1) How often should the brake fluid in my Formula brakes be replaced?
FAQ #1: How often should the brake fluid in my DOT4 Formula brakes be replaced?
The DOT4 brake fluid used in your Formula brakes is Hygroscopic - meaning it attracts water and although it is a closed system, over time the water content in the brake fluid will increase. This will make the brake feel more spongy and cause overheating quicker. The brake fluid will become thick and contaminated over time. To prevent this Formula brakes should be bled and re-filled with new fluid once a year, regardless of how often the bike is ridden - if the bike is not ridden, the brake fluid ages just as much. We highly recommend you have the bleeding done by your local retailer. If you are experienced in bleeding brakes, the necesary bleed kit is available from us or through your local retailer.
FAQ #2: Which brake fluid do my formula brakes use?
DOT4: Older model Formula brakes (incl. RX, R1, R1R, T1, T1R, RO, ROR C1, CR1, CR3, Oro) use DOT4. DOT4 is readily available at every petrol station. All brake fluids labelled as DOT4 can be used in the brakes labelled with DOT4 and comply with the Department Of Transportation standard. However, Formula has done extensive testing, and have found that the performance will vary even throughout different brands of DOT4 in extreme conditions and hence Formula specifically recommend using SHELL DOT4 brake fluid in their DT4 brakes.
MINERQL OIL: Some newer generation Formula brakes (CURA and CURA4) use Mineral oil. It is important to use the Formula Mineral Oil so you do not void warranty and your brakes can work s intended.
FAQ #3: Can I use aftermarket non-Formula branded pads or other parts?
It is not possible for Formula to test brakes with every possible pad combination, hence the brakes are only tested with with genuine Formula parts. Warranty and the performance you expect from a Formula brake is only given with genuine Formula parts. If different pads are used for example Formula cannot guarantee the function of the brake. It is important that components such as pads and rotors are tested and proven to work well together, or else you might end up with a combination that highly compromises the braking performance of the brake, or even causes excessive overheating result of brake failure which can lead to serious injury or death. If non-Formula components are used you void all warranty.
FAQ #4: Do all Formula brakes have the same pad shape?
Following 2-piston brakes use the same popular pad shape: R1/R1R/RX/TheOne/T1/T1R/RO/ROR/C1/CR1/CR3 all use the same pad shape. Only the older generation of Oro brakes and older model brakes use an different pad shape.
Formula 4-piston brakes (CURA4) uses a 4-piston specific pad.
FAQ #5: What pad types are used/can I/should I use in my Formula brake?
Riding conditions, rider weight, individual riding styles can have a big impact on selecting the correct brake pad for your specific application. Unfortunately, these are unknown to Formula, hence the brake will have a type of pad pre-selected, which may be the correct pad for the application, but another type of pad may actually be far more suitable. You can use below info as a guide, but usually the correct type of pad will become evident when you try some different pads out on your favourite trails.
To check which pads are actually are stock for your brake model (provided they have not been changed from new, and are not a OEM specific pad selection), check the Formula Brakes catalogue here
In general there are three types of pads:
- Very good initial bite
- Low noise generation
- Good all round feeling
- High braking power at low speeds
- Low purchasing cost
- Faster wear in muddy/wet conditions than sintered
- Fading temperature lower then below listed pads
- Braking power at high speeds is lower than below listed pads
2. SEMI METALLIC
- Very good initial bite
- Low noise generation
- Good all round feeling
- High braking power at low speeds
- High braking power at high speeds
- Good stability at medium/high temperature
- Short bed-in process
- Faster wear in muddy/wet conditions than sintered
- Can generate noise in wet conditions
- Very constant and high braking power at all speeds
- Excellent wear resistance in muddy conditions
- No fading at high temperatures
- Initial bite at low speeds is not so high
- Possibly noisy
- Higher purchasing cost
More specifically Formula has following pads and above attributes generally lead to following suitability of application:
ORGANIC w/steel backing - best for general dry weather trail riding fror average weight riders.
ORGANIC w/alloy backing - as above but alloy backing saves approx. 12-15g per end, making them more suitable for light weight XC bikes where every gram counts
SEMI METALLIC - great for gravity riding in dry conditions and where high noise is experienced with sintered pads
SINTERED - Best for gravity applications, heavier riders, riding in wet conditions and steep terrain.
FAQ #6: Do I need to bed my brakes in before riding my new bike? If so, how?
