It seems like we’ve come full circle. I remember when the 3T Exploro launched and everyone collectively lost their minds for a short time at the concept of an aero gravel bike. There have been gravel bikes since that certainly pay attention to aerodynamics, but to my mind, there hasn’t been a bike in the gravel segment that focuses so heavily on aerodynamics as the Factor Ostro Gravel. It is unashamedly a gravel race bike, so much so that it’s UCI-legal for the road.
Can something so specialist sit amongst the best gravel bikes, or even the best gravel race bikes? Well, I’m not going to tell you in this paragraph, but I think as a bike it poses some really interesting questions for the future of the segment, particularly if gravel racing and mass participation events continue to grow and reach the level of peak-fondo from six or so years ago.
Design and aesthetics
I make no bones about the fact that I am not overly enamoured with the aesthetics of the best aero road bikes. However, being a man of contradiction, I actually really like the way the Factor Ostro Gravel looks. I think this is partially because it’s one of the first of its kind, so there is something of a novelty factor (pun not intended), but I think it also has to do with the harsh juxtaposition of such a man-made object being used off-road, in a natural setting that’s just kind of cool. It’s so clearly inorganic, jagged, and focused that it commands a little more attention. It’s a bit like seeing a power station nestled somewhere beautiful; you can’t help but look at it.
Let’s talk design though, rather than me telling you what you should like the look of. It’s clear from a glance that this is a bike designed to cheat the wind. No wattage savings are claimed over the competition, and there are no predecessors to compare against either. That being said, the deep headtube, kammtail tube profiles, high bottom bracket, and dropped stays are all features common to the best aero road bikes now. The fully integrated setup, and the choice to only allow electronic groupsets, are a further nod to the high-performance aims of the Ostro Gravel.
Considering its a chunky frame it is remarkably light. A 900g claimed weight for the frame is very skinny indeed. In all honesty that’s light by road bike standards still. The full weight, with a bottle cage and pedals…
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