Last week one of our Senior bike mechanics had the opportunity to attend the
Professional Bicycle Mechanic’s Association (PBMA) workshop in Washington D.C. Among the myriad of clinics and classes he attended, he was able to go hands on with the new K Force WE groupset from FSA. This is FSA's first full groupset and it uses a hybrid wireless/wired system for communication between the shifters and derailleurs.
The shifters are wireless and powered by CR2032 batteries; the derailleurs are wired to each other and the internal battery, which resides in the seat post. The battery is the same shape and diameter as its Shimano counterpart making it compatible with existing internal battery mounts.
The front derailleur acts as the brain of the system, eliminating the need for junction boxes or other interfaces. Rear max cog size is 32t. There is an app for mobile devices which allows for many of the same customizable shifter settings offered by other brands. Synchro-shift is not an option but shift speed, continuous shift and button function is customizable. The app does have some helpful widgets like complete shift data if you really want to over analyze your technique and quantifiable battery life, which lasts 4000-6000 kilometers.
The hydraulic disc brakes use mineral oil and have the same pad shape as existing Shimano flat mount brakes. The levers are very modestly sized for hydro road with an internal reservoir and sport a svelte shape similar to existing mechanical hoods. Lever blades can be swapped out for riders requiring shorter reach, as opposed to just an adjustment featured with other brands.
The brake hoses use a quick connect system which can be unhooked 10-12 times before requiring a bleed and the rear hose is stiffer than the front hose which yields an even lever feel while braking. A very nice touch which other brands could benefit from.
The new rim brakes have a cool feature that could prove very useful for some riders with tight tire clearance. The mounting post is removable and by flipping it upside down you improve the clearance by a few millimeters allowing for larger tires.
At $2700 for the entire group with cable actuated rim brakes, I don’t imagine many riders will roll the dice to try it out but it will come stock on some high-end bike brands. No word yet on what the hydro version will sell for.