It is critical for the performance of your brakes to bed them in correctly. The bedding in process must be performed on all new bikes and when new pads or rotors or both have been fitted. If the bedding in process is not performed, the brakes can glaze up, the friction of the pads reduces (braking power does not develop it's full potential) and the noise generation increases. To prevent this, read your owners manual and follow the bedding in process until the brakes develop good bite. Generally good bite is when you can easily come to a quick stop using the front brake and using one finger for braking only. If this is not possible, the brakes have not been bedded in sufficiently.
The first ride is not to be used for bedding in the brakes! Do it before the first ride. Follow the procedure in the owners manual. A recommended alternative method, is to pedal the bike with the front brake slightly applied, on a level path for 7-10 minutes. You should feel the friction between rotor and pads increase and feel how the brake developes bite. If it has not, continue until it does. Once the front brake has developed bite, repeat for the rear brake. Both brakes should now be bedded in with good bite and ready for the first ride.
FAQ #7: What can I do if the pads are glazed up (ie generally the case when brakes are noisy and lack of braking power, and caused by not applying the bedding in process)?
You will need to replace your pads with new pads.
Be sure to clean the rotors thouroughly with isopropanol to ensure no contamination. Some people may say you can sand the pads down with wet and dry sandpaper to refresh them or you can put them in boiling water or use a blow torch. You can try roughening the pads with sandpaper, however this is not guaranteed to solve the issue in all cases. If doing this though, also repeat the bedding-in process. Formula does not recommend the second and third of mentioned procedures and non of them will guarantee your brakes will work. Using a blow torch can damage the bond between the pad compound and the backing which can result in complete loss of brakes.
FAQ #8: I need to undo (such as for a repair) an aluminium bolt (such as the lever pivot bolts), is there anything to take note of?
YES. All aluminium bolts have thread locker applied for assembly. The bond of the thread locker will need to be broken with heat, or else you risk damaging one of the aluminium bolts. Use a heat gun or hair dryer, apply heat locally to the bolt only, until the thread locker liquifies and the bolt will easily undo. When re-assembling the aluminium bolt, ensure medium strength thread locker (such as blue Loctitie) is used.
FAQ #9: When would one use 1-piece and when would one use 2-piece rotors?
First of all, this is not generally a question of weight saving. Not in all sizes the lighter rotor is the same type. The major advantage of a 2-piece rotor with aluminium carrier, is 1) that the aluminium carrier has a higher heat transfer rate, hence carries heat away from the braking track quicker keeping the entire system cooler 2) the 2-piece rotors are manufactured with connections that automatically adjust in a radial direction, hence when the rotor experiences extreme heat, the rotor can expand in the radial plane and will stay straight without warping. A 1-piece rotor, when subjected to extreme heat, will tend to warp slightly causing a "tinging" noise, and will only straighten up and dissapear again when it returns to normal operating temperature. The other case when you may like to try 1-piece rotors, is when your bicycle system hits a resonance frequency upon braking causing a loud noise. The first thing to do in this case is try a different pad compound to shift the resonance frequency, but another method of shifting the resonance frequency is going to a different rotor such as a 2-piece rotor (or a different size). So, if you find that you are bringing your brakes to their limits and want to optimise the braking or you need to shift the resonanse frequency of the bicycle system under braking, 2-piece rotors are an option.
FAQ #10: How do I know if my brakes are contaminated? And in this case what do I do? Does it matter?
If the brake pads or rotors are contaminated, they will generate noise (usually accompanied with a lack of braking power). Riding through a puddle, where a car leaking oil was once parked, may be enough to contaminate your pads, or the spray of someone using a lubricant such as WD-40 in the shed where your bike is stored even 5m away from the bike, may have contaminated the rotor, and hence on the first application of the brakes on your next ride your pads are contaminated.To check for contamination, take a paper towl or tissue, spray on some isopropanol alcohol on and wipe each side of the two rotors seperately checking in between to see if any side of the rotors leaves a black stain on the tissue. If that is the case, the respective pad is contaminated. It may be that only one side is contaminated or only one end or both. If contamination is found, it is likely to be the cause of the noise.
Remedy: clean (sometimes sufficient) or renew pads.
To do this, remove pads by undoing the pad retaining pin - be sure to not loose the pin retaining clip. Remove pads. Push pistons back until they are flush with the caliper body using a soft tool such as plastic tyre lever. You can insert a 8mm or 9mm spanner in the caliper's rotor slots to lever aginst with the tyre lever. Take special caution to not damage the pistons, they are brittle! It is a good idea to put a spacer which has exactly the width of the housing (some Formula adapters have the correct thickness and can be used for this purpose) in place of the pads to keep the pistons in this position for a while. Now you can attempt to clean the pads with isopropanol alcohol. It is often not possible to get them as clean as needed and in this case they simply need to be replaced. The best test, is to dap a clean tissue with isopropanol on the pads and see whether they leave a dark stain on ther tissue. If they do, there is deffinately contamination still on them. When cleaned, or new pads purchased, feed the new pads into the caliper and re-assemble with retaining pin and retaining pin clip. Proceed to bed the brakes in as explained above.
