New electronic shifting, from… FSA!
Pick a bike, any bike. The chances are that the gear shifting duties on it are performed by either Shimano or SRAM, possibly Campagnolo. This has been the way for many years, with few even attempting to break into the market. Well, now Full Speed Ahead (FSA) have stepped in to mix things up. They aren’t messing around either.
There have been strong rumours of an electronic FSA groupset for a while. Spy shots have been doing the rounds for months, as have images of prototypes hanging off pro-peloton machines. Now, just ahead of Eurobike, FSA now have a product – the FSA K-Force WE – that they are ready to share with us and make available to the market.
Here’s what we now know:
- It’s electronic and 11-speed. This was always going to be pretty much a given if FSA wanted to compete with the big players, who all now have electronic options in their range.
- It’s wireless. Kind of. The shifters are wireless and use ANT+ to communicate with the front and rear mechs. But, the front and rear derailleurs and a battery pack are connected via a wire,”hidden in the driveside chainstays and seat-tube,” according to FSA, but presumably this requires frames to be designed with internal routing.
- The key word is “customisable”. The shifters are available in two lengths for ickle hands and bear paws. The shifting operation is customisable as well, via an FSA developed smartphone app. FSA are also working with Garmin to exploit the possibilities of ANT+.
- Parallelogram? Schmarallelogram! The rear mech has done away with the traditional parallelogram design that has been a staple across the market for decades. Apparently FSA are using a “unique electronic-driven gearbox moving the cage across the cassette with immense precision”.
- There’s no disc brake option, yet. Surely it won’t be long before we see one though.
- ‘Cross is not boss. The groupset has seems to have been designed around a 2×11 integrated approach. The cranksets are only available in road compact and standard gearing… no ‘cross friendly 46/36 chainring combo. It’s fair to say that this first iteration of the K-Force WE is target firmly at our tarmac brethren. Here’s hoping Version 2 brings some off-road friendly tweaks.
- It will be hitting the stores in March 2017. Prices are to confirmed, but expect it to sit around SRAM eTap levels.
Want to geek out and find out more? The full lowdown is available from FSA, here.