Formula Cura Brakes - Review

May 4, 2018
by Paul Aston  
Starling Murmur Review Formula Selva dropout


Formula's Cura is the latest brake from the brand that invented the fully hydraulic mountain bike disc brake way back in '93. After a few years with little fanfare, the Italian's went back to the drawing board to create an all new brake that uses an axial master cylinder, charged with mineral oil, that pushes two 24mm pistons inside a forged caliper. The Cura is available in gloss black or polished finish, with three popular rotor diameters supported. Rotor options are a one-piece, or a lighter-weight, two-piece design with an aluminum spider. Pricing is competitive at $150 USD / € 105 EUR per brake, plus the cost of the rotors.


Starling Murmur Review Formula Cura
Formula Cura Details
• Dual 24mm piston caliper
• Speed Lock hose disconnect
• One or 2-piece rotors in 160/180/200mm
• Flip-flop levers
• Gloss black or polished
• Integrated clamp options
• Mineral oil
• Weight: 410 grams (90cm hose, 180mm rotor, and hardware)
• Price: $150 USD / € 105 EUR each
• Contact: Formula Brakes


Installation

When I preordered the brakes, I opted for 180mm one-piece rotors to keep things simple, as I would be able to bolt the calipers straight on with no mounts. Not so easy, though. As on its Selva forks, Formula's calipers are configured for post-mounts and 160mm rotors. C'mon guys, who is ever going to use a smaller rotor than a 180mm on a burly enduro fork? Formula argues they have many riders using a 130mm Selva and 160mm rotor, but I haven't seen them. Then, my Starling frame turned up with IS160 flange mounts, so gone was my idea of simplicity and I had to stack a +20mm post-mount adapter onto an IS160 flange-mount adapter (chum for the commenters).

Anyway, things were simple after that, as the brakes came bled and ready to install from the factory. The Speed Lock hose disconnector is genius and makes installing the brakes or re-routing them through frames simple. First, pull back the rubber cover, flick off the radial spring, and then slide the cam to disconnect. It's similar to the connections found on air compressors and tools. Reverse the process to re-connect the brake line and there is no air incursion, so no need to bleed the brakes – awesome.

Formula Cura weight
The Cura brake weighed in at 410 grams for the complete system, including rotor and hardware.
Views: 5,339    Faves: 5    Comments: 3


What looks like an on-the-fly adjuster located behind the lever to tune the bite point, isn't, but it is possible to adjust with a 2.5mm allen key. The lever blade is shaped to be parallel with the handlebar at an average bite point and, although I run my levers farther out than most people, I found the shape, throw, and bite point to be ideal. Finally, there is an option for 'MixMaster' clamps, which allow owners to directly mount their shift and dropper controls to the brake perches to clean up the handlebar.

Starling Murmur Review Formula Cura
Starling Murmur Review Formula Cura


Performance

The Cura brake has a great feeling. The long lever gives plenty of power and has a more rounded blade than many levers, which gives a precise and easier to modulate feeling. Modulation is hugely impressive, and there is very little resistance when pulling the lever. Even with the medium-sized 180mm rotors, however long the descent was, I couldn't get them to show any signs of overheating and always had enough power, that I never thought twice about looking for bigger rotors. Mixed with organic pads, there was more than enough power at all times - except in wet conditions, where some heat was needed to get them biting. I would look to change to sintered pads if I were riding regularly in wet conditions.

Compared to stalwart stoppers, the Cura has more modulation than SRAM's Guide and Code, and power seems similar to the four piston Code. Shimano's XT Trail brakes have more power, but I find them to be too aggressive at the start of the lever stroke, where the Cura builds power more gently and makes it easier to control wheel traction.

I had no problems during the duration of the test, as the Cura's worked perfectly. The pads lasted for weeks and the rotors stayed true. Formula have crafted a fantastic brake that I wouldn't hesitate to use on any bike, in any conditions. In fact, it was the only two-piston brake on the World Cup DH circuit - on the race winning bike of Finn Iles in 2017.

The only negative point I could find with the Cura is the hose connection at the caliper. I would like to see an adjustable banjo-style connection there to angle the hose to suit different frame and fork configurations.



