EB13: 2014 Formula R1 Racing and C1 Hydraulic Mountain Bike Brakes

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

We showed you a sneak peek from Crankworx, now here’s the full skinny on the 2014 Formula R1r brakeset. It’s a complete redesign of their master cylinder with a new pull piston to replace the push piston on their (and virtually everyone else’s) brakes.

For weight weenies, the benefit is it chops grams off the already very light R1. Functionally, the biggest benefit is that it moves the pivot closet to the bar, which improves reach, particularly for smaller hands. It also reduces the likelihood of bottoming out the lever on the cylinder body, which would be a safety issue by limiting braking power. While most of us aren’t experiencing that frequently, under heavy pad wear situations or if you typically have the lever reach adjusted inboard pretty far, it can mean the difference between stopping or not.

Visuals and more below…

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

The difference in pivot and lever distance from the bar is dramatic. The original R1 on the left pushes it pretty far out. The new R1r on the right brings it in much closer, which also provides a better “angle of attack”. In other words, the further the pivot is from the bar, the more your lever is going to angle in towards the bar, which requires the levers to have that hook bend on them to keep your fingers from slipping out of place. Note the new brakes also get a shorter lever with shallower bend. Yay!

(As an aside, that’s why Avid’s brakes can get away with a very ergonomically friendly straight lever blade…their pivot is typically much closer to the handlebar than other brands)

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

As you pull the lever, it pulls the piston pulls through the master cylinder, which they say offers slightly smoother action than a push piston.

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

The design moves the reservoir cap from under the bar mount to a more standard top cap. Other little changes include bumping up the lever pivot bolt from a 3mm Allen to 4mm Allen bolt. There’s also a tiny return spring on the pull rod that eases lever release so it doesn’t slam outward when you release the lever.

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

2014 Formula R1 Racing Pull Cylinder hydraulic disc brakes

The brake caliper remains unchanged. Piston diameter is 22mm, and it’ll come with alloy backed semi metallic.

The other best part? It’s lighter than the 2013 R1 brakes! 267g per wheel (160mm rotor, 85cm kevlar reinforced hose and full titanium hardware). And that’s with an alloy lever. Formula sales & service rep Robert Davis says they couldn’t reinforce the piston pivot enough with carbon given the space constraints, so the lever has to be alloy.

The last best part? Because their brakes are designed for both the American and European markets, the latter being home of many a moto-style lever setup, all of their levers are designed to be flip flopped from left to right with no other alterations. They’ve even put bleed ports on both sides of the master cylinder, so it’s ready to bleed regardless of your set up. Brilliant!

(Another aside: You’ll find the same master cylinder on a mash up called the T1r on some S-Works Specialized bikes, but it’s mated to the T1 caliper. That one won’t be aftermarket, you’ll only find it on bikes with a big red “S”.)

2014 Formula C1 cartridge hydraulic disc brakes

At the entry level there’s the new C1 brakes, which use a cartridge style master cylinder that’s simply dropped into the lever body from behind the pivot.

2014 Formula C1 cartridge hydraulic disc brakes

While the layout looks a bit different than their other brakes, it’s functionally the same. The master cylinder is simply oriented differently. The benefit is that the bleed port should be facing up in most normal installs.

2014 Formula C1 cartridge hydraulic disc brakes

The goal with the C1 was to bring Formula brakes to lower price points. The cartridge based MC simply drops into the lever body as a unit rather than requiring individual assembly like their higher end brakes. You can see all the little parts in cutaway comparison, so it saves assembly time. which saves money. Dealers or service centers can also just swap in a new cartridge if necessary, which should get your bike up and running quicker rather than having to pull the entire brake system off for replacement.

2014 Formula C1 cartridge hydraulic disc brakes

The C1 also uses their basic caliper design but lacks the hose banjo.


Lastly, there’s a new heavy duty rotor. It becomes their second one-piece option, and the original becomes the SL but is unchanged. The new one is only a couple grams heavier (literally – +3g for the 180mm) but they say it’s more durable. Honestly, there’s not much different at face value, but we’ll get more info and update.


8 thoughts on “EB13: 2014 Formula R1 Racing and C1 Hydraulic Mountain Bike Brakes

  1. Does this mean we can use the old R1 calipers with the new lever? Shorter reach is really attractive as I have small hands.

    It hasn’t been a problem most of the time except on long downhill runs (e.g. Downieville) where the levers pack up a bit when they start overheating.

  2. @Dave yes you can use old R1 calipers, but beware that Formula’s pricing is kinda wonky so you may end up paying more for just the lever and hose than the entire brake. I am not kidding.

  3. The bleed port on the C1’s is right behind/in front of the handle bar and needs to be removed to get a syringe attached.
    This takes extra time when they come in for bleeding or new out of the box and need to be bled. Other than that the C1’s work well. I’ve never owned a pair, but on bikes that have them that I have test rode after repairs they seem to have good stopping power. My new Stumpy will have them and I plan to give them a fair try before I swap them out with Shimano’s.

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