a Cross Country Rider
from Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2005
Strengths: It came on my bike. Light. I like the feel and modulation. Decently durable.
Weaknesses: Only decently durable. Little to no support due to it not being a common product.
Great brakes if you're handy and don't mind waiting for parts or the squeeling. I like ther modulation and power, everything I need for XC. Have been working for 3 years (2 racing) will little to no maintenance. I don't mind the squeeling as I don't need to shout to slower riders as I come up on them ;)
Little story about the infamous dogbone. I finally lost mine at the most in opportune time. Race the Rockies adventure race in Canmore. At the top of a mountain. First the piece of plastic the dog bone fits into on the lever broke (age I guess) so teh lever kept falling away. Then it happened to fall away on a rocky section at the top of a mountain and the dogbone fell out and was gone forever. The net result....20 minutes of downhill with the rear brake only, white knuckles, praying to make switchbacks and a right forearm 20% larger by the time I hit the bottom.
Do I recommend these brakes, only if you get a good deal on them, the service network just isn't there. Replacement parts took 4 weeks which is unacceptable. I plan on buying XT hyrdos, hope minis, something to go dual hydro in the next couple months.
Bike Setup: Norco Nitro, currently undergoing a remake :)
a Weekend Warrior
from North Shore
Date Reviewed: August 18, 2004
Strengths: Good power
Weaknesses: Plastic parts break
I paid only $40 for these brakes. Was it a good deal? Not too sure. At least the rotors are good. After about a month, I took a tumble (sometimes that happens when DH'ing) and popped the lever out. I looked at the mechanics of the lever and found that there are two ball joints (one in the lever and one in the brake body) which are both plastic. They are connected by a metal "dogbone". In the fall, the housing ball joint shattered. This caused the brake arm to wander out of the housing when not under pressure. I fixed this by adding the tried and true rubber band technique. After another couple of weeks, and more falls, the other ball joint shattered. The brake still works, but the rubber band isn't impressing anyone. I have give this brake 1 flamin' chili for overall since it shouldn't brake so easily. Since it only cost me 40 bucks, it gets thee for value. BTW, I also got one for my girlfriend's bike. It broke while loading it onto the bike rack. Stay away unless you get an unbelievable deal and need a spare rotor.
Bike Setup: Banshee Scirocco w/B4's on the front and Avid mechs on the back
from frisco CO
Date Reviewed: July 28, 2004
Strengths: Good XC design- balance of weight and power, great modulation, durable- yes I said durable, excellent support from thorusa.com- the only support option, value is excellent compared to XTR/Juicy/Marta (price is dropping)
Weaknesses: Bike shops suck at support so figure on your own wrenching, old models needed a better bleed than they came with, mechanical aptitude helpful, 200 lbs. weight limit is common sense, breakaway lever design misunderstood
These get a lot of crap reviews cuz a)bike shops don't support em b)owners don't know where to get parts/info/advice they need c)they came from the factory with air in the lines d)not used for XC. My B4s came low on power and I was disappointed. They worked OK, not well, even after break-in. A full bleed per directions at thorusa.com gave totally solid levers, and impressive brakes. If they don't have better than v-brake power you haven't got the air out. I won't trust my LBS to this, so yeah buying/using a bleed kit sucks. But lessee here, I bleed these once a year, and I've replaced one pair of pads with EBC green (more power again). Now on my 3rd year of use, they are totally dependable and with 2004 upgrade kit, better than ever. 1-finger brakes that feather or lock up at will. Trails aren't flat in this part of the world either. What gives? The Hayes I've tried were not very powerful, and the Avids I've ridden were on/off lockers. One of my buddies has XT 4-pucks, those things are nothing but trouble for him. All discs have potential to suck. B4s are sweet.
