Review: FSA K-Force and Afterburner disc brakes

Brakes

FSA K-Force Front View

Overview

FSA recently introduced their first ever hydraulic disc brake with the lightweight K-Force brake and the more affordable and versatile Afterburner model. The K-Force brakes features a magnesium body, ti hardware, carbon lever at a weight of 300 grams for the 160mm rotor version. It also includes tool-free dials for adjusting the reach and the contact point of the brakes.

With the lightest magnesium castings, carbon composite levers, and titanium hardware, which results in individual wheel weights of around 300 gr. The two models will sell for US$369 (K-Force) and US$289 (Afterburner) MSRP

FSA K-Force Rear Caliper

Riding impressions

Great brakes from just four years ago are now sub-par in our view. The current line of Shimano brakes has changed that as models from XTR all the way to SLX deliver excellent and reliable performance. With this benchmark, many manufacturers who want to survive in this category have been forced to step up their game. And that they did as the new brake introductions from SRAM, Magura and others have shown a significant improvement over previous generations.

Power and modulation

This is FSA’s target landscape and they’ve stepped up to not only compete but thrive in this arena. We’ve used the FSA K-Force for the last three months and are notably impressed. It feels a lot like Shimano but it doesn’t slam as hard. So it it less a abrupt and is thus easier to use. The uptake is quick with little lever dead zone and the pad hits the rotor pretty quickly after pulling on the lever. The contact point is pronounced and modulation and power are delivered while giving the rider good lever feedback. Even with small 160mm rotors, we were never short on stopping power. And just as important, it was was to control and modulate.

FSA K-Force Reach Adjustment

Adjustability

FSA K-Force RotorNot only is the reach adjustable but the contact point as well. Thus, we were able to customize the feel for our preference. Currently, we love having the lever close to the bar for less reach and less fatigue. Then we like a very quick contact point to allow us room to modulate. The FSA K-Force allowed us to do just that and we were able to match the right and left levers perfectly

Rotors

Often, rotors are not given much thought and they are sometimes compromised with less material or thinner widths to save weight. The FSA rotors are fully machined and have a two piece carrier. Thus we always had consistent, drag free and quiet performance during our testing.

Lever design

These levers are somewhat long and flat. So they’re a far cry from the very short Shimano levers. But they allow more position options when used with dropper post levers and shifter options. The carbon lever was actually very firm, much like a forged lever. And it had the added benefit of staying at a moderate temperature during very cold and hot days. The levers are easy to flip-flop as well for those that prefer a moto setup with left hand rear braking.

FSA K-Force on Trek Superfly-8

Bottom line

This is a legitimate entry into the competitive mountain bike disc brake space.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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