Formula The One Review - The Big Braking Point

Jan 12, 2009
by Jordan Holmes  
There are a few things in the biking world that can make or break a rider's day and when you're flying downhill you want to have quality brakes at your finger tips. We have all had run ins with the "not gonna stop me" squeal of wet v-brakes, so it's nice to see a company that has put years of research into a brake that is so dialed.

Read on to learn all about the One brake from Formula.Picture this, you're halfway down a slick, rocky trail, wet roots and trees are blocking your lines. The ring of the Marshall's whistle is still in your ear, your lung capacity has been cut in half, your arms and legs are tired and tense, and then everything goes sideways. As you approach a corner you realize you're going way too fast. As you engage your rear brake you notice that nothing is actually happening. The extreme heat of the rotors mixed with the glazed over pads makes for an immense lack of power. After a short hesitation you add another finger to the lever, so now you got 2 fingers on those so called brakes, and still nothing is happening. You feel uncomfortable removing any more fingers from your grips, so you do the same pattern to the front brake, and nothing happens at all. So now you have your maximum pressure on both levers, you're coming in way too hot for this corner, your fore-arms and calves are hard as rocks, and yet you're not slowing down at all.

Poor brakes are a quick and easy way to wreck a race run, or even a leisurely ride with friends. Some people might not realize it, but brakes on your bike play just as big of a part as brakes on your car. If they don't work right, you're in danger, and so are the people around you.

During the summer I was building up my DH ride and wanted to find a set of unique stoppers that would turns heads and stop wheels. My looking stopped after doing some research on Formula brakes. Formula Disc brakes are hand crafted in Italy, and arguably one of the nicest brakes on the market. With a price tag to accent the quality, The One brakes from Formula were the set up that I had to try.


Starting with visual aesthetics, the One brakes are very clean looking. The lever body and main reservoir feature clean lines and gold accents were added for visual pleasure. Formula has thought out everything, from lever reach, to piston engagement, and everything in between. All adjustments on the lever are external, and should not require the use of a Allen key. The One brakes feature a linkage drive push rod. No, you don't get extra travel out of this linkage, rather it ensures that the contact point is consistent regardless of reach position. Formula has integrated a EBP, or Engineered braking point. This technology was adapted from motocross (imagine that), and it basically utilizes a thin slit in the back of the lever. This slit is designed as a braking point, so under hard contacts the lever won't break off at the main pivot area, but it will break at this point, which still gives you a substantial amount of lever to use on your trip down the hill. The lever break away system is also unique to the One brake. Formula has integrated a clip into the lever construction, that under hard forwards impacts is designed to break, and not destroy your lever assembly. The adjustments are not as clearly labeled like some other brakes on the market, but as soon as you turn a dial, the changes are noticeable. All adjustment knobs are CNC machined and gold anodized.

Reach and Grab adjustments

Reach and Grab adjustments


The front and rear calipers are identical, each is 1 piece forged and features 2, 24mm pistons, one on each side. These 2, 24mm pistons provide equal force on the rotor creating a surprise free lever stroke that is continuously equal. The outside of the caliper is clearly labeled with a "Formula The One" logo, while the inside of the caliper sports a gold cap that covers the internals, and is also labeled with www.formula-brake.com. The caliper's shape is a basic egg shape, which is compact and appears not to be overbuilt. Formula has machined out the heat vent on the top of the caliper wide enough for the pads to be extracted through the top, allowing the user to replace pads much faster and easier than ever before. No more removing your caliper to replace your pads. The pads are held in with a single, threaded pin that goes through both pads and the retention spring, and is held on with a c-clip.










Factory bleeds are something I have always been scared of. Most brakes out of the box will perform better once you get a shop technician to give it a once over. However, the Ones came pre-bled and I'll be damned, they had great lever feel from the get go, so I chose to leave them be and run em'. Remember, it's Italian quality, they know what they are doing. When you purchase the One brakes they do not come with rotors, and you're unable to utilize any other rotor you have due to the fact that Formula rotors are slightly thinner than most. Be sure to order the correct rotor sizes and adapters you'll be needing for your bike when purchasing a set of the Ones.

Pricing:

The One Brakes - 333$ per end

Rotors and Adapters:

6" IS - 48$
6" post mount - 36$
7" rotor IS - 54$
7" post - 54$
8" IS - 58$
8" post - 50$
(IS = International Standard)
(Formula offers rotors in 160mm,180mm,200mm, and 220mm*)
*220mm Rotor features an Alloy Carrier

The power and modulation of the One brakes is incredible. Most "generic" hydraulic disc brakes end up having brake fade, or reach issues after any extended braking. After 7 hours of riding non stop at Whistler Mountain Bike park the One brakes were still pulling the same distance, and still providing the same modulation. After a few days of this and trips to other riding destinations in BC including Mt.7 in Golden BC, there has been no signs of fade or change in lever feel. With the bite adjustment on the lever you can adjust your grab on the go, utilizing Formula's FCS system, or tools free stroke adjustment, which is located on the lever body where the piston enters the main body of the lever.





