The Factor Lando XC cross-country race bike represents the brand’s first foray into mountain biking. Better known for boutique road bikes and time trial bikes, Factor felt it was the right time to address the needs of a growing market.The Lando XC is pitched at fans of cross-country racing, be that competitive local league events or stage races such as the Cape Epic.
Factor Lando XC frame and suspension
The Lando XC’s frame is laden with performance-enhancing features riders have come to expect from a modern, high-end cross-country bike. Attention has been paid to the aesthetics of the bike, with the seat clamp, rocker link with hidden hardware and rear triangle each shaped to smooth the lines of the frame. It’s designed around a 1x only drivetrain, the headset is a tapered, integrated unit and it has a T47 bottom bracket. There’s only space for one bottle cage, but extra accessory mounts are available both beneath and on top of the top tube. Out back is a SRAM universal derailleur hanger. The integrated headset uses self-lubricating bearings from CeramicSpeed.
Cable routing is fully internal, including for the lockout on the DT Swiss rear shock. The Lando XC has flex designed into the one-piece rear triangle instead of a weightier pivot with a one-piece carbon rocker driving the shock. The shock is mounted vertically and sits (roughly) parallel to the seat tube. This has been done in order to capitalise on the inherent strength and stiffness that comes courtesy of the large bottom bracket junction, allowing Factor to save weight elsewhere on the frame. Look closely and you’ll see that the lower shock mount doubles up as the main pivot, too.
Factor claims sub 100 per cent anti-squat (how much pedalling forces interact with the suspension) values in every gear. The figure sits in the low 80 per cent range at 30 per cent sag, in a bid, the brand claims, to offer supple suspension even under power in any of the cassette’s 12 gears.
Anti-rise (a measure of how much braking forces interact with the suspension) drops from almost 80 per cent to just over 60 per cent across the range of travel, which should help the rear suspension remain active under braking. The DT Swiss 232 One shock provides 115mm of rear travel, the suspension design giving roughly 13 per cent progression through its travel. This makes it well suited to air springs, arguably the most suitable shock for this type of bike.
Factor Lando XC geometry
The medium bike I tested has a 67-degree head angle, 75.5-degree effective seat tube angle (varies with frame size) and 430mm reach. While the angles might be very much up to date, the reach is shorter than the likes of the Specialized Epic and Cannondale Scalpel. The slack head angle and relatively long reach are intended to improve descending performance, while the seat angle puts the rider in an upright, centred and efficient seated pedalling position.
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.5||75.5||75.5||75.2|
|Head angle (degrees)||67||67||67||67|
|Head tube (mm)||90||95||105||117|
|Fork offset (mm)||51||51||51||51|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||40||40||40||40|
Factor Lando XC specifications
Up-front is a DT Swiss F 232 One fork with 120mm of travel. A SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain features AXS wireless shifting across a 10-52t cassette, with 175mm XX1 carbon cranks carrying a 34t chainring. Braking is via SRAM Level Ultimate brakes on 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors. Black Inc (Factor’s in-house brand) provides its one-piece Barstem, in-line seatpost and Twenty Seven wheels. The saddle is a Selle Italia Boost Superflow and the wheels are wrapped in fast-rolling Maxxis Aspen 29×2.25in Exo TR tyres.
The DT Swiss F 232 One 120mm-travel fork features up front, matched with a DT Swiss R232 One Remote shock at the rear. Both fork and shock can be controlled via the two-stage, bar-mounted remote lever, which allows you to toggle them into their mid-compression, or fully lock them out.
The headset features CeramicSpeed’s interesting SLT (Solid Lubrication Technology) system. This proprietary technology encases the bearings in an ‘oil-encapsulated solid plastic polymer’ and utilises stainless steel races to achieve a self-lubricating, corrosion-resistant and low-maintenance system. The size medium Factor Lando XC weighs 10.59kg without pedals.
Factor Lando XC ride impressions
The Lando flies up hills with aplomb. I rode the Lando XC on a range of terrain, mostly in South Wales, covering over 750km. It has accompanied me on a couple of all-day, moderate-effort exploratory rides, short timed blasts on some typical test loops, and a successful attempt to go below two hours on a well-known loop in the Brecon Beacons.
Factor Lando XC setup
I aimed for 20 per cent sag front and rear, which meant 60psi in the fork and 125psi in the shock for my 70kg kitted-up weight.
Factor Lando XC climbing performance
It would be too easy to throw superlatives at the Lando XC when it comes to climbing. Whether it be steep, feature-laden tech trails or pure-power lengthy drags, it just flies. The low-weight, purposeful seated position and fast-rolling tyres all point to a sprightly ride, but it takes a few extra ingredients to make a truly fast bike. Factor has nothing to worry about there though; with the shocks in their middle compression setting, the back end hooks up surprisingly well given the sparse tread on the Maxxis Aspens. Even on wet rocks, damp roots and mud-splattered hardpack, I found traction plentiful.
Back-to-back efforts on the same climb revealed interesting comparisons between the fully open and half-closed suspension positions too; on looser sections where adding power can cause the half locked-out rear end to skip, the open setting allowed traction to regain faster. Some low-cadence, high-power situations caused a little suspension bob if the terrain made the suspension compress in the open setting. That’s likely a result of fairly low anti-squat numbers and the shock tune meaning the open setting has a low threshold for low-speed compression damping.
