LOOK rightly define themselves as one of the most innovative manufacturers in the business, having developed the first clipless pedal in 1984 and the first carbon fibre frame two years later, and the 675 is the French firm’s latest attempt to break the mould.
And the result is a sportive bike which combines unique and aggressive styling with a relaxed position, offering a ride which is comfortable and, crucially, fast.
The 675 was unveiled ahead of the 2012 Tour de France but, despite its position directly beneath the flagship 695 in LOOK’s range, the 675 is designed with sportive riders, not racers, in mind.
But the LOOK 675 is both sportive bike and super bike, straddling the two markets thanks to a combination of the frame’s relaxed geometry and its innovative, eye-catching design.
The 675 is certain to turn heads on any sportive start line. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the road market – some will love it, others not. That’s for you to decide, but what we can pass judgement on is how it rides.
It’s impossible to ignore the integrated cockpit. The Direct Drive Concept has been designed in line with the logic that, by removing a stack of unsightly spacers and shortening the steering pivot, the front end is stiffer and more accurate.
It gives the 675 an undeniably racy look, with the chunky, 3D-forged aluminium stem slammed against the top of the headset, sitting in-line with toptube. However, hidden behind that sleek and aggressive persona, the geometry, based around a heavily sloping toptube and relatively tall headtube, reveals a machine which is far more relaxed than its initial appearance suggests.
Pull the bike out of the box and the A-Stem can be flipped to adjust the height of the handlebars, while reach can be adjusted thanks to a half-moon spacer hidden inside the face plate. LOOK offer seven versions of the A-Stem (80, 90, 100, 110 and 120mm with +-15 degrees of rise, and 100m and 120mm with +- five degrees of rise), however, the use of a proprietary setup does mean adjustment is limited to the parameters dictated by LOOK, so take a close look at the geometry table before parting with your cash.
Swing a leg over the 675 for the first time and the geometry rings true, with the handlebars high and the position upright compared to the flagship 695, ridden by the LOOK-sponsored Cofidis team. Still, LOOK have made the 675 look aggressive without it being so.
Most importantly, however, the integration comes to life when riding. Steering is punchy and direct; the handling as consistent and reliable through tight bends as it is through long sweeping corners. Stiffness is the Direct Drive Concept’s key claim and the 675 is as accurate as any we’ve tested, certainly from bikes in the sportive mould. The trick to the 675 is the combination of its pin-sharp handling and relaxed position.
While the front-end is focussed on delivering a stiff, accurate ride, the rear triangle is designed to boost comfort. LOOK call it the Dual Comfort and Stiffness Concept, whereby tube sections are flattened without reducing their diameter to, according to the French manufacturer, improve both lateral rigidity and vertical flexibility.
Comfort is an important consideration in the sportive market, and the raft of ‘comfort’ bikes (such as the Trek Domane, Bianchi Infinito CV and, most recently, the Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod) that have come to market are testament to that. The 675’s seatstays and skinny seatpost combine to do a good job at smoothing out the road but the harshest imperfections still rattle through. However, it’s not an uncomfortable ride by any stretch, and one that will see you finish a long ride without feeling as though you’ve gone 12 rounds in the ring.
Despite the upright position and relatively smooth ride, one of the most endearing qualities of the 675 is its eagerness to be ridden quickly. This is not a bike for winter training or pootling around the lanes. Perhaps it’s the aggressive aesthetics, sharp handling or the high-end build of our test machine, but the 675 expects to ridden fast. That’s thanks in part to an 86.5mm PressFit bottom bracket which delivers the level of power transfer it promises.
The 675 is not a featherweight, with claimed weight set at 1,150g for a size medium frame, while our test machine weighs a shade over eight kilograms with 52mm-deep Mavic Cosmic SLE wheels. Acceleration remains impressive, if, naturally, a little slower off the mark when compared to a lighter build, but the 675 holds a very fast cruising speed with ease. The Dual Comfort and Stiffness Concept is, as the name suggests, about marrying comfort and stiffness and LOOK have achieved that.
The finish is of the frame is superb and the clean look which starts with the stem continues to the sleek tube profiles and integrated seatpost clamp. The stealthy black-on-black paintjob is contrasted with striking flashes of yellow. The 675 is an innovative machine with plenty to sing about but, on our test machine at least, the minimal branding is subtle and classy, with the carbon fibre visible through the various LOOK logos.
LOOK bikes are distributed by Fisher Outdoor Leisure on these shores and the 675 is available through UK retailers in one build for £3,799, in Cofidis team colours with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels. It’s also available as a frame and stem kit for £2,399.
Our test machine came direct from LOOK HQ in Bourgogne and the compact Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset provided the clean and reliable shifting we’ve come to expect, while the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels proved very stiff, if a little vulnerable in crosswinds. The aluminium rim is treated with Mavic’s proprietary Exalith coating and braking, which comes accompanied with a soothing whirr, is reliable in all conditions we encountered. The black finish of the rim also looks the part.
We’ve quickly become fans of Mavic’s Yksion Pro GripLink tyres, which provide an excellent combination of grip and relatively low rolling resistance, while a Fizik Ardea saddle and an aluminium 3T Ergonova Pro handlebar complete the spec sheet.
It’s an impressive specification suitable for an impressive frame. LOOK have been at the forefront of bicycle design for more than two decades and the 675 gives an insight into the company’s future. It’s a fast ride and the integrated stem is an innovative design which contributes towards very impressive handling. Is this the future? We’re not sure it will mark a sea-change in bicycle design across the industry – not yet, at least – but we will await with interest to see if LOOK develop the concept further across their range.