FSA launches new compact chainsets and components for 2018

K-Force WE and Powerbox are on their way

With FSA’s huge revamp of the MTB line, plus more power, super compact chainsets, new bars, stems and wheels, 2018 is looking set to be a big year for the component brand.

Supplementary super-compacts

Super-compact is a much bigger thing for 2018 and this new K-Force light 48/32 adventure series chainset tops out the range
Super-compact is a much bigger thing for 2018 and this new K-Force light 48/32 adventure series chainset tops out the range

With the emergence of super-compact chainsets in the last year or so and the growth of gravel bikes, FSA was one of the earliest to enter the smaller-ringed revolution and has now expanded its offering.

FSA’s Edoardo Girardi explained: "We were surprised at just how much interest there has been with super-compact. It's not just in the gravel or cyclocross market either, it seems that 46/30 and 48/32 options are being used by a lot more road cyclists.

"For designers the more optimized chain-line suits disc bikes better. Plus, with the super-compact, it's all about climbing easier which is great for less fit riders or older riders looking to keep riding for longer," he continued.

The new range includes the top-of-the-line K-Force light, which uses a new modular-direct mount that's forged and CNC’d spider bolted to hollow-carbon fibre arms. It's available in 170,172.5 and 175 lengths, with a 48/32 pairing as standard and weighs in at a svelte 572g.

Super-compact direct mount isn't just for the high-end as this Energy alloy unit demonstrates
Super-compact direct mount isn't just for the high-end as this Energy alloy unit demonstrates

Sitting below this is the SL-K modular adventure crank, which like the K-Force uses hollow carbon fibre arms but with a forged direct-mount spider. Its profile is slightly slimmer than the K-Force (with a 148mm Q-factor and 44mm chainline compared to the K-Force’s 150mm/45mm) and tips the scales at 585g. It is available in both 48/32 and 46/30 options.

Alloy options come from the new Energy, Gossamer, Omega and Vero Pro. The Energy is the only alloy unit that shares the direct mount spider system and the forged spider from the SL-K, and comes in a myriad of options from super-compact to standard: 48/32, 46/30, 53/39, 52/36, 50/34, 46/36. The Energy tips the scales at 755g.

Powerbox brings affordable crank based metering

The new hollow carbon armed Powerbox cranks use a power meter developed by Germany's Power2Max
The new hollow carbon armed Powerbox cranks use a power meter developed by Germany's Power2Max

FSA announced the Powerbox crank a while ago now and unlike most of its competition it chose to partner with an existing power meter producer rather than solely develop its own.

Germany's Power2Max provides its highly regarded system, which FSA has built into both its road BB386 and MTB BB392 based cranks.

The list of features is impressive with a claimed battery life of 3–400hours, simple battery replacement, in-built temperature drift compensation, internal cadence measurement (no magnet needed), calibration-free ring replacements and auto-zero offset compensation.

The Powerbox alloy looks like great value with a projected price of €650
The Powerbox alloy looks like great value with a projected price of €650

While the carbon versions of the Powerbox (road carbon 733g, MTB 1x 753g, 2x 767g) will certainly be pricey, it’s the alloy units that look the most interesting.

With a retail price expected to be around €650, the 921g alloy road unit features CNC’d alloy chainrings in three options: 50/34, 52/36. 53/39. It's looking like it could be the one to watch, offering proper dual-sided power measurement at a price much more in reach of riders looking for a power measuring advantage.

The MTB units use FSA’s convertible spider design so it can be adapted to different chainline dimensions. By using the included 3mm chainline spacer, the crank can be switched between standard and Boost 148 in its 2x set up and with the 1x unit using spacers to enable switching between standard, Boost 148 and 157+.

FSA MTB for 2018

The new Gradient line is aimed at Trail through to DH use in 1x
The new Gradient line is aimed at Trail through to DH use in 1x

FSA’s long standing Gravity line has now been superseded by a full line up of different ranges under the FSA name, with the Gradient, Afterburner and Grid.

FSA tells us that the new Gradient modular chainsets are intended for use from trail to DH, with the design featuring AL7050 forged arms that are then shaped and styled with CNC work — and they certainly look burly enough.

The direct mount design even extends to the lower-end, like this fat bike specific Comet crank
The direct mount design even extends to the lower-end, like this fat bike specific Comet crank

The four-part modular system means these are compatible with standard and boost dimensions, and 157+ with the single ring version. Standard versions available are: 38/28, 38/24, 36/26, 36/24, 36/22 with 28 to 28 (in two tooth jumps) available for the single ring model. The 2x version is claimed to weigh 785g and the 1x version 670g, so neither model looks to be overly weighty for a trail-ready set up.

The new modular chainset design is also rolling out on the V-Drive and Comet lines, but for those looking for something lighter there’s the Sl-K direct mount, it uses the same hollow carbon tech as the road lines, which helps to keep the XC chainset down to a very respectable, claimed 495g.

