ED'S LET­TER

Cyclist - - Ed's Letter -

Flip over a cou­ple of pages and you’ll come to a pre­view of the new Look 785 Huez RS, a bike so ad­vanced that it weighs just 5.9kg and in­cor­po­rates 350 dif­fer­ent sheets of car­bon in the layup of the frame and fork. But de­spite its ul­tra-mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, at first glance it looks more or less like bikes have looked for most of the past cen­tury. It’s ba­si­cally a col­lec­tion of tubes as­sem­bled into a dou­ble-tri­an­gle pat­tern around a bot­tom bracket, with a pointy sad­dle and a bendy han­dle­bar. The re­mark­able thing about the bi­cy­cle, more than any other form of trans­port (or in­deed any other ma­chine), is that they got it pretty much spot-on from the be­gin­ning. The de­sign is so me­chan­i­cally op­ti­mal that count­less en­gi­neers have strug­gled to im­prove upon it, and as such its form has en­dured al­most in­tact dur­ing the same pe­riod that the Wright Broth­ers’ bi-winged fly­ing ma­chine has evolved into the mod­ern fighter jet. The clas­sic bike shape is not only in­cred­i­bly ef­fi­cient, it’s also ex­cep­tion­ally beau­ti­ful, with a sim­ple ele­gance that can trans­form a few thin tubes of steel into a mo­bile work of art.

That ex­plains why, de­spite the ad­vent of su­perlight com­pos­ites and elec­tronic shift­ing, many of the big bike com­pa­nies still pro­duce steel frames that are vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal to mod­els from the golden era of cycling back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

For this month’s ride test, we put three such mod­ern-vin­tage ma­chines through their paces on the chalk roads of Tus­cany in Italy, and the re­ac­tion of the testers was re­veal­ing. I might have ex­pected them to be­moan the heavy weight or the lack of stiff­ness, but in­stead they rev­elled in the fun and feel of the ride.

It’s tes­ta­ment to the ge­nius of the bi­cy­cle that even when deal­ing with an aes­thetic and ma­te­ri­als from a by­gone age, the per­for­mance still man­ages to be right up to the minute.

The bike de­sign is so op­ti­mal that its form has en­dured al­most in­tact dur­ing the same pe­riod that the Wright Broth­ers’ bi-winged fly­ing ma­chine has evolved into the mod­ern fighter jet

The white chalk roads of Tus­cany are the per­fect venue to test three bikes with souls that be­long to a by­gone era

Pete Muir, Ed­i­tor

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