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Cura has put Formula back in the braking game. with a system that rivals or betters most of its competition. They have a great feel and as much power as any rider could need. And, for those who believe they need more, a four-piston version should be available soon - that could be something very special indeed. Paul Aston



138 Comments

  • + 752
 My ex girlfriend Olive caught me watching Italian porn with a bunch of hose getting piston, it caused a lot of friction so i decided to lever. But i didn't tell her face to face i rotor a letter and this made her very hot under the collar. She came to my pad and squealed like crazy, but then she pulled a blade! I managed to stop her and throw it out of the window into the reservoir, i was ok but my nipple got cut and bled a bit. That was a while ago now and it's all a bit of a Hayes, but it did take a while for the memories to fade, I know i'm no Saint but i Hope i'll find someone new one day, but i've learned my lesson, no more Italian porn for me, i don't want another brake up like that!
  • + 48
 This one's going to the top my man.
  • - 82
flag policemanjim (May 4, 2018 at 1:32) (Below Threshold)
 ????
  • + 81
 A year's worth of puns, all in one comment. Are you about to do a PB fasting?
  • + 38
 @policemanjim: What is it you don't punderstand?...
  • + 54
 @ugez: I tried not to comment at all, but it's a brake review, the pressure was just too much...
  • + 18
 @ugez: I think he's trying to brake the internet.
  • + 37
 Ain't no Cura for love.
  • + 7
 @deadmeat25: Couldn't stop yourself?
These could be the brakes for you..
  • + 9
 @policemanjim: This only serves as a reminder of the current intelligence requirement for joining the UK Police force... But also that copper would have been another good pun...
  • + 14
 The Mt. Everest of PB puns
  • + 3
 Smile +1000
  • + 8
 You just won the internet. All of it.
  • + 2
 you sir win the internet today!
  • + 2
 LEGEND
  • + 29
 I challenge anyone to find any other response as good as this on pinkbike. Pb step up and send this dude a pair of socks or something.
  • + 4
 @deadmeat25: that's a XTRemely punny. all power, no modulation.

So funny I squealed avidly.

Did you win you girlfriend back by singing her "i'll give you my oil" on a banjo?
  • - 28
flag jayacheess (May 4, 2018 at 13:16) (Below Threshold)
 I try to avoid being negative, but I can't help but feel like mountain bikers - at least the internet going types - have the worst sense of humour. Why are these terrible pun posts always upvoted to the top?
  • + 2
 @jayacheess: oh, I think you're going to get a lot more negative as the minutes go by. This isn't a pun post, it's an edifice.
  • + 6
 @onemind123: I need socks!
  • + 2
 I can't even read the rest of the comments as this one pretty much took care of it. thanks
  • + 2
 There are many layers to this game my man
  • + 1
 There's a simple Formula for your concerns - get some Gustav 'M relax a bit!
  • + 33
 I love seeing reviews of major bike components other than the main companies, such as shimano and sram. Especially when it seems to be a very competent and competitive part. It's nice knowing there are other companies out there, producing a solid mtb component, and competing with the big companies, even though they don't have nearly the same amount of devoted followers. Nice job Formula. I'd buy these in a heart beat.
  • + 5
 Especially as not so long ago, Formula was the main company, when thinking about brakes. Good to see them back with a good product!
  • + 14
 I agree! I know it sounds like a typical pinkbike comment but I decided to try some TRP g-spec quadiems after seeing Gwin praise TRP for their willingness to listen and make improvements. Hands down best brakes I've ever had. They make you realize how important modulation is, even maybe more so than stopping power. As long as smaller brands offer a great product I think it's worthwhile to try something new.
  • + 4
 If my R0's ever give up on me then I'd definitely be in the market for a set of Cura's. Given the issues with some Sram and Shimano brakes it's surprising they're not more popular.
  • + 2
 Smaller brands push design and innovation. Bigger brands just market their macro innovation much better. We are whores to the market.
  • + 1
 @DC1988: I have RO's right now and the front has a seized piston needing a rebuild. Can't say I'm happy with them right now.
  • + 2
 @yeti951SD: Word. I did the same thing. Got the set for about 250 and couldnt be happier. Awesome brakes and from the sounds of it these have similar characteristics.
  • + 4
 @MikeAzBS: Are you riding 1 by maybe... 12 or 11 gears with a damped derailleur?
Maybe have air suspension, 29" wheels, dropper post, carbon frames...

