a Weekend Warrior
from San Jose, CA
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2004
Strengths: Came with bike
Weaknesses: These brakes are better than old fashioned caliper breaks, but they have not lasted well.
I have these because they came with the bike, but I would not go out and buy these. I also tried to get them replaced under warranty, but the dealer said they had to "fail" - not just be a poor product. I'd also add that I got tossed from my bike on a steep hill because the rear brakes failed prematurely. It wasn't a bad spill, but I just replaced them with Avid breaks that have received much better reviews on this site. If you have these Formula breaks, keep an eye on them for your safety!!!
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: April 12, 2004
Strengths: brilliant stopping power easy to setup
Weaknesses: back needs tuning every wk
this is a very good mech brake the best i have ever used in fact and is also cheap, and for all of you who have also had the adjuster thingy fall off all you need is a 3mm allen key which does the job.
Bike Setup: kona stab frame, jr-t, race face cranks and bb
a Weekend Warrior
from St Helens UK
Date Reviewed: February 21, 2004
Strengths: Price, set up, durability
This is a follow on reveiw from my earlier one from 2002. I'm still impressed with this brake for its price, durability, and stopping. My bike set up has chnaged (OK, its a different bike) with the Activa as my front brake, and it works. Pads take an age to bed in, but are then pretty durable, stopping power is excellent. Not been phased by any weather, so this set up is staying put for the moment. I've downloaded the manual from the formula website, and one correction I'll make is that no special tools are needed to change the pads. As for sourcing pads, I've found some Hope pads to fit for £5 (about $8 or so) but I'm not going to say where so the shop doesn't get sold out.......
a Weekend Warrior
from Westwood MA
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2003
Strengths: modulation, modulation and modulation.
Weaknesses: check previous reviews
This is a follow on from my previous two reviews. I've replaced my LX brake levers with Avid 2.0s -a nice improvement.
Just to say that the more I use these brakes, the more I like them. The biggest problems with them are still the lack of power, adjusters that drop off and the need for almost constant adjustment -but at the price I paid, they were a bargain. These brakes can only be recommended for light xc, but once bedded in, you really do seem to feel when the wheel is about to lock. The "feel" is really nice.
If you can get these at a good price, definitely a nice addition for your rear brake -more questionable for a front brake but still usable.
Bike Setup: C'dale 500 SRAM 9.0 drivechain, XT disc hubs
from Ontario Canada
Date Reviewed: October 18, 2003
Strengths: Ease of installation. Simplicity. Price.
Weaknesses: There really haven't been any.
This is a followup to my Review of the Formula Activa cable disc brake on 3/14/2002. It's now nineteen months after my first review and after I'd tested these brakes for 6 weeks I donated them to an Expert lady racer in town who I mechanic for. She's used them ever since and is still using them. I get to tune her bike every week.
The brakes are still going strong and the only thing that I've done to them apart from tweaking the adjusters every couple of weeks is to replace one set of rear pads.
She loves these brakes and has never complained about them once. In fact she never even mentions them. I just look at the pad wear and feel the levers for need of adjustment.
I ride with her on training rides occasionally and she sure doesn't have any problem stopping. We were both in a recent very muddy, hilly race and she won her age category - as usual. Her brakes worked perfectly - as did my Formula B4SL.
The Activa is one under-rated brake. Get 'em at ThorUSA.com
Similar Products Used: Formula B4, 4R and B4SL. All Magura's XC brakes.
a Weekend Warrior
from san francisco, ca
Date Reviewed: October 17, 2003
Strengths: None, they are not even recycleable.
They can't stop a beginner, 120lb female on a rail-to-trail (e.g. the flattest trail you can imagine) Parts can not be found, they use a uncommon four bolt hub, no-one can figure out how to make them come close to working.
Just removed these from my girlfriends bike after spending weeks trying to get them to stop her. Formula brakes are to stopping as surfborads are to space travel. Avoid these at all costs. This site needs to have negative chili's just for this product.
These are a good substitute for the avids. At about half the price if you look around. They are lighter. Power is almost as strong as the avids. Pads adjust independently. They are very easy to set up.
I did have a problem with one of the rotors not being perfectly flat. I am not sure if it was warped, had build up, or just poorly machined at the factory. I was able to minimize the effect of this by sanding the rotor. The other rotor never gave me any problems.
I rode these for a few months and then sold the bike they were on. Bottom line is that they are not as nice as avidS, but for the budget conscious they are the next best thing.
Weaknesses: because of the light weight, they're not comletely bulletproof
If you can get a set of these, buy them! I don't know about the people who had bad results with these brakes, because they work, period. They're lighter than some v-brakes (shimano) and stop better, in any condition. I free-ride, down-hill, dirtjump and ride urban stunts with these, with absolutely no problems. I originaly paid $25.00 per brake from jenson, then I tried to buy more, and I got the last one they had at $17.00. These brakes have more than enough power for absolutely any situation besides downhill racing. I let a friend ride my bike, and he wrecked, landing on a cement wall, smashing only the rear disk. Even after that, it still worked! I couldn't get it to quit rubbing, so I installed the extra brake I had, with no problems. These brakes are (very)easy to install, and easier to maintain. These are great brakes that stand toe-to-toe with any disk brake out there, cable or hydro. Buy four.
I only have the rear brake installed (Avid Mech on front) and the rear works great. For the price you can't beat it. Stops better than V's. Easy to install and easy to adjust, although I find myself constantly adjusting it since the adjustment knobs have no detented positions like my Avid Mech. The power seems close to my Avid Mech, but it's not as smooth and it's difficult finding replacement pads, so I went ahead and bought a spare brake while Jenson was throwing these out the door at $17. That's cheaper than just set of replacement pads. If I was to pay full price, I would buy Avid Mech.
a Cross Country Rider
from Middletown, CT
Date Reviewed: August 5, 2002
Strengths: You can't beat the price. My first set of disc brakes were shimano deore and both rotors ended up warping in less than a month and stopping power was horrible. The formula's have been good to me, relatively low maintenance, decent stopping power, cool looking. For cross country riding this is all you need. My next set of brakes will be avid's for sure. I've ridden a few bikes with them and they are great!
