FSA K-force WE groupset
£2,500 (full groupset), windwave.co.uk
ot since the days of Spanish brand Zeus has one company sought to make so much of your bike (Zeus literally made everything before it was subsumed by Orbea in 1989). For, in adding a groupset to its portfolio, FSA can now sell you pretty much everything except a frame.
‘We’ve been working on the groupset for five years – it’s the missing piece of the puzzle,’ says FSA’S Edoardo Girardi. ‘K-force WE is a hybrid wireless system that takes advantages from our competitors, and has a host of exclusive features compared to other brands.’
What that means is the K-force WE is a part-wired, part-wireless electronically shifting groupset. The rear mech is wired to the front mech and both are powered by an internal battery, with the ‘brains’ and charging port in the front mech body. Those mechs are controlled by a pair of levers wirelessly connected using the ANT+ protocol (Sram, by contrast, uses Bluetooth for its etap).
The idea is that the groupset has a longer run time than Sram etap (which uses two smaller batteries integrated into the mechs) but is easier to set up and looks cleaner than Campagnolo or Shimano’s fully wired systems.
FSA says the K-force WE lasts up to 6,000km between charges, compared to 2,000km for Shimano and 1,000km for etap. Weights are comparable, with etap around 1,955g, Dura-ace Di2 2,050g, Super Record EPS 2,070g and K-force WE a claimed 2,090g.
Other ‘exclusive’ features are different levers for different-sized hands, carbon composite construction, and an app that allows users to link to the system via Bluetooth to monitor battery life and control things such as shift speed and button assignations.
It’s all very clever stuff, but only time will tell if there’s actually room in the market for another groupset.