After finding great success with the compact road crank design it debuted in the 2002 Tour de France under Ivan Basso, FSA is pushing the concept to the mountain bike market. Carbon and alloy double-ring cranksets for off-road are among the new 2010 offerings from the company with headquarters in Italy, Washington and Taiwan.
FSA is also expanding on the Vision line it acquired in 2004, positioning it as a road and triathlon brand with wheels, aerobars and more.
With its high-end K-Force line earning increasing recognition through racing — FSA sponsors 18 pro teams, including Liquigas, Saxo Bank and Quick Step — the company continues to build upon its foundation of small parts manufacturing. FSA produces 2 million headsets a year, and 1.5 million square-taper bottom brackets.
FSA continues to labor on a 11-speed road drivetrain that includes a revolutionary spherical-bushing chain, but insists the group is still too far out to discuss in detail.
Compact mountain cranks
FSA brought out “2 x 9” mountain crank in early 2008 with 44/29 and 42/29-tooth options. For 2010, FSA reduced the bolt circle diameter to 86mm (from 94mm) to give the options of 42/27 and 40/27.
“Our expectation with the first compact mountain crank was for a very niche market, but demand was bigger than expected,” said Salvatore Miceli, FSA Italy’s marketing manager.
FSA calls its new 3-arm spider configuration Compact 386 (three arms/bolts, 86mm BCD). Both the carbon K-Force Light 386 and alloy Afterburner 386 feature the integrated BB30 spindle, which is much wider than a standard crank spindle. Weight is targeted at 630 grams for the K-Force Light and 750 grams for the Afterburner. Retail prices are not yet available.
Vision bars and wheels
In the Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso was the one rider to run Vision’s upcoming time trial crankset. The 2010 TriMax Carbon MegaExo is an aero, BB30 crankset that comes in sizes from 170-180mm with ceramic bearings. Target weight is 909 grams.
The 2010 Manta Si Aerobar is adjustable from 230-290mm without cutting the extensions. Instead, the extensions are simply slid in and out of the base bar, and secured with expander bolts similar to what is often used inside a fork’s steerer tube.
The Manta comes with either virtually straight or J-bend extensions and weighs 783 grams. In both cases, internal cable routing pops out the back of the extensions through the center of the expander bolts.
Width is also adjustable to one of three settings.
FSA launched its 2010 road wheels at Sea Otter Classic. With the line, FSA is taking aim at Zipp, offering similar wheels at a lower price. Ceramic bearings come standard in the top of the line model. ISD rode Vision wheels in the Giro.
Alfredo Sala, an aerospace engineer, has been working on a road drivetrain group since he came to FSA almost three years ago. The most remarkable piece is the chain, which uses patented spherical bushings.
“Spherical bushings greatly improve the flexibility and strength of the chain, especially when it’s crossed up,” Sala said.
The chain, which requires a special FSA cassette, is already being tested by pro teams.
“The shifter has a single lever, but the mechanism is different than SRAM’s,” Sala said. “We are still making patents. For the rear derailleur, we have two solutions that we’re exploring.”
The shift lever, when finally available, will be branded K-Force.
FSA is also working on a time trial shift lever. This will be 10-speed at first, then also available in 11. For the shifter, a rider pulls a lever to move the chain up the cassette, and pushes a button to downshift. This shifter will be available before the road group.