For 2023, our team riders made the move to the recently released Factor Lando XC full-suspension frames. The bikes were released in 2022, one of two mountain bikes that Factor have designed and built. Given their place in the high end road, gravel and triathlon markets, it is no surprise that both the Factor Lando XC (full-suspension) and Lando HT (hardtail) are targeted at endurance mountain bikers – a logical step for any current Factor owners who are dirt-curious.
Team rider Imogen Smith is embarking on a three month racing and adventure trip, including SIngletrack 6 in Canada, the Breck Epic in the USA and the Appenninica MTB Stage Race in Italy, plus a week bikepacking in Japan. It’s a pretty varied trip. As such, her bike has been setup to be reliable, especially with 3 week-long stage races in the mix.
The Factor Lando XC frame
This fresh full-carbon frame is the heart and soul of Imogen’s new (built in March) bike. Imogen rides the medium frame size, with 115mm of travel via a custom built Fox DPS EVOL 190×45 rear shock. It has a push to unlock 2-position damper, using a remote lock out.
The frame has a huge downtube that goes straight from the head tube, hence there is a rubber bumper attached to the frame to stop the fork crown. There’s also a roost guard on the underside of the downtube. The huge main pivot sits forward of the chainring, and is also the lower mount for the rear shock. The swingarm assembly uses a flexstay setup and UDH, and the rear brake is flat mount.
The frame has a mount on the downtube for a bottle cage, plus an accessory mount under the top tube. Imogen can nestle two bottles in the mainframe thanks to this, although the top cage needs to have a very strong grip. There is also a mounting point for a top tube bag behind the stem.
The cable outer/hoses enter the front of the frame and can enter the top of the headset. It does add a little resistance to the steering, and Imogen’s dropper post takes the headset routing, while her lock out, rear derailleur outer and brake hose use the ports at the head tube. There are no port plugs to secure the outers/hoses, so some heat shrink has been used to help dampen them a little.
Given the custom rear shock has slightly different dimensions for the lockout cable stop compared to the stock DT Swiss unit, the frame plug to prevent water ingress doesn’t fit. It’s not pretty, but silicone has been used to plug the hole – it’s easy to remove and replace.
The frame uses a T47 CeramicSpeed bottom bracket, and there’s a nifty guard to keep rocks and grime out of the lower pivot point. The swing arm can take 2.4″ tyres.
‘The Factor Lando XC is a real race-ready weapon,’ Imogen has said, after spending the past few months on it. ‘It’s an aggressive climbing machine which is perfect for me – I love to climb, and I love to ride hard on climbing courses. I’ve been training hard on this bike for a few months now, along with a few races; I have really bonded with it. So I’m looking forward to taking the bike and getting out of my comfort zone.’
Drivetrain choices for the Factor Lando
Imogen has her Shimano XTR M9100 12-speed group set fitted onto this frame. It’s actually the same group set as she used 4 years ago in 2019. Imogen is currently using a 34t XTR chain ring on the MT900 cranks. She also uses an XTR 10-51 cassette on race wheels, and an XT 10-51 cassette when training. The chain is XTR, using Ride Mechanic Bike Syrup chain lube.
Imogen does have a Ceramic Speed OSPW setup, which is a nice match to the Ceramic Speed SLT headset bearings, frame bearings and the Ceramic Speed T47 bottom bracket. Imogen’s Black Inc Twenty Seven wheels also use Ceramic Speed bearings.
Imogen uses a Shimano XTR shifter, using the iSpec EV mount on the XTR Race Brake levers. Gripds are KCNC foam, held on by spray glue.
Brakes, as noted, are Shimano XTR M9100, which are the 2-piston models. Imogen uses a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear. These are centrelock. Metal pads are a preference for stage races.
Imogen uses Shimano XTR Race pedals. This pair has been freshly serviced to look after the teeny tiny bearings.
