Lead Out

French brand Look has opted for more or­di­nary aes­thet­ics to achieve ex­tra­or­di­nary light­ness P

Cyclist - - Contents - Words PETER STU­ART

Look is fa­mous for some crazy de­signs, but its new bike is all about what’s un­der the skin Gear from Castelli, Gi­ant, Oak­ley and more Tour de France leg­end Bernard Hin­ault puts the world of pro cycling to rights Aaron Stin­ner’s steel bikes pay homage to Greg Le­mond and cycling’s flam­boy­ant side Should you be tak­ing train­ing sup­ple­ments? In praise of… the club run Do we re­ally need two chain­rings on our road bikes? Here’s the case for the 1x set-up Frank Strack on what’s wrong with Froome

Look has never been afraid of in­no­va­tion. It pro­duced the first cli­p­less ped­als, which helped Bernard Hin­ault win his fifth Tour de France in 1985. Shortly af­ter­wards it in­tro­duced the first car­bon fi­bre-tubed bike to the Tour. More re­cently, its lat­est aero of­fer­ing, the Look 795, bore more re­sem­blance to a tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced pray­ing man­tis than a con­ven­tional road bike.

As such, cus­tomers who ex­pect wacky de­signs from Look may be a lit­tle un­der­whelmed by the new 785 Huez, which is fairly con­ser­va­tive in ap­pear­ance. But the in­no­va­tion is still there – it’s just be­neath the sur­face.

The 785 Huez RS is the first prod­uct from a new-look Look, which has un­der­gone a bit of a cor­po­rate re­vamp re­cently, com­plete with a new pres­i­dent and the ac­qui­si­tion of wheel brand Corima. Un­sur­pris­ingly this build is equipped with Corima’s freak­ishly light and scant­ily spoked Winium+ tubu­lar wheelset. It’s a nice com­ple­ment to the light­est frame­set Look has ever cre­ated, which is a claimed 730g for the frame and only 280g for the fork, to­gether creat­ing a com­plete bike at 5.9kg.

Look says it could have gone un­der 700g for the frame, which would have placed it up there with the very light­est. How­ever, the com­pany claims to have re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to pri­ori­tise weight over func­tion, per­for­mance and safety.

‘It’s not the light­est frame on the mar­ket,’ says Look’s prod­uct man­ager, Fred Caron, ‘but it’s very im­por­tant to Look, a French brand, that the re­li­a­bil­ity of this prod­uct is re­ally, re­ally high. All of Look’s bi­cy­cles are made to not only meet the Euro­pean test­ing stan­dards, but ex­ceed them by 60%.’

Ma­te­rial world

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Look 785 Huez RS’S light weight, high stiff­ness and wince-in­duc­ing £8k+ pric­etag can be partly at­trib­uted to the choice of car­bon fi­bres. Look claims to have used an ul­tra high mod­u­lus (UHM) car­bon that boasts a ten­sile strength of 60 tons/mm2. For those with­out a mas­ters in com­pos­ites engi­neer­ing, that means it’s very strong and light, but also very ex­pen­sive – th­ese grades of car­bon can run into thou­sands of pounds per kilo­gram.

Per­haps only 10% of the frame uses th­ese spe­cial fi­bres (rea­son­ably so – a bike made com­pletely of UHM fi­bres would be in­cred­i­bly harsh and very sus­cep­ti­ble to break­age) but it does help to ex­plain the sig­nif­i­cant price in­crease

of the Huez RS over the stan­dard 785 Huez, which comes in at a still-pricey £4,099 for the Di2 ver­sion. For that money you get a frame that weighs an ad­di­tional 260g com­pared to the RS, at 990g, and a fork that weighs 350g.

The choice of fi­bres isn’t the only rea­son the Huez RS comes in at a weight to ri­val a spe­cial-edi­tion Can­non­dale Su­per­six or Trek Émonda with­out the need for spe­cial­ist third-party com­po­nents. Look has rethought its tubes, us­ing what Caron calls ‘op­ti­mised in­er­tia sec­tion’, where each tube has been shaped to func­tion op­ti­mally within the frame.

For ex­am­ple, the down tube has a fairly blunt, squared-off pro­file at the in­ter­sec­tion with the bot­tom bracket, which then morphs along its length to­wards a more tra­di­tional round shape at the junc­tion with the head tube.

Caron claims the com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­rial se­lec­tion and tube de­sign means the Look 785 Huez RS boasts par­tic­u­larly thin tube walls, get­ting down to a thick­ness of just 0.6mm at the mid­dle of the tube where the stresses are at their min­i­mum. That, Caron says, cuts down over­all weight with­out com­pro­mis­ing on stiff­ness.

Con­tin­u­ing the theme of stiff­ness and low weight is the cen­tre­piece of the bike: Look’s unique one-piece ZED crankset. Both the cranks and axle are cre­ated as a sin­gle unit from car­bon fi­bre, and it’s cun­ningly de­signed so that it doesn’t need to be split in two to be mounted, but can be fed neatly through the bot­tom bracket shell be­fore be­ing sealed into place by the bear­ings.

With all this fo­cus on stiff­ness, you might ex­pect the 785 Huez RS to be bone-shak­ingly harsh to ride, but Look hasn’t for­got­ten com­fort. Its cock­tail of car­bon in­cludes 260 sep­a­rate pieces for the frame, and 90 for the fork, to en­sure that flex can be built in where it’s needed. As an­other nod to com­fort, Look has also armed the 785 with a skinny 27.2mm seat­post.

Cy­clist rode the Look 785 Huez RS at the Look Gran­fondo Mar­motte in the French Alps, and found the supremely low weight, stiff­ness and tuned han­dling made for a fine part­ner over the 5,000m of el­e­va­tion that the gran fondo in­flicts. To see how the 785 per­forms on good old-fash­ioned Bri­tish roads, stay tuned for a full re­view in an up­com­ing is­sue.

Pho­tog­ra­phy TA­PES­TRY

Look 785 Huez RS Team Replica, £8,199, zy­rofisher.co.uk

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