FSA K-Force MTB brake review£278.00

Expensive, adjustable XC stoppers

BikeRadar score3/5

FSA produces two brakes, with the K-Force being the carbon-bladed, titanium-bolted premium version of the Afterburner. Cheap accessories offset high brake cost too, but it’s relatively weak on power and maintenance-needy.

The broad, deep carbon lever extends at an aggressive angle from the short magnesium body but initial feel is very clear and sharp through the oversized pivot. The cam assisted ‘Quick Draw’ connection to the master cylinder gives plenty of pad clearance before biting firmly onto the rotor.

Actual bite point and initial reach are adjustable via red anodised dials too and they share bar space amicably with other brand shifters and remotes. FSA even uses hoses with different compression ratings for the front and rear brakes to match up feel. SRAM-style pads mean easy spare sourcing but the sintered originals last well anyway and the basic steel rotors are available at bargain prices if you don’t want the two-piece ones here.

The front hose is slightly shorter than normal though, which avoids excess looping on 100-120mm travel forks and narrower bars but potentially stretches things tight on 160mm fork/wide bar set-ups. They’re not a natural big-bike brake anyway because, while feel is firm and easily controlled, absolute power is below average for a given rotor size. You’ll also need to flush through the mineral oil hydraulics regularly to ensure they stay feeling on point.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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