The bike industry isn’t known for holding back with bold marketing slogans and presentations of new products. But the two dozen French-Canadians behind Faction Bike Studio are practically invisible, even though they’re the ones creating the bikes we’ll be celebrating in five years from now! Who are these makers moving in the shadows?

We’re in the middle of a bike boom and the bike market is moving like never before. Manufacturers are working under high pressure as they’re developing innovative products, in some cases opening up completely new sectors while simultaneously struggling with shortages. So much growth happening all at once is an enormous challenge for brands and a perfect opportunity for development service providers like Faction Bike Studio to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. But how exactly do they help brands and how important is it for the finished bike? We spoke to the team at Faction to find out how this crew has been shaping the future of our bikes for the past ten years while keeping to the shadows.

A look into the future! Together with the brands we love, Faction Bike Studio create the bikes of tomorrow – and remain almost invisible while doing so.

The bikes of tomorrow

Faction Bike Studio live in the future. Between two and five years in the future to be precise. This is the time it takes for the projects that the Canadian team are working on today to ultimately come to market. For a long time before founding Faction Bike Studio together with industrial designer Martin Portelance in 2010, company boss Erick Auger headed research and development as well as marketing at Devinci. Now in their eleventh year, Faction can look back at more than 300 completed projects and the team, based in Granby in the French-speaking east of Canada, currently works with around 80 bicycle brands. This also includes one of your absolute favourite brands, as we know from our annual reader survey of 28,500 participants. But what exactly is it that Faction do and what is the difference between a bicycle brand, developer, and manufacturer?

“We present our customers with a lot of ideas.” This is how Faction flippantly summarise what they do. In fact, the services they offer are diverse and vary greatly depending on the customers’ needs. In principle, Faction offer mountain bike brands their tailor-made services along the entire value chain, from the first sketch of a new frame to product marketing. The areas in which they cooperate depends on the case of each individual customer. A brand that has just entered the bicycle market has different needs compared to an established brand that wants to refine a proven product in its eighth generation.

In a team of around twenty people based in Granby, Quebec, Faction work on the bikes of the future.

The silent experts at the side of bike brands

To make one thing clear, there aren’t many bike brands that create their bikes all by themselves as most of them work together with professional partners. We all know that the majority of frames are made by third-party manufacturers in Asia. But brands don’t just rely on third-party contractors when going to production with welding machines or carbon ovens but also when toying with the very first ideas for a new bike. Development service providers such as Faction Bike Studio support brands with the market analysis, design and engineering of a bike. This collaboration often takes several years before the bikes actually make it to mass-production and ultimately the trails.

That’s not to mean your bike was entirely developed by a completely different company. Your favourite brand is still rightly your favourite brand, with its very own style and character! Ultimately, the fact that third-party developers support brands is very good for us riders! Imagine young backyard tinkerers that don’t yet have their own premises and facilities to professionally test their new frame designs. Thanks to an external service provider such as Faction, small fries like these can have access to the research and development needed to refine their bicycles and get them to a stage where they’re ready for production. That way, even small boutique brands can enter the market with a well-engineered bike, one that gets you pumped on the trails and can take on the established brands! You shouldn’t confuse the support from development service providers such as Faction Bike Studio with the white label products that are common amongst fast-moving consumer goods. They don’t simply order something from a catalogue, slap on the logo, come up with a clever marketing slogan and put it on the shelf.

Where were the ideas for your bike born? Some of them might have come from Granby, Canada!

Development service providers are equally important for large brands. Some of them bring so many new models onto the market every year that the capacities of their own engineers aren’t enough for the final design. So they work together with developers to iron out their ideas and bring them to you as completed bikes just in time for the new season.

A brand might also be breaking new technological ground, as was the case recently with many brands in the eMTB sector. Here too, established brands can benefit from the specialist knowledge of third-party service providers. Often, these will have already dealt with the trend and identified specific requirements and niches. Thanks to the external developers’ findings, brands aren’t left to themselves to figure out which concepts are promising and which aren’t and whether they suit their brand identity, thereby speeding up the development process. So, service providers like Faction are an invaluable port of call for bicycle brands when their own capacities aren’t sufficient to bring all of their ideas to market.

It takes a lot of development and testing before a bike can fly over the trails like this, which is one of the ways Faction can support brands.

From the first sketch to marketing

One of Faction’s core services is research and development. How progressive should the kinematics of the rear suspension be? Where does the frame have to be stiff and how stiff should it be to offer the desired characteristics? What influence does that have on the rest of the construction? For questions like these, the Canadian company’s team of experts claim to have the experience and technological know-how to carry out finite element analyses or push real components to their limits in the test lab, for example. The results can be used to improve or accelerate the development of a design or make an idea possible in the first place.

The Faction team working on a prototype.

Product design

The design of a product is closely related to technological solutions. If necessary, Faction can help their customers here, too. Will a bottle still fit in the frame with the planned shock mount? Is that even important to my target group? It’s crucial for the success of a brand that it has a clear picture of itself, its identity and its target group, and that it develops suitable products that align with all of the above.


