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FSA's wireless electronic group to be spec’d on bikes next spring

Published August 30, 2016

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — FSA's electronic road group has been raced for a few seasons, but the company wanted to launch the drivetrain as part of an entirely new group before riders got their hands on it. So in addition to electronic shifting, Kforce WE gets hollow carbon cranks, a titanium/steel 11-speed cassette, redesigned brakes and an Android app to tune the system.

Not being the first on the market allowed FSA to choose aspects of its competitors’ groups it liked and to avoid what it felt were missteps. The group could be spec’d on bikes as early as May, but all the company is saying about pricing is it will be at Shimano and SRAM levels.

FSA’s Kforce WE system is wireless between the levers and the derailleurs, so there are no wires to run from the handlebars to the shifters. But Kforce WE uses a large seatpost battery with wires to both derailleurs to distribute power. The levers use small coin-style batteries to power their wireless function.

“The advantage of using a big battery for shifting is its range. We estimate between 4,000 and 6,000 kilometers on a charge, depending on how the rider shifts,” said Maurizio Bellin, FSA's European sales manager. 

“The battery is charged through a wire on the rear derailleur. Just hook up the charger, nothing needs to be done with the battery. And a full charge takes an hour and a half,” he added.

The Android Kforce WE app lets riders reassign any button on either lever. For example, a rider could move front shifting to the right hand, and switch the paddle shifter assignments.

Chainring shifts and shifts under load take more power, so the app analyzes a rider's shifting style to calculate how much battery life remains. Four LEDs on top of the front derailleur show battery charge level. FSA hopes to have an iOS app shortly.

The levers communicate with the shifters over a proprietary ANT+ protocol for security reasons, though the system communicates with the app over standard ANT+.

Kforce rim brakes have been modified, in part to accommodate wider rims and larger tires used by road riders, especially in North America. Reach is 40 to 50 millimeters and the brakes work on rims with an outside width of 18 to 28 millimeters, so they will swallow some big rubber.

In a nod to North American riders, cassettes go up to 11-32T, crank lengths go from 165 to 180 millimeters, and the group includes a 50/34T chainring combo. Other chainring combos are 53/39T and 52/36T.

At a press launch Tuesday afternoon prior to Eurobike, FSA showed a disc brake-equipped Kforce WE, but given the UCI’s current ban on discs, the company is not commenting on when the disc brake version will hit the market.

           

 

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