Formula's New Cura Brake - Sea Otter 2016

Apr 15, 2016
by Mike Levy  
Sea Otter 2016


Formula s New Cura Brake


Formula Cura Brake

Up until now, every single one of Formula's mountain bike brakes has employed DOT fluid. Not so with their new Cura brake, however, with the Italian company making the move to mineral oil for their new offering. The Cura may be one of their least expensive brakes, but Formula's Vittorio Platania was also quick to point out that an earlier prototype version of the brake, one that he says actually had less power than the production model shown here, was ridden to a junior World Cup victory last season. The Cura retails for $150 USD, and will be available this coming September.

Formula Cura Details:

• Intended use: XC / EN / DH
• Fluid: mineral oil
• Two-piston caliper
• Two-piece caliper
• Speed Lock hose attachment stock
• Ships with organic pads
• Accepts previous Formula brake pads
• Ambidextrous lever
• Colors: polished or black
• Weight: 359 grams (160mm one-piece rotor, mounting hardware)
• MSRP: $150 USD


Formula Cura brake
Formula Cura brake


Brake manufacturers don't often, or ever, switch from DOT to mineral oil or vice versa, and especially not when they have decades upon decades of history with one or the other. So why has Formula gone with mineral oil for the Cura when the rest of their brakes all use DOT fluid? Part of it came down to consumer demand, Platania explained, with mineral oil certainly having a more environmentally friendly image going for it. It's friendlier on any surface it makes contact with, be it bike or skin, and a lot of consumers are probably less intimidated by the idea of working with mineral oil.

The switch means that all-new seals are used throughout on the Cura, of course, and Formula will also recommend a revised but still simple bleeding procedure compared to their DOT systems.

The majority of Formula's brakes feature a radial-style master cylinder, be it push or pull, but the Cura's top end sees the master cylinder oriented to be in line with the handlebar, much in the same way that Shimano or SRAM position there's, and that Formula has themselves done with their older C1 offering. Formula says that they were aiming for a more traditional lever feel for the Cura and that the brake's layout is key for this.
Formula s New Cura Brake

The inline design that sees the brake's master cylinder on the same plane as the perch also allows Formula to efficiently forge the entire assembly rather than cast it, with the latter technique being most common for a brake in this price range. Forging makes a stronger final product, and Formula claims that this allows them to manufacture a lighter assembly - more strength means that less material is required.


Formula Cura brake
Formula Cura brake


Downstairs, the Cura calls on a two-piece caliper that Formula says is easier to work on, and no doubt easier and less expensive to manufacture, and two 24mm diameter pistons clamp down on the rotor. Thankfully, Formula has stuck with the same pad shape, thereby making it easy to get ahold of pads that you'll eventually require. They've also included their nifty tool-free Speed Lock hydraulic hose attachment system down at the caliper, making it simple to disconnect and reconnect the line (without having to perform a bleed) if you need to feed it through your frame


