New Factor O2 VAM is ‘the world’s fastest climbing bike’

Builds start from as little as 6.2kg

Clock09:00, Monday 10th July 2023
The new O2 VAM is ‘the world’s fastest climbing bike’.

Factor

The new O2 VAM is ‘the world’s fastest climbing bike’.

Factor has officially unveiled the new O2 VAM which they claim is “the world’s fastest climbing bike”.

Despite the tag, it’s more of a modern superbike which mixes optimised aero features and stiffness with an extremely lightweight build to create what Factor describes as an “aero climbing bike”.

It was developed with input and testing from Israel-Premier Tech who are currently riding it at the Tour de France. The one the pros are riding sits around the UCI limit of 6.8kg but builds begin from as little as 6.2kg (size 54 with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2) - an incredible 0.6kg below the race-legal limit.

The lightweight build is joined by aero features including d-shape truncated tube profiles, a redesigned frontal area, plus a new external seatpost. As a result, Factor claims that it saves 12 watts in the wind tunnel over the previous model.

It’s the fourth version of the bike Factor have brought out since its first release in 2017 and builds start from £6,300.

New factory construction

It may come with the hefty tag of being the “world’s fastest climbing bike”, but the new O2 VAM is designed to be fast in all race conditions. That request came from Israel-Premier Tech riders who asked for a bike that was not only on the UCI weight limit, but also stiffer and more aero.

Factor says that’s been achieved with a bike that is 35% stiffer than its predecessor, bringing it on a par with their all-out aero offering, the OSTRO VAM. They also claim that it’s 12 watts faster in a wind tunnel at 48kmph.

The tubing is forged from a mix of carbon fibres including T1000 and M60J and each size has a different carbon layup to optimise ride quality.

New d-shape airfoil tubes have been used for the down tube, seat tube and head tube to increase the stiffness-to-weight ratio.

A visually more radical revamp has occurred to the top tube. The UCI relaxed its rules around minimum top tube width to only 10mm and Factor has taken full advantage of this, hitting that figure in what is noticeably narrow tubing. Beyond any aerodynamic advantages, Factors says that it boosts comfort as it allows more deflection at the saddle.

To develop these new tubes with their enhanced stiffness, aerodynamics and light weight, Factor developed a new construction method which is still under wraps.

“We’re not reinventing the process,” Factor Bikes Director of Engineering, Graham Shrive, said in a press release. “Rather, we’re perfecting every step. While you could do 90% of what we do anywhere, it’s the last 10% that makes the difference. There’s no magic, but it is state-of-the-art.”

“World’s fastest climbing bike”

Beyond the stiffness and aerodynamics, it’s no surprise that the new O2 VAM is also incredibly lightweight. While pro bikes are limited by the UCI’s weight limit to 6.8kg, us mere mortals can go even lower. As low as 6.2kg which is the lightest build available when a 54cm frame is paired with Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset and Black Inc’s 28//33 wheelset.

A featherweight 730g (54cm) frame, which includes the integrated seat mast, helps to keep that weight down.

It’s also achieved by the new 28//33 wheels from Factor’s sister company Black Inc which are only 1,146g.

New seat mast design

The O2 VAM also comes with a new integrated seatpost. On a conventional setup, the seatpost inserts into the frame. For the O2 VAM, the seatpost has a sleeve which slips over an extended seat mast and an external tightening bolt.

Using this design requires less materials which saves weight, plus there are aerodynamic and comfort benefits too.

Other notable features include continued cable integration - which was first introduced to the bike in 2021 - clearance for 32mm tyres, plus an increased stack height of 10mm. The latter has been introduced following feedback from customers.

The frame is available in four different colours, either storm grey, red velvet, chrome/raw carbon or prisma studio custom paint, plus seven sizes from 45cm to 61cm.

A range of builds are available including with Black Inc's 28//33 wheelset and a choice of SRAM’s Red AXS or Force AXS groupsets, or Shimano’s Dura-Ace or Ultegra.

Check out the full range of bikes on Factor’s website here.

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