FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_dual-pivot-brakes_rear-derailleur-detail

We’ve seen the not very guarded wireless group from FSA on bikes for quite some time now, most recently at the Tour de France, and even a countdown timer to today on the new group’s dedicated website. But now it is official. We have all of the details on the new complete groupset, from how it works, to how it charges, and even how much the group will weigh. Along the way there are even a bunch of other new refinements in the rest out the groupset outside of the shifting. Check out our first look after the break…

So as we had assumed before the group takes the top-tier component name of FSA and adds on the WE moniker which stands for wireless electronic. This new K-Force WE kit is a complete road group and finally meets FSA’s need to deliver a full setup to lock in the pros riding their complete drivetrain and component setup.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_levers

As we had been told before, the shifting setup works with two independent wireless shift brake levers and then front and rear derailleurs connected by a fixed wire to a single in-frame battery.

Communication wise, the shifters talk wirelessly via a customized ANT protocol just to the front derailleur which acts as the brain of the chain moving system. By using the closed ANT protocol, FSA is able to build in their own security keys and customised communication setup that lets them keep out any possibility of interference.

The front derailleur then has ANT+ communication via that open protocol that allows it to connect to third-party (read: Garmin) cycling computers/GPS head units, but also adds the ability to talk directly with laptops/desktop computers and compatible mobile devices.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_app-control

One of the big hallmarks that FSA is touting on the new K-Force WE group is its adjustability and user customization. That starts from the electronics side with a wide range of setup and tunability options available though the wireless desktop and mobile apps, connected through ANT+. That will let you rearrange the function of the buttons as you wish, adjust multi-shift options, and energy saving modes.  The app also offers detailed tracking of each shift, how much power was consumed, and then how much battery power is remaining.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_seatpost-battery

One of FSA’s biggest reasons for wiring the front and rear derailleurs together was about providing longer battery life and more advanced power management. The result is a setup with a single internal seatpost-mounted 7.4v li-ion battery that claims a 5000km range. And when that time is up, you just unplug the rear derailleur cable (secured with a small hex key to prevent accidental disconnects on rough terrain), plug it in to the included charger and are ready to go again in 90 mins with a full charge.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_lever-outer FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_lever-inner

The shift levers themselves run on a low power optimized ANT communication setup with simple coin cell batteries (1 per lever). FSA claims greater longevity, but say that they will recommend replacing the batteries once a year, no matter the distance ridden.

Tracking shifter count and each shift’s actual energy consumption is part of their greater plan for better energy management. Since the energy consumption of each shift varies depending on whether it was made under load, whether front or rear shifts were made alone or in succession, logging this real energy  use allows FSA’s brain to calculate actual reserve battery power based on actual rider habits. So, if you ride aggressively or easily, the drivetrain will report realistic estimates of how much time on the bike is remaining.

ANT+ connectivity means that the group will likely come with a USB dongle for use with a PC, and will at first only be compatible with Android devices. FSA has told us that an iOS app is also in development, and will require the use of one of the several available third-party adapters that enables ANT+ communication to iDevices.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_lever-bodies

Another of their customization options comes at the setup of the levers for the individual rider. The levers have simple reach adjustment for riders with smaller hands, but FSA is also offering the shift/brake levers with two different brake lever length options (the compact lever is 6mm shorter.)

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The K-Force WE group is 11 speed and works with the existing FSA chain and one of three new premium cassettes. The cassettes are to be offered in 11-25, 11-28 & 11-32 gearing options, and use individual hardened steel and larger titanium cogs on a pair of carbon spiders.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_crankset

The new K-Force WE group also gets a new hollow carbon crankset that incorporates the same tech as the current K-Force. That means that it gets the BB386 tech, with an alloy 30mm spindle, but with a redesigned chainring interface and significantly updated chainring design. In response to requests from input from their pro riders, FSA has also trimmed 3mm off of the cranks Q-factor.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_chainring-shaping

A big part of the new crank is also a new forged then machined 7075 chainring design. A key difference in the 120% stiffer rings is a revised ramp and pin design optimized to handle the much harsher shifts imposed by an electronic front derailleur. A lot of that is just a revised upshift pin design with an inward recessed shape the better grabs the chain plates instead of just pushing them up for better performance under high load.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_dual-pivot-brakes_rear-derailleur FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_dual-pivot-brakes_rear-derailleur-wiring-detail

As we’ve seen the rear derailleur gets an alternative geometry n movement than most derailleurs, and instead of a standard parallelogram uses a body driven by 3 timing gears. BY using gear driven movement, FSA says that they can deliver a more compact shape with exceptionally accurate positioning of the derailleur, while staying clear of other shifting systems’ intellectual property.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_carbon-rear-derailleur

While the rear derailleurs we’ve had a look at still have pre-production machined alloy knuckles, we’ve been assured that production parts will replace these with molded carbon parts.

