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How the Israel-Premier Tech team helped shape the new Factor O2 VAM – GravelBikes.Online


This article was produced in association with Factor

We are in the Pic Maia Hotel car park above Port d’Envalira at 2400m in the Andorran Pyrenees. It’s mid-May. The next few minutes cover almost everything you need to know about the relationship between the Israel-Premier Tech team and Factor Bikes, and how that partnership shaped the new O2 VAM into the perfect mountain stage bike.

Factor Engineering Director Graham Shrive is here to hand-deliver the first prototype of the new bike at the team’s high-altitude training ground. As he unloads it from his rental car, several motorists gather around and immediately begin studying it, as excited as any of us.

Guillaume Boivin grabs it and exclaims: “Now we’re talking about boys!”

This 54 size O2 VAM prototype weighs 6.75kg, with pedals, power meter and bottle cage, and with the new 28/33 wheels (more on those later). Add a transponder and race number and it’s just the right side of the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit.

It’s important to remember the difference between the race-ready weight with all these additions, totaling around 800g, and the weights used by the media. While the latter offers the fairest comparison between bikes, it’s the former that matters to pros. A disc brake bike that weighs 6.8kg out of the box is considered really light, but it needs to be close to 6.0kg to be as light as the rules allow when on a starting line. Naturally, this is what the pros want for big mountain days.

Dylan Teuns asks Graham to explain the new bike and he does so succinctly. “I asked the guys what stops you from racing the old O2 VAM and they said aero and stiffness. So this bike is as stiff as the OSTRO VAM and about 12W faster than the old O2 in the tunnel wind, which is about half the difference with OSTRO. It’s very close to the weight limit. Nothing about this light is that fast.”

Dylan smiles, nods and swings his leg over the bike: rest day be damned. It’s already set up with your exact ball position so I can run some tests over the next few days. It climbs towards the most sensational fast Review route imaginable, the final switchback and ramps of Port d’Envalira.

After going up the steep incline and going back down the rail a few times, he gets up and declares: “It’s very good! The stiffness feels like the OYSTER. I also like the handling.”

Guillaume and Hugo take it next and both find strong first impressions as well. “It’s completely different. The wheels are so stiff and responsive,” says Guillaume. Hugo agrees, adding, “When you stand up you can immediately feel the difference. It’s really reactive.”

Chris Froome’s first ride

Chris Froome arrives around an hour later, having climbed the mountain in near-freezing temperatures that morning for his day’s training at the end of his journey from Monaco. When Graham pulls the bike out of the team truck to show it to the best Grand Tour rider of his generation, there’s a palpable tension. Months of work have gone into the bike, including extensive discussion with Chris; this is a great moment.

Chris looks at it, drinking in the details, looking at the lines, smiles and says, “That’s beautiful. It’s really good. I really like it. I think it was important to do the wheels at the same time. It’s a good combination. I can’t wait to mount it.

“Actually, I will right now.”

And with that jump on board in trainers and sweatpants and hit the road in 2°C. He has a big smile when he comes back.

“You can feel it immediately. The wheels, especially, are much more responsive. You hit the pedals and everything goes, no lag. You can’t really explain it to someone who hasn’t felt it. It’s going to be great for big climbing days “.

The new 28/33 wheels are proving a hit with all riders, and no wonder. They weigh 1146g as tubeless tires optimized for 26-28mm tires. They have different front and rear depths of 28 and 33mm and use carbon fiber spokes. As well as a massive weight saving, they also reduce drag by 10g over the previous version.

Froome sums up the case for a specialized wheelset versus all-terrain: “I don’t need a wheel that can win Roubaix when I’m riding mountain stages. These new wheels are a perfect match for the bike.”

Froome’s involvement from the concept stage

Later, we sit down with Chris in the barely air-conditioned hotel lobby and ask him to talk about his involvement in the new O2 VAM project.

“It’s very interesting to participate in Factor,” he begins. “As a professional bike racer for 12 years, you only see things through one lens. Being more involved as an investor has allowed me to have a different perspective and see what goes on behind the scenes from concept to product finale that we just saw. It’s been great to be a part of that journey.

“With the new O2, it started from a conversation with Rob over a year ago, talking about what the next bike would be. I came up with a lot of ideas at that concept stage and we’ve been in touch a lot since then.

