Here’s a first look at the LOOK 695SR, one of a trio of French bikes called in during Le Tour.
LOOK was founded in 1951 as a manufacturer of ski equipment. The company’s entry to the cycling market came with their invention of clipless pedals in the early 1980s (“pédales automatiques”), famously used by Bernard Hinault to win the 1985 Tour de France. Further innovations followed, notably the introduction of the first carbon frame to the Tour peloton, ridden by Greg LeMond to victory in the 1986 edition.
The LOOK 695SR we have on test continues the company’s penchant for innovation, and could be seen in this year’s Tour beneath Rein Taaramäe and his Cofidis team. The machine was launched ahead of the 2010 Tour, and contains a raft of proprietary innovations, the most striking of which is the Zed2 carbon chainset (more of which later).
The frame is a carbon monocoque. Box section tube profiles abound: the top tube, downtube (5cm across from top tube to bottom bracket), the seatstays and the chain stays. The top tube curves slightly, perhaps to add torsional rigidity. We’ll let you know.
At the rear of the bike, the seat stays unite in a box section monostay with a hole to mount the rear brake. The chainstays and the seatstays have a single carbon fibre strand running through them; similarly, a single carbon strand runs along one side of the top tube, around the head tube, and back along other side to the seat cluster: both examples of the Continuous Fibre Design philosophy that lies at the heart of the 695. In short, it’s a monocoque frame (or ‘monobloc’ in LOOK-speak), one with a claimed weight of 900 grams.
The bottom bracket shell is a comparatively svelte 60mm across its underside (compare and contrast with the Trek’s behemoth 90mm BB90). LOOK have concentrated the breadth around a sizeable 65mm bearing (hence BB65).
The concealed cables of the front and rear derailleur emerge from the underside of the lower quarter of the downtube and are routed neatly over the bottom bracket shell before disappearing into the downtube (front mech) and driveside chainstay (rear mech).
The seat tube is box section (10mm wide in the leading and trailing edge, 20mm on the side plane, broadening to 50mm at its junction with the underside of the top tube). Above the top tube, the carbon monocoque sweeps up into the E-Post: a two-piece unit whose lower half is an integrated seat mast rising from the frame into which the E-Post seat post slides. The two sections are separated by three elastomer dampers (two internal, one external), which are used to regulate saddle height (a promised 30mm of adjustment).
A 140mm head tube on our 51cm test bike is another box section affair, with a pan flat leading edge. It unites with the HSC7 fork, (another example of the CFD philosophy, fashioned from a single carbon strand from dropout to steeer) at an enormous 1.5 lower bearing.
At the other end of the headtube sits a thin (circa 2mm) plastic ring, a 75mm carbon spacer (optional) and the C-Stem, another LOOK innovation and, along with the Zed2 chainset and E-Post, part of the IPACK frameset option.
The C-Stem is a hefty looking unit, whose aesthetics might not appeal to everyone. It offers angle adjustment from -9 degrees to +13 degrees, achieved by unscrewing the discreet covers located at the steerer end of the stem. The unit supplied with our 51cm test bike is 100mm.
The Zed 2 chainset is one of the most eye-catching features of our elegantly understated test bike. The arms and spider are fashioned from a single piece of carbon fibre and rotate around the above-mentioned 65mm bearing. Rather than manufacture different crank lengths, LOOK have created an insert (the ‘Trilob’) that can be set at one of the three positions to regulate the distance of the pedals from the bottom bracket: 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm.
Our test frame is specced with a SRAM Red groupset, and rolls on Zipp 202s: a 32mm deep tubular rim shod with Schwalbe Ultremo HTs. Contact points come from Fizik (the Arione), LOOK (Keo 2 Max), and Zipp (an SL carbon bar).
The whole package tipped our scales at 6.3kg. The IPACK frame set (frame, fork, E-Post, C-Stem, and Zed2 chainset) costs £3799. Complete bikes are available from £5799.