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Factor Lando XC review – fast and focussed but easy to ride

Factor's foray into the mountain biking discipline has yielded a capable and playful machine with the contemporary geometry numbers to match

Factor Lando XC full suspension mountain bike
(Image: © Aaron Borrill)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Fast and composed but lacks a dropper and could do with a broader color selection.

Pros

  • +

    Direct handling

  • +

    Progressive suspension assembly

  • +

    Lightweight frame

  • +

    Well-appointed spec level

  • +

    Rubberized frame protection

Cons

  • -

    No dropper post

  • -

    Limited color options

With a line-up comprising a brace of off-road-specific models – namely the Vista and LS gravel bike – the Factor Lando XC represented the next logical step for the brand. Designed completely in-house over a two-year period it borrows learnings from said bikes with a special focus on creating a 'fast, lightweight mountain bike with great dynamics'. A bold end goal indeed.

But why a mountain bike? Well, Factor's ethos has always hinged around creating premium products and not pigeonholing itself into catering to a specific discipline. Factor can trace its roots back to its original design manufacturer days when founder, Rob Gitelis, produced mountain bikes for Cervelo, Santa Cruz, and Rocky Mountain so the brand has got high hopes for the Lando platform as a whole (there's also a Lando HT). 

Having already successfully dismissed the Absa Cape Epic, the world's toughest multi-stage mountain bike race, the Lando XC has all the makings of one of the best full-suspension mountain bikes. But what does this all mean for the average rider?  

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Having already successfully dismissed the Absa Cape Epic, the world's toughest multi-stage mountain bike race, the Lando XC has all the makings of one of the best full-suspension mountain bikes. But what does this all mean for the average rider?  

Design and geometry

Visually, the Factor Lando stirs interest wherever it rolls. While that might not always be for the right reasons – many don't appear to be too enamored with the paintwork pictured here – the Factor wordmark on the downtube certainly gets heads turning. The vintage blue colorway probably isn't the most complementary hue for showing off the bike's contoured form but there is a more stealthier-looking crystal-green option should it not appeal to you. It benefits from Factor's extensive knowledge of carbon fiber – which it's honed over several years making top-flight road and gravel bikes – while adhering to the geometry and suspension kinematics of contemporary mountain bike design.

It's no secret cross-country mountain biking courses have become more technical in recent years, with bikes adopting more progressive geometry numbers in order to properly cope with the difficulty levels. As a result, the Lando utilizes a 67-degree head angle and virtual 75.5-degree seat angle, which are consistent across all four available bike sizes (S, M, L, XL). The progressive geometry places the rider over the bottom bracket which helps with power delivery, not to mention boosting the frame's anti-squat properties. The frame’s split seat tube enables the use of a monobox chainstay connection for extra torsional stiffness without the need for additional pivots, something which also prevents stiction and premature shock wear. There's also a one-piece molded carbon rocker linkage that not only reduces shock side loads but helps keep weight to a minimum – the single-pivot frame weighs just 2.1kg.

In terms of reach, The Lando XC comes up shorter than many of its rivals with our medium test bike returning a reach figure of 430mm. For reference, in the same size, the Specialized Epic and Scott Spark have respective reach figures of 445 and 440mm. What this essentially does is reduce the out-front sensation exacerbated by the slackened head angle, placing the rider in a better, more controlled position over the front end of the bike.

The Lando is available in 1x only and comes with a super-handy threaded T47 bottom bracket. Developed in collaboration with CeramicSpeed, it provides a painless fitting solution and is natively compatible with DUB and Shimano 55mm chain lines.

Specification

As you'd expect from a bike of this nature, the Factor Lando XC comes laden in high-end componentry. The XC pictured here is built around a 34T, 10-52T SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS groupset, complete with SRAM Level Ultimate brakes –a proven set-up that has excelled at Cape Epic, World Cup and Olympic level.

Factor's component arm, Black Inc, has taken care of the support and rolling stock needs. As a result, the bar-stem, seatpost, and wheels bear the Black Inc moniker. The Black Inc 27 wheels weigh just 1,460g and are laced up using CeramicSpeed hubs with five-pawl engagement and chrome-nickel DT Swiss axles. They also feature a wide, 27mm internal hookless rim profile and are wrapped in 2.25in Maxxis Aspen tires, not our first-choice option for cross-country mountain biking but more on their performance a little later.

In an interesting twist, no doubt owing to stock availability, the suspension arrangement is taken care of by a remote-activated 120mm DT Swiss FT232 One fork and 115mm R232 One shock – and not the Fox bits I expected. Touchpoints come compliments of SRAM, in particular the grips, while the saddle is Selle Italia's SLR Boost Superflow X-Cross TI (145mm). 

