The British brand steps up with a straightforward race bike
Born from a British design house just 10 years ago, Factor has never been shy in attracting attention to itself with a variety of unique and bold frame designs. Most notable was their radical Vis Vires (RBA, May 2014), which turned heads with its twin-spar fork and split downtube. That bike, coupled with a history of high-end partnerships with companies such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Maserati, has helped maintain Factor’s place as a talked-about brand.
After recently being purchased by former pro rider Baden Cooke, who partnered with fellow ex-pro David Millar, Factor has set about to earn a place in the world of the pro peloton by partnering with UCI WorldTour team AG2R La Mondiale for 2017.
As opposed to their more wild One aero road bike, the O2 represents a more straightforward road bike. The frame is made with three different types of modulus material to attain different ride characteristics in different parts of the frame. The O2 frame has a claimed weight of 740 grams and is designed with a compact pro race geometry and the ever-popular black-on-black finish (dubbed “Secret Agent”) with hard-to-detect graphics. The Factor O2 maintains a certain overall elegance about it with svelte tube shapes, internal cable routing and an internal seat binder. The rear end is notable for the asymmetrical chainstays and wheel clearance for a 28mm tire.
The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components were the perfect addition for a bike with such a high-end racing stature. Our test bike was equipped with Factor’s own integrated bar/stem system, but a standard bar/stem combo is also available. Owing to the lack of adjustability, we weren’t too fond of the one-piece design, but if you’re chasing every lightweight option, this could be the way to go. The Prologo saddle with their gripper technology offered mixed reviews, as some riders liked the feel of being gripped to the saddle while others weren’t in favor of the added adhesion.
Right off the bat the O2 has a light and nimble feel. Almost a bit surprising, though, is the combination of the 73.1-degree head tube angle with the carbon fiber integrated stem and bars that offers a real light front-end feel. Our test riders tend to ride with minimal pressure on the bars from their hands and arms. They got caught out a couple times as the front end will drop on you once you put pressure on the front to accelerate. With the integrated bar and stem combo, we weren’t able to make many adjustments there, but we did drop the stack height down a couple spacers.
Our best impressions of the O2 were realized when we hit the climbs. As soon as you put the power down on the pedals, the O2 really comes to life. With no delay in response, you feel as though you get on top of the bike and just roll up the ascents. Having the lighter-feeling front end was really nice in this area, as once you needed to get out of the saddle, you didn’t feel as though you had to fight and/or pull the bike to come with you.
Moving from the climbs to the descents, we found the O2 was very responsive cutting through the corners. With the bike being so light, however, it did take a bit to get adjusted to the cornering feel that comes with it. Finding our ideal body position while sprinting took some time, as the integrated bar/stem forced some riders to adjust their usual position to have less weight over the front end to counterbalance the quick handling.
Given that the O2 is intended to be a team race bike, Factor didn’t hold back on producing a light, race-ready machine. The frame had a rigid feel to it, which we believe is more ideal for the racers. The frame sets up the ride for an aggressive feel, which may steer some riders in a different direction. The Black Inc. Thirty carbon clinchers rode well, but at this price point, we’d feel more assured about long-term dependability with a better-known brand.
Factor has a lower-priced ($6999) O2 that is spec’d with Shimano Ultegra Di2. For the tall price tag, though, owing to its overall ride quality, the O2 Dura-Ace model rates as a smart purchase in the market of elite race bikes.
- A race bike, pure and simple
- Great feeling on the climbs
- A high price for no-name wheels
Weight: 14.3 pounds
Sizes: 49, 52, 54 (tested), 56, 58, 61cm