The behemoth that is Eurobike opened its cavernous doors today, but those able to arrive in advance of the official opening were able to enjoy the demo day – a chance to get to grips with some of the new and shiny objects with which the industry has been tempting us in recent months.
We’ll be bringing you insights into how some of the brightest and best offerings perform throughout the week, in a series of ‘first ride’ articles that will include Pinarello’s Team Sky-approved Dogma F8 and the latest additions to Colnago’s stable of thoroughbreds: the V1-r and the majestic C60.
We’ll start proceedings by sharing some thoughts on the newest member of the LOOK family – the 795 Aerolight, a machine whose vital statistics we reported from its launch last month at the London Olympic Velodrome.
Regular RCUK readers will know that LOOK holds a special place in our affections: one of the few brands that occupy the correct side of the engineering/marketing divide that separates most brands. While many talk about innovation, it is only a small clique that produce bikes which differ significantly from their competitors. LOOK is among that happy few.
We’ll start with the elephant in the room: RCUK’s Facebook community were unsparing in their opinion of the 795’s appearance when we reported its unveiling in London. Many felt that ‘ugly’ was the mot juste. The model that illustrated our report was size XL and it’s fair to say that the bigger frame accentuates the very tall headtube that at first glance appears at odds with LOOK’s stated ambition to produce “the best aero road bike ever made”. The model we tested at Eurobike was size S, and the more compact appearance suits the 795 Aerolight well.
Enough of aesthetics. How did it ride? Fast, in a word. Of all the high-end machines we tested on the admittedly limited 7km demo circuit in Friedrichschafen, the 795 Aerolight was the most eager: quick out of the blocks and unwilling to sacrifice speed once gained. Several reasons lie behind such pleasing alacrity, of course, not least Mavic’s rather wonderful Cosmic Carbone 40c full carbon clinchers, but the chassis certainly played its part: taut, responsive, and eager.
The handling was excellent too, and in this regard revealed a quality entirely attributable to the frameset. Flipping the bike left and then right on a particularly twisting section of one of the many smooth, narrow and flowing roads in this part of the world was wonderfully rewarding; so too, guiding the machine through a near 90-degree left-hander at the foot of a short descent.
We can’t report with any accuracy on the 795 Aerolight’s climbing abilities given the total absence of hills from the test loop. Efficient climbing and acceleration on flat roads often stem from similar sources, however (short chainstays, a flex free bottom bracket area etc) and the bike willingly responded to short sprints.
The riding position contained two significant surprises. The first was the compactness of the top tube, a situation we’d remedy with a longer stem. The integrated Aerostem, one of the bike’s most attractive features in our eyes, though clearly not of universal appeal, comes in six sizes, and the unit fitted to our demo bike, at 90mm, felt a little too short.
The second was the comparatively ‘low’ position of the front end. The tall headtube, the most striking feature of the 795 Aerolight, suggests an upright posture exposed to the wind, but the position was surprisingly ‘racy’. LOOK’s ambition vis-à-vis creating an aerodynamically efficient road bike began to seem less far fetched.
In all other regards, the 795 Aerolight performed much as we have come to expect from other arrows in the LOOK quiver. An exceptionally smooth ride quality, first experienced by this reviewer with the 695 SR and repeated by the 675 Light, was present and correct (though LOOK owe a healthy debt of gratitude to Friedrichschafen’s marble smooth highways in this ‘test’). The Zed2 chainset, another masterpiece of integration, complemented the stiff bottom bracket area.
The lasting impression, however, is of speed, and this is no bad quality in any steed, let alone one with its sights set on setting the benchmark for aero road bikes.
Website: LOOK Cycles