Factor is the new premium wheel line from the widely known wheel company Novatec. The new Factor wheels are currently only offered in carbon and have been seen on the bikes of Kyle Strait and Brian Lopes. With the input of these aggressive and highly skilled riders, we couldn’t wait to bolt these to a test bike.
The 27.5-inch Factor 327 Carbon wheels offer impressive attention to detail and a tough and burly look. The rims include 32 double-butted spokes with alloy nipples in the rear and 28 spokes in the front. The spokes and nipples are all black, except for two silver and two red nipples that sit on either side of the valve stems. This gives the rims some flair and makes spotting the valve stems easier. Factor keeps the flashiness down by using black decals that give the wheels a stealthy look. The rims are 32 millimeters deep and have a 23-millimeter internal width. The carbon used for the Factor 327 wheels is called Matrasilk and is claimed to be eight times stronger than steel. The Factor 327s come pre-wrapped with tubeless tape, and our wheelset used a 15-millimeter thru-axle and a 142×12 rear axle. With the included hub caps, the wheels can be converted to nearly any axle type easily. Most carbon wheels come with a high price tag, and these are no different at $1800 per pair.
Field test results:
Installation of these wheels was fairly straightforward. Our combination of Maxxis and WTB tires beaded up easily, even though we were only armed with a floor pump. We swapped the 10-speed freehub body for a SRAM 11-speed XD driver, and while we had the axle apart, we checked out the internals and saw how easy it would be to swap the end caps for different axle configurations. The internals also revealed a six- pawl freehub body that contributed to the high engagement of the Novatec hubs. These hubs worked well on the trails, and the higher engagement translated into more responsive pedaling. The Factor Carbon hoops felt stiff and responsive on the trail and fast and snappy in the corners. These wheels are aimed squarely at enduro and all-mountain riders who require stronger wheels that can handle the gnarliest trails, yet not feel like boat anchors when the trail points uphill. The Factor 327 wheels seemed to be a bit of overkill for normal trail riding. At 1760 grams, these wheels were heavier than the 32-spoked aluminum wheels we took off; however, the stiffness was noticeably improved with these carbon hoops. The Factor wheels offer a great hub with lots of engagement, but the hoops are more rigid than most riders want. These are exceptionally durable wheels with a slightly higher price tag than most aluminum wheels, but they offer unmatched stiffness and a carbon bling factor to go with it.
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