FSA finally showed off a new transmission at this year’s Eurobike show, though it wasn’t the road system we’ve been waiting years to see. Instead, they had new time trial/triathlon-specific bar-end shifters plus a pair of derailleurs to go with them – all under the Vision label.
Dubbed ‘Metron’, the new 10-speed shifter design is certainly a break from convention as the levers are nearly identical in appearance to the Vision bar-end aero brake levers. Indeed, squeezing the lever back does pull cable, but in this case it’s connected to a derailleur, and detents built into the body control the indexing.
To release cable and move the derailleur in the opposite direction, riders simply have to set their thumb (or other conveniently placed finger) over the end of the lever body and press it like a button. The rear shifter can handle up to three downshifts in one stroke but just a single upshift per button push. The front shifter is built with just two index positions – one for the big ring and one for the inner ring.
To pull cable – and shift to smaller cogs at the back or larger chainrings up front – simply pull the lever as if it was a brake
To release cable, rest your thumb over the end of the lever body and push it like a button
The front derailleur is essentially a rehash of FSA’s current Energy model but with updated graphics to co-ordinate with the rest of the package. But the rear derailleur is an all-new unit, with all of the major parts made of moulded carbon fibre – not just a carbon wrap.
This includes the upper and lower knuckles, both parallelogram plates, and the inner and outer pulley cage plates. Most of the rest of the pieces are built from machined aluminium, and ceramic bearing pulleys are bolted in down below.
FSA didn’t have official claimed weights for the shifters at Eurobike but the rear derailleur is said to be about 140g, putting it a smidge under SRAM’s top-end Red. The front derailleur should be identical to the Energy’s 98g figure.
Vision’s Metron front derailleur is essentially a re-do of parent company FSA’s Energy unit
We didn’t have a chance to ride the prototype equipment but did at least get to fiddle around with the bits mounted on a stationary bike. The shift button is reasonably smooth to operate and the detents are positive throughout but the lever resistance seems rather on the stiff side.
Moreover, the rear derailleur allows more flex and twist than we would have hoped and is a tad on the chunky side in terms of aesthetics. There’s still no FSA-designed cassette to complete the package (FSA chains are available in Europe).
FSA were quick to point out that the rear derailleur is still being refined before its slated early 2011 release and prior experience with the front derailleur has shown it to be a well finished item.
Backing off on the real derailleur spring tension would go a long way towards making the shifter easier to operate, which leads us to believe that the Shimano pre-7900 10-speed compatible version to be delivered next month should be pretty viable. Pricing is still to be determined.
Moulded carbon fibre is used for all of the major derailleur components – not just carbon-wrapped aluminium