K-Force WE Group is here (well nearly)

The K-Force WE group has some very neat ideas, such as the levers being available in both standard and compact lengths
The K-Force WE group has some very neat ideas, such as the levers being available in both standard and compact lengths

FSA’s long awaited electronic K-Force WE road group officially launched last year and we haven’t seen that much from it in the interim. Girardi tells us "we’ve been continuing to work on some of the finishing (hence the switch from gold highlights to anthracite on the graphics), but also we wanted to make sure everything was finished and ready for when we supply, and that includes the iOS app, which we think is essential to the WE and what sets us apart from the competition.

"From your phone or tablet you will be able to configure buttons, alter the custom shift that includes multi-shift, shift speed, spread, delay. We also want the Garmin compatibility in place (so your Edge device will display gearing and battery levels). This all should be in place by June (as that’s when they tell us our test-group should arrive) and the group is currently being ridden by both Cofidis and Direct Energie on training bikes." So, Girardi hopes that all being well the group should debut in some big races this year.

Vision wheelsets

The new Trimax carbon clincher disc uses a hybrid aluminium carbon rim and like its T35KB cousin looks like a much more expensive wheel
The new Trimax carbon clincher disc uses a hybrid aluminium carbon rim and like its T35KB cousin looks like a much more expensive wheel

FSA’s Vision road collection debuted some interesting new wheels and components in Taipei, the first being the new Trimax 30KB wheelset. This mid-range alloy wheelset looks much pricier than its €750 tag. With a new 35mm deep, 22mm wide (with 17mm internal) rim shape that’s been enhanced with a wear-resistant ceramic black brake surface and full rim coating the 35KB’s could easily be mistaken for carbon.

The new P.R.A. hubs are designed around straight-pull spokes and with an all-up weight of a claimed 1,495g a pair, these look like serious rivals to Mavic’s Kysrium, Fulcrum's Racing Zero and DT Swiss’s new Pr1400 Oxic.

For road discs, Vision now has a more affordable carbon option aside from the Metron range. The new TriMax carbon 40 CSI is based around a new rim profile that’s 40mm deep, 24mm wide and with a decently broad 19mm internal.

The tubeless ready rims are a hybrid carbon alloy with the alloy section taking care of the tyre bed and carbon for the main structure. Like all Vision wheels, the 40 CSIs are built completely by hand and are expected to have a mid-range price tag. With a 1,820g weight I’d expect these great looking hoops to be on plenty of off-the-peg bikes next year, as well as being a good affordable upgrade from stock entry-level disc wheels.

Slippery bars and stems

Vision also debuted two new cockpit set-ups.

Metron 5D

The slick new Metro 5D one-piece bar
The slick new Metro 5D one-piece bar

The Metron 5D one-piece bar is being used on range-topping bikes already from the likes of Bianchi, De Rosa, Merida, Orbea and BH. The one-piece bar is one of the stiffest and most aero FSA/Vision has ever made, the bar top has a 10-degree forward swoop shape and that’s combined with a mid-compact 125mm drop and 80mm reach.

The 420mm wide unit weighs in at 395g and it's available in 420mm with an effective 100mm stem, while the 440mm comes with 110, 120 or 130 effective stem length options.

The cable grooves and large internal tunnel mean its compatible with every mechanical and electronic group including Shimano’s new Di2 with its bar end plug junction/control box. There are also accessories in the form of aero headset spacers, headset caps, out-front computer bar and a out-front Garmin mount.

Metron 4D

The 4D aero road bar has two slots either side of the stem
The 4D aero road bar has two slots either side of the stem

The second new bar is the Metron 4D. It weighs 267g combined with the 4D Flat M.A.S. (Modular Aero System), which like the 5D is an aero-profile drop bar. The shape is based around the existing 4D in both aero shape and ergonomics (125mm drop, 80mm reach). The M.A.S. shape however has been slimmed and refined further to improve aero performance.

Though its neatest trick is the inclusion of two slots in the bars' wing top, which are designed to attach the new 4D M.A.S. This direct mount clip-on tri bar set up allows for masses of height adjustability, pad adjustment and extension choice. So, like Culprit's new Covert Ops set up, you no longer have to choose between aero road bars or clip-on compatibility. The M.A.S. system weighs in at 733g, which compares pretty favourably to existing clip-on tri bar set ups.

These are designed to take the new M.A.S. aero bar system
These are designed to take the new M.A.S. aero bar system

To accompany the new bar, Vision also launched the new Trimax OS stem. It comes in both aluminium and carbon versions and also has a unique and new aerodynamic faceplate. Underneath is your standard four-bolt faceplate and the carbon cover simply clicks into place — seriously smoothing out the front end. FSA tells us that the new boxy design is significantly stiffer than previous versions.

The TriMax is also available in the standard alloy OS version (which surprisingly comes out lighter at 146g (100mm) compared to 157g) and at a much-reduced cost.

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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