MENTIONS: @rideformula




106 Comments

  • + 71
 do anybody ever willingly buys formula brakes? they just seem to come with bikes and are usually the first thing to go away.
  • + 30
 Back in days, with k18 and k24 models, they were actually my favorite stoppers.
  • + 8
 I would pass until reading many rave reviews. I have tried three sets. Two came OEM with bikes (RC Tunes) and they were terrible. I sent them back and (I was told) they got bled (like I had not tried that myself) and got new pads. Same crap. They are now on our city bikes, only 'cause if some sucker steals them he'll be up for a surprise the first time he tries to brake. The third set I purchsed used for one of the aforementioned city bikes. Those are R1's. They are a lot better and at first they bite hard, but then the power does not seem to increase as I pull further. Sorry for the cliche, but by now I run XT's and could not be happier...
  • + 34
 I purchased a set of The One's for my downhill bike when someone decided not to take them after ordering them at my local shop, so I got quite a deal on them (Considering retail they were $800 for a pair). I still have them and absolutely love them, the power is quite substantial, but once you were used to them they were easily controlled. Some more modulation would have been nice but I would definitely purchase Formula's again. I have XT's on my trail bike which I love as well but I wouldn't hold them any higher than Formula.
  • + 15
 Same, rode Oro K24, loved these brakes. My The One were good too.
  • + 20
 That's what I do with Sram stuff.
  • + 1
 Harsh.... but true
  • + 11
 @IllestT: Oro and K24 were great brakes. T1's and RO's are the best brakes on the market. I have had loads over the years and never hardly had a problem with them. They do have to be set up correctly. When buying brand new Formulas I have found they need to be broken properly before riding. If this is not done they wont perform to any where near the level they are capable of. I once got a set forgot to run them in and took them straight out on the trail and they just lacked the power I was used to. Plus I have read you can get a bunk set every once in a while, which I dont really think is acceptable for the price of some of the models.
  • - 1
 So true, They're great when they work.. When they work........... And quite pricey
  • - 6
flag IllestT (Apr 15, 2016 at 11:20) (Below Threshold)
 Mmmmm no. They were toss and stop working after a wet ride. Stuck pistons, leaky levers and slowly drop to bits. I live in the Peak District and it's wet and sandy, so only the hardiest gear survives and to be fair, no brakes I've ever found last more than about 8 months, but Formula were definitely worse than most
  • + 7
 Absolutely loved my k24's
  • - 1
 I spent half of a year trying to get used to R1. Lord knows that I gave them many chances. I don't care which one of us screwed up this relationship, but it was me ending it. Few weeks later I tried T1 and they were even worse. They did teach me to be better at braking because you either brake in right spot or you slide all over the place. We love each other with Guides RS ATM
  • - 1
 @IllestT: It must be cause your do ill bud. Raaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 4
 @pakleni: Me too. I still have Oro Puros (circa 2007) on my trail bike and they are powerful and silent (no disc rub).
  • + 2
 @Hetman64: Me too! Smile
  • + 2
 i got the rx as oem part on my hardtail, stopping power is okay, but they develop air bubbles very easy and need to be bled often.
also i used to have the one on my ex-enduro (stolen Frown ), they were great and i only had to bleed them once in 4 years. power was impressive, modulation only okay-ish though. cant say anything about newer models than 2011.
  • + 6
 I ran Formulas on about 4 of my past bikes. Never had any trouble with them. They were a bit finicky to bleed, but they performed quite well despite that fact.
  • + 5
 I've got a pair of R1x brakes (R1 Levers, RX Calipers) on my bike because CRC had them for $70 CDN a wheel including rotors.

They're pretty fantastic. Super light and loads of feel. The only issue I have with them is that they squeal like a scalded pig the first time you squeeze them on a cold or wet day. Beyond the noise they're pretty great, and they look waaaay better than Shimano brakes.
  • + 7
 Really? I have Formula RO brakes on my DH, better than any other brake I've tried.
  • + 4
 Best modulation too. Bled after one season, fluid was a little dusty and only a few sir bubbles in the lines.
  • + 5
 Well, there might not be a real reason too buy anything else than Shimano. But I really like the looks of the Formula brakes, and they are quite light. And my RO outperforms anything I tried so far. And every single Formula brake I had so far worked better and more reliably than anything I ever had from Avid.
  • + 3
 @FuzzyL: Same here. Over 160 park days on my first set of RO's and I only bleed them twice. First to cut the hoses and second was "you have to bleed your brakes at least once a year" thing. Such a reliable and powerfull brake it was insane. Only thing that was bad was the lever interface that became sloppier than god knows what.


