LOOK 695 - First ride review

Plus first look at new Keo Blade Aero pedal

LOOK's new flagship road bike, the 695, got tongues wagging when they unveiled it on Tuesday, and now we can bring you more technical details, plus our first ride impressions.

At their pre-Tour technical presentation yesterday, LOOK made it clear that efficiency and integration are the buzz-words with the new bike, with a number of new components and technologies developed specifically for the 695 in order to deliver what general manager Thierry Fournier claims to be “a big step; a new generation of product”.

Lighter and stiffer

There are two versions: the 695 SR (super rigid) is aimed at maximum performance and power transfer, while the regular 695 is engineered with 15 percent less overall stiffness for more compliance and a smoother ride while retaining a high level of performance.

Ignore the ‘SL’ decals on the bike in the pictures – they are pre-production graphics that won’t make it to showrooms. The different levels of stiffness are achieved through carefully altering the carbon layup; the two frames are otherwise identical. The 695 frame is claimed to weigh just 900g (1.98lb, including seatmast), which is nine percent lighter than the 595 and 10 percent stiffer (in SR form).

In I-pack form – LOOK’s complete integrated chassis package with cranks, seatpost, stem and pedals – the complete bike is said to weigh less than all its rivals in the same trim except for the Scott Addict R1. A typical high-spec build weighs around 6.6kg (14.55lb) without pedals, though one LOOK employee had a 695 with carbon brake callipers and tubular Edge wheels that weighed 6.1kg (13.45lb) with its Keo Carbon pedals in place.

The new 695 front triangle, straight from the mould

One-piece carbon cranks and other kit highlights

The most attention grabbing of the new parts in the I-pack is the ZED 2 crankset. The crank arms, axle and chainring spider comprise a one-piece carbon fibre monocoque claimed to have the best stiffness-to-weight ratio available. It’s a development from the first ZED crankset seen on the 596 time trial bike and fits into the same huge BB65 bottom bracket, so called for its 65mm bearing diameter rather than its width.

The crankset threads through from the drive side of the bike. To reduce production costs, and help dealers and customers, there is only one size of ZED 2 cranks, with a clever rotating three-lobe insert providing options of 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm effective arm lengths. Whereas its predecessor required a specific LOOK pedal, the ZED 2 can be used with any pedal.

LOOK's new Zed 2 cranks are a one-piece carbon monocoque

The cutaway on the right shows the one-piece construction

The crankset has to be threaded through the BB65 bottom bracket shell from the drive side

A clever rotating three-lobe insert lets you change the distance between pedals and BB

The new HSC 7 fork is also a single carbon monocoque piece, from the dropouts to the steerer, and it’s said to be 15 percent more rigid and 16 percent lighter than the HSC 6. Claimed weight is 295g. The new Head Fit 3 headset separates the stem from the bearing loading, making it possible to adjust or remove the stem (to fit the bike in your car, perhaps) without having to readjust the headset.

The unique C-Stem was designed especially for the 695, taking advantage of the headset to feature a completely smooth finish around the back. Two small covers hide the clamp and adjustment mechanism. The latter enables you to change the angle from -9˚ to +13˚ and avoid using a stack of spacers which, aside from being unsightly, LOOK say decreases a bike’s front-end rigidity. The C-Stem also includes a ‘moon-shaped part’ that sits on one side of the bar and lets you change the reach by 10mm.

LOOK's new Head Fit 3 headset and C-Stem allow easy adjustment

The 695 uses LOOK’s patented E-Post for its integrated seatpost. It includes 30mm of adjustment and contains elastomers to dampen vibration. All cables are routed internally, so Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset is accommodated neatly.

Ready for action

The 695 SR immediately goes into race action under the Cofidis team at the Tour de France. Cofidis have the option of the softer 695 for stage 3 to better deal with the cobbled sections, though it isn’t confirmed whether they'll use it. Pay special attention on Bastille Day, 14 July, when the team will run LOOK’s iconic Mondrian colour scheme, an option that will later be available to buy at a small premium.

The 695 will be available in LOOK’s iconic Mondrian colour scheme after the Tour

In all there will be five colours and six sizes (XS-XXL), and there is now a Bike Builder function on the website. UK prices are:

  • I-pack (frame, fork cranks, seatpost, stem and pedals): £3,499.99
  • I-pack with SRAM Rival and AL27 wheels: £4,299.99
  • I-pack with SRAM Force and AL30 Race wheels: £4,799.99
  • I-pack with SRAM Red and AL30 Race wheels: £5,099.99

Riding the 695 SR

We had two chances to give the 695 SR a workout; first on the magnificent Magny Cours F1 race circuit that’s a short drive from the LOOK factory, and later on a 20km spin around local country roads. Between the two it was enough to give us a very clear impression of the bike’s ride and handling.

There’s no mistaking that it’s a pure race bike. It’s light, responsive, agile and incredibly stiff, yet without ever feeling nervous or impatient. The geometry doesn’t force you into an extreme position so you could happily do away with the optional 17mm spacer and fine-tune using the stem angle. With our normal fit data applied we felt comfortable and at home immediately.

The 695 feels light, agile and incredibly stiff, with excellent power transfer

Underlining their competitive mindset, the team from LOOK organised a prologue-style time trial over one lap of the race track. The 695’s responsiveness and rigid power transfer at once both encouraged us to give our best (average 178bpm) and rewarded the effort with more speed (we’ll keep the average to ourselves, thanks).

The road ride included some lanes with a very similar surface to UK B-roads, and even some cobbles. The 695 SR took the slightly rough roads in its stride, providing a decent level of comfort for a race bike and never feeling excessively harsh.

The elastomer-equipped seatpost makes a big contribution as there’s a significant difference between the level of vibration that can be felt through the pedals and the level that comes through the saddle. It’s enough to convince us that we could live with the SR version for regular road riding on UK roads.

This test bike sports LOOK's older Zed 1 crankset

Keo Blade Aero

LOOK also took the opportunity to reveal their new time trial and triathlon pedal, the Keo Blade Aero, at their pre-Tour technical presentation – a final prototype of which will be used at the Tour de France by Alberto Contador. It was developed in the wind tunnel at Magny Cours over several iterations.

The result is a fully enclosed underside and a claimed two percent power saving. The carbon fibre shell weighs only 5g and the whole pedal is 120g. The pedal body has been stiffened but is otherwise the same as the Keo Blade Carbon, so expect the same positive click entry and wide platform. It'll be available from November, for £229.99.

LOOK's new time trial pedal, the Keo Blade Aero, has a fully enclosed underside

Prototype Keo Blade Aeros will be used at the Tour de France by Alberto Contador

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