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_front-derailleur FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_front-derailleur_brain-controls

The front derailleur also is gear driven, but uses a rack and pinion gear layout supported by bearings to handle the higher torque requirement of front shifts. The front derailleur also serves as the brain of the entire drivetrain, managing both the ANT & ANT+ communications.

It receives the wireless signals from the shifters and then transmits them through its single wire to the battery and on to the rear derailleur. The front derailleur has four LED colors to communicate remaining battery power: blue shows 100% life, green very good, yellow caution, and then red lets you know that you just have a few kilometers of riding remaining. Of course if you want (or need) more precise remaining battery power, you can pop up the app for full detail.
can also always check via the app?

FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_dual-pivot-brakes_open FSA_K-Force-WE_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_dual-pivot-brakes_closed

The group also gets a revised dual pivot K-Force brake too, that FSA’s sponsored pros have been riding all year. The new brake is said to offer improved stopping power, while at the same time building in slightly longer 40-50mm reach. The new brake gets a new multi-position quick release that lets the rider set the pad width for 3 different size rim widths from around 18-28mm (classic to contemporary wide), while now clearing 28 mm tires.

In the end the complete new group is claimed to weigh 2090g total with everything you need to ride away. The new K-Force WE rim brake groupset will open up later this fall around October for the first round of OEM & aftermarket ordering, with the first stages of delivery to make their way to OEMs, distributor, and then customers starting in April & May of 2017. The group is expected to get more full adoption on the pro peloton with full drivetrain sponsorships getting Astana, Cofidis, Direct Energie, Jelly Belly, and more on the group in 2017.

FSA_K-Force-WE-disc-brake_wireless-electronic-road-drivetrain-component-group_disc-brake-teaser

We had a quick look at a hydraulic disc brake prototype version of the K-Force WE setup and will report more on it in a bit. While that variation gets no official launch date yet, it was said to be slated for release a couple of months after the rim brake version, for estimated early summer 2017 availability. There was also talk of a TT version of the group (that would add remote shifters connected to their own independent wireless box), and 1x (that would presumably have to move the brain somewhere else), and both climber & sprinter remote shifters.

Pricing also hasn’t yet been finalized, but FSA assures us that it will be comparable with top road electronic groups from both SRAM & Shimano. While that is a little vague, it does mean that FSA’s K-Force will still be a top, premium offering and won’t undercut Di2 or eTap pricing structures.

WE-FSA.com

42 COMMENTS

  1. BR, no 11-32T cassette option. The cassette options include 11-25, 11-28 and 11-23. This is also corroborated by the FSA website, yet it also states “11-32 option is under development and testing”.
    Eds.: We do see those options on their mini site, but FSA specifically mentioned the 11-32 option (and the lack of an 11-23) when we spoke with them yesterday.

  2. That front derailleur looks very close to the side of that rear tire, making me wonder about clearance for wider tires…

    Also, ANT+ dongles for configuration with PCs and iPhones? Seriously? They’ve never heard of Bluetooth?

    • I think Bluetooth is a battery sucker compared to ANT+. That the reason for all the bike computers etc. we have ANT+. For long battery life its a good choice, not to mention for with powermeters, bikecomputers etc. since those are not always bluetooth compatible. Besides How often you need to set up? Once maybe? They could add the functionality, but just for the setup to me a ant+ dongle would be enough for the time being.

  3. “I have lots of money to spend on a top of the line groupset, I think I’ll buy what FSA is offering.” Said no one, ever.

    • True. No one says that now. Fifteen or twenty years ago, no one said the same about SRAM, which now holds a very respectable position in the market. If its products are good, FSA might be able to shake its off-brand status. Why not?

      • i agree. Brand history means less and less in a technology hungry society. FSA is entering the market at the right time with the right product. ALl it needs is good support and rapid development for ironing out bugs and meet evolving market needs i.e. Power meters, connectivity, seamless integration with other products etc

        • Actually, come to think of it, getting into the SRAM-Shimano tier is going to be hard. I’m pretty old-school myself, so I didn’t think of the things you mentioned- ironing out bugs, making power meters, having connectivity and seamless integration. I definitely won’t rule out that FSA will step up to the plate and make it, but getting all the ingredients together will take time and, apparently, a change in company culture. I wish them luck- more competition will make SRAM and Shimano work harder, something which has already brought us good gear.

  4. FSA simply wanted matching shifters, and derailleurs to go with their brakes and chains that nobody buys. There’s nothing about this that’s better than SRAM or Shimano. It has less cable to run compared to Shimano but still has cable to run, and has more weight. It doesn’t get the real wireless setup like SRAM and is quite a bit heavier. Cost? Its going to be competitive with SRAM and Shimano? Shimano isn’t even competitive with SRAM’s amazingly low pricing. Will it be right in the middle?

  5. FSA is a company that seems to lack aesthetic sense. None of these parts match each other in design. That crank is pure ugliness, the brakes look like they were taken from the set of Independence Day and the derailleurs look like they come from two different companies. If you look at groups from anyone else, all the parts look like they were designed to match.

