Tech round up: Factor Ostro VAM Oceanic Edition, absoluteBlack Graphenpads, PRO Vibe Superlight cockpit and Bollé Eco React MIPS helmet... plus Le Col's new flagship Pro Aero Bib Shorts

A bike to raise awareness of ocean pollution, copper-free brakes pads, an eco helmet, some featherweight handlebars and Le Col's most aero (and expensive) shorts

Tech products released in the week ending Sept 16 2022
(Image credit: Factor / PRO / Bollé / absoluteBLACK)

In the bike industry it appears ‘sustainability’ is slowly becoming less a buzzword and more a lasting goal. Of course there is a huge amount of work to be done but if three of the products here are anything to go by then progress is being made.

Professional bike racer and sailor Isabella Bertold has teamed up with Factor to create a custom bike for her charity ride to highlight the ongoing issue of ocean pollution, with another bike up for grabs to raise money for the cause. Meanwhile absoluteBLACK and Bollé are challenging conventional methods to create disc brake pads and helmets that do less harm to the environment. 

Special Edition Factor Ostro Vam auction raises awareness of ocean pollution

Factor Ostro VAM Oceanic Edition ridden in a charity ride for OceanWise

(Image credit: Ben Broomfield)

The Factor Ostro VAM Ocenaic Edition is no ordinary bike. Not only does the top-of-the-line custom race machine sport a stunning paint job that represents the flow and movement of the sea, it’s also at the heart of a charitable effort to shed light on ocean pollution. 

That there is reportedly now more plastic in the oceans than fish is as astounding as it is alarming. As both a professional cyclist and sailor Isabella Bertold saw the journey of our rubbish from source to sea.

“When I was racing on the Olympic circuit in sailing, I don't know if I was aware of the impact I had while racing,” she says. “I noticed trash in the water, but didn't appreciate how my equipment, travel, and everyday purchases contributed to the waste I was seeing in the water. Now that I have a better understanding of the issue, it's hard not to notice trash on the side of the road while riding - and it's that trash that ultimately ends up in the ocean." 

Factor Ostro VAM Oceanic Edition ridden by Isabell Bertold to raise money for OceanWise

(Image credit: Robin Van Eeckr )

To raise awareness as well as money for OceanWise - who deliver applications, services and tools that enable safer and smarter management of marine operations - Bertold is cycling for six days between SailGP venues, starting at San Tropez and finishing in Cadiz.

Bertold, who splits her season riding for the InstaFund Pro Cycling as well as working as one of the strategists for the Canada SailGP Team, will be riding the special edition Factor Ostro VAM Oceanic, complete with wheels and finishing kit from sister company Black Inc.  As part of her charity effort, another bike is being auctioned off, with the highest bidder able to enjoy the Oceanic edition Factor Ostro in the size of their choosing. 

To place a bid on the Factor bike visit (opens in new tab)

For more information on Isabella Bertold’s Ride for the Ocean visit (opens in new tab)

absoulteBLACK's new disc brake pads are copper-free and cool...

absoulteBLACK's new disc brake pads are free from toxic copper dust that's harmful to aquatic life

(Image credit: absoluteBLACK)

While brake pads are an undeniably critical component, they aren’t typically a particularly interesting - or indeed sexy - one. Until now, perhaps.

On first impression absoluteBlack’s new GRAPHENpads certainly stand out from the crowd. The cooling fin structure looks almost ornate in comparison to the modern aesthetic of the Shimano equivalent - more Lord of the Rings, less Blade Runner. The patented angle radiator fins, according to absoluteBLACK, increase airflow as well as radiating heat away from the pad and back plate.

The brand, known for its oval chainrings, has been developing the pads for three years and now claims that results show it was able to reduce disc pad and rotor temperature by up to 35% compared to its competitors and to “completely eliminate brake fading”.

Just as important as the cooling fin is the make-up of the pad itself. GRAPHENpads are currently the only brake pads to have eliminated the use of copper dust, which is proven to be harmful to aquatic life. The state of California has issued a recent regulation to ban the use of toxic copper by 2025, so absoluteBlack are well ahead of the curve.

Produced entirely in the EU, the pads make other bold performance claims, including more power, better modulation and faster stopping, which absoluteBLACK believe translates to less hand fatigue, which on long, slippery descents can be an issue. 

The pads are available for both Shimano and SRAM disc brakes and retail at £49.99 a pair.

For more information visit

PRO's lightest cockpit gets lighter...

PRO's latest Vibe Superlight handlebars weigh just 154 grams

(Image credit: PRO)

While the advent of super aero framesets and disc brakes may suggest that modern race bikes are no longer quite as obsessed with weight as they once were, it's reassuring to know that some brands are still happy to pursue the ongoing quest to make already light things even lighter.