One thing I was worried about when I heard that the rotor size is slightly thinner than usual, is heat warping rotors. Heat warping comes into play when you take a super hot rotor, and either ding it off something (ie. a rock, stump, log, tree) or you add cold to the equation (rinsing your bike after riding, or a creek crossing in the middle of a long descent). Heat warping is most noticeable when your rotors get a slight wobble in them, usually not noticeable to the untrained eye, but you can hear it. Heat warp isn't a huge issue, but it is an annoyance, and I am happy to say that I have not experienced that at all with the One brakes.

Coming in Hot

Coming in Hot


The One brakes were definitely designed for hardcore DH and Freeride use in mind. The twin piston system provides perfect pressure from both sides of the brake making for the most consistent feel you can get. Formula provides you with Sintered pads as well when you purchase the One brakes. Sintered pads mean the pad material has been heated up to such a degree as the particles have adhered to themselves, creating an extremely hard substance, usually used with ceramics. Sintered pads are sometimes referred to as "high friction" pads, meaning when they get hot and warn in, they work much better than a stock pad. Be forewarned, Sintered pads typically are thinner than normal brake pads, however pad life is not reduced.





The One brakes by Formula provide you with a better braking experience. Yes, they may be more expensive than a conventional brake, but that's why we pay for heated seats in our cars, and cup warmers in our work space. The One brake is my answer to the perfect brake. More than enough modulation, which is adjustable on the go, tons of grab due to the massive pistons and clamping surface, and are designed with a "big spender" black and gold color scheme.

I tested the One brakes in the most varied riding environments I could, so this meant mud rips, dry summer rides, and even borderline snowing conditions. They have a good design that dispels mud, water, and even snow really well, keeping the rotor and caliper area clean.

One thing about the One brakes I did notice, and possibly one of the only downsides to the brake, is the small adjustments. Seeing as the backside of the lever is not covered, all the mechanics of the FCS and Reach adjustment are open to the elements. I did run into an issue after one really dirty ride, and one very postponed washing session. The tools free adjustments suddenly needed some tools, to free them, so they could be adjusted. After a minor cleaning session, the adjustments were back working fine, so I call it user error.



Photos By: Dishboy14

The look and performance of Formula's The One brakes pay for themselves. While other companies have a choke hold on the base hydraulic disc brake market, it frees up companies like Formula to appeal to the higher end market. So when you see a bike spec'd with higher end components it stands out more than the others. Like a completely camo bike, the One brakes are a eye catcher. Machined unlike any other brake on the market they are very noticeable, which in turn gets you more props on your awesome build. Everyone loves unique bike builds, so be unique and "brake the bank."

Beauty and the Beast-Formula meets SpoiledGoods

Beauty and the Beast-Formula meets SpoiledGoods


All in all the One brakes by Formula are amazing brakes. They are extremely eye catching, very functional, have appropriate adjustments on the lever body, and are well thought out. Top loading pads, a great crash protection design, and wicked gold accents make these brakes worth the cash money. So, if you're interested in a bling'in pair of brakes for your DH bike this year, take a peek at Formula. You won't be disappointed.

-http://spoiledgoods.pinkbike.com


61 Comments

  • + 20
 There is only one brake. The One !
  • + 2
 Actually, better braking performance allows the rider to go faster...
  • + 9
 thank you mr. obvious.
  • + 4
 I had replied to a reply that commented that "brakes make you slower" -- that comment looks to have been deleted.
  • + 3
 oh hahahaha. sorry bout that!
  • + 3
 No worries Smile
  • + 9
 sweet i wish i could afford one
  • + 4
 one brake would be useless you need 2!!
  • + 4
 "Remember, it's Italian quality, they know what they are doing."

MYTH

Working with multiple Italian brands (including some particularly high-end road frames) on a day-to-day basis will leave a bad taste about so-called "Italian quality." I'm in a constant state of disbelief about the "half-ass-edness" of the ways the Italians cut corners...

I might make this statement about Swiss or German precision, but it just doesn't hold true here...You've been warned.
  • + 1
 Let's not go as far as "warned." Just, "Don't pay for the hype."
  • + 3
 I am proud of my Italian heritage but I fully agree with you teagues. 'German' and 'Swiss' means 'quality'. 'Italian' means 'style', 'beautiful design' and 'passion'. Kids, become an Alfa Romeo mechanic or auto-electrician. You will NEVER be out of work.
  • + 0
 Yeah, that was kinda what I was getting at...You'll buy Italian products because most of them tell everyone pretty blatantly "Hey, I'm made in Italy!"

