Inside: FSA's drivetrain and wheel factories

Ever wonder how FSA does it? Take a walk through the factory and find out

FSA had a relatively modest start in the late 1990s with just two categories of products: headsets and bottom brackets. Today, the Taiwanese company offers a huge range of gear, including cranksets, handlebars, stems, seat posts, complete wheelsets, shifters, derailleurs and all manner of smaller accessories.

As with much of the modern bicycle industry, FSA's manufacturing hub is centered in Taichung, about two hours southwest of Taipei on the western coast of the island. Here, FSA operates four buildings where – among other things – crankarms and chainrings are machined, wheels are built, and carbon fiber is laid up by hand.

These 30mm spindles will soon be pressed into crankarms: these 30mm spindles will soon be pressed into crankarms
These 30mm spindles will soon be pressed into crankarms: these 30mm spindles will soon be pressed into crankarms

So what exactly was involved in making your crankset? Dive in to find out

Prototyping and testing is also headquartered here – highlighted by a rarely seen X-ray imager the company uses to check all of its hollow-forged aluminium and hollow carbon fibre crankarms.

We took a tour through the company's primary machining facility where it manufactures the bulk of its drivetrain components, and its nearby composites factory where FSA produces all of its carbon fibre rims and then builds them up into wheelsets completely by hand from start to finish.

No, carbon fiber components aren't simply spit out of a mold like so many pieces of candy. this is a huge reason why better examples are still very expensive to buy and produce:
No, carbon fiber components aren't simply spit out of a mold like so many pieces of candy. this is a huge reason why better examples are still very expensive to buy and produce:

It's incredibly labor intensive to make parts out of carbon fibre

Why is stuff so expensive, you ask? Once you see everything that goes into making some of this gear, perhaps the question you should really be asking is why some of it doesn't actually cost more.

For more information: www.fullspeedahead.com

James Huang

Former Technical Editor, US
James was BikeRadar's US tech editor from 2007-2015.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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