The Factor O2 VAM
“The minimum weight of the bicycle (in working order) shall be 6.800 kg (15 lbs), considered without on-board accessories in place, that is to say those items that may be removed during the event.” The wording used in UCI Technical Article 1.3.019. The - roughly 20 year-old rule - seems to adhere to this arbitrary number as the line under which a bike is no longer safe to be raced professionally at the highest level… at least according to Professional Cycling’s governing body.
For a number of years, the weight limit has been rumored to be up for consideration. Though illegal to race in the pro peloton, sub-15 pound bikes have been relatively common amongst us mortals, a weight now often achieved with mid-range bikes and mid-range components. The one detail, however, is this has almost exclusively been possible with rim brake bikes. With the introduction of disc brakes, even a few years into their “standardization” and as technology has evolved, there haven’t been a lot of well-documented builds weighing under 15lb, at least not without the weightweeniest of parts. Factor aims to change this with the new O2 VAM.
Velocità Ascensionale Media - or Average Ascending Speed - for the non-Italian speaking, is a metric often attributed to a rider’s climbing prowess. It’s clear Factor’s intent with the O2 VAM is to appeal to that rider looking for a lightweight machine, without the fragility and sometimes unreliability of limited production, uber lightweight, components.
HOW FACTOR DOES IT?
The opposite of ground-breaking, by optimizing the design of the frame to use as little material as possible without sacrificing the stiffness, ride quality, or safety of the frame for one. By continuing to refine their lay-up, and mix of carbon pieces throughout, as well as using a more sophisticated process to ensure maximum surface smoothness and highest carbon compactation. In other words: marginal gains.
The reality of it is, the O2 was and continues to be a tremendous frame, and there aren’t a lot of easy, low-hanging-fruit-type areas where massive gains can be made. Knowing that there aren’t any big claims is reassuring, the next logical step in the evolution of a great road bike. We haven’t gotten our first frame yet, but should hopefully sometime soon.
WHAT CHANGED AND WHAT STAYED THE SAME?
ASIDE FROM THE WEIGHT REDUCTION, THERE ARE A FEW DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL O2 AND THE O2 VAM.
The frameset is offered in both rim & disc, though the rim brake version is now offered as a direct mount. The direct mount should provide clearance for tires up to 30mm in size.
The cable routing has been optimized in both the rim and disc brake versions. The disc brake version is now compatible with both mechanical and electronic components, which the O2 is not, and continues to only be compatible with electronic group sets.
In terms of geometry, the VAM keeps the race-inspired geometry as the original O2 with a few slight modifications. The VAM offers a slightly lower bottom bracket, 70mm drop instead of 68, as well as steeper head-tube angles in the 49 & 52 sizes, and slacker head-tube angles for the 56, 58, & 61. The 54 is the only size that keeps the O2’s head-tube angle.
The O2 VAM has a plate to protect against chain-suck, and a nice, integrated head-tube dust cover that will be offered in two sizes: low and high.