‘I love the gear range with Shimano 12-speed. I can run a 34t ring and be fine with it. It is a super reliabvle group set and that’s great for me with 3 months of continual travel. It’s reassuring to know I have one of the most reliable drivetrains in the business,’ says Imogen on the Shimano XTR group set. ‘It means I feel confident taking this bike to all the wild trails I’ll be tackling.’
Suspension on the Factor Lando XC
The Factor Lando XC can be run at 115mm with a 190x45mm shock, or 100mm with a 190x40mm shock. Our team runs the former for 115mm of travel. Imogen matches this with her Fox 34 SC fork, 120mm, with 44mm offset. Factor runs 51mm offset on their stock builds, but we feel the 44mm works better.
Imogen uses two volume spacers in the fork, and runs 55psi, and 125psi in the rear shock. Both fork and shock use a Fox below the bar remote lock out, with a push to unlock 2-position setup. Imogen runs an under bar Shimano dropper remote for the Fox Transfer SL dropper post (100mm). It might look jumbled, but the ergonomics is very similar to a thumb-thumb system on a shifter.
In terms of the setup, Imogen isn’t looking back after moving to the 120mm Fox 34 SC in early 2022.
‘I have been working really hard on my skills,’ Imogen explains. ‘And that means I am riding harder. No matter what I have thrown my bike off, the Fox suspension hasn’t let me down. I really appreciate the extra stiffness of the Fox 34 SC, and that will be a bonus in the Rocky Mountains. I think this is the most generous and high performing suspension around.’
‘The Fox Transfer SL has a very decisive action, which feels snappy and racey to me – I love it.’
Black Inc cockpit
Imogen uses the Black Inc carbon one-piece cockpit. This model has a 60mm stem, and is cut to 720mm wide. The stem is slammed onto the bearing cover
Imogen uses a Tune Speedneedle. This one is about 90g, and you can see it has some electrical tape holding it together. With a good chamois, Imogen finds it a very comfortable saddle, and usually has one on all bikes.
Wheels and tyres
Imogen primarily rides on Black Inc Twenty Seven wheels, but for this trip she’s upping the width for stability with 2.4″ Maxxis tyres. So these are EIE Carbon rims with 30mm internal width, on fancy DT Swiss 180 hubs. They weigh approximately 1350g.
Imogen has a Maxxis Rekon 2.4″ fitted on the front, and a Rekon Race 2.35″ on the rear. This combination should be a reliable setup for Singletrack 6 and The Breck Epic. Imogen will change to a 2.4″ Rekon Race/2.4″ Aspen when she leaves North America. Each tyre has Joe’s No Flats Elite sealant, and Imogen has a Tubolight SL tyre liner in the back.
In terms of tyre pressure, Imogen typically runs around 16psi in the front and 17-18psi in the rear.
‘This is my 5th pair of EIE Carbon custom wheels. They’re always superlight and the custom builds means I can tune the spoke, hub and rim combination I want. I’ve chosen one set of tyres from Maxxis for this trip, but the races I am doing will be pretty technical and could have a wide range of tyres. So that’s why I chose Rekon/Rekon Race, to catch me for any mistakes!’
Spares are stored via a Backcountry Research strap, with a tube, tyre lever and Dynaplug Racer plug kit. Imogen has a quick link on her shifter outer near the shifter.
All about data
As an accredited coach, and with a high performance mindset, Imogen has preferred to train with power for well over a decade. She has a Stages Gen 3 power meter fitted to her Factor Lando XC – useful for training and it’s there for racing as well if the discipline suits it.
The sum of its parts
The weight? This one clocks 11.19kg as shown, with cages, pedals, Garmin mount and lots of sealant.
‘I’m really happy with the final build of my Factor Lando XC’ says Imogen. ‘I love how this bike pedals fully open, which means I can have lockout but barely use it off-road. The whole package is a dream to race and ride. There are a couple of areas where I’d like some lighter parts at times, but I know as a complete build this is exactly what suits 3 months on the road (and trails) while travelling and racing.’