Factor's new Ostro VAM blurs boundaries with aero and lightweight design

Factor has focused on all-round performance with a bike that is more aerodynamic and lighter than before

Clock10:00, Wednesday 14th February 2024
The new Factor Ostro VAM

© Factor

The new Factor Ostro VAM

After multiple sightings in the WorldTour peloton over the opening months of the season, Factor has officially released the latest version of its Ostro VAM. Like the bike’s predecessor, the latest model is another boundary-blurring bike, both light weight and aerodynamically optimised.

According to Factor, the bike was “developed for all-round speed” with a desire to combine aerodynamics, light weight, and stiffness into one package without compromise.

The result of this approach, it says, is a bike that is seven watts faster and can be built to fall under the UCI’s minimum weight limit of 6.8kg, with a claimed 267.8g weight saving over the previous model when paired with the new Black Inc 48/58 wheels, which have been released alongside the bike.

While it’s only just officially broken cover, the bike has already tasted success at WorldTour level at the hands of Stephen Williams, who used it during his Tour Down Under triumph.

“With the launch of the new Ostro VAM, we are pushing the boundaries of carbon bicycle design and production to improve on what was already a proven winner,” Rob Gitelis, founder of Factor and Black Inc, said in a press release.

Overall victory in the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under was a dream debut for the Ostro VAM, and we look forward to seeing pro riders and consumers alike reach new heights with this bike.”

Prices for the new frameset start from £5,449 / $5,499 / €5,799, while full builds begin from £8,999 / $9,199 / €8,849.

Same recipe but more aero

The previous iteration of the Ostro VAM was billed by Factor as an “everything” bike that was built without compromise, and the Taiwanese brand hasn’t veered from this thinking for the latest model.

Keeping things simple, it has built on the previous all-round approach and taken it to the next level with what it claims are performance improvements in virtually every way, starting — unsurprising for what is still technically an aero bike — aerodynamically.

At first glance it’s difficult to spot many differences between the outgoing and incoming model. Most of the bike retains the same profile but it’s the frontal area where the changes are most notable, with a visibly deeper fork and revised head tube shape, which is narrower than before in an hourglass shape.

A less perceptible change, the fork is slightly further forward than it was. It also has “small surface details” on its inside edge to improve airflow.

Many brands are focussing on the frontal area of their bikes as this is the leading edge where drag has the biggest effect and Factor has followed this thinking, designing the bike with what it describes as a “front-to-back” approach.

“Beginning with the aero-critical leading edge of the bike — primarily the fork and head tube — the engineering team captured and systematically reassessed aerodynamic gains as the design moved rearward,” Factor explains. “Each of Factor’s design concepts were CFD modelled and assessed in three ways to ensure these performance gains are passed on to the rider: independently, as a complete bike, and dynamically with rider input.”

Factor, as is common-place, refined the design through wind tunnel testing, which led to the other most notable change: the top tube of the bike now tapers until it's wafer thin before meeting with the seat tube. The brand says this design “promote[s] flow attachment along the length of the bike”.

All of these changes, Factor says, have “resulted in a 70 gram reduction in drag (a seven-watt saving)” over the previous model, “with aerodynamic benefits becoming more pronounced at five to ten degree yaw angles that most represent real-world riding conditions”.

…and it's lighter too

On top of the aero optimisation, the new Ostro VAM has also shed some grams, albeit only 10g for a 54cm frame. That’s nothing radical and, let’s be honest, not going to make any difference to performance, but things become more clear cut when the new Black Inc wheels are taken into account — more on these later.

As a complete build with the new wheels, the weight saving shoots up to a claimed 267.8g, meaning the bike can easily dip under the UCI’s minimum 6.8kg weight limit. That was also true of the previous model too, though, so the weight savings are unlikely to have too much of an impact for the pros.

It raises an interesting question of which bike Israel-Premier Tech, a Factor-sponsored team, will use for climbs. The obvious choice would be Factor’s O2 VAM, which it billed as the “world’s fastest climbing bike” when it was released last year. However, a climbing bike’s natural advantage is its low weight, which the Ostro VAM has long-since bridged.

Michael Woods may have already provided the answer when he soared to victory on stage 9 of the 2023 Tour de France atop Puy de Dome on the previous Ostro VAM instead of the O2 VAM.

With the bike becoming even lighter since then — Factor even claims Woods would have been 2 minutes 21 seconds faster on the aforementioned stage if using the latest Ostro — it seems that the Ostro VAM can reasonably claim to be the latest all-round superbike in the WorldTour peloton, alongside the likes of the Specialized Tarmac SL8 and the Pinarello Dogma F.

New Black Inc 48/58 wheels

Alongside the new Ostro VAM, new Black Inc wheels also broke cover earlier in 2024, including at the Tour Down Under where we spotted an unreleased set on George Bennett’s bike.

They’ve now been unveiled alongside the Ostro VAM as the 48/58, which have rim depths to match the name. A 58mm depth is usually geared towards aerodynamics but, in-keeping with the design of the Ostro VAM, pinning the wheels to one category is tricky, mainly because they weigh a claimed 1,270g a pair. That’s impressive and stacks up favourably against many wheelsets of similar depths.

Of course, aerodynamics is still at the forefront of their design and they adopt an aerofoil shape which is regularly used for tubes on a frame.

“The rounder profile and more gradual change in curvature means that the aerodynamic stall onset is gentler, giving the rider a better feeling of control in gusts and strong crosswind situations,” Factor says.

The rims are optimised for a 28mm tyre with a 23mm internal rim width, while a high flange hub increases the angle of the spokes for improved stiffness.

In an attempt to provide the complete package, Black Inc has also created the Ostro VAM Sprint and Ostro VAM Down Tube bottle cages, both of which are aerodynamically optimised to work in tandem with the down tube.

Factor Ostro VAM pricing

  • Premium frameset: £5,449 / $5,499 / €5,799
  • Premium packe + Black Inc 48/58 wheels: £7,799 / $8,099 / €7,799
  • Complete build with Shimano Dura-Ace: £10,799 / $11,199 / €10,749
  • Complete build with Shimano Ultegra: £8,999 / $9,199 / €8,849
  • Complete build with SRAM Red AXS + Quarq power meter: £11,399 / $11,499 / €11,049
  • Complete build with SRAM Red AXS: £10,999 / $11,099 / €10,699
  • Complete build with SRAM Force AXS + Quarq power meter: £9,299 / $9,399 / €9,049

For more of the latest updates, visit the tech news page.

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