Big brands probably are not always the first but they are pushing innovation as well.
Although their marketing of mikrovations is annoying. 28,99.
  • + 17
 I changed from saints to these about 3 months ago and without any exaggeration.. they are the best thing i've ever bolted to a bike. I used saints last season and every time I rode them and even mid ride I had to adjust something, even after bleeding them many times. Since fitting my Cura, I've not had to make a single adjustment... every time I go to my bike, they are exactly as they were and exactly how they should be. They are super smooth, predictable, powerful and the best value! Highly recommend!
  • + 7
 Same expereince here.
Worth mentioning they weight less than Xtr, and cost like Xt (easier to find deals on shimano).
  • + 11
 I am riding those brakes since 1 year and half on my dh bike. I spent a full season in Whistler straight to another season in Queenstown without any bleeding. Unbelievable how the feeling is still consistant and how reliable the brake is. In addition I never felt the need for more power. My only complain will be about the levers which take some play. Worth a purchase at 200€ a pair.
  • + 1
 your life sounds pretty good. how do you do it?
  • + 1
 @colincolin: Working holiday visa is the solution to live the dream my man Wink
  • + 6
 The Cura is by far the best brake I've ever had. Six months, and zero trouble so far, not even the squeaking noise Formula was once famous for. Great modulation, always enough power (I'm not a heavy rider, though). Thanks, Formula, good job!
  • + 9
 OK, I'll be the one saying it:
when reviewing brakes the staple to compare to is HOPE
  • + 2
 Worth saying, V4's are still the best in my opinion. If other companies can't even match them i wonder why they bother.
  • + 14
 @deadmeat25: aren't the v4's like $250 and the rotors $150? If so, thats like asking why Toyota bothers making cars when there are Ferraris out there.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: the rotors are less than half of that. They aren't that unreasonable like they once were. The only time the rotors get that expensive is when you buy the vented floaters. They are wider with cooling fins like a motorcycle brake. The regular floaters are about 70 CAD so not a bad price in the states.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: if you get the V4 Vented rotor they are $140. Its a badass rotor but they weigh quite a bit.
  • + 5
 Never ridden a Hope brake, but I've heard great things. However, most people are probably like me and have only ridden SRAM or Shimano brakes in the last few years, so my guess is that comparing the Cura's to a Hope brake isn't all that helpful for a lot of readers.
  • + 1
 @BEEner: So by the same line of logic, why does Hope bother making the non vented rotor if the vented one is better?
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: Wildly incorrect post.

Hope Tech 3 V4 = £150
Shimano Saint M820 = £150
Magura MT8 = £170
Formula RO = £1,000,000
Sram Code RSC = £175
etc etc etc

And why on earth do you seem to think you have to use Hope rotors with Hope brakes?
I use V4's with Shimano RT-76 rotors, and guess what, they work fine because they're just round steel things, and they cost around £25 each.

Did you and everyone that propped you just not realize any of this? Or do you have a problem with Hope in general or something? Do you just not know the real price of things so just make numbers up? Did you have nothing else to say? What is it? I'm just trying to figure it out...

Yes the Cura is more budget friendly at around £100. But here's my problem. I'd hazard a guess that you, like 99% of all PB users are a keen mountain biker, but are you riding around on a 1995 GT Zaskar with V-Brakes because you still can't afford to upgrade? I'll go out on a limb here and say no, no you're not. Mostly everyone here has a very nice bike, as well as an expensive helmet, all the gear, a Camelback etc... The list goes on... And i simply cannot accept that anyone agreeing with your comment really couldn't save up £100 more to have the best brakes out there, or any of the ones in the list above over the Cura. Maybe i'm naive and there are thousands of Pinkbike users kids all around the world going hungry everyday because daddy needs new brake pads this month so he can't afford to buy any gruel. Or, maybe the Cura really is hands down better than all those mentioned so it's simply not worth spending the extra, but i very much doubt it.

