Factor Superbike Interview: Designer Steve Domahidy speaks about innovative machine
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Factor Superbike Interview: Designer Steve Domahidy speaks about innovative machine

by Lee Rodgers at 5:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tech News
 
Production version of 001 SuperBike to launch in January

Factor Superbike“The challenge with the new Factor was to keep the innovative design elements but also keep the end price down to one that consumers could agree with,” Steve Domahidy, chief designer behind the new Factor production road bike said. “When you see the new bike at the launch in January you'll see that a lot of what we are doing is unique.”

Just over four years ago the name ‘Factor’ entered the cycling public’s consciousness when Factor 001 (pictured) appeared on the scene. The bike, with its innovative front-end design incorporating stem, forks, handlebar and computer module all as a single unit, heralded the arrival of a company quite prepared to think outside the traditional confines of bicycle engineering.

Factor itself began life as an offshoot of bf1systems, an engineering firm that works in F1 racing, amongst other areas. The 001 was intended to be a bike that would showcase the talents of bf1systems, rather than a production bike. The 001 them morphed into the Aston Martin 1-77 from Factor, a $39,000 uber-bike whose computer system offered over 100 different statistical measurements.

Only 77 of the 1-77 model were produced and there were no plans to take the bike into production, until Factor received a phone call from Steve Domahidy, the co-founder of Niner Bikes.

“I left Niner last year, after being there for seven years. It's funny, when Factor first sent out the press releases for the Factor 001 bike, I remember looking at it - this is almost 4 years ago now - and being pretty blown away by what they were doing. I knew that they had something completely unique and out of the box.

“As I was leaving Niner I kind of threw some stuff against the wall and wasn't exactly sure what my next step would be, and then I thought “I wonder what happened with that bike, the Factor 001?' I looked them up and it was still the same stuff, not much had changed, and I called them and asked if they were willing to do a production version of the 001.”

The answer was yes, but the challenges faced by Domahidy in developing the 001 into a production model were substantial. The original bike had been designed by engineers unfamiliar with the bike industry, which on the one hand was the reason the bike was so innovative and different to anything else on the market, yet also meant that there were some adjustments that needed to be made.

“The way the hubs connected to the frame made it almost impossible for quick wheel removal,” explains Domahidy. “Also the cranks, the BB system and the way they'd laid out the BB and seat tube, it was wider than it should be on a road bike. Also the handlebars and stem and computer system were all one piece of carbon fiber on the 001, which is totally cool from an aesthetic standpoint but not from a practical standpoint. People need different width bars and like different angles, and you wouldn't be able to facilitate that on the 001. Having said that, they were two years ahead of the curve on hydraulic disc brakes on a road bike.”

But what of the outrageous $39,000 price tag of the Aston Martin 1-77 version? Will the new production model (the name of which has yet to be released) be any cheaper?

“Yes. With the new bike, the objective was to continue on the path of the 001. The challenge for me with the new bike was to incorporate the integration of the original bike but to make it firstly cost effective, and secondly palatable for the rider, and to make it a race bike. I wanted something you take from the box, put the wheels on and can go race.

“The new bike is every bit as radical as the original but more down to earth. It's hard to describe as I can't really talk about it! But the new bike will have an adjustable seatpost, bars you can shift angles on and a stem unit that allows you to change the bar width.”

The bike may be ready to race but we are not going to see a ProTour team riding the new Factor any time soon, as it does not comply with the UCI regulations governing the design of competition models, something Domahidy believes is indicative of the need for change within the sport’s governing body.

“The UCI rules are so specific that there is only so much a designer can do,” he said. “Companies are less willing to develop radical road bikes as the UCI controls so many events, and I understand the need for rules because they want to make it about the rider and not the bike. In that way, there are similarities in F1. However I think the UCI has taken it a little too far and I think they are too regulatory. Carbon fibre has changed what is happening with bikes and the UCI has not adapted to that change.”

Factor’s Managing Director John Bailey is eagerly anticipating the launch of the new model. “We’ve been hard at work on this bike for almost two years, and the development has paid off. It is a breathtaking machine, and we cannot wait to show it to the public.”

Factor is due to release a statement this week regarding the new bike, and it will be on display at the London Bike Show. The 2013 Show takes place 17th – 20th January at ExCeL, London.


Below: The Aston Martin 1-77 by Factor


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