High-end, boutique bikes are everywhere. Some are steel while others are titanium. Still, others are perfecting their craft with carbon fiber — spending painstaking hours optimizing the layup schedules for the ultimate performance. Factor Bikes is a relative newcomer to those ranks and if their other bikes are as good as the new Factor O2 Disc, they are going to continue finding success.
Factor O2 Disc Features:
- RGi carbon fiber layup
- Same geometry as the O2 rim brake model
- 12mm thru axles front-and-rear
- Flat mount brakes (140 or 160mm rotors)
- Compatible with electronic groupsets only
- Easily clears 30c tires mounted to 19mm internal width rims
- BBRight bottom bracket
- Frame Weight: ~750 grams (frame)
- Complete Build Weights: 16.6 lbs (orange), 17.3 lbs (turquoise-grey) — with pedals
- MSRP: $5049 (frame, fork, seatpost, barstem, headset and bottom bracket)
Note: Originally posted as a first ride review in June 2017, it has since been updated based on a subsequent long-term experience aboard the O2 Disc after over 1000 miles in 2018.
Factor O2 Disc: Love at First (and Second) Ride
At Bike Presscamp 2017, I was re-acquainted to Factor Bikes as their transformation was progressing. Hearing the story of the brand, its origins, the owners and ambassadors painted a clear picture of where the company was heading. For 2018 and beyond, there were huge aspirations for what was now a decidedly high-end brand. At this point, with almost two full seasons at the WorldTour level behind them, Factor has seen podium spots at some of the most prestigious races in the world.
Thus far, the word on the street was positive, but at that time, the O2 Disc wasn’t even publicly available. I was anxious to get first-hand experience with the Factor O2 Disc, so arrangements were made and I got a 56cm burnt orange test bike for the afternoon.
That initial 3-hour ride in June 2017 was super-impressive. I was dancing up Royal Street in Park City and descending faster than ever. Comfort was there and responsiveness was spot-on without being twitchy. It was love at first ride and I knew that I had to circle back for a long-term affair.
Fast-forward to spring 2018 and the pieces started taking shape as a full Factor O2 Disc chassis in turquoise-grey arrived to be built up with a full Shimano Di2 Ultegra R8070 Disc groupset and a pair of Zipp 454 NSW Carbon Disc-brake wheels. The game was afoot and I was anxious to see what the next few months of riding would bring.
With several months gone by since that first dance up Royal Street, I had to get myself re-acquainted with the O2. The build was astounding and everyone at The Bike Shed was enamored by the beauty of the turquoise-grey frameset and the entire finishing kit. The latest Ultegra Di2 yields nothing to Dura-Ace in terms of performance and ergonomics (just a ~300 gram weight penalty), and the Zipp 454’s are pitched as the pinnacle of modern wheelsets.
Admittedly, I don’t have the most aggressive riding position, but with a few spacers, the Black Inc Integrated Barstem delivered a dialed-in fit that was efficient and comfortable for long ascents, curvy descents and fast rolling terrain. After a couple of break-in rides, I was eager to see just what the O2 Disc was made of.
Mountains, Meet the O2 Disc
In case you weren’t aware, Utah has mountains. And, those mountains are accessible to the population centers along the Wasatch Front. These mountain roads offer sublime tarmac for testing bikes like the Factor O2 Disc and I was hellbent to find out how well I could impersonate Romain Bardet.
First, a few loops around the valleys were in order with rolling roads and punchy walls mixed in for fun. I was again reminded why my first rides in Park City were so memorable — this bike has serious chops. Power transfer is instant and handling is responsive without being twitchy. Standing climbs make you feel like you always have another gear available and the overall ride quality is fantastic. But, The big tests came when I aimed higher — the Alpine Loop.
The full loop encompasses 40 miles with nearly 4,000 ft of elevation gain (view Strava log). Doing the loop counter-clockwise takes you up past Sundance Resort on a climb that’s regularly featured in The Tour of Utah. It’s a rough one with initial pitches that sap the legs in a constant battle to keep enough energy to last for the entirety of the hour-long ascent.
I was honestly grateful for the 11-32T cassette on this pitch with my 52/36 mid-compact chainrings. Grinding it out in the lowest gears was part of the experience, but no question, the O2 Disc was there with every pedal stroke. On this climb and others, I felt like I always had another gear left in me and could power up any climb on the menu.
