FACTOR - EPISODE ONE
You’d think 20 odd years of racing would have meant I’d have collaborated on numerous bike designs and ridden countless prototypes. You’d be wrong, I’ve only collaborated on two bikes, the first was my custom-made Dave Russell* when I was 17 and the second was my MBK** TT bike when I was an amateur in France at the grand old age of 19.
My Dave Russell and I, 23yrs apart. Unfortunately I have no photos of me and my beloved MBK TT bike...
Not once as a professional did I have input on design, well actually that’s not strictly true: the Decathlon bike I rode with Cofidis was in fact a handmade custom-sized Cyfac, although beyond the sizing there was no other input. I did have one of only two custom Cervelo’s ever made, but again, that was only because it was physically impossible for me to fit their standard model so they fitted a 60cm top tube on to a 56cm frame, arguably one of the oddest looking bikes I ever rode, handled like shit as well, but it fitted. Look at the below photo, I had the longest negative stem the mechanics could find with the saddle jammed right back on the rails. Not perfect.
The end of my professional cyclist life signaled the beginning of my re-entry into life as an independently minded bike owner, I hadn’t had that option since buying my custom Dave Russell 20 years earlier (cue smallest violin in the world), so when Baden Cooke approached me about working with a new bike company where I would be able to contribute to design I was immediately interested. The fact it was a British brand with an enigmatic American owner based in Taiwan made it even more fascinating.
Over the next few articles I’m going to tell the story of Factor, and why I believe it to be the manufacturer of the best road bikes in the world, because if it wasn’t, CHPT3 wouldn’t be working with them.
*Had it rebuilt by Andy at Vintage Bike Shed and rode it at Eroica this year for the first time since 1994.
**I lived in a team house 1km from the MBK factory just outside St.Quentin in Northern France, I helped the MBK R&D department build a bike based on Chris Boardman’s bike. Chris was World Champion at the time and was the only professional using a 700c front and rear on a low-pro bike. MBK made me a replica. It was purple and gorgeous, if anybody knows where they are (they made me two) I’ll owe you a piece of my heart.