FSAWirelessGroup2015-1

Full Speed Ahead (FSA) joins the big three in cycling -Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo- in developing an electronic derailleur and shifter group. The much rumored prototype electronic groupset is yet-to-be-named, but its finally made its first big public appearance. And what better occasion than a rest day of the 2015 Tour de France? Sharing prototype status with SRAM’s wireless electronic groupset, FSA’s potential entry into the electronic shifting market is currently gracing a few team bikes from Etixx-QuickStep, Tinkoff-Saxo, Bora-Argon 18 and Cofidis. More pics and video from GCN below…

FSAWirelessGroup2015-5
Details of the new group are limited, with company officials refusing to provide solid details about how the system works. However, we believe the system is a semi-wireless design, with the front and rear derailleurs linked together by electronic wire, which in turn is linked to a wireless sender / receiver / control unit and battery. The control unit and battery probably reside inside the frame, and likely receive and transmit gear shift signals to the integrated brake and shift levers.

FSAWirelessGroup2015-2

The system is clearly marked prototype, with unique numbers etched onto the front and rear derailleurs. If the range of these numerals is anything to go by, it would suggest the system has been in development for some time. The rear derailleur is quite different in appearance from everything we’ve seen from the other three manufacturers. Outer and inner limit screws seem to be in place, along with a “B” screw. However, the front derailleur is similar to the offerings from the big three, prototype or otherwise.

Huge thanks to Global Cycling Network for the video, all pics are screenshots we pulled from it.

Four LED’s – red, yellow and two in green adorn the back side of the front derailleur, with graphic indicators for a check mark, “set” and power on / off. The LED lights flickered on and off at times while on the workstand, but we believe that may be part of the system configuration process, versus normal operational mode.

FSAWirelessGroup2015-3

The brake lever hoods are very reminiscent of Campagnolo’s design, but shifting operation appears to be like no other electronic system. Shifting appears to be handled by rocker switch neatly integrated into the rear of the lever blade – it pivots in the middle, with the top half likely for upshifts, the lower half for downshifts.

Only brake cables are seen exiting the integrated shift and brake levers, which strongly suggests wireless shifter signals are in use. We suspect a battery resides in one or both shifters, with an integrated wireless sender / receiver transmitting gear change information to both derailleurs. The positive to a semi-wireless system – remember, we believe the derailleurs are wired together, but communicate sans wires to the shifters – is one less point of failure and one less battery to worry about.

The appearance of the shift / brake levers, prototype fonts and look of the machined rear derailleur, suggest that Tiso Components had a hand in the design of this system. See our earlier article and link to Tiso’s video about their 12 speed wireless system below. Original iterations of the Tiso system were of a semi-wireless design, again suggesting a link to the current FSA design.

Clearly the system can be configured or interrogated by laptop, similar to Shimano’s eTube software, as indicated by the photo below.

FSAWirelessGroup2015-4

Other new items for the FSA groupset are an 11-speed cassette and hollow-pin chain. FSA’s cranksets, bottom brackets, brakes, handlebars and stems have all been in production for some time. While still too early to say, FSA looks to have a complete and functioning groupset, which may receive some serious test kilometers at this year’s Tour de France!

We reached out to FSA, but they wouldn’t divulge any details other than to say its appearance at Le Tour is confirmation that they’re working on it. It was not on any team bikes during the start of the Tour, only being installed on the rest day. And there’s no confirmation the riders will use it for the remainder of the race, but at least we know it now in real world testing. We’re hoping some details will be announced at Eurobike, but they made no commitment to any launch date. More as we get it.

FullSpeedAhead.com

33 COMMENTS

  1. I think the hoods aren’t a finished design. Nobody is gonna want tape ON their hoods and around their hoods like this. You’d also have to re-tape anyway since there will be all that odd tape slack. This does make positioning the hoods easier but I bet you need to tape over the bolt so its reasonably comfortable even though it probably isn’t

  2. Just a correction – GCN is “Global Cycling Network” not “Global Cycling News”

    The shift button arrangement recalls a mix of Shimano Di2 and Microshift’s mechanical brifters, in my opinion.

    More choices, more players, more competition. This should be good. It might even prompt a lowering of prices for electronic groupsets.

  3. News Flash 2016 TDF – “Hackers derail chain of GC Leader in dramatic Alp stage finish. Rookie Chinese rider now in Yellow as result”

  4. @Liasara @Veganpotter is probably right – designing and producing rubber hoods is probably the last stage of the prototyping exercise.

  5. Working with Tiso makes sense given that most of FSAs product design is done in their Italian office. They’ve been working on a drivetrain for nearly a decade so it’s not to finally see it in the wild!

  6. Looks a lot like the Tiso group, which was a prototype over two years ago. I’m guessing the battery is in the seat tube.

  7. I am surprised that teams with high profiles like Etixx and Tinkov/Saxo don’t have firm enough contracts with one of the big-3 to keep FSA’s protos off of their bikes.