Havent ridden any other Formula brakes though
  • + 1
 I bought a used set of T1s 3 years ago and I love them. Performance has been great, other than the finicky bleeding process.
  • + 0
 @seraph: "on about"?? What does that even mean it's either the number or not lol
  • + 1
 FYI another website did a review on the new RO-Racing brake that Mike Levy slammed recently
www.mtb-mag.com/en/tested-formula-ro-racing-brakes

They had a very positive experience, and this lines up with my experience on said brake. The RO-R has more power than the T1, I own both (having previously owned Saint M810, M820, XT M785, Zee M640, you name it). I think Mike Levy is either on the Shimano payroll (since he slams every non-Shimano brake, even though they are riddled with reliability issues in the real world) or had contaminated rotors or something for the RO test, since otherwise the reviews couldn't be the polar opposites they are. Levy also used the brakes on an XC bike by the look, which those brakes *should* have excessive power on.

I'm not sponsored by Formula and honestly at their (exorbitant) price I would very happily run Shimano instead if the reliability and lever throw consistency was of a similar standard under bikepark use - but it isn't - so there is a real benefit to Formula brakes. Most people who rip on them haven't owned the latest items which are of substantially higher quality than most of the competition and once bled correctly will run for years without needing to be touched again.
  • - 1
 @uuuu: what I need to become a believer is for someone to be honest and admit that R1, T1, RX, The One were fkng grabby and had nect tono modulation, rendering the front brake as useless in slippery conditions. Because the only thing that I tried that had more On/Off feel was Hayes HFX-9 with braided hose. Those were sht for anyone who had any idea about braking. So if you admit that and tell me that latest ones are free of that on/off feel and work more like Shimanos or Srams, then I may consider checking them out. Also a lesson in bike journalism - the bigger the site, the lesser the chance of corruption. Several German and Polish magazines were paid for their product of the year. When you are small you suck balls. When you are big, several companies suck your balls.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: If you ride anything remotely steep and heavy on braking, that is not a problem - if anything I think Shimano brakes with servo wave have more grabbiness and I don't think that's a bad thing at all (it's just the inconsistency/unreliability that made me move on). If anything I would prefer if Formulas had more bite and grab. Have you actually owned those brakes for any decent period of time? You'll find the pads glaze into some degree of mediocrity after a few weeks of riding, and will no longer have that insta-lock feel - but personally I don't even think that's a good thing - would rather they maintained it (funnily enough, again somewhere where Shimano shines, with their heatsink pads which maintain their grab for longer by reducing heat-generated glazing)

Modulation is something you do with your fingers, a lack of braking force is usually the cause if you think a brake is doing that for you. Of course you can have the power come on more gradually and still have the same peak power, but I really don't think this is somewhere where Formula struggles - and as I said - I don't think that power coming on 'gradually' is a good thing anyway personally. I suspect what you've ridden is some very fresh Formulas, believe it or not most brakes feel like that when just-bedded-in.

I definitely don't think they have an on-off feel (to say it yet again, I actually wish they had more of that / maintained that after some long brake-draggy runs), but if you think they are too bitey then I'd suggest riding a set that have been ridden for a while and re-evaluate if you think they are still excessively bitey.

I have nothing to gain from you "checking them out" by the way - honestly if you are happy with Shimano and SRAM keep running them. I had problems in the long term with both brands which is why I switched. I genuinely think Shimano actually make the bitiest and most powerful brakes (mostly because of a very aggressive leverage change at bite point via servo wave) and that's something I like about them. If locking up in slippery conditions I think the solution is a combination of better technique and better tyres.

