What's Cool In Road Cycling

FSA WE Electronic Gruppo – At Last!

Easily the most exciting thing I’ve seen this year in tech is the new electronic gruppo from FSA – the WE group.  In the works for years, it’s got electronic wireless shifting, new levers, derailleurs, crankset, and looks like a legit contender in the electronic gruppo space.  Here’s the PEZ first look.

 

I saw this at the end of a very long day 1 at Press Camp 2017.  It was my last meeting, but I can tell you that after 11 hours of intense 40 minute product show & tells, this one really got me sparked up.

Who says there’s no room left for another electronic groupset? FSA does – and I say us consumers will be the winners on this one because 4 is not too many choices when it comes to how you want to shift, drive, brake and control your gears.

But besides offering simply another choice of gruppo, the WE system actually has a few things to make it different and what stood out most for me was the adjustability and customizability (yep that’s a word) of the shifting.

Even the look is distinct – with FSA choosing to use gold highlights on the black to visually set it apart.

Technically they call this one a “hybrid wireless” system, because the battery is hard wired to the front and rear derailleurs.  This is a good thing though because FSA is calling for a very long battery life of (4000-6000km), due in part to the hard wires which save energy vs wireless transmitters.  The 7.4 volt lithium on battery lives inside the seat tube, and does not need to be removed for charging – that’s convenient.

As the main touch point for any gruppo, the levers are also the most noticeable.  The WE levers use ANT+ technology (we explained it here) to communicate with the derailleurs, and are powered by a coin sized battery for light weight and easy upkeep.  They come in two lengths (with a 6mm length difference) and both have adjustable reach to fit more sizes of hands.

Shifting is controlled by a small paddle on the outside of each lever, with intuitive and tactile raised dots on the top end of the paddle and tiny divots on the bottom end to help feel the difference of where to place your fingers.

 

The front derailleur talks to the shift levers via ANT+ wireless connection and has easy to use control buttons on the top for power-up and fine tuning adjustment.   The tiny motor is neatly contained inside the body.  The guide arms are stainless steel & titanium, and it’ll handle up to a 16 tooth chain ring differential.

 

The rear derailleur handles 11 speeds, and up at a 30-tooth climbing cog, with the electronic motor contained inside the body.

 

The 11-speed cassette uses titanium and heat treated steel cogs to last longer, and the cogs are cut and shapes for fastest possible shifting.  It’s offered in 11-25, – 28, and -32 tooth ratios.  The chain has been specifically designed to run quieter and shift faster, with some very detailed shaping used on the side plates and chamfers.  I didn’t get a chance to ride it myself, but did spend an hour riding beside a guy who actually did get to ride the gruppo, and I can at least report that I detected no unusual noise or activity from the chain.

 

I’ve long been a fan of the the K-Force crankset – right back to the days when FSA introduced their compact 50/34 version, which was almost unheard of at the time – it led the way to setting the new standard for most OEM road crank sizes. This latest version – called the  F-Force WE crankset is also an eye-catcher – designed with hollow carbon arms mated to forged aluminum 7075 spindle and chain rings.  In addition to the 50/34 I’ll be riding, the 110 bolt pattern rings come in 53/39 & 52 /36 sizes.  The chainrings also use a new pin design that actually catches the chain better than before for more positive shifting.

A peek inside the hollow K-Force WE crank arms.

 

The brakes are a dual-pivot design that allow for plenty of clearance with wider tires and rims up to 28mm wide, and look to have enough mass strength to handle a lot of braking force.

One of the coolest parts of the WE gruppo is the dedicated app FSA has created for it, that allows the user to customize and monitor the whole system.  This means you can choose which lever controls which derailleur, and what direction you want the shift buttons to move your shifts.  Using this app should make these adjustments extremely easy, even if you only ever do it once.  It’s also compatible with a whole lot of other ANT+ devices, so all kinds of data tracking is available right there for you.

The whole set-up weighs in at 2090 grams (claimed) so it’s right in the mix with the rest of the big guys, and full production versions are expected in the summer – I’d guess by Tour time, and I’ve already got my name on the test list so we’ll get you a closer look when we can get one onto a test bike.

• See more info at WE-FSA.com/en/

And I’ll leave you with the official video:

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