It looks like Israel – Premier Tech riders are racing on a new version of Factor’s lightweight O2 VAM road bike – with an incredibly slim top tube, an external seatpost, and perhaps even aero tubing – in the Tour de France. We’re expecting it to be released officially next week.
Australia’s Simon Clarke stuck a pic of himself and the new bike on Instagram. It has an O2 decal on the chainstay and VAM written on the top tube but this certainly isn’t the currently available version of the Factor O2 VAM that was launched in 2020.
We know that Factor plans to launch a new road bike on Monday (10th July 2023) because of this picture we took at the recent Eurobike show…
You don’t need to be Hercule Poirot to put two and two together here and say that the O2 VAM is the new bike that’s being launched next week.
Here’s a picture of the same bike being ridden by Israel – Premier Tech’s Michael Woods at the team presentation prior to the start of the Tour in Bilbao (hence the headgear).
This pic and main pic: © Zac WiLLIAMS SWpix.com (t/a Photography Hub Ltd)
And this Tweet shows the bike again...
— Israel – Premier Tech (@IsraelPremTech) June 29, 2023
Unlike the current Factor O2 VAM, the version being ridden by Israel – Premier Tech appears to have an external seatpost/mast that fits over the top of an extended seat tube. That means there’s no longer any need for an internal wedge-type seat post clamp.
For comparison, this is the existing version of the Factor O2 VAM
The top tube also tapers as it extends backwards, looking almost flat by the time it reaches the seat tube. We guess – and it is a guess – that the idea is to allow a degree of compliance.
The new model also has dropped seatstays – the junction with the seat tube is far lower than the top tube junction. Brands usually do this either to improve comfort by allowing a little more flex in the seat tube, or to reduce the frontal area of the bike slightly for increased aero efficiency. The seatstays in question are extremely skinny.
It’s hard to discern tube shapes from these shots with any degree of certainty but it looks like the down tube is squared off at the back of its profile making us wonder whether Factor has had half an eye on aerodynamics in this redesign.
The O2 VAM has always been about achieving a light weight so we don’t imagine for a moment that Factor has taken its focus away from that, especially when you look at the seatstays mentioned above and the super-slim fork legs.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a huge move to combine low weight with aero efficiency. Aero bikes like Giant’s Propel have been lightened, lightweight bikes like the Trek Emonda have been aero-ified (of course it’s a word!). We suspect that’s what’s going on here. Even if we didn’t have the pictures, that’s what we’d expect simply because it’s such a huge trend.
It looks like we’ll only have to wait until Monday to find out for sure.