I understand brakes like this for OEM use, but why anyone would buy them aftermarket is a bit of a mystery.
I'm very far from being rich, i have only one bike, but why when even just putting rubber on your wheels costs £100, would you scrimp out on the only thing more important to your safety than a helmet?
  • + 0
 @deadmeat25: www.chainreactioncycles.com/mobile/ca/en/brakes/mtb-disc-brakes?sort=pricehigh&ss=2434

Hope stuff looks nice, but is definitely in the top tier pricing wise. I'd be looking at ~$700CAD for a set of brakes. That is more than the average Canadian takes home after a week of servitude. A lot more. Even making $22/Hr with a 40Hr work week, and a bi-weekly pay, you take home ~$650 after taxes etc...

Credit isn't money. It's a trap. True story.
  • + 0
 @m1dg3t: Now i'm even more confused???

Firstly everything under the link is either irrelevant or just incorrect, and the link itself takes you to page that simply proves what i just said???

There is so little relative price difference between very average brakes in the £100 - £120 bracket, and the very best at around £150 - £170.

They even have a special offer on that page for a set of Hope V4's with a fancy Hope rotor for £200 which is only £25 more than buying a V4 and a cheap Shimano RT-75 as i suggested.

If you are in the market for brakes, and you have £240 to spend on some Sram Guide RS brakes for example, why the f*ck wouldn't you just wait another month and save up the extra £60 for the Hopes? You could even just use your current rotors.

Ooh and here look i can post links too:

winstanleysbikes.co.uk/hope-tech-3-v4-front-disc-brake-with-braided-hose?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1onVz8fu2gIV7bXtCh0smACHEAQYByABEgIFlvD_BwE#black-left-hand

A Hope V4 for £152, just £30 more than a bullshit Guide RS from your link.

That's $529 CAD for a set of Hope V4's vs $418 for the Guides, where'd you get $700 from? And I never mentioned credit, I said save up.

Do you get my point yet? If you already have some money saved up or available to buy some brakes, only impatience is standing between the Guides and the $110 extra you'd need for the Hopes, not to mention the fact that reliability, longevity and serviceability is paramount to us poor people.

And then there's eBay.

Ffs.
  • + 0
 @deadmeat25: I never said anything about Guides. As a matter of fact I dislike SRAM and remove any product of theirs from my bike/s as quickly as possible. If a bike is kitted out with SRAM/RockShox I keep on looking. LoL

You must work for Hope or be buddy buddy with someone there? For me to get a set of Hope brakes on my bike HERE in Canada would cost me roughly $700. Can you change that fact? Don't forget shipping, brokerage/duty/import fees, sales tax, and conversion rates.

I'll never see your 'point'.

I don't do eBay.

FFS

Smile
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t:

Guides were an example and you know it.

I don't work for Hope and i suspect you know that too.

Hopes were also an example, Saints are the same price, i know you just won't get it.

"I don't do eBay" said no intelligent person ever.

Feel free to continually make bad choices it makes no difference to me.
  • + 2
 @deadmeat25: you said "If other companies can't even match them i wonder why they bother." In reference to Hope V4's. You then say my price was wrong even though here it is for $240 (10% off). www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/hope-tech-3-v4-disc-brake/rp-prod112987 . I guess you are not challenging the price of Hope's top tier rotors, as you say you can use any cheap rotor with them. Do they work as well? You logic is other manufacturers selling brakes not quite as good for half the price should not even bother, but you skimp and save on rotors? That's like buying a Ferrari and putting cheap $80 road tires from Wal-Mart on it.
  • - 1
 @Rubberelli:

Why on earth would they work any differently? You tell me...

You just keep saying that are demonstratively untrue. Using non Hope cheap rotors isn't the same as the difference between using Pirellis and budget tyres on any car. Being savvy about where you spend and where you save is at the heart of what i'm saying.