Ferrari, Ducati, Sidi, etc. all make this statement...
  • + 3
 I bought a (pre-bled) Formula Oro 24 rear a few weeks back based on all the good reviews. Once set up I tested it out to find I could pull the lever all the way back to the bars. I bled it again (I work in a bike shop), no difference, I sent it back (twice), still no difference. Having spoken to others, it appears this is a really common problem. I only know of one rider who's happy with his Formula's. Perhaps it was a bad batch as there are so many good reviews out there. I went for Hopes in the end, they're awesome and beautifully made.
  • + 1
 my brother has the same problem with his k24, and when u ride rear only brake you kind of want it to work lol
  • + 1
 my mate has a the one brake on his NS suburban and his brake is doing the same thing which is slightly conserning as they are ment to be one of the best brakes on the Market...
  • + 2
 Why do people bi*** about other brakes, while not even rode them ever in their life? I bought the brakes in the beginning of the race season and never had problems with them. The braking power is just amazing and it's only 1-calipper brake.I was riding most of the weekends in the season, and they never got overheated. So rather try them, and stop acting like 10 year old kids! Everyone knows that Italian people are one of the best crafters in the buisness, and their quality of products is just amazing.Peace out!
  • + 0
 I've had a pair of Oro Bianco brakes for a season now and they have been the loudest brakes I've ever owned. Powerful and reliable but loud as hell. I'm a mechanic and have set up tons of brakes and haven't ever been this stumped with stopping brake squeal. New pads, old pads, metallic, resin it doesn't matter. Maybe it's not a common defect, but I can tell you 2 piston shimano's outperform Oro's and are the most reliable brake around.
  • + 2
 i've got the K24's and they are in need of new pads and some bleeding but when they were in good working order they are flawless, i broke the lever off the bars 2 times from bailed B-flips and i sent them back both times no questions asked they Fixed them, great customer service.. FYI: i fixed this problem, when you put your brakes on point them down towards the ground a little more than usual and they are protected from bar slams.
that will be $5 thanks
  • + 3
 Just run one or tow laps of teflon/plumbers tape under your mounts. The levers will twist around the bars when you crash but you can still do them up tight so they don't flex. Do your shifter pods too. Every moto rider knows this trick.

It'll also protect your carbon bars if you run 'em.

That'll be $10 thanks.
  • + 1
 hahahahahah hey!!! thanks for the tip man!! do you take paypal?
  • + 1
 i run a set on my race bike, 200mm rear 220mm front, and i love them, they look and work amazingly, whenever my mates ride them they comment on how powerfull they are, only thing i dont like is mine have a thin lever, and i know you can aparently get a thick or thin one, but i cant find anywhere that sells them after market Frown .
  • + 1
 I bought some Formula The One's last year to do The Megavalanche with - a million times better than my Hope Ti 6's from the year before. They NEVER let me down and that's over a 26km track which last year featured snow, ice, mud, steams, dust, grit and grime, one minute you are doing 50mph the next you are doing 2mph on the edge of a huge drop. They are simply brilliant.
  • + 1
 i'm amused about the conversation above between teagues an iamamodel about swiss, german aginst italian. Sound funny but is that what we often hear! Don't forget: Quality = expensive! Not everyone is able to pay 300 USD for one break!
  • + 1
 i have 2 agree with the comment buller boy posted earlier i would rather pay for the hope v2 as i have riden with them and i think they are an amazing brake and all the formular brakes i have felt have felt spongey so i would defo go for the cheaper better looking hope v2s with the vented rotors which are emense
  • + 1
 yesterday went and bought a set of these even after what i said and found the fucking awful they were spongey and just didnt preform aswel as my hope v2's so took them back and told them what i thought. so what ever anyone else say i think they are a load of shit and my mate felt them and will back me up as he also said the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 yep i agree, and have to say the one brake wasnt the only one that i had a go with the oro puro and they felt just as bad, and with the hopes they feel alot better wen pulling the lever because stops after a certain point, and that is all i have to say about that.
  • + 4
 Great review guys!
RRP in the U.K is £189.99 for the front or rear brake (Lever, Hose and Caliper).
  • + 1
 If the rotors and pads arent seated they will fell spongy till they mate to one another than they have snap the the lever when pulled. When I change my pads I have to rode tham a bit to get them to bedin then they are spot on!
  • + 1
 hi guys
i have the Mega, and i have a problem.
The rear piston of the brake are tending to go all the way in the rotor, I bled them and the pistons are doing the same thing, they go as close to the rotor as possible. Then my pads are rubbing to the rotor all the time and i have all the negative effects of this action.
Anyone had the same problem?
I have to say that i really like those brakes a lot, except from the above
  • + 1
 Dunno if you've got this fixed yet, but it sounds like too much fluid in the system. Try opening the bleed port on the calliper and pushing the pistons back while it's open. Any excess fluid will come out and then finish the bleed as normal.
  • + 1
 chris-tomac:
I don't think you have done everything right, because the one brakes are not swampy at all. If they are set up properly, they grip like hell, and the adjustments is perfect to individually tune them and try different settings fast, to see what fits the rider best. So your comment that just says they're swampy, without any reasoning, just suonds stupid to me...
  • + 0
 Solid brakes, Ive been running them for over a year now and wont look back.
Brakes Ive run gustavs, hayes (all), shimano, mono 4tis and 6tis, Biancos and out of all of them these rock hands down! IM 235 before coffee!
Good review and spot on about these bad boys.
  • + 0
 Added: Ive run them in So cal inland 105 degrees plus multiple hard runs intense trail etc.... Idylwild and 10 degrees in N idaho Lewiston and courdelane 4000' descent snow ice at top, then rain and mud. Formulas have always worked in every situation!
  • + 0
 I've been running a set of the K18s on for 6months now, racing DH most weekends on them, even for the Megavalanche Qualifier. They still work great now and they are not even classed as DH brakes, they are listed more as an Enduro brake set..!
  • + 0
 ive got a front k18 and fitted the fcs adjuster to it,awsome power.

