New Factor O2 VAM - is this the most elegant bike at the Tour de France?

Israel-Premier Tech has been seen aboard the unreleased Factor O2 VAM at this year's Tour de France

Factor O2 VAM new bike side on against white background
(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

Every year, the Tour de France plays host to a plethora of new equipment releases, as brands and teams alike rally to get their riders on the latest and greatest kit. One of the big talking points this year is the all-new Factor O2 VAM.

Currently unreleased, the new edition to the brand's climbing bike range has been causing quite the stir in the peloton, and we think, it might just be the most elegant-looking bike in this year's Tour de France.

Factor O2 VAM new agaisnt white background

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

New Frameset

It is fair to say the new O2 VAM frameset has seen quite the redesign since its first release back in 2020. The new design blends a stylish mix of modern frame shapes, though with notably svelte tubes, setting it part from the aero-bike domination that the industry has seen in recent years.

This bike may not stand out against the crazy colours of Lidl-Trek's Project One team bikes, neither does it make ground-breaking aero claims of the Scott Foil released last summer, but it does look seriously classy.

Factor O2 VAM closeup of new seatpost/seatstays

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

Perhaps the most striking new design feature on the new Factor O2 VAM is the wafer-thin tapering of the top tube towards the seat post junction. This is presumably in the name of saving weight, but it certainly gives the new climbing bike a unique look.

As is commonplace on most new bikes nowadays too, Factor has dropped the seat says down from the top tube. This is usually in aid of adding some compliance to the frame, which the super skinny seat stays should also help out with.

Factor O2 VAM close up of new seatpost design

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

New for the O2 VAM is a change to the seat post design. Factor seems to have opted for a frame-integrated seat post, with a saddle clamp that sits over the top of the seat post to adjust the saddle height. This is a design which Trek uses on the Emonda, and Giant on the range-topping versions of its Propel and TCR aero and climbing bikes. respectively. 

Once again, weight is probably the main motivation here. However, unlike Trek, Factor has made the seat post into a Kammtail profile, which should improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the O2 VAM.

Factor O2 VAM closeup of head tube

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

One thing Factor seems to have left almost unchanged is the front forks. Although it does look like they have been slightly reshaped for a cleaner integration with the head tube, they remain super thin, which adds further to the bike's classic look.

New Black INC wheels

The wheels on Simon Clarke's bike also seem to be a brand new pair of hoops from Factor's in-house component brand, Black Inc. Currently they only make a 30mm set of wheels, but this shiny new looking wheelset seems to sport a 28mm front wheel depth, with a 33mm rear wheel depth.

Factor O2 VAM new black inc wheelset closeup

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

The wheels also appear to feature carbon spokes too - so these definitely seem to be an all-new lightweight wheelset from Black Inc. Tubeless valves were also spotted, so the new hoops will must also be tubeless ready.

Black Inc aero cockpit

Simon Clarke's cockpit seems to be just about the only bit of Factor engineering that we can find that is currently available to the public. Black Inc currently makes two different all-in-one cockpits, an aero offering aptly named the Black Inc Integrated Aero Bar and stem, along with a standard version.

What's interesting here though is the aero cockpit paired with a lightweight bike. This isn't exactly unheard of, but as the standard cockpit is lighter than the aero offering, it poses the question of whether Isreal-Premier Tech is having to add weight to bring the new bike up to the 6.8 kg UCI weight limit.

Factor O2 VAM close up of handlebars

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

Dura-Ace Di2 Groupset

Shimano-sponsored Isreal-Premier Tech is running the latest and greatest 12-speed R9270 Dura-Ace Di2 for the 2023 season, and Simon Clarke's new bike is no different. 

For the challenging opening stages, Clark seems to have opted for a 54/40 chainset coupled with an 11-34t cassette - pretty big gearing for the 15% ramps of the Basque country. Factor's slogan can also be seen on the chain stay, 'never status quo', which this bike, stylistically at least, lives up to.

Factor O2 VAM closeup of groupset (Simon Clarkes tour de france bike)

(Image credit: Future, Josh Croxton)

We will be keeping a keen eye on any details surrounding the new Factor O2 VAM, so stay tuned for updates when this bike, surely, is released in the near future.

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