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Giro tech: FSA Metron time trial group

FSA’s long-awaited Vision Metron time trial group made its official racing debut at the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, where Vacansoleil-DCM’s TT-powerhouse Gustav Larsson and the entire Androni-Giocattoli squad put it to its first pro racing test.

The group has been in the works for years, with various pieces popping up at tradeshows and the occasional race bike, but Wednesday marked the first time we’ve seen the final version of each component – shifters, both derailleurs, crankset, cassette and brake levers – all in one place.

The most intriguing feature of the TT-specific group is the shift levers themselves, which, like SRAM’s return-to-center TT shifters, don’t change position on each shift. Pulling in cable is taken care of by an aluminum arm, which looks like a tiny brake lever. Cable is let out by pressing one’s thumb down on the entire shifter head. The movement is quite simple and the shifter shape and light action allow for easy shifts with minimal effort and hand movement.

Weight for a set is 192 grams, and the shifters are compatible with Vision Metron or Shimano derailleurs.

The Metron front derailleur is light, at only 63 grams. That’s largely thanks to its aluminum cage, which is nickel coated for added wear resistance. We spotted a few Liquigas riders using the Metron front derailleur rather than their 2011 Red. That’s quite a vote of confidence for the new group’s front shifting.

The rear derailleur is designed with a focus on aerodynamics, and is also quite light at a claimed 131 grams. A faired carbon pulley cage is the most obvious concession to the wind, but the rest of the body is full of fast-looking lines as well. It is compatible with FSA and Shimano shifters and Shimano or SRAM cassettes.

With a focus on low weight, only 165 grams for an 11-21, FSA uses an aluminum carrier to hold the ten nickel-plated steel cogs. A large contact area between this carrier and the freehub body will help save Ti bodies from the deep grooves caused by loose cogs.

The brake levers are carbon, and are designed for internal routing within 24mm bars. Weight is a claimed 45.5 grams.

The crankset is available in standard 130mm BCD with 53/39, 54/42, or 55/42-tooth chainrings, with arms from 170 to 180mm in 2.5mm increments. The carbon Metron TT crank arms taper nicely into the TT-specific rings, with no gaps or holes that might catch the wind. Total weight is 730 grams with the 53/39 rings.

Utilizing the BB386 standard means it will work with more frame BB types than any of the other BB standards floating around the industry at the moment. Chances are it will work with what your setup with minimal hassle.

For the TT-nut or triathlete, the new kit is worth a look, particularly if you haven’t found a good ergonomic match in the current crop of shifter options.

Editor’s Note: This story original referenced the author having seen the Metron groupset on Vincenzo Nibali’s Liquigas Cannondale. The text should have noted that the group was spotted on Nibali’s bike earlier in the spring, not at the Giro d’Italia. Nibali is currently riding at the Amgen Tour of California.

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