A relative newcomer to the groupset market, FSAs Wireless Electronic (WE) group is quietly gaining followers and victories worldwide. While FSA’s WE first launched in 2016 with a rim brake version, more recently, the company has found success with the disc groupset — taking their first grand tour stage win in 2019 under Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) in stage 5 of the Vuelta a España.
The unique design of FSA’s WE is similar enough to the heavy hitters to feel familiar, yet different enough to spark curiosity. It’s a hybrid wireless design with wireless levers that communicate via ANT + to the front derailleur (which operates as the unit’s brain). The wires used to connect the front derailleur, battery (held in the seat post), and rear derailleur operate the unit. The design is slick and takes lots of work out the cabling process — but it’s not 100% wireless.
When we think of electronic groupsets, the first that come to mind are the big three; Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo. But maybe our field of vision is too narrow. FSA went above and beyond on the aesthetics and overall feel of the 11 speed WE group. The svelte and strong lines match the robust nature of the groupset. The red pops of color compliment the FSA K-Force line very well and pair with nearly any ride.
My favorite pieces are the rear derailleur and the brake levers. The rear derailleur looks similar to other electronic components, but the closer you look, the more you start to notice subtle differences. It’s a solid piece of construction with no return springs.
Essentially, it’s a servo-operated robotic arm (more on that later). The moment I laid my hands on the shifters, I knew this group and I would be friends. The feeling is similar to a single-speed brake lever in that the body is small, and the brake pivot arm is higher than other shifters. The feel is similar to the Shimano groupset I’m coming from, with more flare, leaning towards the GRX Di2 lever.
The FSA WE Disc groupset comes fully supplied with no substitutions component-wise.
FSA WE Rear Derailleur
As a rear derailleur, WE has one main difference from the competition —the servo-operated arm. FSA ditched the parallelogram design and made a plan to achieve super quick, responsive shifting. The rear derailleur runs a three-timing gear system and the servo-operated arm moves the chain across the cassette effortlessly. The rear derailleur weighs in at 216g, completed with mostly carbon materials to save weight.
FSA WE Front Derailleur
The unit’s brain, the WE front derailleur, looks very similar to other electronic shifting components. The derailleur operates on a rack and pinion style system, making trim adjustments as the chain cascades down the cassette, and keeping the best alignment with no rubbing. Since this is where the system’s control unit lives, there are two operational buttons for turning the unit on, pairing, and small trim adjustments.
FSA WE Brake Levers/Shifters
The shifter bodies and brake levers are crafted from a composite material and are available in two different lever lengths —a standard 10mm and a more compact 6mm version. Shifting is controlled via two textured buttons, pushing the top for shifting action and the lower for another. Each button is programmable via the FSA WE app, to shift either front or rear at the user’s discretion. The levers themselves are adjustable as well, depending on your personal preferences. They use CR2032 coin cell batteries and communicate via the FSA WE app. According to FSA, the batteries should last about two years before needing replacement, and since mine are still going strong after a solid year, I can see that as being true.
FSA WE Lithium-Ion Battery
The battery that complements the group is a Lithium-Ion 7.4V seat post battery that stores away similarly to the Shimano Di2 batteries. A connection wire snakes from the front derailleur to the seat tube, and another goes from the battery to the rear derailleur. Charging is simple — unplug the charging cable from the front derailleur and plug it into the supplied FSA WE charging plug. In my experience, a full charge takes about an hour and a half and lasts an exceptionally long time.
FSA WE K-Force Light Crankset
The WE crankset is also the flagship model from the FSA K-Force line. Boasting hollow carbon arms, CNC Chainrings, it fits any style frameset. The unique four-bolt, 110mm BCD allows for many chainring size combinations. Available in a traditional 53/39, compact 50/30, or a semi-compact 52/36. FSAs BB386 EVO design enables the crankset to adapt to fit any frame – all you need is the corresponding bottom bracket – also available from FSA.