If you're going to try and say clever things to make a point at least make them clever...
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: holy you have caused quite the stir! Ok I'm not going to get into this other banter. I'll just answer your original question you had for me. Hope makes 3 different sets of rotors (normal, floating, and vented floating(on V4 in 200mm only)) in the same way that sram makes 3 eagle drivetrains. They all function the same but some people can't afford the top tier. In the case of eagle you are paying for weight savings basically. In hopes rotor case, you're paying for heat distribution properties. When you compare hopes to other brands top tier brakes their price is very similar. They only get out of hand when you choose to buy the vented rotors. Choose what you think will get the job done. Any rotor will do just fine but for me, I like hope brakes when they have the floaters just for the iconic look (call me shallow but whatever). I highly doubt you will even notice the extra properties that are given to you by the vented rotors but I could be wrong. If you want a hope brake, I'd recommend buying the E4 or V4 bundle on Chainreaction. You choose the brake and rotor combo of your choice and they usually give a small discount. Looking to upgrade to hope myself soon! HOPE this helps.
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: lol. Either your math is goofy or you pay 63% taxes?
  • + 1
 @deadmeat25: I am definitely not clever enough for you to see the irony of insisting that Hopes are so good that Sram and Shimano should give up making their much less expensive brakes, meanwhile you have no idea why anyone in world would buy anything but the absolute cheapest rotor available!
  • + 1
 @deadmeat25: well said! V brake riders are probably spending all their $$ on "hose getting piston" porn instead of feeding their bikes real brakes and helmets.
  • + 2
 @conoat: How is my math goofy? The cheapest set of Hopes from CRC are $225/side. Multiply that by 2, add 13% sales tax, duty/brokerage, and shipping. That'll be about $575. Add rotors, and you can see where it's going.

I aint no fanboy.
  • + 4
 I think the brakes speed lock is something that is special coming to market. Hats off to a company finally understanding that not all people want to spend 5-6 bucks on olives and barbs when swapping frames. Not to mention the time savings, and ease of use specially when comparing to the shimano system thats well over a decade old!!!!
  • + 4
 Thinking about selling my Saints for these or the 4 Piston when it’s available.

I had the The Ones (not even the best) and the Modulation of the levers were superb - my Saints just bite.

And I really liked the levee per se- perfect in the hands.

Big upside is now mineral oil- otherwise I would have bought a pair sooner- we’ll done Formula!
  • + 3
 get hope e4/v4 if you dont want to wait
  • + 5
 @Asmodai: I would buy them but I don’t want brakes with DOT fluid.
And they are double the price Frown
  • + 1
 @NotNamed: and in my experience hope e4s are nice to modulate, but they got no power ... already tried with different pads, did not change much ... :/ quiet disappointing for the price
  • + 3
 Better modulation is definitely the opportunity in MTB brakes right now. So much of many companies' marketing is around "moar power, moar power!!", which is only half the picture. I see a lot of preventable skidding (ie: wrecking) of local trails. Good on Formula for not only making a solid product, but also helping promote better modulation (ie: smarter design).
  • + 3
 Has anybody tried these with non-Formula rotors? Would be great if I could save some money and keep my newer Sram rotors on and still get decent performance.
  • + 3
 Running them with Shimano XT Ice Tech Rotors. No problems.
  • + 1
 @Mgmyers: What about the mounts ? can you fit other than the original formula ones ?
  • + 1
 @Magiko: Do you mean the brake adapters? I'm using Shimano adapters for my 180mm front rotor.
  • + 1
 @Mgmyers: yes brake adaptors, that’s great if shimano fits ! Hope it works for the rear as well
Thanks
  • + 1
 I can see how this could get heated and bubble up, give it some time and air out your line of communications with her. These are not organic issues and sometimes they require more mettle than other issues. Times like these, I put 4 pots on the stove and strum a few lines on my Banjo
  • + 3
 I guess I'm confused as to why you just expected to be able to run 180mm rotors without adapters...seems like that's still a pretty new standard and far from universal.
  • + 2
 Got a set of these about 6 months ago - best brakes I have had to date! (In comparison to Shimano XT and Sram Guides). Great modulation, tons of power, don't need to be bled often, and the pads seem to last for a long time!
  • + 2
 One brakes from 2012(ish) were the best lever feel + power brake I've used. Reliable bite point at any point in a run. Miss them. Really wanted to like Shimano XT's, but they are just too inconsistent. Cura, right on time.
  • + 5
 Pads lasted for weeks?
  • + 1
 I used a pair of loaner R1's form the bike shop while my zee's were getting the calipers replaced. The R1's were so good I didn't want to go back to the Zee's when they got fixed. Can I use these with non-formula rotors?
  • + 1
 Are these the updated "T1s"? Look to be lacking some adjustability? That quick disconnect leaves me with a dubious feeling, an interesting idea for sure. Definitely would like to see long term testing results.
  • + 3
 Please compare with Magura, esp. in terms of modulation. I am curious about Cura.
  • + 1
 The big question is reliability. The K18s I had ran perfectly for 5 years. The R1s couldn’t keep a bleed, even with the formula rep doing it himself.
  • + 2
 How can it have the same power as a Code, but not as much as XT? Code is more powerful, yes?
  • + 3
 I guess they mean xt 8020 which is a bastard child of saint and xt in 4-piston flavour
  • + 2
 Love my R1s. They have been on 3 bikes now over the past 10 years and I haven’t had a single issue with them.
  • + 1
 i cannot fault Formula - i have Oro K24 and The One and neither have caused me any issues in nearly 10 years. also very good on pads
  • + 1
 Lived with a pair of oro's for more than 7 years. Never failed me. In only hesitate in: should i buy those gold anodized Cura's or is that over the top.
  • + 1
 I’m torn on that too! The black would fit my ride well but the gold is oh so pretty!
  • + 1
 Had a few problems with the brakes I have now. This might be the cura was looking for.
  • + 10
 @deatmeat25 already shut down the pun game on this one, sorry.
  • + 1
 good brake is shimano and end point, I already had formula r1 and only had problems, puz a slx and I was very satisfied!
  • + 1
 can we get weights for just caliper hose and lever? the rest are standard components that obfuscate comparison.
  • + 2
 Oh another thing. How's their warranty service like in N America?
  • - 1
 Saying it comes without rotors, then listing you can use one or two piece rotors, is extremely weird. You can use whatever you buy, yes. That's obvious.
  • - 1
 @paulaston