With such a short-travel bike, that was never a drastic issue and the mid setting is only the flick of a thumb away in any case, ramping compression damping up considerably. Out-of-the-saddle efforts half-locked were eye-opening, with very little bobbing. On really steep inclines, I did notice more noise from the chain/cassette in the easiest gears than I’d have normally expected. While the chainline measures an unsurprising 51mm, the chain angled more acutely when seated on the bigger sprockets than comparable bikes, which may explain the issue.
With its goal of ‘staying true to [the] brand roots of racing first’, Factor has done the right thing in this area. The Lando appears happiest when your heart rate is red-lining. Given the aggressive, racy low front end, the bike feels at its most comfortable when fighting gravity. The position isn’t so low that it’s unsustainable, however, and it’s a pretty intuitive stance to sit and tap along for considerable distances.
Factor Lando XC descending performance
The one-piece Black Inc Barstem is notably stiff. The lack of a dropper post and a low, stiff front end and near-slick tyres, can be unnerving on steeper, faster trails. In a recreational setting, that makes it enormous fun seeing what can be managed; the up-to-date angles help to keep things relatively stable. It’s comfortable getting off the ground, for instance, and in the right conditions it’s competent when the going gets steep and technical – although this is where a dropper post really would be helpful.
Black Inc’s Twenty Seven (referring to their width in millimetres, not their diameter in inches) wheels are predictably stiff, having a sizeable section carbon rim. Rip through a well-supported corner and it’s possible to make the Lando’s lightweight rear end flex and twist a little, but don’t be fooled; the bike is massively stiff where it needs to be when you’re putting the power down. That means extremely fast acceleration out of those corners, and power delivery in general is an efficient, fuss-free process.
The integrated BarStem from Black Inc offers incredible steering precision but, on longer descents, it did contribute to my hands going numb, which is far from ideal. The bar and stem might not be fully to blame though, as I struggled to get the fork to achieve full travel throughout testing. It did feel plush from the sag point through to its mid-stroke, but ramped up significantly deeper into its stroke.
The AXS gear levers provide reliable and quick shifting. It took some level of tinkering to get it to that point, including the removal of the two volume spacers it was shipped with. After some trial and error, I was left with a fork that offered decent levels of traction and support, but I never managed to make the most of the 120mm travel.
The setup guide gave a good starting point but I ended up with higher pressures on both the front and rear springs, upping them by roughly 15 per cent. The rear end feels just as plush and supportive helping the bike feel like it has more than 115mm of travel. I personally struggled to get used to the rocker paddle on the AXS gear shifter, but many of my colleagues prefer the new design to the conventional AXS lever.
However, the speed and consistency of electronic shifting is still remarkable and having that at your disposal in the context of cross-country is useful. High-speed, smooth descents are a wild experience; thanks to fast-rolling tyres and the low overall weight, going extremely fast on flowy descents requires minimal effort.
That means trying to squash rollers, attempting not to let the tyres drift too much and actually make it round corners, and giggling maniacally most of the time. The kind of rolling terrain found on many waymarked trails in the UK is another place the Lando is comfortable, the 115mm rear travel allowing the short downs to be capitalised upon to increase momentum for the inevitable switch upwards.
Black Inc’s out-front mount features a hidden GoPro attachment. Where it excels is on more natural long-distance rides, the type found in the very stage racing and marathon events Factor intends the Lando for. Those events don’t typically feature a huge amount of steeper descending, so the lack of a dropper post isn’t a massive issue.
To boot, the efficient nature of the bike and the purposeful, upright but poised seating arrangement makes medium-to-long distances a relatively comfortable undertaking while it’s still able to rip up climbs and put a grin on your face through singletrack. Should you venture into more technically demanding terrain, or take on a now fairly typical cross-country event, the Lando can, at times, feel a little nervous.
That’s not to say it can’t handle slipping down steep chutes or pinging through rock gardens, it’s just not as surefooted as some of the competition out there. This is a little frustrating, as it feels that the suspension and geometry should be capable enough, but the lack of a dropper post (even a short-travel, lightweight one) holds proceedings back somewhat. Having the option to add one at the point of sale would only help unlock even more trail potential and flow.
As it stands, the Lando’s efficient nature and purposeful riding position makes medium-to-long distances a relatively comfortable undertaking and where it feels best suited. It’s quick to react and ready to rip up any climb in sight with impressive ease, but a minor spec change would really help to widen the Lando’s capabilities that bit further and create more of a cross-country all-rounder, rather than a marathon-style specialist.
Factor Lando XC bottom line
Serious cross-country riders will find a lot to like. For the rider who enjoys races which involve as much up as down, regardless of the distance, the Factor Lando XC represents a high-end specific tool for that job. Factor has aimed it at serious cross-country racers, and those who like curly bars crossing over to mountain biking, and it will suit those riders well.
The option to add a dropper post would provide a boost to its descending capabilities and tap into the clear potential that can be seen here. The fork pressure oddity and chain line issue have held the Factor Lando XC back somewhat here, but it’s a respectable first venture into dirty bikes from a brand better known for skinny tyres.