Look 989 SRAM X01 review£2,275.00

Distinctive French frame that rides as beautifully as it looks

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Look’s 989 certainly isn’t a bike for riders who like to blend into the crowd.

In keeping with the brand's well-documented obsession with integration, as displayed on its road machines, the way the A-stem blends into the raised ‘shoulders’ of the top tube spine is a real eye catcher.

Unorthodox ride cushioning

The top tube then flattens into a wishbone shelf around the integrated seatmast before splitting into curved seatstays with ‘DCSC’ engineered damping in the lay up. As if a mast rather than a conventional seatpost isn’t niche enough, the saddle clamp sits on top of a stack of elastomer damping blocks.

Elastomer damping blocks under the saddle help smooth your way
Elastomer damping blocks under the saddle help smooth your way

It’s definitely not full suspension, or even a softtail in terms of cushioning, but by switching the density of the elastomers you can create a slightly firmer and softer ride in the saddle depending on your preferences or just what terrain you’re riding that day. It also keeps the frame usefully – if not exceptionally – light at a claimed 1300g with uncut post for a medium.

The Magura rear brake sits right on the back of the offside dropout above the 142x12mm rear axle, with oversize D-section chainstays connecting back to the massive BB30 bottom bracket block. The forward curved seat tube gives extra tyre space for the 29er rear wheel, but the back end is still long at 440mm.

Despite its thoroughbred racer eagerness it’s remarkably smooth, floating over rough sections with silky, fatigue reducing traction

To keep proportions correct the 29er only comes in medium and large sizes, with the 27.5in wheeled 987 filling the small and extra small slots.

The Look’s looks are love or hate, but there was no disagreement among our test team as regards how well the frame rode. As soon as the chain tightens, the Look leaps forward down the trail, hassling for gear after gear of acceleration.

At 635mm the top tube of our large had a ton of stretch and breathing space for climbing or sustained attacks. Despite its thoroughbred racer eagerness it’s also remarkably smooth, floating over rough sections with silky, fatigue reducing traction, enhancing speed sustain.

The 70-degree head angle and longer tail end keep it stable at speed and impressively composed for a race hardtail.

Pot luck components

That’s even more impressive given the 989's decidedly pot luck component collection.

Crank the pedals and the Look leaps down the trail
Crank the pedals and the Look leaps down the trail

The American Classic wheels are light and lively and the voluptuously round carcass of the Continental Race King 2.2in tyres add extra buoyancy to the ride. SRAM X01 1x11 transmission is a good race choice too.

The RockShox SID RL fork obviously lacks damping sophistication at speed compared to the RCT3 model though, and the Magura MR brakes are soft in feel but wooden in execution.

While the V-Drive bars they’re clamped onto are a leverage-boosting 740mm wide, they’re the most basic in the FSA line-up.

It’s still a truly featherweight ride at 9.76kg though, and its sublime ride quality shines through clearly.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
Back to top