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Video: FSA 'semi-wireless' electronic gear system spotted at Tour de France

Italian/Taiwanese component maker joins battery-powered shifting fray with novel twist

Component maker FSA revealed its long-awaited electronic shifting system at the Tour de France today.

FSA has been threatening to release a full groupset for years, and triathletes have been able to buy the FSA Vision Metron group for a while, but nobody's seen a complete road bike shifting system from the Italian/Taiwanese component maker — until now.

Last year an FSA spokesperson confirmed to that the company was working on an 11-speed electronic road groupset. The folks at Global Cycling Network shot this footage of it on Etixx-Quick Step rider Michał Kwiatkowski's Specialized Tarmac at the Tour.

Details are currently scarce. The system appears to have no wires connecting the shifters to the derailleurs, but there are wires between the derailleurs. That's different from SRAM's fully-wireless system. It may be that FSA's engineers have decided it's simpler to have to charge just one battery at a time to power the shifting, rather than two, or it's easier to have the rear mech communicate its position this way so that the front can trim itself to avoid chain rub.

The parts are clearly genuine prototypes, rather than being first-batch production with liability-avoiding stickers as some manufacturers have been known to do. That means there's no clue to when you'll be able to buy this system. 

We contacted FSA to ask for more details but didn't get much joy, predictably.

"We confirm the teams are testing some prototypes and the results are good," said FSA's Gloria Radaelli. "I’m sorry but at this stage, we can’t give any other details about our groupset."

Fair enough!

As well as Etixx-Quick Step, the teams testing the FSA groupset are Tinkoff-Saxo, Cofidis and Bora-Argon18.

The front derailleur features Flaschenblinkenlights, which hints that there's more going on than just a motor to move the cage

That's a cable, but there aren't any at the shifters. What's going on?

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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