Finally, as for ball-sucking, Levy rips on everything non-Shimano, and unlike him I've actually owned the RO-Racing for a long period of time (including a full season of chairlift riding on both the Saint and RO-Racing brakes). No one pays me anything so my opinion is just a function of my experience. Shimano brakes are much cheaper so I'd very happily switch back to them if there weren't long-term issues under heavy use (i.e. chairlift seasons).
  • + 1
 @uuuu: yes I had very well functioning R1 for over half of a year. My Guides are powerful enough (I have no probs locking wheels, then why should I need more power?) They fade a bit but so do R1. So no modulation is not lack of power, it is a controlled way of applying it, and if I get that withing 2cm of stroke instead of 5mm I am happy.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I find the R1 hugely lacking in power, and upgraded from the T1 because I still wanted more (currently on RO-R but still own a few sets of T1 and R1, not on bikes). I think you are either riding quite flat terrain, or are very light in body weight if you find the R1's have a lack of modulation (most people would probably just find they don't stop!). I presume you are not riding DH? No offence intended =D, but I've found both the R1 and Guide lacking in power for my application and I'm of average weight (~170lbs) but regularly riding steep stuff. There is a reason you see pros switching to Code calipers for DH use, same reason for RO > T1/R1.
  • - 1
 @uuuu: i don't ride DH. But I do go to Bike Park every now and then. I probably am a fitness monster with crushing grip, free of arm pump and pulling lever as a boss, thank God I had those carbon levers, I'd brake aluminium like cheese sticks Big Grin

So for my local XC... as soon as it rains, the R1 makes it very hard to brake on steeper wet bits like roots and rock slabs. I rode T1 with 203mm rotors here and it is virtually impossible to ride a bike with them, wheels lock up and bike slides all over the place with minimal input.

Riding R1 has postponed my learning of wheelies, stoppies and manuals since it is extremely hard to feather them.

That is not only my opinion, most people I ride with say the same things including a guy who was sponsored by them. All the best guys in town ride Guides. Sorry.
  • + 2
 I buy them, they work way better than avid.
  • + 1
 @mhoshal: maybe he swapped a set over to a 5th bike for a day or 2 or something?
  • + 40
 Personally I don't understand this Formula hate here. My former bike had The Ones, couldn't be any happier. Everything was great! Once rear brake wen't powerless. I tried to bleed it myself, but did crap job. Then I took it to local bike shop, and voila' excellent again. Maybe it's matter of experties...
  • - 20
flag bubbrubb (Apr 15, 2016 at 9:19) (Below Threshold)
 Yup everyone else is doing it wrong. Lol 1 set of Formula brakes does not make one an expert. I've worked on and sold a bunch, owned some. They all sucked. Every last one.
  • + 14
 @bubbrubb: Just because you have more 'experience' with them doesn't make you an expert or correct either of course.
  • + 11
 @bubbrubb: I've rode u-brakes, v-brakes, cantilevers, those old ass shit drum ones you had on BMX's in the 80's,side pull, center pull, dual pivot, mechanical disk brakes, hydraulic rim brakes and finally hydraulic disc brakes.

Honestly put some cantilevers on your bike and suddenly no hydraulic formula brakes will feel like they suck
  • + 1
 I had the Ones as well. To date they were the best stopping power I've had. But they had no middle ground and they were impossible to get spaced correctly, they always rubbed a little bit. Hard to bleed as well
  • - 1
 @areyouoffit: @areyouoffit: I ride a shitty, 90's, Finnish made, rigid, steel mtb, with rotten Avid's single digits 7 V's on it and those are still better love story, than recent Formula brakes Big Grin And anyday i choose that bike, than something with formulas on board, especially in winter Big Grin
  • + 0
 @areyouoffit: I still ride cantis on a bike but we aren't looking at drum or cantis. It's disc. And as far as disc brakes go, brand new models, you can definitely do a lot better. It's like how everyone bashes the Elixr. Had lots of personal success with them but a sub par brake is a sub par brake.
  • + 7
 @bubbrubb: Maybe they were all good until you got your hands on them breh.
  • + 1
 Cura. In finnish we have this word kura. It basically means sh*t. A sign maybe?
  • + 3
 @newtoDH: That's exactly my experience as well. Light weight, looked great, lots of power, but no modulation and impossible to keep from rubbing for more than one ride.
  • + 2
 Bleeding these brakes was an absolute pain in the a.... They worked great, until you needed spare parts. Took a whole month to get a new lever i exchanged the flimsy hoses with goodridge. And in my waiting time i was seduced by my trusty avids.
  • + 2
 @newtoDH: They're actually very easy to bleed proper even YouTube video available to show you. The spacing is a little tough to get but not impossible.
  • + 23
 They seem to think mineral oil is the correct formula for the job.
  • + 19
 Yep, their previous choice was DOTrimental to performance...
  • + 6
 It will be the cura for everything
  • + 1
 mineral oil is the Cura for their DOT woes
  • + 3
 @kusanagi72: I was just about to.
  • + 5
 Very well formulated arguments here. Bravo Gentlemen! Now, let's take a brake
  • + 1
 They're just trying to gain some leverage on the competition.
  • + 2
 Doh, I'm late for these pun parties all the bleeding time
  • + 1
 @adwamski: Sorry mate Wink
  • + 14
 PB Official Editing here:

In the 4th paragraph you said... "much in the same way that Shimano or SRAM position there's"

While you mean to say: "much in the same way that Shimano or SRAM position theirs"

You're welcome Smile
  • + 34
 Four your'e kean eye you have wins the penus flavered lollipop award.
  • + 1
 @bigburd: u spelt penous rong
  • + 7
 Thats good news. Im done with DOT forever, never buying any brakeset with it ever again. Dont care if SRAM or anyone else that still uses DOT comes out with the greatest brakes of all time for half the price, never using that crap.
  • + 5
 sucker Big Grin
  • + 13
 Better sell your vehicle you use because 10/10 it used DOT brake fluid.
  • + 7
 @ktmrider173: if I had to bleed my car's brakes as often as my Avid's then I probably would
  • + 11
 @aharris: Chances are your cars brakes are easier to bleed anyhow.
  • + 7
 Mineral Oil boils at a much lower temp than DOT. For 90% of applications mineral oil is fine. However, out here in Colorado, Whistler and similar places with back-to-back long DH runs, DOT fluid brakes have much less fade. Yes, DOT isn't as eviro friendly as mineral oil. But it has much more consistent performance at high temp levels.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 It depends a lot on the brake. Saints and Zee are virtually fade free in my shtty experience.
  • + 4
 You're right with the lower boiling temp, it's somewhere around 160C for mineral versus 230C for DOT4, but it's overshadowed by it's ehylene glycol base (think older anti-freeze) which eats rubber and plastics alike and also that it's hygroscopic. What that means is that the older the fluid, the lower the boiling point because water, as we all know, boils at 100C, and as stated above, DOT fluid loves to absorb water. So it's heavily dependent on a rigourous maintenance and also quality of the manufacturing and design. But even then, if you don't have a special bleeding machine, it will come in contact with air and will start to decay even before you pull the lever once. I wouldn't say it's much more consistent, maybe more consistent on some occasions but not worth the extra maintenance.
  • + 4
 Agree on Saints. Best mineral oil brake out there in my opinion. I run Hope brakes on my bikes now. DOT 5 in them
  • + 0
 @bman33: i run hopes as well, did you mean DOT 5.1?
Funny I did a little research on the boiling point, just a simple google search and my findings were opposite even with a dry boiling temp of DOT brake fluid standards were considerably lower than Shimano mineral oil. I know manufacturers of DOT brake fluid don't always list a boiling point of their particular brake fluid just the minimum standards that it passes, however I was surprised to learn that the Shimano mineral oil and possibly others have as high as it does. So i guess it depends on the manufacturers but i would not say mineral oil has a low boiling temp. anymore.
  • + 3
 @ktmrider173: yep, 5.1 DOT. I know several road moto guys and mechanics that swear by 5.1. I might delusional, not that far fetched. Ha!
  • + 0
 @ktmrider173: Got my numbers from wikipedia for the DOT4 fluid as it is a standard so easily availible. I used the spec sheet for Pentosin chf7.1 for mineral oil since it's what I got but a little more research did show that Shimano's oil seems to have a much higher boiling point, around 260C, found here :http://www.epicbleedsolutions.com/blog/dot-brake-fluid-vs-mineral-oil/. They consider hygoscopic DOT as an advantage, which I strongly disagree with, I've never ever seen water "pooling" in a properly sealed brake system but seen many many times brakes ruined by contaminated fluid though. And also, brake fluid is incredibly annoying to clean, you basically need some kind of alcool based solvent to remove it properly and prevent any damage to paint, plastics or skin.