Bike Setup: DeVinci with 2 wheels stopped by 2002 Formula B4s
from beckley, wv, us
Date Reviewed: July 6, 2004
Weaknesses: hard to bleed, easy to break levers, no stopping power with front brake
This brake is by far the worst brake I have ever tried to use. My front brake does not have any stopping power on steep down hills, I have broke both levers (not actual lever but parts inside or working with the levers made of plastic). In my opinion these brakes should be taken off the market until formula can produce something worthwhile. Stick with hayes, they weight more but you will have no service or stopping power.
Weaknesses: difficulty dumb-ass bikeshop mechanics have in bleeding them. difficulty getting spares from a bikeshop (tho this is fixed by simply getting the stuff over the web).
All the bikeshops i spoke to had no idea about bleeding these brakes. my bike went back 3 times, they ended up stripping out the little torx screw (plastic version) and inserting a water bottle bolt of all things - like i wasnt going to notice?!. F*ckwits. Bought the upgrade kit from thor in the US to metal screw, new reservoir cap etc, got the bleed nipples etc and did it myself. piece of cake. I'm 85 kg and use my bike for freeride - have absolutely no trouble with power, drag, fade etc - even on long technical downhills, and even with the 4" rear rotor. Anyone who is having trouble should try working on it themselves. The other reviews suggesting these brakes are crap havent put in the effort: besides the formula site; also consider the following sites. http://www.windwave.co.uk/Pages/newsiteformulab4bleedinstructions.htm get the upgrade kit to metal torx screw: http://www.thorusa.com/ if it gives you any perspective - after the bike shop debacle i bought some xt fourpistons from ebay, but after getting the thor kit and bleeding the B4's up, i havent even taken the xt's out of the box. back to ebay for them! PS formula service is crap, never got a reply from them - go to thor
Similar Products Used: Hope DH4's Shimano Deore Hayes Mag Hayes HFX
Bike Setup: 01 stumpjumper fsr xc pro, XTR, psylo's + fox float, thomson, syncros etc
from Calgarty, Alberta, Canada
Date Reviewed: January 2, 2004
Strengths: Light, powerful (when set up right) Fairly quiet after bedded in
Weaknesses: Tough to bleed properly small parts on levers easy to break or lose
Couldn't get the levers firm enough, went almost to bar like lots of folks have said here before. I purchased the Formula bleed kit (syringe etc) and used that, but levers were still a bit soft. Saw someone mention using two syringes to bleed these brakes, so I bought a second (connect one on lever, second down at caliper, pump fluid back and forth and get all the air bubbles out), and now lever feel is firm, with lots of power and good modulation.
(Torsten has been very helpful to me too)
There are some small parts on the levers that seem to break easily, so I'll only give them 4 flamers...
from somerset, england
Date Reviewed: March 22, 2003
Strengths: light weight, pimpy gold, cute looks
Weaknesses: dont use for downhill, because of the light weight build strength starts to dissapear after a while even with new pads
these brakes are ideal for xc but as i have been getting faster at dh and doing higher and faster drops and decents they have been too weak. they have taken a couple of knocks though not bad for an xc brake.
i work in a bike shop (bicyclechain.co.uk) and one of my collegues has successfully mated a b4 caliper with an old hope sport lever WHAT A DIFFERENCE! this improved the power by 200% they now feel like hayes...
Bike Setup: cute little gold hardtail frame, z1 wedges, xt mech, manacle chain device, fsa alpha drive cranks and ultimax pro bb
a Cross Country Rider
from Durango, CO
Date Reviewed: February 25, 2003
Strengths: Weight? Handlebar clamps
Weaknesses: Cheap plastic parts, lack of US service
In general: They rubbed from when I got the bike - never could get them tuned. When they heated up after short downhills (1-2min) they would squeal for the next 1/2 hour.
Now - about the plastic in the parts: First - there is some plastic lever retention thing that broke off, so I was running a ghetto-lever with a rubber band keeping it from extending too far. Then - Hanging it for the winter, all the fluid leaks from another plastic part - the resevoir lid. Finally - the plastic bleeder screw twisted apart from minimal torque with a torx bit.
