We’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Formula brakes. Like so many other Italian products they ooze style and performance. Yes they might occasionally be a little temperamental, again like so many other Italian things, but they more than make up for that with the rest of their charm.
If we had to pick one particular brake of theirs that has stood out in recent times it has to be their “The One’ brake, and this is the latest version of it. Aside from their looks, it’s the combination of incredible power, great feel, and very low weight that make them such a formidable brake. At just 335g including a 160mm rotor (which given the power on offer is a realistic size rotor for even fairly demanding use) these brakes manage to keep up with even the lightest XC offerings, and yet at the same time they offer the sort of power that many DH brakes would dream of.
This latest 2013 version has a revised calliper which Formula are calling Enhanced Caliper Technology (ECT). Put simply, the pistons now retract further when the brake is not engaged, which in turn means that it’s easier to set them up without any brake drag. This was always a bit of an issue with Formula brakes (one of those Italian idiosyncrasies that you just got used to), so it’s good to see that they’ve addressed this. The brake also now comes as standard with both tool-free reach and bite-point adjusters. Formula like to call this last feature the Feeling Control System (FCS).
There are loads of add on extra’s available for this brake such as carbon levers, Ti bolt kits, and SRAM shifter mounts, but there’s one that has really caught our eye; the ‘SpeedLock’. This is a tool-free and instantaneous way of disconnecting your hoses, without losing a single drop of oil. This means that if you have a frame with internal routing you can simply disconnect the hose, thread it through wherever it needs to go, and then simply plug it back in with no need to bleed you brakes. Genius! The SpeedLock can be fitted at the lever, calliper, or inline wherever you want. If it works a well as we’ve heard then we really hope that this kind of system becomes standard on all disc brake in years to come. Hire bike companies in particular will rejoice at this idea. I mean you could swap brake sides in seconds without having to undo a single bolt.
We’ve already had a chance to try these out a little on a test bike that we had in to review, and initial impressions are that they’re every bit as good as the original brakes. Yes they might be pretty bloody pricy, but then again would you expect anything less from something so beautifully Italian?
Photo: Ben Winder