"Take The Risk or Lose the Chance" is the mantra that Rider Romain Bardet has on his Factor O2 top tube. I'm sure that is a motivator when he has to chase Froome up mountains. The top tube on mine says nothing but the bike is inspiring nonetheless. Let's get one thing straight. Factor is a premium brand and will not be faulted for being one. One thing that irks me is to read a review about a premium product and in the "cons" section they mention price. That's like a Ferrari...ahh, you get it. Everything about the bike and the brand not only look but feel high end. That was the goal right from the start. This is a very specific company. You will not find mountain, gravel, cross, urban, ladies, touring, BMX or any other version where a down tube will say the name Factor.
Factor does have it's flagship road bike the O2, as well as a TT bike and their new aero bike. The bikes also come with rim and disc brake options. In terms of component options you get a choice of Sram Etap or Di2 but more on that later. First thing you need to know is that the bike I rode is the O2 and it is a size big for me. I normally ride a 54 but rode a 56 instead. That being said, I still found this bike to be unlike anything I have ridden.
It's not the lightest bike or the most aero, but it is the most balanced.
What do I mean by that? It's not the lightest bike or most aero, but it is the most balanced. There should be a yin and yang sign on the frame somewhere. Right out of the saddle out the door it handles the weight I put on it and when weight is shifted, it holds the direction just fine. All of the pieces work extremely well together and that was the intention. Factor's component brand Black Inc. adorns the wheels, seat post, integrated cockpit and computer mount. In terms of components, Dura Ace Di2 covers it and Fizik and Continental are the saddle and tires. The only thing of my own I put on there was the Speedplay Zero pedals and the 4iiii left side crank power meter.
The bike is extremely stiff yet provides an extremely compliant ride. I'm sure you've heard that before but the difference is you can impose your will on this thing and it handles so well. On the flats, coming into a sharp right hander and then accelerating out makes you feel like you are on an aero machine and then on the climbs it really shines. There is a local climb that I do that gets steeper as you get closer to the top. I think it tops out at 20%. I did the entire climb seated and with one hand (other hand was to hold my phone) and it was a breeze. Keep in mine I was running a standard 53X39 with an 11X28 in the bike. Crank length was also 172.5. If I only dropped ten pounds, I would be setting new PR's up climbs at will.
On the descents the bikes wheels are nimble and light. Shallower than most, what they lack in aero ability they more than make up for in an all around comfortable set of hoops. The brake track is slightly textured and the braking power is the most powerful rim brake I have ridden. My only squabble is the front wheel can get a bit noisy when braking fast. While the bike is light, it feels surprisingly stable underneath you and yes that balance. Although I have no reason to super tuck like Chris Froome I'm sure the AG2R boys will do it with confidence on these rigs on any descent in the world.
Functionally and aesthetically it does two things well. If you can say bikes are minimalistic, this one is at the top of the list. It doesn't have any crazy angles or tubes and since all the parts are from Black Inc combined with an integrated bar stem cockpit and an internal bar placed Di2 battery it's as if this is a one piece machine. The people at Factor have thought of everything including Ceramic Speed bearings as standard hence justifying a higher price point. My only gripe is the bottle mount bolts. It doesn't use a standard 3 or 4mm allen key but rather a more specific star key. Not very practical but a minor flaw nonetheless. Also when riding with my Garmin, the angle of the mount made the screen slightly tough to see in the SoCal sun.
It's refreshing to see a bike company put out bikes that are more than a matte black finish. The paint is downright art. My personal favorite being this AG2R team blue but it also comes in Romain Bardet White, Burnt Orange, Turqoise and Stealth Black.
When it comes to purchasing a Factor, it's almost as interesting as the ride itself. It gives you options. It's not an industry disrupter where they only sell to the consumer. It's not an online only buy from a massive cycling e retailer. It's not a boutique bike shop hang on display window purchase. It's ALL of those things and then some. Few brands offer all of the buying choices that Factor does.
Since most people do their research online first, you can build the bike as three different builds. First you can go for the Chassis which gets you the frame, seat post, saddle and integrated cockpit. Next you can get the rolling chassis which gets you everything from the chassis but with the wheels. Lastly you can get the complete bike. Just choose from an insane amount of options that would please the most discerning customer. Of course price does range when it comes to the options and build you want.
We know the Factor O2 is more than functional. It has everything you want on it minus a power meter and nothing you don't. That begs the question; what type of cyclist is this bike for? This is not a do all, all around type of machine. This is a very specific type of bike. Top end and fast. Any experienced rider who wants only the best is the ideal demographic. Would I race this bike in a local criterium banging bars with SoCal bro's? I'm not sure. Not because the Factor won't perform but rather it's almost too nice, like artwork. Give me an aluminum mechanical machine any day to race in the rain but this bike? You care for it, you baby it and know that it will do the same for you.
In terms of critiques, yes the price is a barrier to entry and maybe some people don't like an integrated cockpit. Too nice to race can be seen as a copout. This bike is made to be ridden hard but for whatever it's worth other than AG2R boys ripping it up in Europe, this bike will be seen at your group rides. Usually more popular with the super masters as the bikes are always more high end.
People interested in this bike only want the best. If it's good enough for World Tour Pro's it's good enough for you. The range of Factor bikes speaks to that. Am I or most riders good enough to see all this machine has to offer? You'd like to think so in the same way a new driver can handle a Formula 1 car. Take Take The Risk or Lose the Chance mantra is now extended to the consumer and if that means seeing that PR up your local climb then so be it. Factor and all it's components are there to have you do it with ease and style.
Product Tested: Factor O2 56cm with Black Inc. Wheels, seat post, integrated cockpit, Fizik saddle and full Dura Ace Di2 and Ceramic Speed bearings.
*I did use my own power meter and pedals.
• Smooth, fast and balanced ride
• Sleek design where everything works perfectly together
• Myriad of buying options
You Might Not Love
• Odd angle of computer mount
• No power meter option for price point
• Bottle cage bolts