Alex Dowsett reveals custom Factor Hanzo Hour Record bike ahead of tomorrow's attempt

The British rider talks through the incredibly detailed aero setup that he will use in Mexico City

Dowsett Hour Record bike
(Image credit: Alex Dowsett)

This is the Factor Hanzo bike Alex Dowsett will ride when he attempts to break the Hour Record tomorrow.

The British rider has 55.089km to beat, the distance set by Victor Campenaerts in 2019 at the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico City, which is also where Dowsett will ride.

The 33-year-old will ride a custom bike made by British brand Factor - also the sponsor of Dowsett’s road team, Israel Start-Up Nation. However, Dowsett explained in a video posted on his own YouTube channel: “This Hour Record is an individual attempt organised by [my partner] Chanel and myself. Although I’m on a Factor I could use whatever equipment I like, basically.”

Alex Dowsett Hour Record

(Image credit: Alex Dowsett)

The new Factor Hanzo is a road time trial bike which has been especially adapted for the track, with the original carbon rear triangle replaced with a titanium 3D-printed narrower version with track ends.

Of the Hanzo, Dowsett said: “It’s a phenomenal TT bike, a big step up from the Slick. We put it in a wind tunnel and it is good.”

The head tube leading into the top and down tube is a section just 15mm wide, thanks to a proprietary fork that Dowsett describes as a “bayonet system… the fork is the handlebar stack.”

Alex Dowsett Hour Record

(Image credit: Alex Dowsett)

However, he describes how fitting his AeroCoach Ascalon aerobars to the front end was one of the most difficult parts of the bike’s setup. With no aftermarket parts available since the bike is so new, the solution was a little bit heavy. “But in fact we modelled weight gain,” says Dowsett, “and found that if you were to add three or four kilos to your Hour Record package - as long as aerodynamics were uncompromised - it would cost one-third of a watt. Now when you’re trying to hold 350 watts that really is quite irrelevant.”

As for the AeroCoach bars themselves, which he says he has used on his road TT bike all season and in the Worlds last year, Dowsett claims to prefer them to the custom bars that are beginning to be used more widely.

“I don’t much like the custom stuff - custom insoles, custom bars. When they’re fitted you’re in a non-TT scenario and once they’re made, the company making them has to go to a big expense, you have to pay for them. What I prefer about the AeroCoach system is it fits me perfectly out of the box. I’ve got a one-finger hold with the option of a two finger but I’ve got just my little finger on there and it’s more than enough.”

Out of the box the bars come with a 20-degree angle but Dowsett runs shims under the pads to bring them to a 15-degree angle in line with UCI rules.

Alex Dowsett Hour Record

(Image credit: Alex Dowsett)

AeroCoach also supplies the super expensive £950 Aten gold chainring, which is claimed to be 25cm seconds per lap faster at 60kph, though Dowsett notes that “the air is less dense here and I won’t be travelling at anything like 60kph.”

The chainring is a 61t, paired with a 13t sprocket made by White Industries. The gear of 61x13 is huge - Campanaerts used 61x14 and even Chris Boardman, who still holds the ‘Ultimate’ Hour record of 56.375km set with using the now-outlawed superman position, only used 56x13.

The chainset is a power meter-equipped Rotor Aldhu unit. Dowsett explains that although power meter manufacturer 4iiii is supporting the record, it only makes a road power meter, so instead, he's using a "different" track-specific one. 

The pedals are Speedplay Zero Aero, which he says have had the seals removed, had lighter grease added and “spin like a dream.”

Dowsett's chain is an Izumi Super Toughness, which looks standard with a standard pitch. However, all the bike's bearings have been swapped for CeramicSpeeds and recharged, as with the pedals, with lighter-weight track/TT grease.

The wheels are HED Volo discs, which Dowsett says tested a little faster than the Campagnolo Ghibli discs of his former Hour Record setup, with Vittoria Pista Ora 23mm tubulars front and rear.

“There was close to b**ger all in it but the HED just edged the Campag,” said Dowsett.

Additionally, he pointed out, HED also sorted some wheels out for his dad.

Alex Dowsett Hour Record

(Image credit: Alex Dowsett)

Dowsett puts the difference down to the configuration of the Factor Hanzo’s fork and rear stays, which are set wider than those of other track bikes such as the Pinarello used by Filippo Ganna and the Argon 18 used by Ashton Lambie, both of which have fork blades that hug the wheel with very little clearance.

“I’ve got a suspicion that’s why the HED wheels are working well with this bike,” he says.

However, the Hanzo merely separates the wheel from the frame rather than lining up the fork and stays with the rider’s legs, Hope/Lotus style.

Dowsett sits on a super high-end Simmons Racing Pursuit SR1.0 saddle, which retails at $650 and weighs a claimed 100g.

Underneath the saddle is his Hammerhead Karoo 2 computer: UCI regulations ban a head unit on the bars. There’s no track-specific mount - it’s simply superglued in.

“That’s my bike - hopefully I’ll be able to do it justice,” is Dowsett’s sign-off.

The Hour Record attempt will be streamed live on Dowsett's YouTube channel, with the attempt starting at 10pm GMT. BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport app will also broadcast the challenge, with coverage starting from 21:45pm GMT.

Alex Dowsett's Hour Record Factor Hanzo
Frame and forkFactor Hanzo with custom 3D printed rear triangle
BarsAeroCoach Ascalon
ChainsetRotor Aldhu/power meter equipped
ChainringAeroCoach Aten 61t (61x13 gear)
ChainIzumi Super Toughness KAI
WheelsHED Volo
TyresVittoria Pista Ora tubular 23mm
SaddleSimmons Pursuit SR1.0
Simon Smythe
Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).


In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.


What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.


And the vital statistics:


Age: 52
Height: 178cm

Weight: 69kg