have you had any noise coming from the rotor wen in contact with the pads?
  • + 4
 nice as cant wait till i have enough money for stuff like that
  • + 0
 Cool review! I just bought some Formula Megas this morning. They should be pretty close in terms of awesomeness and the main difference is 1 piece vs. 2 piece caliper. Since it's going on an AM bike it's gonna be a very good purchase!
  • + 0
 Really good brakes, but the pads aren't great - show them some wet sand and they disintegrate. Can't wait for EBC or someone to make some alternatives and save me some $. Awesome in the dry though, and they look so trick!
  • + 0
 I've got formula biancos, they really own and are the best brakes I've ever used. Sadly it's hard to find spare parts, so I'm a bit worried about my next trip to th bike resort.
  • + 0
 I've used hayes, avid, magura, shimano and formula and Shimano were by far the best in my opinion. My biancos are powerful (for an xc brake) but the shimanos I've owned were more powerful, never squeal and are really consistant, no random fading like the my Oro's.
  • + 2
 They are supper nice but i dont think they are worth the $$$. Im good with my codes and have never had any problems.
  • + 0
 those codes are my second choice of brake, those things have some serious bite
  • + 2
 they just look like brakes to me
  • + 2
 there not cheap ill keep mi shimano xt 2008
  • + 1
 great brakes, run them on both my freeride rigs.
  • + 0
 My The ones are just great, love them Wink Best brakes ever owned thus far Wink
  • + 0
 Very nice review! I got The One GM Replica Limited, and i totally agree - it's the best brake I'v ever ridden!
  • + 1
 have a pair of Formula Mega brakes, spot on!
  • + 0
 in my V10 i have the hope m4 which are great and in the intense i have the formula , great great brakes too
  • + 0
 i had hope m4 in my sx trail and i switched to the one because M4's give a lot of problems Love the one's
  • + 0
 how're they compared to Magura Gustav M, I have that dilema
  • + 0
 i've used those on my mates bike, there like codes but more powerful
  • + 0
 who would want to drop $650 on a pair of brakes?!?
  • - 2
 If you want the best you gotta pay for the best and Formula isn't the cheapest brakes in the industry.A ferrari owner doesn't complain as well
  • - 6
flag bullerboy25 (Jan 12, 2009 at 9:52) (Below Threshold)
 if u want the best pay for the hope moto V2 cheaper than the formula brakes and do the same job
  • + 3
 Have you ever rode the Formula's or is that just a random guess that Hope brakes are better than the Formula's?
From my understanding the One has the hardest clamping force on the market at the moment.
  • + 0
 I rather trust my hands into a Formula Braking system like The One than any Hope brake,my LBS head many customers that ride Hope brakes and all head problems and since they went over to The One brake all problems are gone and never came back again.The One is also more powerfull than every Avid brake(20% more power than Codes) and doesn't have any brake fade at all.
  • + 0
 I want one. How does it compare to elixirs?
  • + 0
 2 pistons?
for 333?
nahhh.
  • + 0
 i had k18 they are the best even better than codes gustav and all those
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