Throughout the duration of my test period, the only changes I made were to swap out the Fizik Arione R1 for a PRO Stealth saddle as a test as well as going from Zipp Tangente Course R25’s to 28mm Pirelli PZero tires. Saddles are a personal preference, but going from 25 to 28mm tires makes a noticeable difference. You’ll have to decide for yourself which tire width suits your riding style, but the O2 offers all-day comfort with either configuration.
Now, onto descending. Leaning into mountain roads, the O2 really shines. As far as handling goes, I’d put it a touch more responsive than the BMC Roadmachine 01, but not as touchy as the Cannondale SuperSix. Advanced-level bike handlers will absolutely love it as the O2 tracks nicely and responds in a jiffy without getting loose at speed. Luckily, the geometry keeps everything on the stable side of things. But, at higher speeds than I’m interested in descending (45mph+), I could see it requiring an even more adept bike handler.
From my first grin-filled descent down Royal Street in Park City to long, high-speed descents down American Fork Canyon, and everything in between, the Factor O2 Disc has remained composed and ready for more than I can give. You simply won’t out-descend it.
Some Thoughts on Spec and Such
Equipped with the Zipp 454’s, I have been able to nab some very fast times on rolling terrain while experiencing little in the way of crosswind-induced handling issues. To be honest, the O2 should have something more climbing-friendly, but that’s the beauty of building your own bike — simply choose the wheelset depth that best suits your terrain.
Factor chose to use the BBRight bottom bracket standard and utilizes asymmetric tube shapes throughout the frame. From the semi-integrated Svelte fork, to the pencil-thin seat stays, the O2 Disc is a work of art that rides as well as the best superbikes on the market. Additional thought was put into things like cable routing (which has been rattle-free), an integrated seatpost wedge and classy, high-quality paint work.
While it’s not a daily occurrence, removing the axles does require the use of a 6mm allen key, so make sure your tool has the right one should you get a flat. Additionally, the frame is routed exclusively for electronic drivetrains, so kiss those cables goodbye because they won’t work here.
I will also add that while the Black Inc Integrated Barstem is great overall, should you want a standard bar/stem combo, you’ll have to figure out a way to make that happen. Some retailers may swap out the integrated unit for a standard Black Inc carbon bar and stem (but, that’s no guarantee). Also, if you’re going Di2, be sure to get the bar end junction box as the standard stem-mounted one makes for quite a cluster up front.
And, let me not forget my biggest frustration with the O2 — extreme toe overlap. It’s terrible, but you get used to it and do your best ensure your toes are out of the way during tight turns. Still, it gets me on occasion. That’s the trade-off for such a short wheelbase in a performance-oriented bike.
March 31, 2020 Update: The Factor O2 continues to shine in every way. I did make a tweak to it by swapping to the ENVE SES Aero Road Stem and ENVE Compact Road Bars. While the Black Inc. bar/stem combo is sexy and sleek, having separate bar/stem proved to make the O2 Disc even more comfortable and responsive for me.
- Stiff, responsive and predictable
- Climbs so well, you always feel like you have another gear left
- Standing efforts are rewarded
- Very comfortable and even more comfortable with bigger tires
- Those paint schemes are bonkers
- Ceramicspeed bearings are ultra-smooth
- Full Black Inc cockpit and Fizik saddle is a huge value-add
- Predictable handler on descents
- Very racy fit (good for some, but maybe not for all)
- Egregious amounts of toe overlap
- Watch that seatpost wedge when swapping posts (shaking it back out of the bottom bracket is a chore — yeah, I did that)
- I do prefer a separate bar/stem and swapped it out in early 2020
The Bottom Line: Factor O2 Disc
After an initial lovestruck afternoon aboard the O2 Disc turned into a long-term affair, this one is definitely something special. I have loved every ride aboard this bike — from hourlong ascents to rolling TT efforts and mountain curves. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an equally-beautiful frame that delivers the kind of ride quality that this one delivers. And, that complete Black Inc cockpit with Ceramicspeed headset and bottom bracket is a huge value-add — especially when stretching to fit within a budget.
Buy Now: Visit CompetitiveCyclist.com
Very few bikes have impressed me as much as the O2 Disc has. This bike rewards the rider with nimble handling, responsive climbing, confident descending and comfort beyond its category. It's expensive, but on par with other bikes in its class. You'll be able to dig deeper and the bike will always respond in kind.