run "moto style" if you like (left lever controlling rear brake) and not have to reconnect any hoses.

    The sole complaint I have with these brakes relates to noise. After 4-6 hours of riding the brakes tend to develop a slight squeal at low speeds. A lot of folks seem to accept some noise as par for the course in disk brakes but I am anal about keeping my bike quiet. As far as I can tell it was not costing me much energy (the wheel would still spin about 8 revolutions without stopping) but too many hours of listening to a minor squeak will drive me nuts. At higher speeds it goes away, if I could only maintain 10 mph up all the climbs I would be fine. Come to think of it, that would solve other problems too.

    The other noise problem is far worse, but based on my research is not the fault of the brakes at all. The rear K-24 brake on the Trek Fuel sets off a resonance in the frame and the entire carbon fiber structure of the bike becomes a sound board. I can actually feel the vibration in the saddle and grips on steep descents when I am braking hard. And it is LOUD. A quick Google search reveals that most Fuel owners have this problem, hopefully Trek has fixed this in the few years since my bike was made because it is annoying. In trying to troubleshoot it, Greg at Formula USA did share one piece of useful info, even though it turned out not to by my particular issue – he suggested having the disc tabs faced, and said that this solves the majority of the squeal problems that they had seen. Turned out not to solve my problem, but it is good to know. In any case, the other 3 sets of brakes don’t howl so I am chalking this one up as a bike design flaw.

    Lever adjustment with both SRAM X-9 triggers and GripShift went fine, here are a few close-ups of my setup so you have some idea what it might look like on your rig:

    Pad removal and replacement is easy and can be done with the wheel in the bike. This is nice if you want to quickly remove the pads and give them a quick cleaning with a mild sand paper to remove the glaze. Formula USA will also sell you a bleed kit with a syringe and the fittings, which I tested out and found easy to use.

    MSRP for the Puros and $349 per wheel for the K24s is $249. Check out the website at for info on where to find a dealer near you. You can also see more pictures at the Mtbr virtual booth from Interbike .


    - Awesome power & consistency
    - Weight – the K-24s are competitively light and the Puro Oro's are super light
    - Simple, connect-the-dots installation

    - Often develop a slight squealb at low speed
    - Price, but you tend to get what you pay for

    Overall Rating:
    I give these 4.5 chilis out of 5
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    <b>Retail Price:</b>
    Formula K-24 Oro - $239 each
    Formula Oro Puro - $369 each User Reviews. Read or post your own review:
    Formula K-24
    Formula Oro Puro

    Pro Review written by: Karl Etzel
    <img src="">


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    Last edited by fc; 08-25-2006 at 09:45 PM.
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