FSA K-Wing Handlebar

K-wingI’ll get the unpleasant bit out of the way. FSA claims this bar weighs 215g. Mine weighed closer to, well exactly, 242g.

But I don’t care.

I’ll admit the first time I saw the K-Wing it looked as ridiculous as Kiss’ stage outfits do today. I mean, a riser bar for the road? What gives?

Then one day its beauty clicked. I realized the K-Wing is a deep-drop bar that isn’t. The mistake I commonly see in setting up the K-Wing is by positioning it so the bar top is at the same height as the previous bar. Wrong!

What makes the K-Wing so great is the ability to position the drops at the same height as other bars (thus making the levers the same height) which ultimately places the bar top a full centimeter higher than it would be otherwise. The result: You sit up higher while climbing while needing fewer spacers below the stem. Your bike looks more PRO in profile.

I’m not one to get too hung up on the look of a bike; I’ll flip a stem upside down if it’ll give me the fit I seek, but there is much to be said for a bike that looks elegant.

I will admit I’ve struggled to reconcile the fact that the switch from aluminum to carbon fiber as the raw material caused prices to quadruple while cutting lifespan to strictly single-serve. Crash it: Replace it. So yes, I struggle with more expensive and greater fragility. But then I get back on a bike with an aluminum bar and even with cork tape I wonder who turned off the comfort. I don’t have carpal tunnel, but I don’t want to get it either. The vibration damping that comes with carbon fiber increases comfort so noticeably it’s a wonder we didn’t make the switch sooner.

The first time I rode a carbon fiber bar I felt like a soon-to-be addict trying crack for the first time: “Where have you been all my life?”

The internal cable routing is—I won’t lie—a pain in the kiester to deal with and the tight bends can reduce braking and shifting performance if you’re not careful. I keep a special cable around to aid with the routing when I replace housings. But the liability posed by price ($229) and limited lifespan are more than overcome in my opinion by the deep drop that doesn’t require increased flexibility.

I hope this bar is never discontinued.

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  1. bikesgonewild

    …hey…you “got” it, as did i…& it’s a twofold bonus, essentially…i use itm’s carbon bar of several years ago on my road bike (fsa was my second choice & the basic configuration is the same) & the dampening quality along w/ that wider bar-top, damn, i’ll never ride a round cross section bar again…

    …that being said, i use fsa’s alloy wing bar on my cross bike (my regular dirt ride) & w/ the addition of bontrager’s “buzzkill” bar plugs, i don’t have the wrist & hand problems i used to have w/ a round bar on a rock shox suspended mtb hardtail…on top of that, i usually ride w/out gloves (dependent on the weather) which you’d think would exacerbate any vibration problems…

    …sliced bread ???…nah, wing bars are better…

    …oh & props padraig…bkw & now rkp…excellent !!!…

  2. Jason H

    I received a set of theses bars, a few years ago, as a mistake. I had ordered some plain old aluminum bars and the K-wings showed up instead. I figured I may as well give them a try, and I am glad I did. They are outstanding. I will never go back to aluminum or to a traditional round topped bar. I have bought 2 other pairs, for other bikes, and I highly recommend the compact drop version. And they do look outstanding with a carbon stem and frame.

  3. erik k

    totally agreed. I love these bars, I’m now on my third set. The first due broke due to crashes that would have wrecked any carbon, or aluminum bars for that matter. Great bend, supper comfortable and the internal routing is great with my Campy shifters, nice site by the way

    1. Author

      I don’t have big hands and don’t really like the feel of a double-wrapped bar. It’s curious, and comfortable from a cushioning standpoint, but holding a double-wrapped bar feels to me like grabbing a water bottle. It just feels too big. For that matter, I don’t usually wrap the top of a wing bar because that feels equally large.

  4. Sean K

    Interesting, Padraig, cause XL gloves are too small for me.
    Double wrapped bars feel better in my mitts.

  5. Jesse S

    Serious philosophical question here: at what point does expensive equipment become a yuppie pursuit? I mean, while I was young, relatively fast, and riding piles of miles I rode an inexpensive Miyata with Sun Tour parts. I used to get a special thrill from watching dudes with fancy Colnagos get dropped. Call it class resentment. Now I am that guy who gets dropped when the young, fit kids go hard… but I can afford nicer stuff. But do I really need carbon bars?

    1. Author

      Jesse, thanks much for chiming in. I spent many miles on the wheel of a friend who had a Miyata with Suntour parts. I remember those days well. To your question: If we were to define our bicycle purchases by our speed, given the order of magnitudes difference in fitness between us and a Continental PRO, most of us would rate 105 at best. When I interviewed BSNYC he said ‘save the pearls for the ball.’ I come down a little bit differently. Cycling is about enjoying life. If a set of 404s or a carbon fiber bar might make your ride more fun, and you can afford them, why wouldn’t you buy them?

      I’m on this planet once that I know of. I plan to enjoy myself.

      Put yet another way, life is too short for Two Buck Chuck.

  6. Pingback: FSA K-Wing Compact : Red Kite Prayer

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