The Vis Vires is one of those bikes that turns heads. It has, since making our acquaintance, sparked conversations on packed commuter trains, acquired more inquisitive glances on the street than almost anything else we’ve ridden, and caused drivers to slow and stare as they pass. There’s no denying that the Factor’s fork and split down tube marks it out from the crowd.
It’s a bike designed to go fast. Without scientific testing, it’s impossible to say how aero the Vis Vires bike is, and in fact Factor itself doesn’t shout about the aerodynamics. But with the 45mm-deep rims, aero seatpost and engineered tube profiles, it has clearly been a consideration.
Putting aside aerodynamics, you’ve got a stiff chassis that transfers every valuable pedal stroke into forward motion, and while the integrated stem has some adjustability, it invariably pitches you into a low, attacking position that eggs you on to push you to the limits of your lactic threshold, and beyond.
Handling is on the faster end of the scale: this is a race machine through and through. The slightest influence on direction sees you around the corner before you know it. While geometry plays a massive part in this, so does the directness between fork, stem and bar; there’s absolutely no give in the system.
Doing the splits: the Factor’s ultra-distinctive fork and down tube
This does come at a cost though. The fork extends straight to the stem, with the wide clamp inhibiting virtually any natural damping from the custom Enve carbon bar, transferring every ripple in the road’s surface. The fork also limits how far you can turn the bar, fine 99 per cent of the time, but it makes weaving through dense traffic at slow speeds difficult.
Factor’s non-standard fork and stem setup has seven different bar positions to fine-tune reach and height, and you can specify one of three stem lengths at purchase. The stem has an integrated Garmin mount (a Garmin 510 is included), and also holds the Shimano Ultegra Di2 control box – the battery is stored in the seatpost. The deep, boxy offside chainstay holds an integrated speed sensor while the Enve bar is drilled to allow the brake cables and Di2 wires to run inside, leaving no exposed cables or wires anywhere on the bike.
The final part of the jigsaw is the wheelset. Factor has worked on the 45mm-deep carbon rims with Black Inc, and the results are impressive. The wheels are stiff, accelerating quickly for a deep rim, and while we experienced some buffeting from side winds, we’ve had worse. Braking is excellent, even in the wet where many carbon rims suffer, and the DT Swiss 340 hubs are super-smooth, lightweight affairs.