    I think the way they designed the derailleurs to share a battery was smart, but I don’t see this group going mainstream until FSA makes aesthetic refinements.

  6. FSA is famous for one of the worst customer service dept in the industry. That alone is the best reason to stay away from this group even if it is great. Who ever let’s this terrible dept staffing continue being so bad should be ashamed.

  7. It’s very cool but the moment SRAM introduced e-Tap wireless every other electronic groupset was rendered obsolete.

    When was the last time anyone went out and bought a home phone that wasn’t wireless?

    • “The moment SRAM introduced e-Tap wireless every other electronic groupset was rendered obsolete.”

      This is far from the truth. If you think there is no demand from Di2 products still you are crazy. Yes, e-Tap stepped up the technology and others will have to follow, but there are still plenty of loyal Shimano and Campy customers out there. And e-Tap doesn’t have a lower priced option currently.

    • Funny timing, I rode with a guy today who’s etap battery died. I’m just not interested in having to charge my bike. Batteries for speed sensor, PM, computer, and HRM are already a PITA.

  8. Ugly and cheap looking. I’ve been searching for a budget commuter and the cursed fsa cranks keep showing up on $1000 – $2000 bikes everywhere. Is FSA throwing money at product managers or what? Nothing against them as a company, but their entire product line looks like it was designed by a bunch of amateurs.

  9. Like this system or not, we are in the golden age of drivetrains as we now have 5 legitimate top end road groups (SRAM, Shimano, Campy, FSA, Rotor). Will this competition lead to reduced prices? Not sure as it’s all high end-low volume stuff. But, I do think (100%!) that the drivetrain competition has made the drive train better. I can’t see SRAM’s beautiful eTap being so innovative if they didn’t have to skirt so many patents. I can’t see Campy doing anything if they didn’t have Shimano and SRAM threatening their livelihood.

    • We had more than 5 back in the 80s. Granted, many relied on rebadged Modolo brakes or Simplex shifters but still, options were plenty. Quality OTOH… 😉

  10. I just can’t deal with how ugly that rear derailleur is. And the other parts are not much better. I was kind of excited about the release of this group but there’s no way I can exchange my hard earned cash for a set of parts that lacks both industrial design and cohesiveness.

  11. I see the rear derailleur is gear driven. Does the author know what material those gears are made of since vibration of the derailleur from the road is going to severely affect the lifespan of those gears which will develop slop and therefore affect the accuracy of the shifts.
    Are those gears replaceable or not? What material are they made from?

    my preference would be replaceable carbonite gears. Steel, alumium or titanium gears won;t last and require a bit of slop to allow for oil to reach the dedendum of the gear teeth.

  12. As others say; if the goal is to clean up the looks of wiring….
    So this is too late to the game unless it gets discounted heavily.
    This might have been cool 5 years ago but it’s missing the main selling point.
    At least the rear derailleur looks aero.

  13. Why would anyone want shorter levers? I have small hands and get the reach adjustment but never wished my levers were shorter.

  14. I’m never happy to see FSA showing up on bikes my store sells. When that shows up with full FSA on it, I’ll have to go out back for a safety meeting before I touch it. ‘Cause I know I’ll have to call FSA and be talked to like I’m an idiot before the problem is fixed.

    Shops, when was the last time you had an FSA rep come by?

  15. Battery life of Di2, cleaned up cabling at the bars like SRAM. exactly what I want out of a groupset.

    Except I need an offroad version, & your dropper post to be compatible. Make it happen!

  16. I hope the best for them….but I too have to agree with the aesthetics. I get that electronic drivetrains require big boxes where there used to be elegant, dainty cable-driven linkages…The big 3 have managed to at least attempt to mitigate this new reality with sculpted designs and strong visual brand language, even if they’ve gotten a little weird looking. IMO, the WE stuff just doesn’t come close….bulky, unrefined, and disjointed. Form follows function, but I require my bikes to have considerations for both.

  17. Whomever decided this group was finally polished should quietly resign. Shimano Tourney derailleurs have more thought put into the finish of them than this whole groupset got. If we were back in the days of 9-speed then it might have flown, but this is just a tragedy. Especially if it actually works as well as Di2/Etap/EPS

  18. I’m just waiting to see how these things actually work and if they have an edge of the competition. I love things that just work, and work well.

  19. Serious bashing of FSA here. I think we’ll get to see them, i suspect Bianchi will be on of teh first adopers of a full kit from FSA. FSA now have a full program to fit out a bike, this will speak to brands selling complete bikes. Not to forget what for example Bianchi pay for a fully tricked out FSA kit. In the end of it all, to end users, what matters most is how well it works in real cycling. I wouldn’t mind having a bike with FSA groupset. Only cable there is, is between RD and FD.
    That’s not so much to complain about in my book.

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