  • + 7
 I run slx and zee's on my bikes but I cant argue with the awesome power on tap from my bros RO's! You get masses of free stroke adjust too, can set up with almost any amount of modulation... But fuck me they're expensive and theres barely room in the calliper for two pads AND a rotor lol. set up is a bitch
  • + 3
 i would buy another pair of Formula brakes, but mine didnt come on a factory bike. I had a pair of RO's from 2012, they were amazing. The modulation was better than any brake i have ever used. Im not going to say they were leaps and bounds better than my 2014 shimano XT's im surrently using as far as stopping power, but the modulation and feel alone was worth the money for me. I cant speak to their lower end brakes, but my RO"s were awesome.
  • + 7
 Levers looks like mixed xt and guide
  • + 1
 My thought exactly. It looks good actually, but yes it looks like a sram/shimano lovechild.
  • + 7
 Looks like "looks like..." Never gets old...
  • + 1
 I wonder what would happen if that was real?... Probably a pretty good performer.
  • + 1
 @DARKSTAR63: I was thinking guide levers, xtr body. Srimamula. Nope. Just nope. It's sounds like a skin disease.
  • + 4
 Had a go with t1s and they were bonkers powerful, probably the most powerful brakes iv come across. But....... Had absolute zero modulation was like flicking a switch
  • + 1
 After owning a set of SLX brakes on my DH sled and an SLX on my dirt for about 1 month of total riding, I gave them away for 50 Euro all three and jut got myself Formulas and I cannot be happier! I just needed something that would be there for me once I needed it. I had to bleed the SLX I think around 9 times for the entire ownership, spanning over a time frame of 6 months. They were not there when I needed them, so until Shimano fixes the lever design, I do not think I will be going back to them any time soon Smile
  • + 2
 I've been using Formula RX12 's on my bike for three years now, never had to bleed them, they've been great.
  • + 1
 I prefer avid mechanicals..only SRAM product I use because they stop me and I don't have to bleed them just replace a cable and go..simplicity
  • + 1
 Mine are now pretty ok.changed the rotors to shimano.i don't know what metal the formula rotors was made of, grab grab that's all you got.use them in my stihl saw now.
  • + 1
 Woo these look cool at least. I had the old inline Ones and they looked sick. They had average performance.
  • - 2
 I hope these are better than every other Formula brake i've had experience with. Maybe I've been lucky, but nothing has come close to my Codes in terms of power, modulation, and setup. Half the field at rampage can't be wrong. I've found them easier to bleed than the Formulas, too. If they modulate well and can provide some pad clearance they might gain some footing in my book. Formula has traditionally done well in terms of power and gram shaving, these will be a hit if they get the quad-fecta right.
  • + 2
 no hate until you try them
  • + 7
 I own, and don't love
  • + 2
 @Trendkill: these are pretty new. New seals, fluid, and lever design.
  • + 1
 I had a pair of Hayes solo once. Heckling years ago. Lethal brakes and these sound as bad. Nopenopenope!
  • + 1
 Looks very beautiful but Cura? What is that name?
  • + 0
 one question: does the new model make that gawd-awful noise?
  • - 1
 Mr. Shimano laughed his ears off when he saw this new threat to his brakes Wink
  • - 1
 Why do Formula insist on making brakes ? ...
  • - 1
 "They work"
-Sam Blenkinsop
  • - 3
 They need 4 pistons . 2 piston brakes should have gone away with single pivot .
  • - 3
 Its not Formula hate.., - brake dont work properly ! that's all I can say about it (faster stop my bike using my foot)
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