Formula 2011: Brake hop-ups, suspension forks and wheels

Brake hop-up, plus suspension forks and wheels

Formula have lots going on for 2011. Besides new add-on tool-free reach and pad contact adjustment for their disc brakes, and two-piece rotors, the company are launching two new suspension forks and a trio of wheels.

“The R1 is a race brake out of the box,” Charlie Schneider, Formula’s US service manager, told us. “But now if people want the adjustability, they can just add it on.”

Formula will offer two aftermarket adjustment options: one for lever reach, called IRA or instant lever reach, and one for pad contact adjustment, called FCS or feeling control system.

The IRA system requires that the main piston push rod be replaced, which involves a little bit of work; the FCS system, however, takes little more effort than shortening a brake line. It’s an inline piece that plugs into the hose’s connection with the master cylinder.

Formula's FCS adjuster fits the master cylinder at the housing junction to control pad contact

Both upgrades are compatible with all of Formula’s 2010 and 2011 brakes with radial master cylinders. FCS adds 10g to 15g to the weight of the brake and costs US$42 per lever. IRA adds around 5g and costs $36 per side. An additional upgrade to the brakes is available in the form of carbon fiber levers, which save roughly 8g per side and cost $110 each.

Formula's $110 carbon lever blade will save you 8g

Formula will also offer two-piece rotors for 2011 in 160mm and 180mm sizes, for both six-bolt and Center Lock hub standards. The center rotor carriers are forged from aluminum and offered with red, gold or black anodized finishes.

The aftermarket rotors are actually heavier than the standard all-steel version (100g versus 86g), but they’re said to be both more durable – Formula say three times stronger – and better at dissipating heat.

Chris Costello, Formula’s marketing director, says they provide "a quantifiable performance improvement", but he admits people are more likely to buy them for the two-piece look and ability to customize color.

Formula's new two-piece rotors; they're heavier, but stronger and prettier

The 160mm rotor comes with all mounting hardware, including a brake caliper bracket and bolts, for $96, while the 180mm version costs $106.

Formula’s wheels and suspension are almost ready

Formula’s suspension line is still taking its final shape. It will launch with two forks – one for cross-country and one for trail riders – both with 7000-series alloy 33mm stanchions.

The air-sprung Thirty3 cross-country fork will have internal travel adjustment between 80mm, 100mm and 115mm, and the option of a 9mm open dropout or 15mm through-axle dropout. Weights are claimed at 1,380g and 1,410g (not including axle), respectively.

Formula's new Thirty3 fork should be available mid-2011

Formula’s yet-to-be named trail/all-mountain offering will have externally adjustable travel between 100mm and 150mm. The fork will only come with a 15mm through-axle.

An indexed adjuster on the top of the right leg controls compression incrementally to a full lockout

Both forks will be cartridge damped, with adjustments for rebound, detented compression adjustment and a lockout, and Formula will offer standard and tapered steerer tube options to follow industry trends. Prices haven't yet been set for the forks, which should be available sometime in 2011.

Three new Volo wheels

While the forks are still some way away, Schneider says Formula are much closer to completing their Volo wheel line, which should be ready early in 2011. The flagship is a 1,100g carbon tubular wheelset specifically built for the World Cup cross-country circuit. The 26in carbon rim weighs a paltry 220g.

The 1,100g Volo Carbon wheelset with an extra wide tire bed

More relevant to the rest of us will be the 1,322g Volo Scandium wheelset, which uses the same hubs and 24 bladed straight gauge spokes laced two-cross as the carbon set but laced to a scandium rim.

The alloy rim weighs 330g and measures 17mm (internal) by 23mm (external) by 18.5mm (height). It’s tubeless compatible by tape conversion. Formula recommend the rims for use with 2.25in and smaller tires.

The 26in Volo Scandium

In addition to the 26in scandium wheelset, Formula will offer a 1,417g Volo Scandium 29in wheelset that uses the same rim extrusion and hubs.

All the wheels and hubs are assembled in-house in Formula’s Italian factory, though the 7000-series hub forgings are made in Asia. Their design is unique and specifically built to ward off axle flex; the rear hub shell forging protrudes into the freehub body to better support it.

The axles themselves are titanium. The front hubs are cross-compatible with 9mm quick-release and 15mm through-axles, while the rear hubs will take 9mm or X12 (142x12mm). The rear hub mechanism has four pawls for a 12-degree engagement.

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