Weaknesses: Need constant adjusting and ummmmmmmm no one seems to sell replacement pads for these things!
a Weekend Warrior
from Westwood, MA
Date Reviewed: July 15, 2002
Strengths: Cheap, easily adjustable, really good rear brake performance.
Weaknesses: adjusters fall off (it's all been said already) lack of power for front brake front brake needs frequent adjustment the JensonUSA stuff might have a quality control issue (sticking calipers or contaminated brake pads) Sensitive to setup
I'd reviewed these previously -and because of the issue with the front brake I decided to just go for it and purchase another brake from JensonUSA at $17. It was in actual fact a rear brake, but you can easily swap out the mounting bracket to the front one. Worse case situation I thought was that I'd end up with quite a few spares for my perfectly good rear brake -all for $17 -so I went for it.
My setup is LX brake levers with your average everyday cables and housing. LX brake levers are set to "maximum" power settings.
First, the improvement is considerable -the front brake, though still not immensely powerful, is considerably better. It really does the job for x-country purposes. Goodness knows what was wrong with my original brake, but I estimate it was 50% less powerful than the one I have now. Additionally, a lot of my constant adjustment woes are gone..... but you notice I use the words "a lot" -alas I still have to mess around with adjustment at least every fifth or sixth ride -and that's not having removed the front wheel either. You could argue it's no big deal, but it's still very frustrating. I could go weeks and weeks without v-brake adjustment.
So if you get these brakes, here's what you should do: i. apply gooey stuff to the inner adjuster threads to prevent the adjuster working loose and falling off.... ii. use velcrose to ensure the outer adjusters stay in place. iii. be patient. Assume you'll have adjustment issues. iv. be patient and read carefully to install correctly.
All said and done I still recommend the rear brake (I haven't adjusted it once since I put it on by the way !!!???) but the front brake seems to be far more picky -I just can't recommend the front brake. I do have concerns that the calipers might be prone to sticking -based on my first front brake experience and my guess this was an issue, as well as the stock pads. Unfortunately the directions are less than clear on how or where to exactly lube the pistons. We'll see.
Ratings are 3 for value (would be five for the rear, but the front brings it down). Overall I would give a 3.5 but no half points so I give 3 (would be four for the rear, but again that need to adjust the front brake brings it down).
Bike Setup: Giant SE1 Hardtail, Raceface Next LP Crank, XTR Der. Titec post and handle bars
from Scotland, UK
Date Reviewed: July 13, 2002
Strengths: Cheap Light Powerful Easy to set up Great modulation and plenty of bite.
Weaknesses: Plastic adjuster for outer pad comes off easily - luckily i noticed this when adjusting the brakes while fitting, and glued them on properly - seems to have sorted the problem.
Very good stopping power, but still with great modulation and plenty of bite when needed. Very quick and easy to set up. Look better than rim brakes, and less expensive in the long run (no need to replace worn out rims). Great value.
a Cross Country Rider
from Los Angeles, CA
Date Reviewed: July 3, 2002
Strengths: Price-$50 for a full pair. Ease of installation-took me 40 mins. with adding new cables and all. Modulation-something not found on alot of disc brakes. Power-great power for XC riding. These are NOT brakes for freeriders or light downhillers. Sweet rotors. Light weight
Weaknesses: The ultra cheesy adjustment knobs-they really need to be beefed up. The crappy rotor bolts the sets came with-really soft allan heads that are easy to strip. Calipers aren't nicely finish like Avids or even HMX-1 or Deore Mechs. I hear of people havinf problems installing these on their disc mounts-some have to gring away material on the calipers mount(watch out RS Duke riders,you may have to do this).
These are great brakes if you a XC rider looking for non-hydro disc brakes. They are super easy to set up and adjust and they are relatively quiet. Every now and then, they'll let out an occasional squeal. Enough power to do 1 finger lock-ups. I've let a few of my friend ride my bike an they love the brakes. As for the adjuster knobs, take out the knobs and dab some silicon in them and slap 'em right back on. Also, for thos eof you having problems with these brakes, check out ThorUSA.com, and then go to the Formula Owners Group (FOG) forums, it's pretty cool. Anyways, these are a great set of brakes for $25 each ends. Even $70 thru Thor ain't bad. They've been reliable, relatively quiet, and powerful enough for XC riding. I'm gonna keep mine for awhile or until I find a good deal on some Formula B4s.
Favorite Trail: Whiting Ranch to Santiago Truck Trail
Duration Product Used: 3 months
Purchased At: JensonUSA.com
Similar Products Used: Alot of Avid V's, Deore Hydros, Magura Claras, Avid Mechs.
Bike Setup: DEAN Private set up SS with a Z2 Atom 80, X3.1 UST rims with XT disc hubs.
a Weekend Warrior
from Greenhurst, NY USA
Date Reviewed: June 29, 2002
Strengths: Umm... its a disc brake..? It doesn't weigh much..?
Weaknesses: hmm... where to begin...
They got hotter than hell (to be expected with discs, but this was overkill) The adjustment knob came off my bike... Front brake squeals like hell, and doesnt stop... I think it just may need soem wearing on the brand new pads, but damn is it annoying. Low power... Brake doesn't endo me... (180lbs.)
Junk... don't get them... you'd be better off taking your money outside and burning it... The only way I would take them again if they came stock on my bike...