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 road.cc 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?

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.