A Tale Of Three Bars: FSA K Wing AGX – by Grannygear
Introduction: The world of gravel riding has spawned a few trends and brought other trends back to life. One such thing that gravel riding has brought out from the depths of time is the flared drop bar. Once the realm of retro-MTB folk, and the odd person looking for something different, the flared drop bar has become ubiquitous and is almost an expected component on any adventure/gravel bike.
Remember to refer to our “Drop Bar Terms Defined” post to help you understand the descriptive terms used in our drop bar reviews. Now, here we will get a take on three different flared drop bars from Grannygear.
I was riding along the coast of Central California on the Topstone project bike, contemplating sea otters and handlebar shapes, and it came to me that the FSA K-Wing AGX carbon bar just might be the most ergonomically comfortable drop bar I have ever used. Or not. And as I was debating this, I crashed on a back country dirt road and broke myself badly enough to sideline me for a couple of months.
Bummer, as I was very, very struck by this handlebar and was going to swap it over to my road bike and ride it from San Francisco to L.A., thinking that would be a great way to prove things out. That I was willing to do such a change before a big ride like that says a lot about my expectations. All that is off the table now and any further testing will have to wait till late October. But meanwhile let’s look at this bar and see what is up, and then I will talk about my first impressions.
Looking at the K-Wing AGX bar, I was so intrigued by the shaping of it that I actually called my contact in FSA to talk about it. That was a first: A handlebar that needs a conference call. First of all, it comes out of the stem and, after a short section of bar, begins to rise. It does not stay high like that, but rather slopes back down as it heads toward the bend. Even that sloped section is shaped, flattened a bit but not as much as the Ritchey Streem II bar. (Look for a review on the Ritchey Streem II bar bar in the series soon, Editor)
It also sweeps forward as it nears the bend at the drops and then has this little flattened section right about where the end of the brake hood would fall. There is even subtle shaping in the drops as well as some flare.
Wow. When I unwrapped it I thought this is either going to be really good or a gimmicky disaster. Looking at it from head-on, it looks like Batman shaped it.
With 75mms of reach and 115mms of drop, it is in the compact camp. There is 25mms of flare. I have the 440mm version and I weighed it at 211g.
I installed it on the Cannondale Topstone and wrapped it with some 3.2 Lizard Skins tape. The reach to the controls ended up about the same despite the forward sweep of the bar, so that worked out fine for me.
I had only ever seen drop bars that rise, then slope down as they move away from the stem, one other time, and that was on a lady friend’s road bikes. She had scoured the internet to find a second one after first sampling the bar (do not know the name of it) as she found that slope to be kind on the wrists. That was one of the first things I noticed on the FSA K-Wing AGX bar. That slope to the bar tops was very comfortable, allowing my wrists to rotate ever so slightly to the outside, a more natural position. Intriguing. The flattened bar top also was just right, not so extreme that it felt like I was wrapping my hands around an airplane wing, but offering dispersed pressure when on the ‘tops’.
I also found it ‘felt’ narrower that the 44cm rating would suggest. I am not sure why that was. I got out tape measures, etc. Dunno. It felt to me like a 43cm bar, if that makes sense. The next most dramatic thing was the little ‘porch’, a flattened section right where the bend meets the brake hoods. That has me a bit conflicted and only more time will tell. Good or bad….? Undecided. I only got into the drops a few times and when I did, my ears perked up, like a dog sensing a slice of cheese being unwrapped in the next room. “Oh…this feels really nice.” Then I crashed and that was that.
When I get back to riding, I will be moving this to my road bike to get longer miles on it, but so far, as a gravel bike bar, I think it is very, very good and could be a total winner for someone who struggles with hand or wrist issues.
The retail is $299.00, so it comes at a dear price, but if at 6 hours into an 8 hour race you are still happy, it might be cheaper than you thought. More to come…….
Stay tuned for the next bar in this series, The Ritchey Streem II Bar.
Note: FSA sent over the K Wing AGX bar to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will strive to always give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.