The Good: Weight; Power; Modulation; Feel; Looks
The Bad: Torx key bolts to tighten the lever; Possibly price
I was first introduced to Formula The Ones back in 2006 by a friend who had recently attached a set to his DH bike. These were the first generation brakes and I remember being in awe at how good they looked due to their minimalist design and how amazing they felt out on the trail. The lever seemed just right, they had so much power and yet the control was superb. Needless to say, I was very jealous!
Fast forward a few years (well, five...) and it came to building up a new bike. Even though times, and brakes, have changed quite dramatically, there was only one set of brakes that would suffice for the new ride. No surprises what they were....
On went the updated Formula The Ones, with a slightly different lever design and some other small changes. I am pleased to say all those feelings that I had about the first generation brakes were still present with these brakes!
I am really particular about my brakes, probably more so than any other part of the bike. I prefer a short amount of lever movement with a definitive feel when applied. The Formulas provide this perfectly. Modulation is great, but pull hard and the power surpasses pretty much anything else I have tried. There is no spongy feeling from the lever when pulled full on either (which is present on most Avid's I have owned).
Brake fade doesn't appear to be an issue, having endured many long alpine descents. They are reliable to a tee. Pull the lever, slow down...no matter where you are or how fast you are going they just do the job, and they do it well.
Their durability has been great too. Minus the obligatory pad changes, I have barely touched them, which says a lot considering the conditions present in Scotland for most of the year. Unlike avids, they don't suffer from sticky pistons either, which is a relief! They could do with a bleed, not because they need one, more out of routine servicing to make sure they continue to last.
Pricing might be a bit of an issue, as they are certainly far from cheap. I tend not to compromise on brakes and so prefer to spend the extra to get the best available product. I have been using these with shimano XT floating discs as they were considerably cheaper than the formula alternative with noperceivable decrease in performance.
The only negative aspect to these brakes would be the T15 Torx bolts holding the lever to the bar. It was not a size of Torx that I had in my toolkit and required a separate purchase. A similar sized hex-bolt would have been preferable in my opinion. This also became a bit of a problem when I snapped one of the bolts in a crash (Nothing to do with the brakes, the lever went straight into a tree...) as finding a replacement at short notice so I could complete my race run was no doubt a lot more difficult than finding a similar avid/shimano part.
All in all however, I can only sing Formula's praises for making what I believe to be the best DH brake on the market. I would be willing to change my brakes (I can't say I have too much brand loyalty, which is good when it comes to writing honest reviews) but it would have to be a pretty damn spectacular brake to make me do so!