Endurance bikes ‘aint what they used to be. It wasn’t too long ago that jumping on an “endurance” style road bike meant accepting the spongy dynamics for the sake of acquiring a ride that was comfortable. Those days appear to be gone. Current endurance models from multiple manufacturers are shrugging off these stereotypes in favour of geometries and tubes profiles that despite being slightly more upright, still offer crisp road feel and zippy characteristics. The Look 765 fulfils this new brief neatly.
The 765 is an interesting offering from the French manufacturer. Known as the pioneers of clipless pedals, Look also led the way in carbon road frame designs, including Greg Lemond’s 1986 Tour de France winning ride. Since this time, the company has built on its culture of innovation and high-end design. Their road bikes, though, have been predominantly occupying the top end, high price tag portion of the market. The 765 marks an interesting foray into the endurance road market. With this in mind, it was intriguing to test the bike and see how it fared. The performance and ride quality did not feel like a poor compromise, but rather a well thought out and balanced mix of rigidity and comfort.
The frame certainly fits within the proverbial mould of endurance geometry. The medium frame tested here includes a 182mm head tube and relaxed 410mm chainstays. The frame delivers the positioning and dynamics that one would expect from this style of geometry: smooth reasonably plush ride with predictable, stable handling. Yet despite this, the real surprise is that the frame never feels like it is holding you back performance-wise, it is rigid enough and lively enough to keep you on your toes and give you an appropriate level of feedback from the road. This is where the real coup is, because despite the 765 appearing to offer little of the high end features of their top race frames (integration, aerodynamics, radical tube profiles), the frame actually still managed to provide a ride and performance that speaks of thoughtful design.
The Look marketing spiel would attribute some of these characteristics to the “carboflax” material, which incorporates linen fibres in strategic layers and locations during carbon layup. Look claims that these inclusions enhance the vibration damping qualities of the frame whilst generally improving performance. It is more likely that it was a convenient marketing hook on which to hang the hat of balanced performance. Regardless of whether it is hype or truth, the 765 delivers the damping and comfortable ride that the spiel promises. The frame weighs in at around 1100g; by no means a choice for the weight weenie, but neither is it overly heavy for an endurance style frame.
In addition to the well rounded performance of the 765 frame, the bike is adorned with a quality set of components. Whilst, none of the names on the specification list will light anyone’s world on fire, it is none the less quite an impressively filled list for a bike that is sub $7k. Quite often, endurance road bikes come equipped with wheels which are close to entry level. The 765 tested here, however rolls on the always trustworthy and performance oriented Mavic Ksyrium Elite alloy rims. The latest Ksyrium wheels tip the scales at a respectable 1550g despite the new model being 2mm wider than previous editions. Throughout the test, the wheels went largely unnoticed, a sign they were doing their job well. The Ultegra Di2 groupset is another quality mid level inclusion on the bike. The electronic shifting was close to flawless. The consistent performance of the Ultegra set makes it difficult to present a convincing argument as to why big brother Dura Ace would be necessary on any but the top models in a bike range. The 34/50 crankset matched with an 11-32 cassette provides enough gear range to ride up walls. Realistically, a 11-25 or 11-28 cassette would be more than enough to tackle any terrain and would have smaller gaps between gears for smoother shifting.
The 765 does not sport the aggressive geometry and integrated features that make the top-end Look bikes stand out from the crowd. The frame is, however, adorned with the “Look colours”, which, matched with squared off tube profiles, still make for a unique and appealing aesthetic. The downside to the appearance is the tall head tube detracting from what could be a more aggressive stance. The rectangular and asymmetric chainstays appear solid and well designed.
On the road, the 765 was comfortable across all terrain. The relaxed and upright rider position, was well suited to longer rides as well as climbing. During the test, the bike was subjected to several “aggressive” bunch rides. Whilst the handling could not be described as sharp, it was fine whilst jostling for position and sprinting. The tall front end meant the bike wasn’t as confidence inspiring during fast corners and descents.
The Look 765 has impressed overall, but not in the way one might expect from such a prestigious brand, with a history of bold innovation and at times obnoxiously loud style. Instead, the 765 offers a measured, balanced and somewhat restrained package. Despite, running against the normal Look grain, the balance of a conventional style frame with endurance geometry, vibration damping technology, stiff bottom bracket area and quality mid to high range components is a line walked (or ridden) well. The 765 won’t light your world on fire but it will keep you having fun in the saddle and enjoying your ride, wherever it takes you.
The 765 frame is beautifully finished, striking clear coat which contrasts nicely with the bold Look colour scheme. The specification list is filled with high quality products, not top of the line, but much better than what you often find on similarly priced bikes.
A bit of a surprise all rounder, the 765 performs well on most terrain. Whilst it is not a dedicated race machine, it offers enough in frame rigidity to keep an occasional racer happy.
With a RRP of about $6.5k, the Look 765 offers better value than you might expect from a French manufacturer. Adorned with electronic shifting and Mavic Ksyrium rims, the product you ride away with needs no immediate upgrades.
In the 765, Look offers a good value, high quality all rounder. Whilst not the attention grabbing bike that one might expect from Look, they have managed to deliver a frame with solid capabilities for long sportifs and aggressive bunch rides alike. The specification list outshines some other bikes at this price point.
Frame: Look 765 Carboflax
Fork: Look 765 Carboflax
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Crank: Shimano Ultegra 50/34
Bottom Bracket: Press fit 30
Wheels: Mavic Kysrium Elite
Tyres: Mavic Yksion Pro
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Handlebar: FSA Vero
Stem: FSA OS168
Headset: FSA 1″-1-1/8″
Saddle: Selle Italia
Price: $6,499 with Aksium wheelset, $3,299 frame only
Distributor: Group Sportif