PRO’s Vibe Superlight range first hit the shelves in 2019 with the handlebars, stem and other bits fortunately living up to their name. Its latest line-up keeps the moniker but manages to make further weight saving; according to PRO as a cockpit the latest bars and stems are 75 grams lighter than their predecessors.

The handlebars, in the 38cm width, now tip the scales at just 154g, making it the lightest bar PRO has ever made. It comes in three sizes: 38cm, 40cm and 42cm.

As is always the way, the reduced weight has increased the price from £299.99 to £379.99

The material is UD T1100 carbon, which includes Innegra fibres, for improved resistance against impacts. As for the shape, the bars feature oversized rounded tops designed for comfort and ergonomics alongside a shallow drop and short reach (130mm and 80mm respectively). Available in three widths, from 38mm to 42mm, they’re also fully compatible with Shimano Di2 internal cable routing. 

PRO Vibe Superlight stem is made from alloy and weighs under 100 grams

(Image credit: PRO)

The matching Vibe Superlight stem is equally svelte. Made from 7075 alloy it’s available in lengths 70mm to 120mm and weighs 92 grams in its shortest version. When combined with the bars it allows for a fully integrated cable routing on compatible bikes as well as working with older frames with more traditional external routing. The cockpit is completed with the PRO Gap Cap carbon expander, which at 24 grams is 16 grams less than its previous lightest expander.

 The Vibe Superlight Bar retails at £379.99, the Vibe Superlight Stem £159.99 and the Gap Cap Expander £29.99.

The Vibe Superlight range also features a computer mount and compact carbon clip-on extensions aimed at ultra-endurance riders and short-distance triathletes. 

For more information visit (opens in new tab)

Bollé 'challenges' traditions in pursuit of a more sustainable bike helmet

Bollé's new Eco React helemt uses natural and recycled materials

(Image credit: Bollé)

While Isabella Bertold and her custom Factor Ostro are shining a light on plastic in the sea, Bollé, like absoluteBLACK, are looking to make a cleaner product in-house.

The new Eco React MIPS helmet, according to Bollé, is “challenging the traditional way to make helmets.” It does this, it says, by replacing plastic and petroleum products where it can with organic material. Cork has been added to the traditional EPS protection and natural fibres, including cotton webbing and bamboo fibre lining are also used. Where plastic is still necessary, such as the helmet’s shell, Bollé is using 40% recycled material.

Additional safety measures come courtesy of MIPS integrated with a ‘Click-to-Fit’ system, that’s made from eco-nylon and offers the user a “completely customisable” fit, according to Bollé. The React helmet also comes with a removable cap, again made from 100% recycled materials, which features reflective edging for low-light conditions. 

The Eco React helmet comes in three sizes - S,M and L - and retails for £140.

For more information visit (opens in new tab)

Le Col launches its most aero bib shorts yet

Cyclist wearing Le Col Pro Aero Bib Shorts

(Image credit: Le Col)

British brand Le Col has launched the Pro Aero Bib Shorts, completing its flagship Pro Aero range that comprises short-sleeve and long-sleeve jerseys, socks and mitts.

According to Le Col the new shorts, which are its only bibs breaking the £200 barrier at £210/$250, are "for speed training, racing and the fastest rides possible... engineered to deliver maximum speed and acceleration with minimum weight."

Le Col says the shorts have been developed using learnings from the McLaren wind tunnel tests and pro team insights and that they aim to deliver the best results in aero efficiency. 

We tested some of the Le Col x McLaren Project Aero kit at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub (opens in new tab) last year and found the long-sleeve jersey and regular non-aero bib shorts were faster than a standard club Bioracer skinsuit.

At the time Le Col's Yanto Barker told CW that it was difficult to create aero shorts that delivered a real improvement - which is why none were offered in that range - so we'll be interested to find out what sort of savings these new shorts can supply.

The Pro Aero shorts are made from "technically advanced Italian fabrics [and] prioritise muscle compression, while the bonded bib straps offer a low profile and flat finish to increase comfort for the rider and provide a sleek and aero fit."

There are "specially selected silicone leg grippers and laser cut legs" which Le Col says work further to optimise speed and stabilisation as well as an Italian pro performance pad that "delivers targeted support to riders, as well as unparalleled comfort on the bike." 

We have a pair coming in for review, so watch this space.

For more information visit (opens in new tab)

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Freelance writer

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for twenty five years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He has been a cycling enthusiast from an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a keen follower of bike racing to this day as well an regular road and gravel rider.