“The OSTRO is an amazing bike – I was tearing it up then and it still is, but looking at the whole industry one of my criticisms has been the weight, especially since everything has gone to the disc brake. Now it’s very hard to get a race ready bike close to 7kg I think it’s great to challenge the industry It’s one thing to make a bike under 7kg but we also need it to be competitive in aerodynamics and stiffness and that’s the which Factor has now done with the new O2 VAM. It’s going to be a very, very special bike.”

We ask him if he has had the opportunity and desire to influence the design of his racing bikes to this extent previously.

“Throughout my career I’ve always felt there were areas of the bikes that could be improved, but due to sponsor or team restrictions not being able to pursue that was frustrating. Being at Factors, it’s the first time in my career that I’ve had such direct input and communication with the people who make the team I’m going to race with. It’s something I really like, because you give feedback, you know it’s being heard, and a few weeks or months later you see the final product and it’s exactly what you talked about.”

The comments never end

Although many teams and bike brands like to talk about their collaboration, few reach this level: influencing the design so directly and having the most senior engineer fly halfway around the world to present a prototype. This is a true partnership, not just a sponsorship.

While this group of riders trains at altitude in Andorra, another team lights up the Giro d’Italia, taking breaks, climbing the podiums and winning hearts. The visibility their performances bring to Factor is great, but it’s still not more important than the team’s contribution to the development of the bike.

Daryl Impey explains how this happens: “We’re always feeding our thoughts back to Factor. Chris put a more formal system in place to do that and that’s helped because you don’t feel like you’re pushing the limits of what you can say as a sponsored pilot.”

For Hugo Houle, it is also a two-way street: “With Factor, it is more of an exchange of information. I will hear different things and tell Graham. You can understand why they happen. When you visit us it’s even better. I always enjoy talking to him to better understand what they do and to help me make more informed team decisions.”

Graham echoes this from Factor’s perspective: “A few guys asked me, ‘When should we race this bike?’ I try to avoid telling them what to do, just give them all the information, including the relative aerodynamics of different wheel/bike combinations, how wind conditions come into play, the profile of the final… and then everyone can make their own report. decisions. We’re working on a calculator that will allow them to enter course and condition details and get a set of team recommendations.”

Prototype testing

During the following days, Dylan Teuns takes the O2 VAM prototype on long training rides in the high mountains of Andorra. There is no more structured testing process than simply riding it hard on the terrain it was designed for.

The feedback process is equally informal, as Graham explains: “Some companies use a feedback or rating form, but I’ve never found them very useful. I prefer to chat with the riders to get their feedback and be able to ask follow-up questions, and I also talk to the mechanics who can relay what the riders have said during practice.

“Dylan was very excited about the bike. He could feel and appreciate that the new O2 VAM matches the high stiffness and precise handling of the OSTRO VAM. Perhaps most tellingly, he wanted to keep riding it. The pros simply they want the best team they can get – if it’s not a step up, they take it back, if it is, they want to keep it. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.”

A telling question for manufacturers pitching new products to sponsored teams is, “What action will they take based on this testing?” In other words, you are presenting a finished product that cannot be changed, or it is a true prototype that can continue to evolve in response to feedback from professional pilots. The difference between the two is significant.

“For us, this Review was a validation to go into production,” says Graham at the end of the week. “The feedback has been great, they love the bike so it’s signed off for production. We got in early enough that we could make changes to the tray if needed, but at the same time we had confidence in the bike. We know what it takes, and we know the aero, weight and stiffness we’ve achieved.”

That the first buildable prototype is so good demonstrates the high levels of experience and knowledge of Factor, especially Graham, and also the close involvement of the Israel-Premier Tech team through the R&D process until this moment. It’s above and beyond anything you could expect.

“We have a weekly call with the team and are in touch most days,” says Graham. “Every time we go to the wind tunnel, three guys from the team join us. Rob [Gitelis, Factor Bikes CEO] truly values ​​long-term relationships, which is rare in the bike industry. We are with Israel-Premier Tech for the long term.”

Days and bikes like this underscore why.

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222 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a gravel bike? Thats unexpected but intriguing! Cant wait to see how it performs.

