Factor Bikes and Black Inc. wheels have made a massive impression in cycling and triathlon the last few years. They have a Tour de France team to boast about as well as some really Slick products for those crazy kids who like to swim, bike and run. BodyZen's Founder and Lead Coach Lee Zohlman had a chance to sit down with the owner of Factor Bikes to probe into the bike business, and what's different about Factor.
1. Rob, most people don't get a chance to hear from the actual owner of a bike company let alone a company like Factor Bikes, which is disrupting the sport. What's your background and how did you get involved with Factor?
RG; I've been in Taiwan since 1996 where I came here to work for one of the very first carbon fiber bike makers. From working at that company to owning my own a few years later. At that first company, I had the chance meeting with Gerard Vroomen and Phil White who were just starting with Cervelo. So when I started up my own company they were one of my first customers and we built out our companies together over the years. We worked for other brands like Zipp, ENVE, Santa Cruz, Trek during this time. But around 5 years ago I decided I wanted to pursue a different direction having my own brands which led me to buying Factor from the F1 company BF1 in 2016 and creating Black Inc., our wheels and component brand.
2. What two or three things make Factor unique in the market?
RG: I would say there are more than 2 or 3 but first I would say that fact that we are a manufacturer with our own factory which is very rare. You can count on one hand the amount of brands that actually produce their own bikes. Then I would say our attention to detail is much greater than most for wanting to produce what we think is the worlds best bikes. Finally, we are a company of cyclists, so we build the bikes we want to buy first and foremost.
3. You know all about making high performance bikes. Which part of the bike is the most important from a manufacturing to performance point of view?
RG: For a bike, geometry is still very overlooked and so important, not just the way it fits but also the way the wheels follow each other and the balance of the bikes as it's related to stiffness combined with geometry. There is actually quite a lot to think about and most companies can get 80-90% but it's that last 10% which really makes this difference from a good to great bike. When you ride our bikes you can immediately feel the difference.
4. Since you've travelled around the world with a bike what's your favorite place to ride?
RG: The Cycling in Taiwan is actually some of the best in the world, and one of my favorite places to ride and it's very lucky it's where I live. I also have spent quite a bit of time in Monaco, and I love the cycling in the South of France and this part of Italy. Just depends if you turn right or left when in Monaco.
5. Tell us whatever you can about your Pro Tour team, Israel Cycling Academy?
RG: We are incredibly lucky to be with such a dynamic team filled with so many nationalities and with a very clear mission of peace. We are really honored to have the opportunity to supply them with our bikes. And I think the feeling from the riders is mutual, they go on about how great the bikes are and the best they have ever ridden and I don't think they are saying this to make us happy but truly believe it.
6. What's your favorite on the bike food?
RG: You will never guess this one, but here in Taiwan we have these rice triangles that are wrapped in seaweed. You can get them at every 7-11, they have lots of carbs and taste better than any gel or bar I have ever tried. So while not in the pocket, definitely part of long ride stop.
7. What's your favorite off the bike food?
RG: I love spicy and all of the flavors that Thai food offers.
8. What's coming out new for Factor Bikes in the next year or so?
RG: We released a new Gravel bike just last week called the LS. We will have something new at the Tour de France, but I am not saying what it is. Our goal is always 2-3 new bikes per year as long as the evolution of the product makes sense.
9. If I was going on a bike holiday with a lot of mountains, which Factor is the one for me?
RG: The O2 VAM disc brake at 6.8Kg including pedals and paint for that matter (Dig at a recently released bikes from another company)
10. Anything else you want us to know?
That I am looking forward to working with Lee and supporting his athletes in the future.