Perhaps the most exciting service offered by Faction happens long before a component is even constructed: marketing! Sounds simple? We’ve repeatedly observed that marketing in the bike industry is primarily understood as one-way communication directed towards customers with the sole aim to sell more products. However, real marketing works both ways. What needs will a target group have in two, three or five years? And which product will then be relevant for them? It’s tempting for brands to base new developments primarily on their own convictions and views but only those who also ask these difficult questions can remain relevant in the long term.

What needs will riders have in three years? Marketing means more than just selling your products!

That’s why we’re so appreciative that more than 50,000 of our readers take the time to complete our annual reader surveys across all our magazines! It’s only thanks to your feedback that we and every industry stakeholder can assess what our target group really needs and wants and where we can improve.


Another service from Faction is the so-called rapid prototyping. The Canadian company uses straight aluminium tubes and 3D-printed lugs to build prototype frames that you can actually ride, in just six weeks. New geometries or rear-end kinematics can be tested and assessed on the trail. This gives manufacturers the opportunity to test and validate daring ideas without too much risk.

Straight tubes and 3D-printed or machined lugs allow Faction to quickly test out new ideas on the trail.
Looks finished, can ride – but it’s just a prototype. You’ll never see this bike looking like this on a shop floor.

Above all, what brands need to bring to the table for a successful collaboration with Faction is a clear idea of their target group and brand identity. Not every brand can be successful with every product. How much would the die-hard bike park dudes among you celebrate a new downhill bike from a brand that, until now, has only been known for its lightweight XC bikes? Therefore, the product must be credible and match the brand identity, the latter of which Faction can’t change. However, there is still room for new ideas and brands even in the hotly contested bike industry, as long as they strike a nerve and the right target group. In this context, Faction certainly can offer branding advice.

The logo that you will never see. Instead, the brand’s head tube badge will decorate the finished bike.
Brick by brick: Faction support brands along every step of the way, from the first sketch to the finished bike.

The services offered by Faction are comparable to that of external business experts. They offer specialist expertise, market knowledge, an awareness of trends and all the necessary tools to help brands with the implementation of ideas. Their medium and long-term goal is to support bicycle brands along every step of the way. In doing so, Faction don’t just tell their clients what to do and impose their own concept. Rather, a successful collaboration requires individuality and a clear brand identity. What are the brand’s existing strengths and what will it continue to stand for in the future? This is the only way to create bikes that take the next technological step while also inspiring us with their authentic character. Even if the kinematics of a bike, a clever detailed solution or its looks are the result of a cooperation with Faction, it’s rightly the brand’s logo that ultimately adorns the head tube. It is only this individuality that inspires us riders to support a brand, making brands and thus also Faction successful.

In the end, it’s your bike! For Faction, individuality and brand identity are crucial ingredients for successful cooperation.

See through trends – or kick them off

Is a current trend just a flash in the pan or is it a truly future-oriented refinement of our bikes? If so, does this approach suit the brand in question and have many other brands already positioned themselves in it? According to Faction, long travel, high pivot bikes are an example of a tempting trend that can lead brands to make mistakes. To do well in this already very limited niche, a brand needs a well-defined concept and clear added value compared to the competition. Just building another high-pivot bike because it’s trendy would be risky. It’s not just the case with niche products either. Even when there’s a clear development – such as the one towards bigger wheels – brands must justify their individual approach instead of simply jumping on the bandwagon.

Occasionally, Faction can start a trend with their own development. This happens when an innovation is implemented and brought to market by several brands simultaneously, though the brands don’t know what the other brands are doing. On the contrary, Faction’s work is purely confidential. The curtain only drops when the final product enters the market and when an innovation is presented by several brands at the same time, this just validates the idea.

How do Faction know?

The Canadian company invests heavily in anticipating developments and trends in the bike industry. But how do you predict the future? Many of Faction’s ideas stem from the kinds of discussions and debates that arise when you combine a love of bikes with engineering knowledge. Here, too, Faction have a systematic approach. To identify promising new market developments as early as possible, they search through all the relevant patents that have been recently registered. They do that every week and compare this view of the future with the data and empirical values that they receive from their clients and their clients’ customers. This forms the basis of the knowledge that Faction share with the brands they cooperate with. If they then succeed in developing the bikes of the future, that’s a success for both the brand and Faction. Win/win!

Bike nerds and engineers looking for the next big thing – Faction Bike Studio at work.

A Glimpse into the future

What are the hottest trends of tomorrow? Faction give us at least two clear answers. On the one hand, it’s lightweight eMTBs that will further blur the boundaries between human and electric power. On the other hand, you have further developments in micro mobility, i.e. bicycles and concepts such as bike sharing for urban areas. In the midst of the current bike boom, the Canadian team are looking to the future with a confident grin. They’re certain that 2022 will be another big year for the bicycle industry.

Faction Bike Studio aim to keep the bike world spinning for many years to come.

Faction Bike Studio are the invisible experts at the side of bicycle brands. The Canadian company offers a host of services for creating the bikes of the future, from market analyses, first sketches and engineering to prototypes. Together with the individual brands, Faction are already working on the bikes and innovations that are expected to shake up the bike industry in five years’ time. By the time we’re riding these bikes in 2026, Faction will already be looking at 2031.

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Words: Moritz Geisreiter Photos: Faction Bike Studio