Factor Bikes' sole purpose is to build the fastest racing bicycles on the road, regardless of which continent those roads are on. We're such strong believers in Factor's work that we began with the 2018 Factor ONE frameset ($5,499 MSRP) and built it up with a curated selection of some of our favorite finishing kit. Rather than a stock build from Factor, the ONE SRAM Etap Complete Road Bike is an in-house build reflecting the stuff that we actually race on at Competitive Cyclist, and it's everything a racer could ask for from the roads around our office in Park City, UT, to the roads of Western Europe, where AG2R is racing a similar build.
For this build, we took the ONE's excellent chassis and added a carefully curated kit to help extract as much speed as possible while coming in at a surprising price point considering the ONE's dream bike status. SRAM's wireless electronic shifting with Cane Creek's direct-mount eeBrakes and an integrated cockpit combine with Mavic's Cosmic Carbone wheels for an all-out assault against the wind, climbs, and the peloton. The proof for that final claim is in the practice: we've spotted the new ONE frame under current Belgian national champion and AG2R La Mondiale pro Oliver Naesen as he campaigns the early season classics.
The northern classics are notorious for being difficult, both on riders and equipment. For success, a lightweight frame is essential for scaling the bergs and muurs and responding to consistent attacks. Next up, a responsive frame is required for quick maneuvers around traffic furniture, fallen riders, and the ability to confidently handle a descent so as to not give back any hard-earned seconds gained on the short, punchy climbs. And when it's time to roll in that breakaway, an aero edge that allows you to squirrel away any watts for a late attack can pay heavy dividends. Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the frame has to handle repeated cobble beatings while supplying some comfort during the 6-hour slugfest.
The ONE is able to achieve all of these characteristics due in most part by its collaboration between some big names in the cycling industry and a big name in automotive aerodynamics. The project was originally started by bf1systems, a motorsport firm that dabbled in cycling with the revolutionary (and non-race-legal) Factor 001 and Vis Vires framesets. A group of two-wheeled visionaries recognized the potential of bf1systems' designs, snapped up the Factor name and technology up, and have since translated it into race-legal framesets with the ultimate aim of sponsoring a World Tour team.
The ONE's aerodynamic benefits are of course the frame's strong suit and features are apparent to the naked eye. The vertically oriented tubes' bullet-nose face and truncated trailing edge will be no surprise to anyone staying abreast of industry advances because the shape babysits airflow from the point the frame encounters it till long after it's detached and dissipated into the wake. The abbreviated rear face is especially important for two reasons. First, it reduces the negative vacuum of trailing drag that traditional NACA tube shapes produce. Second, it doesn't turn into a destabilizing parachute when crosswinds and road conditions shift the yaw angle outside of a NACA profile's near-zero comfort zone.
Then there's obviously the One Total Integration System (OTIS) front end. OTIS enjoys the benefits of presenting a minimal face to the wind (it's practically two-dimensional head-on) and—with the inclusion of an external fairing that rotates with the fork and bars, it disturbs the air as little as possible. These features are designed to work in cahoots with the bifurcated downtube in order to take full advantage of the peculiar design, and without both elements, the significant claims of reduction in air resistance are void. The OTIS's integrated Evo bar/stem combo also does its part, increasing stiffness, boosting the frame's aerodynamic benefits yet further, and actually managing to reduce frontal surface area when compared to the Vis Vires.
The frame's aerodynamic features extend to such subtleties as a hidden seatpost clamp, wide-stance seatstays, internal cable routing (for electronic drivetrains only), and the inclusion of the aero OTIS Evo integrated stem/bar unit designed to work as part of a drag-reduction system with frame and rider. And even though these wind-cheating features are typical of an out and out high-end aerodynamic road frames, given that Naesen chooses this set up even though he has access to the brand's O2, proves that it's also an excellent all-arounder.
The fact that the aerodynamics don't come at the cost of comfort is a surprise, though. While the ONE isn't as buttery smooth as a classic, lugged steel frame it does transmit a lot less harshness than the non-traditional tube shapes and seatpost would suggest. We feel this is in most part to do with the EM2 RGi carbon lay-up. Given that one of Factor's co-owners has a 15+ year pedigree producing carbon frames for an impressive list of boutique brands, we suspect the latter might play a significant role. The ONE's EM2 RGicarbon construction involves three different carbon moduli that balance the vibration damping and durable compliance of lower and middle moduli with the unyielding stiffness of Pitch Fibre, a material that is as unabashedly stiff and light as its name are unabashedly British.
Factor isn't shy about claiming that Pitch Fibre is the lightest, stiffest material that can be shaped into a bike frame, so you might assume three things here: 1) Pitch Fibre is extremely difficult to work with, 2) it's very expensive, and 3) Factor jealously guards the exact details of its lay-up schedule. You'd be correct on all counts. The one insight Factor gives into its process is the use of a program called Fibersim, which Factor uses to "ensure that we put the waste into the garbage can and not into the frame." Fibersim helps the brand keep material to a minimum, resulting in fabric cuts and construction so discerningly meticulous that the process rates at the tippy-top end of luxury, a theme that's also reflected in finishing details like a Ceramic Speed bottom bracket.
Finally, though Factor typically builds its bikes with AG2R-sponsor Shimano drivetrains, we've taken the opportunity to paint this canvas with a wide swathe of SRAM Red eTap. This includes the wireless functionality mentioned above, and pairs it with the oh so light yet very powerful eeBrakes Direct Mount calipers. SRAM did just release its first Direct Mount brakes, however, it isn't under the Red group designation so it doesn't receive quite the material and performance treatment we felt represented the rest of the build. Mavic's Cosmic Carbon wheels are another nod to all-around versatility, as the rim aerodynamics work with the frame's aero shapes to provide a sustainable advantage in every scenario except the steepest of climbs.
- An aero road racing bike from the industry's newest giant
- Stiffness and aerodynamics excels on climbs and flats
- Aerodynamic design with European auto racing pedigree
- Evo carbon bar and stem keep the cockpit aerodynamic
- One carbon aero seatpost and integrated clamp cheat the wind
- Mavic race wheels and eTap shifting mean no upgrades are necessary
- eeBrakes direct mount caliper ensure powerful braking
- Generous frame clearance accommodates up to 28mm tires