The FSA WE 11-speed cassette is genuinely something to behold, and I was taken back by the lightness of the whole package. I opted for the 11-28T cassette option, though 11-23, 11-25, and 11-32 options are also available. The cassette, forged from titanium and carbon steel, poses a striking image with the full groupset. The look of carbon and matte titanium is super cool and stands out among its competitors.
The chain is something we’ve seen from FSA before, and the FSA WE chain is essentially the superlight K-Force chain. Hollow pins and plates complement the group’s lightweight design and aesthetics well.
FSA’s WE rotors are similar to those offered with the K-Force mountain bike brakes (now discontinued) but lighter and more sculpted. The new version is aerodynamically driven with rounded edges for safety in the peloton, and the set comes in at a respectable 220g (160mm front /140mm rear) with Ti bolts.
FSA WE Disc Weight Totals:
- FSA WE Battery: 72g
- FSA WE Front Derailleur: 163g
- FSA WE K-Force Crankset 52/36T: 617g
- FSA WE Rear Derailleur: 222g
- FSA WE Shift Wires: 29g
- FSA WE Disc Shifters with uncut hose and caliper with pads: (283g each) 766g
- FSA Rotor w/o bolts 140mm: 106
- FSA WE Cassette 11-28T: 200g
- FSA K-Force Chaing uncut: 253g
Total weight: 2,811g
It didn’t take much time to get used to the FSA WE lever feel; it’s a nice mix of Shimano and Campagnolo. The shifter buttons are in an easy-to-reach place and are intuitive to use — shift up for up the cassette and down for down the cassette. Both the front and rear shifter buttons are programmable to different operations and shifting speeds. I opted for the default setup as it was the closest to the groupset I came from.
Shifting operation on the open road is crisp and clean. The shift timing is reliable, not sluggish, but also not hyper-fast. You can dial in the rapid shifting speed and others on the FSA WE app, where you can also find some cool ride data points —shifting, battery life, missed shifts, etc.
Brake-wise, the WE is an above-average performer. The compact lever allows for great hand placement for single or dual-finger braking. The carbon lever blade has a slight outward flare that conforms to the shape of the hand.
It took me a little while to get the brakes to feel solid after cutting the hoses and installing them on my frame. After a careful bleed, I was able to get them feeling as good as new. The bleed procedure is simple, and FSA gives you everything you’ll need to service the brakes. Seriously —it came with two bottles of fluid, shop-quality syringes, and hose fittings.
The 160/140mm rotor combo pairs well with the power of the WE brakes. They aren’t sharp at the front of the stroke-like a mountain bike brake, but they’re sturdy and modulate nicely. On rainy and snowy rides, the power of the brakes is consistent and with little to no honking.
After many rides, I’ve never experienced brake fade on long descents or piston problems after miles of dusty gravel. The calipers are Shimano brake pad compatible, though the stock pads are FSA’s own offering.
For off-road and gravel riding, the WE groupset can hold its own. The rear derailleur has enough arm tension that rumbles on the rocks and the roots are fair game. Since the unit runs off the front derailleur, running a single ring option is non-existent, though I could see it being easy to use the derailleur as a chain guide and to roll an FSA MegaTooth ‘cross ring upfront.
The battery life is plentiful, and I hardly had to charge during the review period. But I would have liked to see a cleaner charging protocol.
Unplugging the front derailleur isn’t bad, but having a port or something super clean would be nice. Those looking for a shift and climbing auxiliary buttons will go wanting, as the groupset currently has no options.
Performance-wise, the FSA WE blew my expectations out of the water. A company that has never had a road groupset came out swinging and went for the top. Hopefully, we’ll see something in the gravel or wide range realm from FSA in the future.
Until then, this groupset is an excellent option for anyone looking for a fresh feel and wanting to add killer aesthetics to their ride.
Price: $2,607.00 (Including crankset)
For more info: K-FORCE WE IS THE REVOLUTION.