LOOK is a company that is synonymous with modern cycling and has continuously been at the cutting edge of innovation. Such is their innovative flair that when LOOK decides to bring new ideas to the table, you can bet other brands will be watching carefully.
The adaption of LOOK’s ski binding technology to create the early incarnation of clipless pedals in 1984 put the LOOK brand on the lips and under the feet of a great percentage of cyclists. Not content with restricting their inventive talents to pedals, LOOK turned their attention to bicycle frames and the emerging wonder material – carbon fibre. As early as 1990 LOOK produced the first single-piece carbon fibre frame. This frame used a hinge-style front end in lieu of a standard steerer arrangement and also LOOK’s seemingly infinitely adjustable Ergo Stem. The hinged front end has been resurrected recently with quite a few manufacturers doing a modern take on the design, using it in their time trial and aero bike developments.
The LOOK 675 on test is a real eye catcher – perhaps its logo should have finished with an exclamation mark. Other riders often comment on the test bikes I ride, with the LOOK this was definitely the case and everyone had a firm view on where they stood on the 675’s aesthetics. The heavily sloping top tube is the most striking part of the bike’s geometry. When I first saw it online in a frame-only configuration, it invoked images of Jaguar’s famous leaping cat emblem; the bike appears to be jumping forward. While I quite liked the aesthetic of the 675’s frame, some were less enamoured with it. In the flesh, the slope of the top tube does not look nearly as striking as it does in photos, but it is still different to what we are used to, and the stem’s integration with the line of the top tube really highlights this detail. However, this frame’s intent is to be forgiving to those less flexible while still maintaining a classy aesthetic, and let’s face it – there’s nothing classy about a tall stack of spacers.
As you would expect from LOOK, the frame is immaculately turned out and you could be forgiven for thinking this was a range topping bike. The kit of parts is based around Shimano’s extremely reliable Ultegra groupset in its compact crank guise. The 6700 Ultegra series is the bane of bike reviewers as it has always been so efficient and good that we are left with little to comment on – it simply works! Flawlessly, time and time again; the shifting is precise and braking is dependable. The Mavic wheels are a good quality addition and, if my own experience of many, many kilometres on Mavic wheels is anything to go by, should provide years of trouble-free riding. The Fizik Ardea saddle is a thoughtful inclusion as it is designed to suit the ‘moderately flexible’ rider.
The stem of course is LOOK’s own and the handlebar is an aluminium 3T Ergonova, a good quality bar that will suit most riders. While the test LOOK 675 was sporting mechanical shifting, the frame is fully compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets. Threaded holes are there to accept a battery mount on the underside of the down tube which, when teamed with the LOOK internal cable guides, fully integrates an electronic groupset. Regardless of the system chosen, the 675’s fully internal cable routing keeps its lines clean and uncluttered.
I was intrigued to see how this bike would fit me. As fate would have it, this bike’s steerer tube and reach measurements are exactly what my bike fitter has recommended for me. This meant I didn’t have to adjust the front end at all. However, I did pull it apart and remove the stem just to see how it all worked. The stem is able to be flipped and its semi-integrated spacers allow for a small amount of angle adjustment. Four differing stem lengths and two angle variants available there should be a combination to accommodate most riders.
Integration is the key to this new bike from LOOK and predominantly in the front end. The tapered head tube and the integrated stem combine seamlessly to provide stiffness and quick, accurate responses to the slightest steering input. The trade-off however was that the feedback through the bars on the first ride was quite noticeable, especially on coarse road surfaces. As someone who generally rides carbon bars this could simply be a reflection of my own preferences. However, I did note that a slight drop in pressure from my usual 120 psi in the Mavic tyres yielded a substantial improvement in the overall feel of the ride.
The direct response and rigidity of the 675 is the result of the new manufacturing process that LOOK employs to stiffen the most stressed areas of the frame. This along with the use of press-fit bearings keeps the bottom bracket area solid without being bone jarring and allows for the use of a Shimano crankset, keeping the groupset complete. The seat and chainstays incorporate LOOK’s DCSC (dual comfort and stiffness concept) which basically sees an area of the stay flattened out about halfway along its length to give the bike vertical compliance without compromising the lateral stiffness of the rear end. In sprints the LOOK is well balanced and spritely, and its low weight allows for rapid acceleration and unencumbered climbing.
LOOK has been able to successfully blend what are essentially the characteristics most desired by club level racers and riding enthusiasts. The front end delivers a laser-precise racing bike with handling that is accurate and stable; whether attacking the apex in a criterium or carving your way around a sweeping descent, there are no nasty surprises regardless of the closing speed. The riding position is forgiving, with the substantially sloping top tube elevating the bars to a position that will suit a lot of racers. It also makes the handlebar drops reachable for the average Joe. Sportive style riders should also enjoy the extra head tube length for longer rides where the bar tops are the predominant position. LOOK’s patented DCSC rear end is also effective in tempering bad roads, ensuring that on longer rides all areas of your body are able to continue in comfort. All this coupled with its head snapping design makes the LOOK 675 a standout bike with the performance to match. It’s a great way to get on a marque brand for those who up till now haven’t been able to fit on or justify the expense of a LOOK.
A performance package for those who need their bike to be a little taller in the front end without compromising a racy attitude. Styling that may not suit every eye, but an aesthetic that I found to be exceptionally appealing, and more importantly, effective.
With its eye catching design the LOOK 675 could be mistaken for being a bit of a show pony, but its performance is pure thoroughbred. Precise steering thanks to its innovative front end and great power transfer though the bottom end make the 675 a star performer.
Value for money:
At $5,499 the LOOK 675 is at the upper end of Ultegra build bikes, but LOOK is what many would consider to be a boutique brand. The 675’s innovative styling sets this bike apart from the bunch and make it appear the equal of more expensive rides.
While endurance geometry bikes are becoming a popular sector of the market, the choice of brands has been somewhat limited so it’s nice to see more choice in the slightly more ‘exotic’ end. If you are after a lounge chair ride then the LOOK probably isn’t the bike for you, but if you aren’t blessed with pro level flexibility and still want a bike that can race on Saturday and handle a long coffee shop ride Sunday then the LOOK is worth…well…a look!
Frame: Look Carbon
Fork: Look HSC 675 Full Carbon
Head Set: Headfit 4
Stem: Look A-Stem
Handlebars: 3T Ergonova Pro Aluminium
Saddle: Fizik Ardea
Seat post: Look Carbon
Shift Levers: Shimano Ultegra
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Cassette: Shimano 105 12-25
Chain: Shimano Ultegra
Crank: Shimano Ultegra 50-34
Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium Elite
Tyres: Mavic Yksion
Weight: 7.4 kgs incl bidon cages
Distributor: Groupe Sportif Pty Ltd www.groupesportif.com