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.

Madrazo after taking the win on La Vuelta stage 5 -

An emotional Angel Madrazo after taking the win on La Vuelta stage 5 – Photo credit Full Speed Ahead

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.

FSA WE Disc Groupset Full

Designed Differently

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 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.

FSA WE Disc Review Shifter details hose full side

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.

FSA WE Disc Review rear derail new full arm

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Brake pads

Groupset Breakdown

The FSA WE Disc groupset comes fully supplied with no substitutions component-wise.

FSA WE Rear Derailleur

FSA WE Disc Review rear derail new

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

FSA WE Disc Review Front derail new

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

FSA WE Disc Review Shifter details hose full

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

FSA WE Disc Review Battery system

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 

FSA WE Disc Review Crankset New

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. 

Cassette/Chain

FSA WE Disc Review Cassette New

The FSA WE 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.

FSA WE Disc Review FSA WE Chain

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.

Rotors

FSA WE Disc Review Rotor

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.

Groupset Weights

FSA WE Groupset real weights

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

Ride Review

FSA WE Disc Review Full Bike

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Shifter details rear

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.

FSA WE Disc Review brake caliper detail

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.

FSA WE Disc Review full frontal

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.

FSA WE Disc Review front brake caliper detail

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.

FSA WE Disc Review brake caliper

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Rear Derail

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Front Derail buttons

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Charging

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Shifter details

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.

FSA WE Disc Review Rear Derail max cog 32T

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.

22 comments

  1. Crash Bandicoot on

    I give FSA a lot of credit on putting something like this out there, if this was fully wireless I’d see a benefit but you’re coming in at ~600 bones more than the dead reliable R8070 and you still have to do all the frame plumbing stuff anyways. Would be awesome to see something along the lines of a 105 competitor that is electronic.

    Reply
    • Gary on

      The wiring from the B-junction forward is the real bitch with Di2, especially if you want a clean-looking cockpit and don’t have a frame with a cutout for the A-junction. This would seem to cut down on about 80% of the aggravation of a Di2 install. And, weight-wise, this is clearly positioned as an alternative to Dura Ace, not Ultegra. But you make a fair point about the “risk” of deviating from the proven performance of Di2.

      Reply
  2. P on

    Sid you have a chance to test this in high temperatures? I recall while wrenching at the TDU one of the teams running this had to completely rebuild all the team bikes overnight with AXS groups after the FSA groups completely freaked out in the heat. Auto shifting, batteries dying, all kinds of weird stuff.

    Reply
    • Jordan Villella on

      I tested the group set in the highest temps Pittsburgh and surrounding regions get – so not anything that TX or AZ would see. I would love to hear more about that high temp overload. Was it published anywhere? Thanks for sharing you experience!

      Reply
  3. Tim on

    Am I the only one who read the headline “…K-Force Wireless Electronic Disc brake road bike drivetrain” and thougth – wireless disc brakes!!??

    Reply
  4. Klaster_1 on

    >compact 50/30
    Looks like a typo in “50/34”. Massive “50/30” front shift range would deserve a dedicate news piece.

    Reply
  5. Michael Schultz on

    I don’t think I missed it, but there’s no mention of the number of rear gears or freehub compatibility.

    Reply
  6. morrisond on

    You need to change the weight for the total group – unless you don’t need the other shifter or caliper or disc for the group to be considered whole…

    Reply
  7. Nuno Pinto on

    Having the brain of the system on the front derailleur is probably the worst mistake FSA made on this group, you will never be able to run 1×11, for gravel setups…On the other hand, the hybrid approach of wireless and wired is in my opinio very clever, you get the best of both worls, huge battery and no cables on the front… the rest of the cables is very easy to conceal.

    Reply
    • Jordan Villella on

      I’m gonna try for the 1 by and use it as a chain guide. Since it auto trims – there could be a benefit? The FSA ‘cross rings are beefy and have tall teeth so I’m thinking they wouldn’t drop the chain. Maybe a cross/gravel set up is in order – Check back and I’ll let you know what I find.

      Reply
  8. typevertigo on

    I believe the photo of the chain is a good indication. The engraved “N11” points toward K-Force WE being an 11-speed groupset.

    From prior reports, it also seems like FSA use the extended 11-speed Shimano Hyperglide freehub body for mounting cassettes.

    Reply
  9. RideCX on

    I like the look and shape of those brake levers, as the author noted, reminds me of Tektro singlespeed levers.

    If the “brain” is in the front derailleur does this mean you can’t run it 1x for cyclocross/gravel?

    Reply
  10. Kyle H on

    I owned an FSA K-Force WE groupset for approximately 6 weeks. About 4 weeks in I was having issues with the rear derailleur not responding to shift input and FSA tech support basically told me the equivalent of “have you tried rebooting your PC?” Without ever actually diagnosing the issue. A few days later the derailleur died all together. FSA then responded that the RD is dead but they will not honor the warranty and offered me a 30% off coupon instead. The FSA app keeps track of shift count and over the 6 weeks the group worked, I covered 530mi and 4600 shifts. 4600 shifts used 20% of the battery life. So the RD lasted 20% of one fully charged battery, and all FSA could offer was 30% off the $525 replacement. The bike was never crashed and was in perfect shape. I will never buy another FSA product again.

    Reply

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