  8. @Dinger, there was talk at the beginning the season that a few teams would be running a FSA drivetrain, Ettixx and Tinkoff Saxo were those teams. There is even talk about some riders using the prototypes for the rest of the tour.
    I think its great that there is a new player in the drivetrain segment, although I love my Campy road stuff and my Sram mtb drivetrains. I cant wait for day that all electronic drivetrains are wireless though.

  9. QS and Tinkoff DO have firm component contracts. With FSA. There’s probably a Specialized connection in there too as they’re the rumored launch partner for the drivetrain.

    FSA has been buying Shimano gear for both as their stuff wasn’t ready. Both teams signed on knowing that they’d at some point be running the pre-production drivetrain. You won’t see it on Contador or Sagan’s bike but FSA clearly wants a little publicity at the Tour. It’s no different than what Shimano did with Di2 and what SRAM is doing right now with Ag2r.

  10. I have seen and experienced wayyy too many FSA component failures to even give this a second look. Cavendish was running FSA cranks and chain rings at the beginning of the season but after a series of chain derailments during hard sprints from the FSA (Quarq) crankset and chainrings flexing during hard efforts you’ll notice he’s gone back to a Shimano (SRM) setup.

  11. Eric Hansen…PLENTY of people put out MORE power than Tour De France Riders since the average person is much heavier. Power to weight ratio doesn’t brake gear, weight+power is whats hard on stuff. Unless of course, you’re only talking about professional sprinters

  12. FSA’s chain rings are flexy because they’re machined instead of forged like Shimano. It’s a stupid design method, but it’s cheap and plenty of chainring manufacturers do it. It says nothing of their ability to make a functioning, quality groupset. While I’d never buy an FSA crank in their current form, my K-Force bars are probably my favorite piece of kit on my bike and FSA makes plenty of other quality products. I’d be willing to try an FSA groupset, sans crank if it’s still machined.

  13. EVERYTHING is machined at all levels but the VERY bottom. Its how the metal is treated before hand. Newer FSA rings are stiff, beyond the stiffness needed for pretty much any cyclist under 200lbs with decent power. Their old stuff was noodley…no denying that but I’m not talking just the 4 arm spider crank they make, their last stuff was plenty stiff. Dura-Ace keeps getting stiffer and stiffer but for no purpose. Its like having a 300lb squat max and trying to squat 500lbs, failing at doing that and trying to do 550lbs to make the 500lbs feel lighter. Your wheels are gonna flex way before your chainrings on any modern crank over $150. Your wheel will rub the crap out of your brake pads before you get enough flex in your cranks to lose power and shift quality these days(see how “hard” it is to push your rim into your brake pads). You’re gonna lose more power from brake rub than crank flex.

    Shift ramps and FD stiffness are a much bigger issue than chainring flex when it comes to shift quality unless you have VERY CHEAP chainrings

  14. That’s completely untrue, re: everything being machined except at the “bottom”. There is a world of quality and strength difference between an item machined out of a block of aluminum (FSA ring) or forged into shape (Shimano ring). Might want to read up a little on metal manufacturing 101.

  15. @jeb…though it is not said through the media…. Cavendish’s derailment issue’s were due to a bad Di2 set-up with the trim on the FD…not the quality issue with FSA products. This was not realized until Etixx switched his cranks back to Shimano…And yes even Pro mechanics botch installations…human error once again overrides product performance.

  16. These guys have been marketing a triathlon groupset about 5 years and Tiso is in the same markenting mode. A bit farcical they associated each other.

  17. @BillBob :Strength and stiffness are not the same thing. If two identical parts of the same material are made by either forging or machining, the stiffness will be the same. The strength however will not. As for your comment to VeganPotter of “Might want to read up a little on metal manufacturing 101.” Perhaps you might want to read up a little on metal science 101. The FSA chainrings are not flexy because they are machined. If you are claiming that they are flexy (and I’m not saying they are or aren’t), then it will be due to the design of the chainring profile themselves, not how the metal is formed into shape. So any strength difference can only be identified at the failure point, which will be at its yield limit when the chainring permanently deforms. Chainring wear of course is another issue, with the surface finishing also playing an important role (i.e., anodising, hard-anodising, plating…).

  18. enough arms chair engineering, you guys are boring.

    I just hope this pushes shimano to enter wireless, and to release an affordable 105 Di2.

    I will stay in 10 speed and cable for many many years though.

  19. @Ships – Forged aluminum parts are generally stiffer than machined plate. This is due to the work hardening that occurs when aluminum is stressed.

    “Strain hardening (also called work-hardening or cold-working) is the process of making a metal harder and stronger through plastic deformation.”

    “It should be understood, however, that increasing the strength by cold-working will also result in a reduction in ductility.”

    https://www.nde-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/Materials/Structure/strengthening.htm

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.