I ordered a set of Avid mechanicals today.
Avoid these if you don't have your own personal Itallian mechanic to tune them. I would rather have an extra 50 grams and some metal parts instead of plastic bits.
In all fairness, even though they are junk if they worked when I left for a ride, they still worked at the end of the ride. I was never stranded brakeless, and they always stopped me. For that they get 2 chillis instead of snake-eyes.
a Weekend Warrior
from Lisbon, Portugal
Date Reviewed: February 23, 2003
Strengths: not bad....
Weaknesses: overheating, is a factor....
well, when i first used the brakes ..there where very nice and seamd not to have any kind of problems, but, when i started to do some hard braking i realised that i had to pull the lever almost til the end to stop. i cleaned the brakes ..i put more braking fluid but nothing..she just kept on going when i tried to stop...BUT it was when i went to a bike store and changed the original pads to a fibrax ones...and everything changed NOW i have a massive stoping power i just keep on liking much and much more my brakes.
If someone would like to have massive stoping power and small weait..well these are the brakes.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: December 11, 2002
Strengths: Lightweight, cool looks!!
This discs rocks!! they squeal a lot at the beginning but its normal when breaking in... still good enough for the weight @ 700 grams (f/r set)...quality built, encountered little probs at 1st but the shop had good service and was able to help me and set the discs perfectly!!!
Similar Products Used: Avid Mech discs, Shimano XT
Bike Setup: C'dale F/S, UST tires, Fox float RL rear shox.......
a Cross Country Rider
from Adelaide, South Australia
Date Reviewed: November 20, 2002
Strengths: ..ummmm...they look good, oh and you never have to replace a rear tire again, (you may have to when the casing rots)I've not been able to lock the rear in a year! Bleeding service intervals have gotten me out of the weekly shopping expeditions with the wife! (5 chilli's). The modulation experience is unforgetable....and sharpens your braking distance 'senses' to new levels.
Weaknesses: ...this product is used for stopping...seriously? Do not expect to get the same stopping performance from these as your old v-brakes, or get out of trouble quickly on them. Never in my life have I had a rear tire last so long, and when you are able to actually lock a wheel...tell all your friends (or make sure they are there)! 1. The levers and their travel design have been engineered by someone who obviously had too much spare time in the factory downloading porn. I'm sick of pulling a u-turn to fetch those pins. 2. Do not use these in hot weather, they boil way too easy. 3. If you do use these when it's hot...expect the piston seals to start leaking. 4. I did all the research and read the reviews before purchasing these so I expected a 'bedding in' period...still waiting for something (anything!) to happen. 5. The stopping power of these brakes is NON-EXISTENT. If you have way too much confidence in your trail riding abilities purchase these brakes to re-introduce a challenge back into your riding.
....these would make a great 'gag' gift...do not throw out your old v-brakes...you'll be putting them back on.
Seriously though never before in my life have I been so sh!t scared of trying to stop....ever.
Similar Products Used: ..wedged four mars bars between the frame and rims to compare the stopping power....mars wins hands down...and leaves less damage than dot 4...
Bike Setup: KHS FXT Rage
a Cross Country Rider
from London UK
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2002
Strengths: lightweight, looks saucy, lightweight, better than v's, oh, and lightweight too.
Weaknesses: flimsy rotors, gay reservoir covers.
Nice brakes, good power after break in although not as sharp as Hope's. I haven't had the noise other people have complained about but then I do try to keep them clean (that means keeping your mate's dick beaters off the rotors as well) The rear seems better set up than the front, strangely, and also during a rather tough ride the front rotor warped and began squeaking on the pads when pedalling (it was still ok to stop with though) I couldn't / didn't want to mess with it :as it looked bent as a boxing day turd (or thanksgiving doody if you're in the US) but the bike shop sorted it for me on the first service. Overall I would still choose these over anything else (just) Hope's are great looking but seem a bit snatchy on my mates bike.. a cross between these two at the price of Clark's mechanicals would be ideal.