Almost two years ago component manufacturer FSA confirmed they were working on the development of their first complete groupset, at Eurobike this week the FSA K-Force WE (Wireless Electron) electronic groupset was revealed and is expected to be on sale in stores as early as March 2017.
Confirmed in 2014, spotted during a 2015 Tour de France rest day on the Specialized Tarmac of then World Champion Michael Kwiatkowski and now almost to market, the FSA K-Force WE is confirmed as a semi-wireless, or hybrid wireless electronic groupset. The K-Force WE is an 11 speed groupset with wireless shift levers that send shift signals via ANT+ to the front derailleur that houses the groupset’s ‘brain’ and rider-friendly control system.
The front derailleur is connected to the rear derailleur and a seatpost mounted battery via wires similar to the rear half of a Di2 or EPS groupset. Effectively being a half wired, half wireless groupset.
For now there are only details of the rim brake groupset, a disc brake version is still being developed and will be announced at a later date.
We take a look at the individual K-Force WE components and then compare the K-Force WE groupset to the Dura-Ace R9150 Di2, Campagnolo Super Record EPS, SRAM Red eTAP and the Rotor UNO groupset that is still in development.
K-Force WE Shifters
The K-Force WE shifters are each powered by CR2032 batteries that depending on how often you ride could last up to two years, and can easily be replaced by the rider. Shift signals are sent wirelessly via ANT+ to the front derailleur control box.
The shift levers are available in two lengths to suit different hand sizes, there’s 6mm difference in size and as well as that each lever position can be adjusted to three different positions.
Shift operation is customisable with the rider being able to program which lever shifts the front or rear derailleur, and you can aslo select single or multiple shifts.
K-Force WE Front Derailleur
The front derailleur is effectively the brains of the FSA K-Force WE groupset housing the system’s control box communicating front and rear shifts as well as receiving shift signals from the ANT+ shifters, and communicating with the FSA WE app.
As well as all that it obviously looks after the front shifting and has auto-trimming, there’s LED status lights and a power button to power down the entire groupset. In the event you ever run down the battery and lose power the front derailleur will shift to the inner chainring.
K-Force WE Rear Derailleur
The rear derailleur is a new electronic-driven gearbox design rather than a traditional parallelogram design. A tiny gearbox powered by a motor shifts three gears to precisely shift each gear and keep the derailleur cage parallel. Carbon fiber is used extensively to reduce weight.
K-Force WE Crankset
The WE groupset features a new FSA crankset based on existing models but with modifications to handle the demands of electronic front shifting. Specifically, the spider joining the chainrings to the cranks is a new shape for improved stiffness. The chainrings are also stiffer with new ramp pin design.
The crankset spindle is a 30mm forged aluminium BB386EVO design, crank arms are hollow carbon and have been redesigned to reduce Q-factor by 3mm.
The K-Force WE crankset will be available in lengths 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm, 177.5mm and 180mm in 53/39T, 52/36T, 50/34T chainring combinations.
FSA K-Force WE Brakes, Cassette, Chain and Battery
WE brakes are a dual pivot design similar to what has been in use this year but with increased reach and new quick release. The WE brakeset is one of the components with a published weight and it’s 299 grams for the pair.
The cassette is 257 grams and is available in 11-23, 11-25 and 11-28. Gear spacing is the same as Shimano cassette’s.
The chain weighs in at 246 grams for 114 links.
The K-Force WE groupset is powered by a slimline battery mounted inside the bike’s seatpost with a wire running to the front derailleur. The 7.4v Li-ion battery has a run-time of around 4,000 to 6,000km and recharging is done by simply unplugging the cable from the rear derailleur and attaching it to the charger.
K-Force WE App
To customise drivetrain shift settings and get reminders about battery charge levels and shift counts FSA have developed an app called the K-Force WE app. With the shift levers being ANT+ I would imagine there will be integration with cycling computers to display gear selection.
Comparison of the K-Force WE groupset to Dura-Ace R9150 Di2, Campagnolo Super Record EPS, SRAM Red eTAP and Rotor UNO groupset
Starting with the groupset weight comparison first the K-Force WE groupset has a claimed weight of 2,090 grams compared to the lightest of the comparison groupsets, the BB30 version of SRAM Red eTAP at only 1,933 grams, Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 is next at 2,028 grams with Super Record EPS coming in 1 gram under the WE groupset with 2,089 grams.
|FSA K-Force WE||Dura-Ace R9150 Di2||Campagnolo Super Record EPS||SRAM Red eTAP||Rotor UNO groupset|
|Weight||2,090 grams||2,028 grams||2,089 grams||1,933 grams||?|
|Wired or Wireless||Both||Wired||Wired||Wireless||Hydraulic|
The K-Force WE has a combination of wired and wireless, whereas the eTAP groupset is completely wireless, both Di2 and EPS groupsets are fully wired. The Rotor Uno groupset under development will have hydraulic actuated shifting.
Campagnolo has the MyCampy app, FSA will have the K-Force WE app, Shimano have one on the way leaving SRAM the only groupset of the bunch without one.
As far as disc brake options Shimano and SRAM have that comprehesively covered with FSA WE having one announced soon, and Campagnolo still in development. The Rotor Uno will have a disc brake option when released.
Pricing for the WE groupset hasn’t been finalised by FSA but have stated it will be comparable with other electronic road groupsets. That’s a little vague and open to interpretation, I think the right pricing would be about $500 USD under Dura-Ace Di2.