In 1985 Look invented and developed the first useful step-in-step-out pedal system. Clipless pedals (because they were without toe clips) were a massive leap forward and Look’s ingenuity really put them on the map as a cycling manufacturer. Look’s foray into the frame world started about 5 years after that and in time they developed a variety of carbon tubed and glued frames some good, some not so.
In France (and specifically the hometown of Nevers) they have been a massive success and along with compatriot frame company, Time, they have both established themselves in the high echelons of the professional peloton.
Look are pretty unique in the mass production of carbon frames, in that they own and control their factory and development processes. Yes there are many high end manufacturers that do this but very few mainstream brands can make carbon and develop themselves. This gives them a clear advantage, they can adapt to changes in material specification and also push production for quick response.
This brand new 2006 frame features lots of the benefits of Thor Hushovd’s Tour de France green jersey winning 585. It features the same geometry and design but has an aluminium bottom bracket shell.
So Look have taken the basic chassis from the previous range topping 585 and cut a few corners to take the price down a bit. Using heavier raw material and an aluminium bottom bracket shell they have built a frame that for them is technically lower than their capabilities, but for most other manufacturers a frame that is pretty advanced. The added weight over the 585 is only 250g, so not exactly loads heavier.
Progressive Sloping Geometry Evolusize Geometry: A bit of a gob full but basically a steeper slope is used for smaller frame sizes and is decreased proportionally with the frame size, so as you go up the sizes the bike gets proportionally more sensible looking, I like this approach as you don’t end up with acres of seat post showing and a saddle to bar drop that would make a pro rider’s back ache. Up front there’s a Look Patented Integral Headset, which includes two interchangeable bearing surfaces inside the head tube, no trouble here and they seem to have managed to build a mighty solid steering ensemble, unlike many integrated efforts we’ve seen.
Double Curve: The wishbone is curved twice giving great lateral strength whilst maintaining some vertical flexibility for comfort. And this isn’t new either but it’s a tried and tested design and actually works – Look have also made it look good too.
Look started producing aftermarket forks early on in the carbon game. Carbon forks can be a minefield and care with maintenance and installation of lightweight carbon parts is paramount. What I like about Look’s HSC series forks is that they are over-built yet still lightweight and feature a failsafe insert in the fork crown, a design that would (in the very unlikely event of a crack) prevent total failure and a nasty face plant. Look forks also ride well and the front end of this bike is solid, make no mistake.
A full Dura Ace 10 speed group is nothing short of faultless. Instant response shifts and although the front shift is indexed (I really have never understood why…) the chain pick up and response is excellent. It’s the best looking and functioning Dura Ace gruppo to date. I like it very much indeed.
Braking has much improved for Shimano too and there’s an obvious step up in control.
Deda 215 style ITM bars with a shallow drop, at last a test bike with a decent set of handlebars… I couldn’t believe my luck.
Mavic Kysium SL’s are a great wheelset and these SSC versions were shod with Conti’s GP4000 – an excellent wheel package.
With the set up already ‘in house style’ we were straight at home on the 565. It’s rare that a test bike feels this way immediately and although we had fettled a little with the saddle and bar angle it was all pretty good for me. It looked right and often that is a good sign. Geometry is compact and the 53cm we tested comes with a 54.5mm top tube, normally I’d have to compromise to get the bar set up right but the 565 was perfect in this regard. It was like it was made for me.
Out on the road the predictable damping qualities of carbon are immediately apparent. It’s soft and soaks up rough roads with ease. The geometry is tight yet but not too ‘skippy’ and it’s the kind of bike that feels immediately familiar. It’s a hackneyed saying but it’s stiff and responsive and jumps up the road when you stamp on the pedals – completely reliable and predictable. Ride and race all day on this fella, no problems.