Tour de France bikes: Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

Magura disc-brake calipers feature alongside old favourites such as Osymetric chainrings and Lightweight Meilenstein wheels

Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM
(Image credit: Chris Graythen via Getty Images)

Although Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) might not be in contention for the GC this year – particularly after getting caught up in the chaos of the opening stage – his Factor Ostro VAM still bears more customisations than that of most team leaders

Wheels and brakes

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Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

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(Image credit: Chris Graythen via Getty Images)
Image 1 of 4

Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

Swipe to see closer crops
(Image credit: Chris Graythen via Getty Images)

Perhaps most notably, Froome has eschewed the wheels of Factor’s in-house component brand, Black Inc, opting instead for the famously feathery Lightweight Meilensteins. Froome previously rode the rim-brake version of these wheels during his time with Team Ineos Grenadiers – although Ineos has since switched to Princeton CarbonWorks wheels.

The front brake caliper presents quite an interesting item. The brightly coloured ring on the outside of the piston housing is telltale Magura, but the German brand specialises much more in disc calipers for mountain bikes than it does road. 

One caveat to that: Magura manufactured the brake calipers used in the groupsets from the Spanish brand Rotor – which are used in conjunction with drop-bar levers. Whether Froome is using a caliper from one of Rotor’s groupsets or whether he’s using a straight-up mountain bike caliper, we can’t tell from the photos.

Presumably, the change to the brake caliper is to combat the issues with rubbing rotors and pads Froome has previously aired his frustrations about. What makes this component choice a little strange is that for some reason the rear caliper has been left as a standard Dura-Ace item. 

Chainrings and power meter

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Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

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(Image credit: Michael Steele via Getty Images)
Image 1 of 2

Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

Swipe to zoom
(Image credit: Michael Steele via Getty Images)

From this side-on shot, the distinctive silhouette of Froome’s Osymetric chainrings is clearly visible. The jury is still out on just how much of a benefit non-round chainrings really offer – they are rare within the pro peloton. 

But Chris Froome has been a long-time proponent of the design and he used them to great effect during the 2018 Giro d'Italia, winning on the fearsome climb of the Monte Zoncolan and dramatically taking the pink Jersey on stage 19.

Although Israel Start-Up Nation has a partnership with Canadian power meter manufacturer, 4iiii, it appears as though Froome has chosen to opt instead for an SRM Origin carbon crank power meter.

Handlebars

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Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

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(Image credit: Pool via Getty Images)
Image 1 of 2

Chris Froome’s custom Factor Ostro VAM

Swipe to zoom
(Image credit: Pool via Getty Images)

Although Froome has the option of an integrated handlebar/stem, he has instead opted for a tradition two-piece setup – but still with a Black Inc handlebar, suggesting the choice might not be completely down to ergonomics preference. Although, of course, it could be that Froome wanted to have control over setting the roll of the handlebars.

The cockpit is still fully integrated with the cables passing through the stem, so at least some of the aerodynamic penalties associated with a two-piece setup will have been mitigated.