12 October 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Formula The One brakes

I have been riding Formula Oro series brakes for quite awhile and I think they’re some of the best brakes on the market. When the Ones came out this spring and were billed as a Freeride/Downhill brake but with only a slight weight penalty (37g/wheel) over the top of the line Oro Puro’s, I was extremely excited to try them.

The One shares many similar design characteristics with the Oro series: a 2-piece lever clamp assembly, flip-flop levers, adjustable bite and lever reach, internal reservoirs, and the use of DOT fluid. The big changes are a forged one-piece caliper that fits a single 24mm diameter piston (2mm larger than the Oro), and a master cylinder that is specifically designed for Downhill and all-mountain riding. They weigh a claimed 383 grams which is very light for a brake designed for bombing downhills.

The set-up is easy and the 2-piece lever clamps and they seem to fit well with most shifter types. Formula says that the caliper design allows for pad changes without removing the wheel and while it’s possible, it's much easier to do it without the wheel in place- especially given that you often have to reset the pistons (push them back a bit) when new pads are installed, and this would be very difficult (if even possible) with the wheel/rotor in place.

All the tech in the world is great, but how did they feel on the trail? Fantastic. They modulate well and have loads of power available if you need it. They rarely fade and then only the slightest bit on the longest downhills (in the French Alps). The pads seem to last a fair amount of time and they are usually only noisy after getting wet. These are very competent brakes and for the weight they should be on anybody’s short list. That said, they really don’t improve on the Oros by a noticeable amount. Downhillers have been using the company's Oros since they were introduced (especially the DH-oriented Oro Biancos) and doing fine. I know that The Ones are designed to handle heat build-up better and they should be more powerful than the Oros, but if they are, it’s hard to tell. It could just be that my middle finger is less finely calibrated than others'. The Ones are less money than the Oro Puros and about the same as the Oro Bianco’s so they're still a very good deal, but I thought I should mention it. The One brake sells for about $290.00 per wheel, though rotors and adapters are sold separately for about $30/wheel (good if you've already got 'em). For the cost conscious, Formula also makes the Mega which is a cheaper version of the The One (coming in at $170 plus rotors), but I haven’t tried it yet.



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