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Factor launches its first gravel bike

19 Jun 2020
Verdict:

The Factor LS is pitched as an off-road racer, not a ‘pack animal’

Factor has launched its first gravel bike. The Factor LS is being described by the company as a ‘no-holds-barred gravel racer’, with the emphasis on light weight and crisp handling.

This puts the LS in a different category to what Factor calls ‘traditional pack-animal gravel bikes’. The frame of the Factor LS comes in at a relatively light 950g, and Factor highlights its carbon expertise – the company owns its own factory in Taiwan – in creating a bike stiff enough for rapid accelerations and nimble climbing.

The Factor LS accommodates tyres up to 43mm and is compatible with both 1x and 2x electronic and mechanical shifting. The frame includes mounts for three bottle cages – two in the usual places and one below the down tube – and there is a mount on the top tube for a Bento box. It also includes mounts for mudguards.

At present, this black and grey colour scheme is the only option, and the starting price for the frameset is £2,650, including fork and headset. A complete bike, specced with Sram Force AXS groupset, Black Inc Thirty wheels and Black Inc finishing kit retails at £6,999.

 

Comparison to other Factor bikes

The Factor LS joins a lineup that includes the O2 lightweight climbing bike, the One aero racing bike and the Vista all-road bike.

It may seem that the new LS and the Vista are covering the same ground, but Factor has always been adamant that the Vista is not a gravel bike – it’s an all-road bike.

The distinction is subtle, but essentially the Vista is meant to be a road bike that will also work well off-road, while the LS is an off-road bike that will also work well on the road.

This would suggest that the Vista is still the more road-like and racy of the two, however when questioned about the differences between the bikes, Factor claims that LS is the more aggressive of the two.

 

According to the geometry charts, the Vista has a marginally higher stack compared to the LS (588mm vs 585mm for a size 56) and a shorter reach (386mm vs 392mm), which would confirm the LS’s slightly more long-and-low racy stance.

The head tube angles and trail figures are similar for the two, and are only marginally slacker than the O2, placing the LS firmly in aggressive, race bike territory, rather than the steady and stable territory of many gravel bikes.

From the side, the new Factor LS looks more like the O2 than the Vista or One. It has eschewed the external fork steerer and internal cable routing of the Vista and One, no doubt for reasons of weight and practicality, and the tube shapes are less boxy and angular.

 

A subtle cut-out in the seat tube allows the rear wheel to be moved closer to the bottom bracket in order to maintain the sharper handling that comes with a shorter wheelbase.

The seatpost is a standard skinny 27.2mm, and the seatstays have been dropped lower than on the O2 with a view to offering more flex at the seat tube while maintaining stiffness in the rear triangle.

 

Why is it called the LS?

Factor owner Rob Gitelis explains the thinking behind the name, and the ethos behind the bike:

‘Stepping into the gravel scene with the LS, I chose to name the bike after someone who lived the ethos of gravel long before gravel became popular. Larry Shahboz put me on my first race bike and gave me my first job at a bike shop. He welcomed and created a space for other “misfits” who loved bikes, and supported a long list of up and coming athletes.

‘Gravel is founded in the principle of community and welcoming all, even as it becomes an authority in racing. Larry created a community in the South Florida cycling scene, simply through his love of cycling. While he may not be here to witness the emergence of the welcoming gravel scene, I know he would have fully embraced and loved its core values based in community.’

It seems likely that the Factor LS will be targeted mainly at that growing band of riders competing in gravel races such as the Dirty Kanza in the USA or Dirty Reiver event in the UK.

It is designed for speed on the trails rather than off-road touring, although it is equipped to be able handle both.

The Factor LS is available to order online now at factorbikes.com.

Price: 
Frameset from £2,650