Factor Bikes, perhaps best known as a boutique carbon bike maker with a WorldTour presence, is apparently on a mission to expand into other cycling categories. The Factor LS gravel bike was a recent example, and now the company has announced its entry into mountain biking with both a progressive cross-country (XC) full-suspension offering and a cross-country hardtail. light country.
According to Factor CEO Rob Gitelis, the company’s goal was not to be a boutique road brand as perhaps currently perceived, but rather a manufacturer of premium bicycles, whatever discipline. And so, while the entry into mountain bikes begins with XC bikes, the company already has plans for a longer-travel mountain bike and is currently evaluating what it could do in the e-MTB space. also.
This article takes a look at Factor’s two new mountain bike offerings. More details can be found on Pinkbike, our sister mountain bike website.
Why get into mountain biking?
Factor’s rather rare competitive advantage is that it has its own factories in China and Taiwan. While in recent years the company has evolved into a safer business focusing on its own brand, the company was previously a contract manufacturer for Cervelo, Santa Cruz and Rocky Mountain.
Undoubtedly, there is a growing convergence between disciplines, and Gitelis suggests that around a third of Factor’s existing customers also ride mountain bikes. Meanwhile, the gravel acts as a bridge between those who have traditionally only ridden skinny-tire drop-bar bikes and introduces them to the world of dirt. And let’s not forget that the new Lifetime series doesn’t just persuade professional gravel racers to choose a mountain bike and mountain bikers to race on gravel.
So what can a road mark bring to the table that isn’t already served? It will be an uphill battle for Factor to prove himself here, but a lot of that comes down to owning the crafting channel. Factor believes it has the capabilities to produce high performance machines with premium materials, tight tolerances and carefully thought out details, all while achieving a price point that rivals other high end options. And in-house manufacturing means Factor can be extremely quick to create, test, refine and produce such products – an important capability in the fast-paced world of mountain biking.
In many ways, it’s a similar story to what other manufacturer-owned or in-house produced bike companies claim to achieve, but there aren’t too many that work with Factor’s resources.
Already raced at the 2022 Cape Epic (under mixed riders Nancy Akinyi Debe and Jordan Schleck Ssekanwagi), the new Lando XC is Factor’s answer to the modern cross-country and endurance race bike. With a more progressive geometry and longer travel than the current standard for XC race machines, Factor’s approach is comparable to what we saw with the new Scott Spark.
Available in four frame sizes, the Lando XC comes with 115mm of rear wheel travel and is rated for a 120mm fork up front. The head angle is 67°, while the effective seat tube angle is 75.5° for all sizes. Factor is also for those who want a more traditional 100mm of travel, which can be achieved by simply replacing a rear shock with a shorter stroke length. In terms of size, Factor has high demand in some Asian markets and therefore current sizes tend to be smaller than expected; an XL size is not available at this time.
Like a number of the latest XC machines, the Lando XC uses a single-pivot suspension layout with a one-piece carbon rear end, intentionally flex seatstays and an adjoining one-piece molded carbon rocker link. The rear suspension is designed to provide more active suspension action than many XC bikes, and like the Scott Spark, Factor intends the bike to perform remote lockout for efficient out-of-the-saddle efforts.
Probably a polarizing pick, the upright shock stance leaves no room for a second water bottle in the main triangle. According to Factor engineering manager (and former Cervelo engineering manager) Graham Shrive, this decision was made to optimize frame stiffness, impact resistance and standover height.
Shrive says key industry partners are beginning to suggest that rocker-driven suspension designs can cause unwanted rear shock loading (imagine the bike trying to bend the rear shock), leading to wear and tear. premature failure. In contrast, the chosen vertical shock path manages loads at the already reinforced bottom bracket area. Likewise, the shock base connects to the main pivot point, further reducing the need for excess material or moving components.
Taking inspiration from a few gravel world landmarks, there are bento bag-style mounts at the top of the top tube, and there are mounts under the top tube for a tube strap or perhaps a small bottle ( if you don’t mind riding a little arched).
Much like the new Scott Spark or Canyon Exceed CF SLX, the front is designed around an oversized 1.5″ headset with optional internal cable routing through the upper bearing for the rear brake hose (and the dropper hose if using a RockShox Reverb). The bike also features a number of modular port options on the sides of the head tube to allow for any combination of mechanical shift lockouts, droppers and/or suspension. Factor will provide two different helmet top caps so users can choose their own path.
The bike comes with DT Swiss’s dual-lock remote which is routed through the side-entry cable ports. And Factor hopes to significantly reduce the need for helmet maintenance by installing CeramicSpeed’s new stock SLT solid fill bearings (frame pivots use Enduro Stainless Max bearings as CeramicSpeed does not yet produce the bearing SLT in appropriate sizes).
The other less visible feature of the mountain bike world is the use of a T47 bottom bracket shell. Here, Factor uses an 88.5mm shell width that replicates the width of a PF92 system once the T47 “internal” style bottom bracket cups are threaded. A serviceable CeramicSpeed bottom bracket is provided.
Other features include room for 29×2.4″ tires, Boost wheel spacing (max chainring 36T), SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH), recessed water bottle rivets and a chainring clamp. seatpost intended to provide a more integrated aesthetic while providing even clamping tension across a 31.6mm seatpost. A medium frame painted with hardware and a DT Swiss R232 One rear shock would weigh 2.1 kg.
In a market ruled by RockShox and Fox, there’s no denying that DT Swiss suspension is bound to be another polarizing choice. It appears the lack of a dropper post, 2.25″ tires and fitted suspension are all results of ongoing supply chain issues. The potentially polarizing final choice is a complete lack of ability to mount a chain guide on this frame.
Factor launched with a single bike spec option that features a SRAM XX1 AXS groupset and a number of new Black Inc components (see below). It sells for US$9,199 / €8,399 / £6,999. Factor will also offer frames ($4,499 USD) that include the rear shock, one-piece handlebar/stem, seatpost, and CeramicSpeed end caps.
The Lando HT
Factor’s new hardtail, the Lando HT, looks to borrow from both the company’s new full-suspension bike and road bikes. The design is clean with no excess supports, and in turn Factor claims a pretty impressive 850g figure for a painted medium frame.
The bent seatstays pay homage to some of Factor’s road models and are meant to help with vertical compliance. The same benefits are claimed for the flattened and curved top tube.
The geometry of this lightweight hardtail is based on a 110mm fork to provide a 68.5º head tube angle. The 73.5º seat tube angles on the size medium and large are pretty slack for a 2022 bike outing, but they’re also directly in line with what we recently saw on Ibis’ Exie race bike. Both brands argue that a slacker angle is better for extended stays in the saddle.
The Lando HT’s feature list mirrors much of what the Lando XC offers. There’s optional integrated cable routing through the oversized headset, the bottom bracket remains T47 threaded and there’s the same style seat clamp holding a 31.6mm seatpost. Likewise, the all-too-easily-missed flush water bottle cage mounts are also there, as is clearance for 29×2.4″ tires with Boost wheel spacing.
Seeing a trend of high-end cross-country hardtails being used for gravel-type adventure riding, Shrive also designed a 720g suspension-corrected carbon stiff fork to match the frame. The optional fork is designed to work with internally wired headsets for clean front brake hose routing.
Offering the same race-ready spec as the Lando XC, the Lando HT complete bike is listed at US$7,099 / €6,499 / £5,399. Price for the frame (including Black Inc cockpit and CeramicSpeed end caps) is US$3,299.
New Black Inc Parts
Factor’s sister component brand, Black Inc, has a number of new mountain bike components to go with the new frames. There’s a one-piece handlebar and stem, a 31.6mm carbon seatpost, and the previously mentioned rigid fork. There’s also a new 29er wheelset with 27mm internal width hookless rims and in-house designed hubs that roll on CeramicSpeed bearings. Claimed weight for the pair is 1459g.
It may be too early to tell if Factor has done enough to steer people away from the proven choices that already dominate international markets. Factor’s entry into the mountain bike market will certainly be watched with interest by a number of other road bike brands – who are no doubt well aware that many traditional road customers are now also interested in other segments of cycling.