These high priced stoppers from Italian manufacturer Formula are loaded with unique features that give them an outstanding power to weight ratio. Their early bite point won’t suit everyone though and blunt power delivery needs adjusting to.
The Racing lever is an immediately distinctive set up on the bars. That’s because it reverses the normal brake layout by pulling rather than pushing the piston down the master cylinder.
This allows Formula to position the large brake fluid reservoir between the bar and the pivot point of the lever, perpendicular rather than parallel with the blade for a more compact look.
When matched to a cutaway bar clamp with tiny Allen key bolts it does make for an extremely light lever and overall brake weight comparable with much lower powered XC brakes, such as SRAM’s Avid Ultimate (365g) or Shimano’s XTR (388g).
It’s certainly not a featherweight in terms of power though, with the twin, oval piston caliper only bested by Shimano Zee/Saint, SRAM Guide RE/Code and Magura MT5/7 brakes on the dyno.
It’s delivered in a very powerful bite that ramps up even more with minimal extra squeeze too. That comes as a shock at first but once you’re used to the narrow bandwidth there’s actually impressively consistent modulation of the more than ample anchorage.
The combination of far out pivot point and lack of cam action does produce a unique lever arc and brake feel though. The stand out feature is a bite point that’s naturally very early in the stroke compared to most brakes. You can adjust the deeply kinked blade reach to bring your fingers in but even so the sweep of the blade doesn’t naturally suit riders who like to run their brakes so they bite just off the grip.
Although it’s been improved recently, pad retraction is still limited so they require more accurate set up than most brakes to run totally scuff free and any grit or grime in the system is more likely to create running noise.
The lightweight small bolt hardware needs care and proper tolerance tools when adjusting to remove the danger of rounding the heads out, so take your time with adjustments rather than going at them in a hurry with an old multi tool.
I’ve had zero reliability issues and am still on our original pads after a full year of all-weather UK grinding too, making accurate alignment to avoid scuff from the minimal pad clearance the only mechanical issue.
• Weight: 364g (with 180mm rotor and adaptor)