The much-awaited FSA electronic groupset has been spotted at the Tour de France, with the Etixx-QuickStep, Cofidis, Bora-Argon 18 and Tinkoff-Saxo teams given a prototype groupset for testing.
Cyclingnews spotted Michal Kwiatkowski’s special flower design Specialized bike fitted with the FSA components and other photos of a Tinkoff-Saxo Specialized bike were spotted by Italian photographer Ilario Biondi who works for regular Cyclingnews photographer Bettini.
It is unclear if the teams will use the groupset in the final mountain stages of the Tour de France. It is more likely to stay in the mechanics truck or be on the second team car for use in emergencies. Maurizio Bellin of FSA was at the Tour de France but when contacted by Cyclingnews he refused to provide any details on the much-awaited groupset. He would only confirm it was a prototype given out to the teams.
Cyclingnews noticed that the battery and the central control unit were both hidden inside the frame. The only cables leaving the brake hoods were for the mechanical brakes. Both the front and rear derailleur were identified with prototype numbers, with the numbers different on each of the bikes. The brake hoods were made of hard plastic but seemed to represent the final size and shape of the levers.
The rear derailleur had a smooth, modern machined metal appearance, very different to other brands of gears. The front changer had what looked like a rubber-covered motor above the changer arms, much like existing electronic front changers.
The lever hoods have a similar smooth shape to those of Campagnolo. The brake levers have a kink in their shape and had prototype written on them in big white letters. The button to change gears is positioned behind the brake lever. It appeared to be divided into two parts and seemed best activated by the index or middle finger. One click on the upper half of the button perhaps moves up a gear, the lower half perhaps move down a gear.
FSA refused to reveal when the groupset would go into production but it is possible further details will be revealed at the Eurobike trade fair in Friedrichshafen in late August.