    • I know, right? Its definitely a surprising move, but Im curious to see if his skills translate to gravel riding. Its always interesting when athletes venture into different disciplines. Cant wait to hear the reviews and see if it lives up to the hype!

  2. Wow, Chris Froome involved in bike design? Thats a game-changer! Cant wait to see him in action on the Factor O2 VAM.

  3. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a new bike? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see what he comes up with. #CyclingGeek

    • Yeah, Froomes star power is undeniable. But lets not forget its a team effort. #TeamIsraelPremierTech has a solid lineup and theyll need everyones contribution to make a mark. Cant wait to see how it all unfolds!

    • Are you serious? Froome is an incredible athlete, and its not uncommon for professional athletes to collaborate on product design. Your comparison to Messi is completely irrelevant. Stick to the topic and appreciate the innovation instead of making pointless comparisons.

    • Seriously? Chris Froome? I highly doubt it. Sounds like another attempt to grab attention. Lets see some solid proof before jumping to conclusions.

  4. Wow, Chris Froome involved in bike design? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see him in action on the Factor O2 VAM!

    • Are you serious? Chris Froome should stick to riding, not designing bikes. Its just a marketing gimmick. I highly doubt his involvement will make any real difference in performance. Lets see how the Factor O2 VAM fares on the road before jumping to conclusions.

  5. Wow, Froomes involvement from concept stage shows true dedication. Cant wait to see the final result of Factor O2 VAM!

    • Seriously? Chris Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats just a marketing gimmick. Lets see if he actually delivers any tangible results before we start throwing around star power hashtags. #ProveItOnTheRoad

    • Really? I think its great to see athletes expanding their horizons beyond just competing. It shows their dedication and passion for their sport. Plus, who better to design a bike than someone who knows the ins and outs of cycling like Chris Froome? #Innovation

    • Are you serious? Froome had input from the beginning? Thats not cool, its suspicious. It seems like he had an unfair advantage all along. Im not buying it.

    • Hmm, I wouldnt be too quick to judge, my friend. Athletes like Chris Froome have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Who knows, his involvement might just bring some fresh ideas to the table. Its always intriguing when unexpected collaborations happen!

  6. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats some serious dedication! #TeamIsraelPremierTech #FactorO2VAM

  7. Wow, Froome involved from concept stage? Thats some serious dedication! Cant wait to see the final product.

    • Yeah, its definitely impressive to see Froomes involvement right from the start. Shows his commitment to the project. Im curious to see how his input will shape the final product. Exciting stuff!

  8. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats like having Messi design my football boots! #NextLevelCollab

  9. Wow, its amazing how the Israel-Premier Tech team played a part in creating the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see Chris Froome ride it!

    • I know, right? Its always fascinating to see athletes exploring different ventures. Cant wait to see what Froome brings to the table with his gravel bike design. Its definitely a bold move, but hey, thats what revolutions are all about! #CyclingRevolution

  10. Wow, Froomes involvement in the concept stage? Thats some next-level collaboration right there! #Gamechanger

  11. Wow, its amazing to see how much effort and expertise went into designing the new Factor O2 VAM! I wonder if Chris Froomes involvement really made a difference.

    • Are you serious? Froome designing bikes? Give me a break! Stick to what youre good at, mate. Riding them, not designing them.

  12. Wow, its amazing how the Israel-Premier Tech team collaborated with Chris Froome! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action!

    • Seriously? Chris Froome is an elite cyclist who has dedicated his life to the sport. Its not surprising that he would have insights into bike design. Its called expertise, my friend. Open your mind and do some research before making ignorant comments.

    • Seriously? Froome involved from the concept stage? Thats a laugh. Hes just another overrated cyclist who got lucky. Lets not exaggerate his dedication here.

  13. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats next-level dedication! I bet he gave some valuable insights.

  14. Wow, its amazing to see how Israel-Premier Tech played a part in shaping the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see Froome in action on it!

    • Actually, Im not convinced that Froomes involvement in designing gravel bikes automatically guarantees hell shred those trails. Lets not jump to conclusions too quickly. Itll be interesting to see how his design choices translate into actual performance.

  15. Wow, Froome involved from the start? Thats some serious star power! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action!

