Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo. If you’re riding road bikes and you’re think of groupsets and components, these are the big three that everybody will know. While there’s a growing trickle of boutique manufacturers starting to enter the market with alternative offerings such as Rotor with their innovative (and very expensive) 1×13 groupset, there are a few component design and manufacturing powerhouses that take a quieter approach to marketing. One of these is Full Speed Ahead – better known to most as FSA.
About Full Speed Ahead
FSA is an American and Italian based component manufacturer with their key offices based in Washington state, USA and Busnago, Italy. FSA manufacturing is handled in Taiwan by Tien Hsin Industries. While FSA are most well known for their drivetrain components, they produce pretty much every compentnet with the exception of saddles and tyres.
FSA also own the Vision brand who are well known for their carbon race wheelsets and the Metropolis sub brand that produces components for urban cyclists and commuters.
While the FSA brand doesn’t have the reach (or arguably the cachet) of the big three, major FSA and Vision finishing components such as groupsets and wheels can be found as stock on brands including BH and Orbea and critical components such as headsets on many brands. Their finishing sets also adorn the bikes of many of the road cycling world’s highest profile and most successful UCI Pro Tour teams including Team Jumbo Visma, EF Education First and Bahrain McClaren. The brand also sponsors a number of UCI continental teams and has a fairly high profile in the MTB world.
Components & Reviews
Across the FSA and Vision brands, the company manufactures a huge range of components including:
- Groupsets & Individual Drivetrain Components
- Handlebars & Stems
- Headsets & Bottom Brackets
Below we’ve pulled out some of the most notable with a summary and links to some selected professional reviews:
While FSA produce a huge range of cranksets, the brand currently only has a single Groupset – the electronic K-Force WE. Below we’ve outlined some information on the K-Force and the company’s integrated power meter and crank solution Powerbox.
The Powerbox is FSA’s integrated crankset and power meter offering. The Powerbox comes in both alloy and carbon models and comes with either compact of super compact chain rings covering a huge range of ratio options and 10/11s compatibility with Shimano and SRAM 10/11s and integrated directly with FSA’s K-Force groupset.
Here’s what bike journos thought of the Powerbox – please note these reviews may cover older models:
Cycling Weekly – 9/10
The Powerbox is not really one for weight weenies, and there are power meter options that weigh a lot less and are cheaper but I would have no qualms in recommending this to get through the worse a winter can throw at it and still come out the other side in full working order, something that was the initial aim for the product.
Road.cc – 9/10
All things considered, the FSA PowerBox is a highly impressive power meter, and the price, performance and reliability make it extremely easy to recommend.
FSA’s only current groupset is also the brand’s foray into electronic, with the K-Force WE coming as a complete 2×11 system using the brands existing K-Force cranks and cassettes with the ability to use disc or rim brakes. The K-Force WE sits somewhere between the existing Shimano Di2 and SRAM eTap systems, with the front and rear mechs linked to an internal battery for improved long term performance, but shifting handled wirelessly by ANT+.
It’s admirable for a brand to take such a big risk given the reach and development timelines of the Di2 and eTap platforms, although unfortunately for FSA the timing wasn’t fantastic – SRAM would steal the whole conversation mere months later with the introduction of the 12 speed AXS system. The platform also had mixed review, with reviews generally praising the ergonomics, ease of use and the mixed power systems but note that the group is lacking some of the refinement borne of platforms that have been around considerably longer:
BikeRadar – 3.5/5
A worthy drivetrain rival performance wise, but could do with more refinement
Buy if, You like the idea of a wireless group but want the longer reserve battery life you get from wired electronic groups
Road.cc – 6/10
Full Speed Ahead (FSA) has finally launched its first full road groupset and it’s gone straight for the electronic market with this K-Force WE setup, challenging the likes of SRAM and Shimano. It certainly has some cool and exciting features, but the fact that it lacks the refinement of its competitors is a frustration.
Australian Distributors & Retailers
In Australia, FSA and Vision are distributed by Cassons.
To purchase FS components your local options are:
And your international options include: