It’s been more than four years since FSA released its K-Force WE (Wireless Electronic) 11-speed groupset and less than two years since the release of its disc brake version. But today the company announced it is making the move to 12-speed with the K-Force WE 12 disc-only groupset. Of course, it builds on the achievements of previous iterations and competes head-on with the 12-speed electronic road groupset of the big three – Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.
But that’s not all. The group comes alongside a number of concurrent product launches from the brand across road, mountain, gravel and e-bikes.
K Force WE 12 speed
Described by the FSA as a ‘renewed drivetrain’, most of the K-Force WE 12 components closely resemble the current 11 speed components, but alongside the step to 12 sprockets there are some design and finishing changes to improve functionality and aesthetics.
The WE groupset features wireless shifters that transmit shift commands to the control module on top of the derailleur. Both derailleurs are physically connected to a seat tube-mounted battery, meaning the groupset is not fully wireless, instead what many refer to as semi-wireless.
Continuing the existing, well-received ergonomics, the shifter body, kinked brake lever and shift knobs look largely unchanged on the outside, with the exception of new, more subtle graphics. Ditto for the disc brake caliper, while the shifter retains its compact master cylinder, compound lever blade reach adjust, top-mount bleed port and wireless CR2032 coin cell battery.
The listed weight for each shifter and caliper, including brake hose and oil, is 405g, 33g and 47g heavier than the company listed weights for the WE Disc 11-speed right and left shifters. Previous weight was without brake pads , but she doesn’t mention the advertised weight for the new calipers.
The new rear derailleur appears to differ from the 11-speed version only in finish and weight, with new low-key graphics and an additional 24g. It still features a 32t max capacity and FSA’s gram-saving composite pulleys, and presumably still forgoes a recoil spring that functions more like a robotic arm than a traditional rear parallelogram mech.
The derailleur remains the brains of the operation, receiving the wireless signal from the shifters and controlling the entire shifting element of the system.
It fits standard braze-on brackets, retains its auto trim feature, and has a claimed 70 millisecond switching time. Deviating from the maximum chainring capacity of the 11-speed version of 16 teeth, the 12-speed model specifies 16-19 teeth. Its tall, oversized body looks identical save for a subtle “12” graphic, but the steel cage has been refined with the obvious rear-end screw no longer visible. The stated weight has dropped from 162g to 159g.
Paired with the new WE 12-speed groupset, FSA has paired their K-Force Team Edition BB386 Evo crankset. Much more aesthetic than the previous K-Force crankset, it features hollow 3K carbon fiber composite cranks and one-piece direct mount CNC AL7075 chainrings.
According to the FSA, the black anodized, bead-blasted chainrings are compatible with 11 and 12-speed Shimano, SRAM and FSA drives. The BB386 EVO axle is made from 30mm diameter alloy and features a set of FSA bottom brackets ensuring wide compatibility.
Available crank lengths are 165mm, 167.5mm, 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm, with chainrings available in 54/40, 50/34, 46/30 combinations. Listed weight with 54/40 rings is 544g.
The biggest visual change to FSA’s K-Force WE groupset is the extra sprocket. The cassette is still a one piece cast, heat treated carrier and the largest sprockets are electroless nickel plated. The smaller sprockets are titanium and cassettes are available in sizes 11-25, 11-28 and 11-32. FSA states that the weight of its new 12-speed cassette in 11-32 is 195g, which is significantly lighter than the previous 11-speed 11-28 cassette at 257g.
The K-Force chain is described by the FSA as quiet and efficient, with hollow pins, 5.6mm width and a nickel-plated finish, a 116-link chain is said to weigh 250g compared to 246g for a 114-link -chain before.
The K-Force WE rotor features a two-piece rotor design with a forged aluminum carrier, polished stainless steel ring and rounded edges, for centerlock or six-hole hubs and in 160 mm or 140 mm diameter. Their stated weights have increased slightly from 100g and 120g for 140mm and 160mm respectively to 103g and 125g.
Elsewhere, the seat tube-mounted 1100mAh battery powers both derailleurs via connected cables and should offer similar or improved usage time between charges. The original WE system had to be turned on via a button on the derailleur before use, and would go into standby mode after a period of inactivity. Charging used to be done by replacing the front derailleur cable with the charger. Although the battery and wiring appear unchanged, there is currently no information on this process or expected battery life.
FSA Powerbox SC Pod power meter
Also released today is FSA’s new power meter, based on a cold forged AL6061/T6 aluminum crankset with a MegaExo 24mm or BB386 EVO axle. The chainrings are made from stamped AL7075 aluminum and come in a wide range of 10, 11 and 12 speed options to suit Shimano, SRAM and FSA drivetrains, although FSA says they are made for 11- and 12-fold are optimized.
The cranks are available in lengths from 145mm to 175mm with increments of 5mm, with the exception of 167.5mm and 172.5mm. It’s polished black anodized and reportedly weighs 793g in the 46/30, 170mm configuration.
The force measurement system is a truly international affair, with Japanese strain gauges calibrated by a German torque sensor. It offers virtual left-right balance, is Zwift compatible via BLE 5.0, with ANT transmission, is IPX7 waterproof and has automatic temperature compensation. Claimed battery life for the power meter is 450 hours using a single CR2450 coin cell with an accuracy of +/- one percent. All this for an expected retail price of only €385.
FSA e-bike system
The new FSA system or E-System is an electric rear hub assist motor with a total potential output of 504 Wh and an integrated on-bike control unit and smartphone app. FSA has focused on flexibility and integration, with a 252Wh battery designed for downtube mounting and an additional 252Wh battery that can be installed in a bottle cage to double the range. A top tube button controls the system, and a charge port is said to sit just above the bottom bracket shell.
The batteries power a 43Nm hub motor, which FSA chose for its ability to fit almost any frame, regardless of size. It weighs 2.4 kg and is said to have very low friction at speeds in excess of 25 km/h. There’s a fast-response integrated torque sensor, remote diagnostics for the dealer and FSA claims good water resistance, long bearing life and easy maintenance. There are five levels of assistance and an FSA app compatible with iOS and Android devices that allows riders to record their ride data, view battery status and view turn-by-turn GPS navigation.
At speeds above 25 km/h, or 32 km/h for the US, the hub motor shuts off, allowing the rider to keep pedaling with minimal residual friction, giving a natural riding feel. FSA’s E-System is also compatible with Garmin’s E-Bike Remote, which can be used to remotely control your bike’s assist functions, as well as your Garmin Edge and possibly another ANT+ connected third option.