FAQ #11: I was out riding, and mid ride, the brake pads were contaminated and hence the performance was compromised. Was there anything I could have done on-trail?
There is a good trick for cleaning contaminated pads when out riding or you are about to go out on a ride and realize the brakes have become contaminated between now and your last ride. This trick will in most cases allow you to increase the braking power enough to complete the ride so you can replace the pads when you have returned home. Riding through a puddle, where a car leaking oil was once parked, may be enough to contaminate your pads, or the spray of someone using a lubricant such as WD-40 in the shed where your bike is stored even 5m away from the bike, may have contaminated the rotor. Simply remove the pads taking note of which pad is on which side. Find the flattest and smoothest stone, concrete or pavement surface you can. Make sure it is exposed to weather so the last rain would have given it a good wash and it is likely to be relatively clean ie. free of greases or oils etc. Rub the brake pads in a smooth straight motion applying even pressure. Watch how the pad leaves a black mark. Do not go over the same surface twice! Don’t go overboard, only 2-3 rubs will do. Put cleaned pads back in the brake and ride in a circle with the brakes applied – this will transfer more contamination from the rotor to the pad. Once again remove pads and rub the pads on the concrete / pavement removing the contamination from the pad. Repeat this process a couple of times until all contamination has been transferred from rotors to pad to concrete / pavement and the brake pads and rotor are now clean and free of contamination ready to bed in again. Enjoy your ride!
FAQ #12: I have an issue with my brake and believe it may be a warranty case. What do I need to do?
Should you want to claim any repairs under warranty the brakes must:
1) be sent in to us as a complete unit with all bolts and rotor(s) belonging to the respective brake system
EightyOneSpices - warranty
PO Box 22
2) be accompanied by the receipt of the brakes or bike the brakes came on (for second hand brakes the original receipt)
3) be accompanied by a brief note explaining the issue experienced
Note 1: warranty repairs can only br performed if the brake is accompanied by the original receipt, timeframe is within the 2 year warranty period, and purchase was made in Australia through one of the Formula sales channels.
Note 2: should your brake have OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) colour coded parts that require replacing (such as caliper caps), we will endeavour to replace with the same colour if possible. However, as we do not generally stock OEM colour coded spare parts, replacement may be made with AM (Aftermarket) colour coded parts as per Formula website and catalogue.
FAQ #13: I have brake fluid leaking out of the back of my MC (pump) where it connects to the handlebar! Help - what do I do?!
Don't stress just yet - chances are it is not brake fluid.
To check if you do have brake fluid leaking out of the breather hole at the back of the MC (pump) where it clamps onto the handle bar, leave the brakes on your bike and do two thing:
1) apply the brake until it engages and let go. Don't pull on it as hard as you can, just as if you were wanting to come to a stop. Repeat 20 times.
2) hold the brake applied for 20 seconds. Again, not as hard as you can pull on it, just with some firm pressure as if you were stopping.
If, in above two cases, the brake leaver does not gradually move further and further towards the bar, and there is no STEADY STREAM of fluid coming out behind the MC, then it is not brake fluid and nothing is wrong with your brake.
In this case, it is moisture that has collected and creaped in through the breather hole and remains trapped there. This is due to the nature of the brake fluid inside the brake being hugroscopic and attracting any moisture in the atmosphere. This can happen if even if the brakes are brand new or have never been on a bike before. However, it is always a good idea to clean up any moisture that you see here.
If you have the rare case that a steady stream of brake fluid is flowing out until there is no more brake fluid left in the brake, and the lever moves in towards the handlebar when performing above two tests, then your brakes needs a service. Clean up the brake and handle bar with isopropynol alcohol and have an qualified mechanic service your brakes or send to us direct.
YOUR QUESTION HASN'T BEEN ANSWERED? - Drop us a line below or on (+61) 08-8388 3581
How to videos
1. How to brake - with Fabian Barel: click kere
2. Bleeding procedure:: click kere
3. Bleeding procedure, C1 brakes:: click kere
4. C1 brake setup:: click kere
5. C1 caliper piston lubrication procedure:: click kere
6. Hose, how to shorten:: click kere
7. Hose, how to shorten (with Speedlock):: click kere
8. Speedlock (disconnect / connect): click kere
9. FCS installation: click kere
10. FCS removal: click kere
11. FCS assembly: click kere
12. Pads, replacing: click kere