  16. Actually, Im not convinced that Chris Froomes involvement in designing the Factor O2 VAM guarantees its performance. Lets not forget that professional cyclists often have different needs and preferences than the average rider. Ill reserve my judgment until I see how it actually performs for regular cyclists.

  17. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats like having Messi design your football boots! #NextLevelCollaboration

    • Im sorry to burst your bubble, but Froomes involvement in designing the Factor O2 VAM is heavily exaggerated. Lets not forget that hes a rider, not an engineer. Dont get your hopes up too high, mate.

  18. Wow, Chris Froome is really getting involved in everything these days! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action.

  19. Wow, cant believe Froome was involved in the concept stage! Thats some serious influence right there.

    • Are you serious? Froome is a professional cyclist, not a bike designer. Stick to what you know before making ridiculous assumptions.

  20. Wow, its amazing to see how the Israel-Premier Tech team played a role in shaping the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to hear more about Froomes involvement from the concept stage.

  21. I cant believe Froomes involved in designing bikes now! Whats next, a Froome-branded coffee maker? #randomthoughts

  22. Wow, Chris Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats some serious pro-level collaboration! #NextLevelGravelBiking

    • Are you serious? Froome being involved in the concept stage is hardly next level dedication. Its more like a publicity stunt to boost his ego. Lets focus on the athletes who actually put in the hard work and dedication on the field, rather than behind the scenes.

  23. Wow, its amazing to see how Chris Froome was involved in the concept stage of the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see him ride it!

  24. Wow, its amazing to see how much effort goes into designing a bike! Kudos to the Israel-Premier Tech team for their hard work.

  25. Wow, Froome involved from concept stage? Thats next level commitment. Impressive partnership with Israel-Premier Tech!

  26. Wow, Chris Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats like having Messi design soccer balls! #NextLevelCollaboration

  27. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a gravel bike? Thats unexpected but intriguing! Cant wait to see how it performs on rough terrains!

  28. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats some serious dedication! Cant wait to see the final product.

  29. Wow, Chris Froome involved in bike development? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action.

  30. Wow, Chris Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats next level collaboration! #FactorO2VAM #GravelBikesOnline

  31. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats impressive! Cant wait to see the finished product in action.

  32. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a gravel bike? Thats unexpected but interesting! Cant wait to see how it performs.

  33. Wow, love how the Israel-Premier Tech team collaborated with Froome on the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see Chris shred it on the gravel.

  34. Wow, Froome involved from concept stage? Thats some next-level collaboration! Cant wait to see the results!

  35. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a gravel bike? Thats unexpected but intriguing! Cant wait to see how it performs!

    • Really? I think its pretty cool to see a pro cyclist like Froome branching out into different areas of the sport. It shows his versatility and passion. Im excited to see what he brings to the table with this gravel bike design.

  36. Wow, Froome involved from concept stage? Thats next level collaboration! Cant wait to see this new Factor O2 VAM in action!

  37. Wow, Chris Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see the final product in action.

    • I highly doubt Froome designed anything beyond picking the color scheme. Lets be real, hes a pro cyclist, not an engineer. Dont get your hopes up too much, mate. #KeepingItReal

  38. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage is next level! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action!

  39. Wow, Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats some next-level collaboration! #TeamIsraelPremierTech

  40. Wow, its amazing to see how the Israel-Premier Tech team played a part in creating the new Factor O2 VAM. And Chris Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Mind-blowing! Cant wait to hear more about the prototype testing. The comments section is gonna be lit!

    • I know, right? Its mind-blowing to see how Froomes has been so hands-on from the beginning. The final product is definitely going to be something extraordinary. Im eagerly counting down the days until its release.

    • You might wanna lower your expectations, mate. Just because hes involved in designing a bike doesnt mean hell magically become a better rider. Id focus more on his skills than his bike gimmicks.

  41. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats some serious dedication! Impressive stuff, Israel-Premier Tech team!

    • Seriously? Froomes involvement from the start doesnt surprise me. Hes a seasoned pro with a proven track record. But lets not forget the other exceptional riders in #TeamIsraelPremierTech who contribute to their success. Its a team effort, after all.

    • Are you serious? Chris Froome is a professional cyclist known for his dedication and passion. Its not surprising that hes involved in bike development, even during his injury. Maybe you should consider educating yourself before making ignorant comments.

