Factor updates O2 VAM | Could this be Chris Froome’s new climbing bike?

Fully-internal cable routing and a new lightweight wheelset for 2021

Factor O2 VAM

Factor Bikes has updated its O2 VAM lightweight climber’s bike to feature fully internal cable routing, with a claimed weight of 677g for an unpainted 54cm frame. The brand has also released a 1,240g lightweight wheelset to complement the new bike.

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Factor Bikes is the bike-supplier for Israel Start-Up Nation, four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome’s new team after this season.

As a climbing specialist, it is entirely possible that Froome will be riding the new O2 VAM as well as an as-of-yet unidentified model – possibly called the Ostro – from Factor that BikeRadar exclusively reported on earlier this week.

Factor O2 VAM front end
The bike now features a fully internally-routed front end.
Factor

The key update is the move to a fully integrated front end.

Many bikes now use an oversized upper bearing to allow cables to be routed through the stem and into the head tube. This can add additional weight, which is anathema to a weight-conscious build like this.

To get around this, a new fork with a D-shaped steerer has been introduced. The space this creates allows the hoses and cables to be routed down either side of the steerer and through a typical 1 ⅛in upper bearing. A similar design is employed on the BMC Teammachine, Trek Emonda and others.

Bear in mind that, with this design (and, to be fair, most others), you will have to fully disconnect any hoses or cables to replace the upper bearing.

Split spacers sit below the stem and allow the cables to remain fully enclosed. Typical round spacers are used above the stem.

As well as looking cool (the most important thing, of course), internal cables can also present a significant aero advantage compared to external cables – for example, in Specialized’s testing for the Roubaix, internalising cables was shown to save up to 12 seconds over 40 kilometres.

While the O2 VAM is nominally a climber’s bike, at the average speeds pros ride at, these aero tweaks can add up to a significant advantage.

Factor O2 VAM Black Inc cockpit
A Black Inc cockpit routes the cables through the bar-stem and into the head tube.

A Black Inc (Factor’s in-house finishing kit and wheel brand) bar-stem/cockpit rounds out the front end.

The fully internal cable routing has also allowed Factor to close up routing and access holes around the bottom bracket and down tube, supposedly allowing the brand to revise the layup in this area, “improving frame stiffness”.

Factor O2 VAM seat clamp
The seat clamp has been updated for the new model.
Factor

The bike also employs a new integrated seatpost clamp that is said to be 14g lighter than the outgoing bike. The new design is also claimed to increase the clamped surface area, allowing riders to opt for a lighter seatpost.

The claimed weight is 677g for an unpainted size 54cm frame “including all assembly parts”. The bike is available in three different paint finishes, which will add between 20g and 45g.

The O2 VAM also adopts a direct-mount rear derailleur hanger for Shimano drivetrains. As well as improving shift quality, this also speeds up wheel changes because it brings the derailleur behind the axle.

In stark contrast to every other new road bike launch of 2020 so far, the O2 VAM is actually still available in a rim brake version – #savetherimbrake fans rejoice! That said, it is not fully integrated “owing to the necessary routing of the front brake cable”.

Factor O2 VAM pack shot
The classic lines and lovely paint really make the bike stand out.
Factor

In a world of dropped-seatstay-this and aero-formed-that, the new bike almost stands out with its more-or-less traditional triple triangle silhouette.

The delightful jazzy/tropical-like “Attaquer-edition” paint job also undoubtedly helps the bike stand out.

2021 Factor Bikes O2 VAM frameset pricing

  • O2 VAM Premium Frameset Package including bar-stem, seatpost and Ceramicspeed bottom bracket and headset: $5,499 / £5,400

Lightweight wheels for a lightweight bike | Black Inc Twenty climber’s wheelset

Factor O2 VAM fork
The wheels have a gentle wave-like form.
Factor

Alongside the new frameset, Factor has also launched the Black Inc Twenty lightweight carbon climber’s wheelset.

Using a gentle wave-like profile that varies in height from 18.5mm between the spokes to 20mm at the nipples, the shape of the wheels is not totally unlike that seen on the ‘new’ Mavic Open Pro.

“Optimised for 25–28mm tyres”, the wheels have a 21mm internal width and updated hubs now spin on Ceramicspeed bearings.

The new wheelset is available now in a clincher version with a claimed weight of 1,240g. The wheels will also be available later this year, as a “sub-1kg” tubular version with carbon spokes.

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2021 Black Inc Twenty wheelset pricing

  • Black Inc Twenty: £2,200 / $2,399