The FSA K-Wing compact carbon handlebars are a lustful set of drop handlebars in certain road biking circles. With their glossy carbon looks and unique shaping, riders that race and just want to get out on the weekend alike look to the K-Wing as one of the “wish I had’s” in the road bike component market. This unique set of bars has been imitated across other brands and lines, so let’s take a look at how they performed on the road after the K-Wing’s were mounted up and taped.
Description and Materials from FullSpeedAhead.com:
- Continuous carbon/kevlar composite construction
- Aero-Ergo flat-top riser central section follows the natural arc of the arms
- Internal cable routing
- Reinforced and textured lever and stem clamping areas
- Ø31.8mm x W400, 420, 440mm(c-c) (440mm tested)
- 125mm drop, 80mm reach
- 2° outward bend
- Finish: 3K carbon weave w/Color graphics (also available in a white version)
- Weight: 247 grams (400mm)
Installation of the K-Wing compact carbons goes just about like any other drop bar you will install on your road bike. However, due to the slight rise and larger flatter sections on the handlebars, you might have to drop one more spacer on the steerer tube and make sure to wrap your bar tape with a little bit less overlap. As you can see by the pictures, our Eleganza bar tape didn’t make it all the way across the flats of the bars. While this did not effect riding at all (there was plenty around the palm area), some riders do prefer to run the length of the bars, so plan accordingly during install.
Also, due to the internal routing design of the K-Wing’s, you might have to re-cable your brake lines as the ferrells from the housing would not fit through the internal routing channels.
On The Road: FSA K-Wing Compact Carbon Handlebars
The FSA K-Wing‘s use FSA’s compact geometry which gives the rider a flatter top section on the bars (even with the hoods) and a flare to the drops to allow for a shorter reach to the brake levers and increased room for your forearms while riding in the drops for sprints and low profile riding. Riders that are used to traditional drops will have to get used to the more ergonomic design, but I found that the adjustment period is pretty short.
The flare to the FSA K-Wing compacts is not too extreme, but it does allow for extra room for your forearms while riding in the drops. When compared to more traditional styled bends, the extra room provided more sprinting room without feeling like I was going to slam into the bike while maneuvering the frame. I also found the design these bars to be a lot more ergonomic when braking in the drops on long downhill runs with the positioning of the levers and the ideal hand position leading to less fatigue as the miles added on. While under harder loads in flat sprints, the K-Wing’s were adequately stiff but with the thinner walled carbon there was some flex in comparison with aluminum or thinker walled carbon.
Where the K-Wing’s from FSA really shinned was on long, steep climbs. The flat sections on the top of the bars make the K-Wings the most comfortable climbing bars I have ever ridden. With multiple hand positions on the top of the bars that all take the load from your hands and distribute it more evenly, I was able to alternate positions over the longer mileage climbs and prevent any numbness or pain. On typical round bars, you can start to form pressure points as you change positions, but the flat sections on the middle of the bars and at the drops really allowed for a lot of comfortable options.
Overall: FSA K-Wing Compact Drop Handlebars
If you are looking for a really good set of climbing handlebars for your road bike, look no further than the K-Wing’s from FSA. They are…by far…the best climbing set of handlebars I have ever ridden. The compact design also makes for increased comfort and easier braking while in the drops, but hardcore sprinters are going to be looking for a little bit more stiffness when really dropping the hammer.
Positives: FSA K-Wing Compacts
- Extremely comfortable climbing handlebars
- Stunning good looks on the bike
- Compact design makes braking and riding in the drops easier
Negatives: FSA K-Wing Compacts
- Not the lightest carbon bars on the market
- Only available in carbon or white with red graphics: May not match your road bike
- Slight flexing under hard sprints
At the end of the day…the FSA K-Wing handlebars are one of those components I miss when they are not installed on the bike.
Click here to check out more: FSA K-Wing Compact Carbon Road Bar