Factor Lando XC full suspension mountain bike

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Performance

Factor has done a sterling job with the Lando. While the 67-degree head angle is pretty relaxed, the bike is still incredibly fast when it comes to accelerating and stretching its legs up the climbs. Much of this comes down to the work the company has done with the frame material and keeping weight as low as possible without affecting structural integrity. At 10.77kg, it's neither the lightest nor the heaviest in the segment. Instead, it strikes a balance between the two extremes, delivering a superlative combination of compliance and performance.

Once properly set up, the DT Swiss suspension works a treat and is a balanced and capable arrangement. I say properly set up as it's pretty tight around the rear shock - and getting a pump in there not to mention sorting rebound settings can prove difficult. The 120/115mm front/rear travel is in line with bikes such as the Scott Spark and marks a new direction for contemporary cross-country mountain bikes – binning the once de rigueur 100mm standard for what was once reserved for trail bikes. The kinematics have hit the sweet spot in terms of traction, speed and comfort, and the connection between the Lando and the trail surface is tactile and precise. The geometry has placed the rider over the bottom bracket which has helped bolster the frame's resistance to squat or pedal bob and, as a result, the bike feels incredibly responsive to pedal inputs. It is a really fast and lively machine.

The handling is top-drawer, too. Despite my initial concerns about the relatively skinny 2.25in Maxxis Aspen tires, they did a sterling job and answered everything that was asked of them. While lacking an aggressive tread pattern, the pronounced shoulder knobs provide superb grip in the dry – allowing you to put more trust in the front end so you can concentrate on stitching together corners with precision thanks to the reactive, direct steering. The same goes for the climbs.

The 1x, 34T chainring configuration is all you need in this application. You could perhaps fit a 36T if you ride to the trailhead or do a bit of gravel riding on the side but I found the 34 perfectly adept at delivering an impressive spread of gearing. Chain retention is great but it does slap around ferociously on gnarlier, more treacherous terrain. Thankfully, there's a host of rubberized frame protection measures along the chainstay and downtube.

While it comes specced sans dropper post, I didn't find this to be a deal-breaker if I'm honest – even when descending steeper sections of trail as the shorter reach allowed me to push forward and position myself so as not to disturb the weight distribution. That said, the dropper post has become standard fare in this highly competitive space and this omission is likely to affect its popularity.

Verdict

In a market comprising historically trusted brands, Factor is going to find it tough to break into what is essentially a flooded space. The Factor Lando XC has all the makings of a well-rounded cross-country mountain bike – it's fast and agile but also forgiving in technical situations thanks to the progressive geometry, something that is going to appeal to many riders. 

At $9,199 / €8,399 / £6,999, it isn't particularly cheap but the model pictured here does represent the zenith of the range. Thankfully, it can also be optioned as a frameset and those looking for something lighter can also always opt for the Lando HT, which can be specced from the factory with a Black Inc rigid fork.

The bike in question, however, is a really good first attempt by Factor at the mountain bike concept. It's more than capable out on the trail, has proven its worth at the world's toughest mountain bike stage race, the Cape Epic and comes from a lineage steeped in manufacturing excellence. While it's likely to appeal more to Factor owners – for now at least,  it won't be long before the Lando XC establishes itself as a genuine player.

Tech Spec: Factor Lando XC

  • Price: $9,199 / €8,399 / £6,999
  • Discipline: XC
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Head angle: 67-degrees
  • Size: Medium (tested)
  • Weight: 10.77kg (actual, medium without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 29x2.in
  • Suspension (front/rear): DT Swiss FT232 One fork (120mm), DT Swiss R232 One shock (115mm)
  • Components: SRAM GX Eagle AXS 10-50T 12-speed mech, shifter, chain and cassette. SRAM XX1 34T chainset. SRAM Level Ultimate with 180mm rotors. Maxxis Aspen 29 x 2.25in front and rear tires on Black Inc 27 rims with CeramicSpeed hubs. Black Inc bar/stem and seatpost. Selle Italia's SLR Boost Superflow X-Cross TI saddle.
Aaron Borrill
Aaron Borrill

Aaron is Bike Perfect's former tech editor and also the former gear editor of Bicycling magazine. He's tested thousands of bicycles all over the world. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every MTB stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. Recently, Aaron has also taken up Zwift racing and competes at the highest level of eRacing, the ZRL Premier Division.


Rides: Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg