After being spotted during this month’s Tour de France, Factor has officially lifted the curtains on the latest version of its 02 VAM, touting it as “the world’s fastest climbing bike” courtesy of a frameset that tips the scales at a feathery 730 grams.
Not only does Factor claim the new 02 VAM defies gravity, but it also cheats the wind as well thanks to new D-shaped, truncated aerofoil tube profiles that were developed using extensive finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), resulting in a 12-watt gain over the previous model when measured in the wind tunnel at yaw angles from +15° to -15° at 48km/h.
“The new O2 VAM is an aero climbing bike – nothing else this light is as fast, nothing this fast is as light. It’s the ultimate choice for riders seeking performance on big days in the mountains, whether you’re riding the Étape du Tour or the Tour de France. The new O2 VAM is for everyone looking for an enhanced, faster ride experience on mountainous and hilly terrain, with quicker climbing, more confident descending, higher speed on the flats and greater comfort. It’s for gran fondo riders, racers, and those for whom a week in the mountains is the highlight of the year. If speed isn’t your priority, the increased efficiency will save you energy to ride further,” boasts Factor.
“We began by asking the riders of the Israel-Premier Tech team ‘On what terrain do you get your results and how can we help that?’ They wanted a bike that would be under 7kg in race trim, with pedals, transponder and number. Then we asked, ‘What’s stopping you from riding the previous O2 VAM?’ They said aero and stiffness. So, we made the new O2 VAM as stiff as the Ostro VAM, a 35% increase, and 12W faster than the old O2 VAM in the wind tunnel, which is around half the difference to the Ostro VAM and at low yaw angles of 0-5 ̊ it’s only 5W behind,” adds Graham Shrive, Factor’s Director of Engineering.
Elsewhere, the revamped 02 VAM sees a new external seatpost that incorporates the use of Boron, 1.25in bearings in the head tube, truncated NACA-profile seat stays, a more flattened top tube and a seat tube that now extends across the full width of the bottom bracket in order to bolster stiffness. Clearance is also up on the new frameset, which can now accommodate tires up to a hefty 32mm.
“Why make an aero climbing bike?. Firstly, because the climbs are only part of anyone’s ride, and on the rest of any route, aero is as important as ever. Secondly, because the pros climb so fast that aero remains a significant consideration even at typical gradients of 8%. Drawing and expanding on learning from the Factor Ostro Gravel – the world’s fastest gravel bike – the team created entirely novel airfoil shapes for the down tube, seat tube and head tube” says Factor. “These aero profiles use aggressively truncated airfoils which deliver a very high stiffness-to-weight ratio with minimized drag achieved by manipulating the separation and reattachment of the airflow. A focus on optimizing the frontal area for low yaw conditions means that at 0-5 effective wind angle the new O2 VAM is only 5W behind the Ostro VAM, which itself is the fastest aero bike on the market. The new O2 VAM is not only the fastest bike in its category, but also faster than many brands’ much heavier dedicated aero offerings, further explains Factor.
Geometry also played a critical role in the development of the new 02 VAM, which now features a 10mm increase in stack height across all sizes that’s designed to promote both a more comfortable, upright position, as well as a reduction in the use of headset spacers.
The 02 VAM is sold as a frameset only for £6,300, as well as the following builds:
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