Prior to this year’s Tour de France kicking off, we saw a deluge of new aero bikes from Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Ridley and Merida, and many had something in common: Aero cockpits with hidden cables. Something else they had in common? Big R&D budgets to develop their own stealth cockpit components and frames. See, that type of integration usually requires the frame, fork, handlebar and stem to all be designed to work together.

So what’s a smaller bike brand to do if they want to keep up? Soon, the answer will be to call Full Speed Ahead…

FSA cockpit concept lets you run shift cable and brake hoses through the headset for a perfectly aero bicycle

Shown at the top of the post is more polished prototype created for Italian frame brand Titici that runs the shift cables and brake hose into the bottom of the front of the stem and directly into the frame. The model shown directly above shows where everything goes, using a separate channel to feed everything into the frame.

FSA cockpit concept lets you run shift cable and brake hoses through the headset for a perfectly aero bicycle

To make it work, it needs a special upper headset cup built into the top tube that allows for a wider bearing. The fork’s steerer tube is still a normal 1-1/8″, but the expansion wedge for the headset leaves a gap for the cables to run through. Any spacers and headset cap would be designed with the same channels in them. As shown, it would require you to undo any cable in order to change the stack, but Trek found a simple solution to this for the new Madone and likely something similar could be implemented here.

FSA cockpit concept lets you run shift cable and brake hoses through the headset for a perfectly aero bicycle

Using this system does mean the frame manufacturer has to implement the design into the frame from the outset. Which only expands the option to use this system without limiting the use of standard bars and stems so long as there were other ways of getting the cables from point A to B. Or if other bar/stem brands latch on and start offering something similar.

FSA cockpit concept lets you run shift cable and brake hoses through the headset for a perfectly aero bicycle

The end result is an exceptionally clean looking front end that eliminates extra holes in the head tube, which could mean lighter, stiffer and/or stronger frames. That’s the reason Simplon did it on their new hardtail mountain bike, and it looks sweet.


  1. Is this going to be like the Trek system where it can hide all of the cables even on a mechanical drivetrain, or is it going to be like the Specialized and Cannondale with it only compatible with Di2 or externally routed mechanical drivetrains (and thus defeating the purpose)? That hole for sure doesn’t look like it’s big enough for four lengths of housing to run through it.

    • I’d say that sort of spec decision is a smart one, since routing mechanical housing through so many bends is a huge pain, and they wear out faster as well. If all those seconds really matter, spend the extra money for electronic, and give up some maintenance headaches in the process. The price difference isn’t too much, considering bikes at this level already have hydraulic brakes.

      At our shop we’ll charge anywhere from double up to hourly labor for crap like this. It’s such a time suck. I’d rather be doing more productive things than fishing cables through complicated routing and poorly finished internal surfaces. I could fully rebuild a fork, without struggles, in the same amount of time.

      Why get a bike that sucks to work on, unless you’re riding for results? It makes no sense. Wear a fresh kit and no one will notice your cables.

      • Attitudes like this from bike ahop staff are why more people, myself included, would rather do the work themselves

        • Sort of agree that most aero routed mechanical systems are a compromise and Di2/eTap is a better choice. My Bowman has external cables and a threaded bottom bracket and I do race it and it makes zero difference compared to my old venge. I wanted those 2 things (mainly the former, we all know PF sucks even if you aren’t working on your own bike) because I work on my bikes and I find internally routed cables at times to be a pain in the ass to deal with for zero performance gain. Internal cable’s especially on road frames have almost alway been about looks and those ViAS buyers etc are more than ok with dropping a good chunk of change to have their shop change cables/housing you don’t buy a halo bike for pragmatism and typically Halo bike buyers are not building up their framesets themselves anyways. Take their money.

      • That’s not reality. I built up my Madone 9 with a mechanical group set in April of 2016 and haven’t changed a cable or housing and don’t expect I’ll need to anytime soon.

          • That is weird; 2 years even on optislick cables with sp-41 housings is a loooong time. My guess is if you changed them you’d probably be amazed at the smoothness and lightness of the shifting, granted I’m basing this off of riding 8000 miles per year in mixed weather conditions. I almost replaced my shifters when I built my new frame but a simple cable/housing change+removal of an internally routed bar had them feeling better than when they were new.

  2. When systems like this started popping up I was bummed about the nonstandard upper bearing but now that every version seems to be gravitating toward that solution will it become the new standard? If everyone could get together and pick one sufficiently large upper bearing that can accommodate all brand’s internal routing solutions that would be stellar.

  3. But how will this work with my Cinelli XA Stem? (the best looking stem in the history of stems!) And Record 1″ Threaded Headset?

    • Sorry, Craig, not with the XA nor with the best looking stem in the history of stems, the Cinelli Grammo. 🙂
      – Craig

      • Agreed the Cinelli Grammo ranks in the top 5 but would sit below the Shimano 600 AX Aero. And probably below an Ibis Titanium, but only because the welding on the Grammo’s looks shoddy compared to that produced by Ibis. Isn’t there a vintage quill stem forum somewhere?…

  4. Sorry but with brands like DengFu able to do fully integrated routing if you’re a small bike brand and need a band-aid solution like this to tidy up an aero cockpit than you need to re-evaluate your contract manufacturer. If you’re making carbon bikes yourself than engineering a system that hides cables shouldn’t be that difficult. Gladly my love of all things aero bikes has waned and I’ve gone back to the simplicity and low cost of threaded bb’s, standard headset bearing sizes, external cable routing, and generous tire clearence tis a glorious world!

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