No longer a fledgling niche category, the gravel bike scene has exploded in popularity in the last few years, with two distinct sub-categories emerging from within the scene. On one hand, you have gravel bikes that are more or less as capable as a rigid XC bike, with space for huge rubber, dropper seatposts, and more bag, bottle, rack and fender mounts than you can shake a stick at. The other end of the spectrum is where the all-new Factor LS firmly sits. Lightweight, race focussed steeds that are well equipped to provide riders wanting to explore with a sense of urgency or put the hammer down across vast distances on mixed terrain.
So with a lightweight frame, optimised tyre clearance, race focussed handling and gravel race focussed stiffness, join us as we take you through six things to know about the all-new Factor LS gravel bike
1. Honouring a (Personal) Icon
Factor has a tradition of naming bikes honouring influential persons or events Rob Gitelis, Owner of Factor Bikes, journey through the cycling world. For example, the ONE is for ONE Pro Cycling, the first team Factor Bikes ever sponsored. Tying in pieces making up Factor’s history, Rob feels is part of Factor’s ‘no-BS’, genuine nature.
Stepping into the gravel scene with the LS, the brains trust at Factor chose to name the bike after someone who lived the ethos of gravel long before gravel became popular. Larry Shahboz put Rob on his first race bike and gave him his first job at a bike shop. He welcomed and created a space for other “misfits” who loved bikes and supported a long list of up and coming athletes. While he may not be here to witness the emergence of the welcoming gravel scene, Rob knows he would have fully embraced and loved its core values based in the community.
2. Optimised for the Mid-West
While Factor released the all-road ViSTA in 2017, the LS is a different beast than the endurance come gravel bike it sits alongside in the product line-up. Take one look at the material on the new bike and the focus of the bike is clear, the world’s largest gravel race.
With a frame optimised for use with 43mm tyres and both 1x and 2x front chainrings, the LS is most at home on the rolling hills and terrain found in America’s mid-west. Factor claims the tyre clearance was optimised in this way to differentiate it from “heavy pack-animal gravel bikes” and give it an edge when attacking everything from hard-packed fire roads to chunky rock-strewn gravel roads.
3. WorldTour Derived Geometry
With a geometry that is unapologetically aggressive for the category, the LS puts riders in a long and low position, further confirmation of it’s racing intent. Factor says that with the LS, the intent with the geometry was to ensure the bike has reactive handling qualities while avoiding the trade-offs other manufacturers make with accommodating larger tyre sizes.
Save for the taller stack height, longer wheelbase and fork offset, the geometry is similar to the brands’ all-around O2 race bike. In a size 56, the reach is stated at 392mm, while the wheelbase is a somewhat lively 1020mm. A 73.2º steep headtube angle upfront should make for nimble handling while a 50mm fork offset looks to add stability on the changeable terrain this bike is designed for.
4. Stiffness Where it Counts
Outfitted with an asymmetric, kinked pencil seat stays and chunky 420mm chainstays, the LS is designed to provide stiffness down low aiding in acceleration and efficiency over changeable terrain. While the LS is devoid of any smart suspension, the dropped seat stays combined with an optimised carbon lay-up are said to balance stiffness and comfort. After all the event it’s designed for can stretch up to 300 miles in length, it pays to have a bike that equal parts efficient and compliant over those sort of distances.
5. Lightweight Load Lugger
While the main focus of the LS is as a gravel racer, Factor has still designed the steed with a host of integrated featured to turn this racer into a lightweight load-lugger should you wish to. With space for three bidons, mounting points for a top-tube mounted bento bag as well as hidden fender mounts front and rear, this gravel racer is more than just a one-trick pony.
6. Pricing and Availability
The Factor LS is available exclusively through Factor direct worldwide, both as a frameset and as a complete build. Prices start at AU$4,340 for a bare frameset and AU$10,900 for a complete build. However, for accurate pricing, get in touch with Factor directly to discuss purchasing options.
Prices correct at time of publishing
Check out the wide range of Gravel Bikes on offer from leading brands and retailers across the country right here, at BikeExchange.