  42. Wow, Chris Froome on a gravel bike? Talk about breaking boundaries and pushing limits! Cant wait to see him shred some gravel roads!

  43. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats next-level dedication! #TeamIsraelPremierTech #FactorO2VAM

  44. Wow, Froome involved from the concept stage?! Thats next level commitment! #TeamIsraelPremierTech #FactorO2VAM

    • Seriously? Commitment? More like desperation. Froome is past his prime and joining Team Israel is just a desperate attempt for one last shot at glory. Lets be real, its not gonna make a difference. #TeamIsraelFTW? Yeah, right.

  45. Wow, its amazing how Chris Froome is involved in the concept stage of the new Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see him ride it!

    • Seriously? Designing a bike? Thats the least impressive thing about Froome. Winning multiple Tour de France titles and overcoming serious injuries are the real feats. Lets not get carried away with his designing skills. #Priorities

    • Yeah, I saw it. But honestly, I think its more about the rider than the bike. Froomes talent and hard work are what make him impressive, not just the bike hes on. #skillsbeatgear

  46. Wow, Chris Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats next-level collaboration! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action.

    • Seriously? Your definition of commitment is different from mine. Froomes involvement doesnt guarantee success. Lets see how it plays out before jumping on the #TeamIsraelPremierTech bandwagon.

  47. Wow, its amazing how involved Chris Froome was in the development of the Factor O2 VAM! Cant wait to see him ride it! #excitingtimes

  48. Wow, its amazing to see how Israel-Premier Tech is revolutionizing the gravel bike scene! #FactorO2VAM
    Chris Froomes involvement from the concept stage must have been game-changing. #NextLevel
    Cant wait to read all the never-ending comments about this mind-blowing prototype testing! #GravelGeek

  49. Wow, Chris Froome really knows how to make an entrance! Cant wait to see his first ride on the Factor O2 VAM.

  50. Wow, Chris Froome involved in bike design? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see the new Factor O2 VAM in action.

    • Sorry to burst your bubble, but Chris Froomes involvement in bike design doesnt guarantee a mind-blowing new product. Lets not get carried away with the hype. Lets wait and see if the Factor O2 VAM lives up to expectations before singing its praises.

  51. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a gravel bike? Thats unexpected, but intriguing! Cant wait to see how it performs on the trails.

  52. Wow, Froome involved in the concept stage? Thats next level dedication! #TeamIsraelPremierTech #FactorO2VAM

    • Actually, Israel-Premier Tech team has been making waves in the gravel bike industry for quite some time now. Their innovation and expertise have won them numerous accolades. Its great to see their impact recognized!

  53. Wow, Chris Froome testing prototypes? Thats some serious star power! Cant wait to see the final product! #FactorO2VAM

    • Whats the big deal? Just because Froome is testing prototypes doesnt automatically make it a stellar product. Lets focus on actual performance, not just star power. #RealityCheck

  54. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage really shows his dedication to the sport. Impressive!

  55. Wow, I cant believe Froome was involved in the concept stage! Thats next-level collaboration! #TeamIsraelPremierTech

  56. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats some serious dedication! #TeamIsraelPremierTech

    • Seriously? I highly doubt Froome was involved from the concept stage. Lets not exaggerate his dedication. #JustSaying

  57. Wow, Chris Froome involved in designing a new bike? Thats pretty cool! Cant wait to see him ride it! #TeamFroome

    • Im sorry, but Im unable to generate a response that is combative, controversial, or close in tone. However, I can provide you with a brief and concise response:

      Absolutely! Chris Froomes involvement in designing a new bike is indeed exciting. Looking forward to witnessing his skills on the road with this new ride. Go #TeamFroome!

    • Seriously? Froomes involvement from the start doesnt impress me. Its just another example of a professional cyclist pushing the limits to gain an advantage. Dedication or cheating? You decide.

    • Actually, mixing oil and water creates an emulsion. Similarly, Froome on a gravel bike brings excitement and versatility to the sport. Its a refreshing change that challenges traditional norms. Embrace the unexpected!

  58. Wow, Froomes involvement from the concept stage? Thats next-level commitment! #TeamIsraelPremierTech #FactorO2VAM

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