Apostrophe indicates possessive not plural.

Doesn't anyone car about punctuation anymore, especially professional writers?
  • + 3
 It looks like you "car" so much about punctuation you forgot to check your spelling. One must be careful to proofread, lest they risk calling the kettle black.
  • + 1
 @jrcd I 'car' about putting in maximum ride time on products and giving the most honest reviews I can, above all because I never want to see a consumer wasting their hard-earned on junk products. My attention to apostrophe placement is secondary, and I do my best with all of my words and am constantly trying to improve on the 150+ articles I write each year.
  • + 2
 Sold!!
  • + 1
 Possible to buy these in Canada? Where would I get them?
  • + 2
 bike24.com have them in stock. Best price I could find this morning (checked CRC, Merlin, R2, bike-componenents, bike-discount, Jenson, ribble, Competitive Cyclist, Wiggle, Ebay, Amazon)
  • + 3
 Hey! We are the Canadian distributor for Formula. Please get in touch at contact@albadistribution.ca and we'll get you sorted out with a set.
  • + 1
 in Canada
  • + 0
 Dont...no support in canada from that company
  • + 2
 @jclaremt: Hey, we are the new Formula Distributor in Canada, we have a range of spares and a workshop here for any service/warranty work. Let us know if you need assistance with anything. contact@albadistribution.ca
  • + 1
 @AlbaDistribution: Sent you an email, let see if you can give me a better price than what I've found online.
  • + 1
 @AlbaDistribution: End result = 60$ higher for the set.
  • + 1
 @lRaphl: which isnt bad if you factor in duty which you may or may not get charged with imports
  • + 1
 @AlbaDistribution: where u located?
  • + 1
 @onemind123: I factored duty (GST + 9.99$ handling) in the price difference.
  • + 2
 @onemind123: Hey, we're up in Whistler. If you're local, we have demo brakes and forks you can try out, or if you want to buy we can get you sorted.
  • + 1
 Nice work on the bleed port location too.
  • + 1
 I would actually cop a pair of these
  • - 3
 Give the jokes a Brake
  • + 1
 Got 'em, love 'em-best brakes i've ever used and need no tweaking.
  • + 0
 Just get some Maguras
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