Formula R1 Brakes Pro Review

Pro Reviews

Introduction:
The Formula Oro Puro redefined the disc brake category when it was introduced a couple years ago. Lightweight brakes have traditionally been less powerful and controllable. They required more setup and maintenance but that was the name of the game if you wanted to play with ultralight weight disc brakes or any other bike component.  The Formula Oro Puro changed all that by offering a lightweight brake that really worked. It was powerful and controllable and it was pretty too. Every rider I know who tried the Oro Puro quickly became a fan. It was a charmer of a brake that worked for a multitude of applications.
Enter the Formula R1. It was designed to unseat the Oro Puro as the best brake available. Read on and find out if it is up to the challenge.

caliper back side

Description:
First let’s talk about the weight since any reader who doesn’t care about its weight should stop reading now and look elsewhere.  The front system weighed in at 270 grams and 290 grams for the rear.  That is indeed the lightest brake around.  For comparison, here are other front brake weights:

Formula R1 front – 270 grams

Magura Marta SL – 345 grams

Avid Elixir Carbon – 410 grams

Front Caliper

So the weight savings are indeed significant and translate to about a 1/3 or 1/2 lb depending on the alternative.

How does it look? Hawt!  The lever has a very clean, minimalistic lines with red anodized clamps and hardware. The master cylinder itself sports a flat black finish and is complemented with a silver forged lever. The cable is an elegant gray kevlar braid which leads to a flat, textured caliper with red ano accents as well.  However, the rotor itself is not of the same aesthetic caliber. The swoopy center lines are abruptly finished by a very round outer rim peppered by dozens of holes. It’s not in the same vein as the classic Oro Puro rotor. However, an optional alloy rotor is available that sports an anodized center carrier bolted to the outer braking surface. It is quite sporty but costs more pennies.

Performance:

Does it stop you? Oh yes it does. The stopping power of this brake is A+ compared to any brake, even ones that weigh a lot more than this. The brakes hit hard specially if you grab a handful of lever. But then the surprise is that you can modulate it easily. Skidding or grabbiness is not in the nature of this brake at all as it will obey what your one finger desires. You can use two fingers too for old times sake but there’s really no need.

And why do you need the brakes so powerful? Aren’t disk brakes strong enough for a measly bicycle? Well if you have long descents longer than a mile, powerful brakes allow you to relax and save your hand and arm strength. It allows your upper body to stay loose and better anticipate and absorb the changing terrain. Also, using only a part of your braking power means that it will stay powerful and consistent on a 5 mile descent without fading or pumping out the lever.

We used this brake on a variety of conditions and they always stayed powerful and consistent. And just as important, we could always modulate the power with the elegant and ergonomic lever. When it was dusty, it was excellent. Dry, wet it was reliable. Such confidence-inspiring brakes actually allowed us to go faster since we could brake late into corners and set up our entry speed perfectly. And our hands never got tired from the moderate braking effort.

Our one complaint in performance is we occasionally heard a squeal or squeak. It is moderate compared to other brakes but it’s still there. Organic brake pads are available from Formula and although we didn’t get to try it, we’re confident that it would solve the problem as it has in our past experiences.

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  • Jim says:

    Does image (img_6906) show brake fluid corrosion?

  • Neal says:

    It looks like the handlebar is dirty, not corroded.

    In addition to that, the R1s come with alloy backed organic pads, so you did try the organic pad version.

  • joshivitz says:

    I’ve had these brakes on a 29er HT for about a year. At 1st, I was not impressed – particularily with the front stopping power….but then I went from a 160 to a 180 rotor in the front and it made all the difference.

    These are GREAT brakes now. Very light and functional.

  • Francois says:

    >>show brake fluid corrosion?

    No, I just checked and that brake is perfectly sealed. That bike was left outside for months and that cable area collected dirt.

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  • pecan says:

    I would love to see the actual weights of the Avid brake and Magura with indentical parts.

  • upup says:

    All of the above mentioned is true. It´s a great brake system, but the ones I received both had leaking issues (on the levers) from the start and had to be sent back to Formula for repairs.

  • Mike says:

    Francois do these brakes come with mettalic or semi-mettalic pads in stock form ?
    Are the organic pads from Formula an aftermarket option ?

  • Heather says:

    I am having issues with loud noise in the rear and it does not seem like the braking power is that great. I am on a 29r, so I wonder if a 180 disc would help this?

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