Look was one of the first companies to champion component integration, and the 695 Aerolight – developed by ex-F1 aerodynamicist Dr Rene Hilhorst – takes that a step further with its proprietary carbon, and integrated brakes.
Highs: Unique integrated design, great looks and a superb ride quality
Lows: A frameset of this quality deserves lighter wheels
Buy If: You want something less mainstream, with a certain je ne sais quoi
Look positions the front brake in a window in the fork leg, which it believes prevents deformation under load and improves braking. It features twin brake arms, the outer one flush with the fork leg for aerodynamics, the independent inner arm operating the brake. It’s adjustable for rims up to 26.4mm and can be adjusted without disassembly. The chainstay-mounted rear V-brake has internal cabling that passes inside the bottom bracket shell, leaving brake-free seatstays with no turbulence-creating bridge.
Hidden out of the wind the v-style front brakes sit within the fork: Robert Smith
Hidden out of the wind the V-style front brakes sit within the fork
The frame has some aerodynamic shaping, and though largely square, Look claims it creates around three per cent less drag than the conventional 695.
Each frameset is supplied with Look’s Zed 2 crank, E-Post seatpost and carbon Aerostem. The stem has an unsurpassed stiffness to weight ratio, and is adjustable from -13 to +17 degrees.
The shape of the incredibly stiff one-piece Zed 2 combined carbon crank and axle dictated the diameter of the BB65 oversized bottom bracket shell. You can alter the effective crank length to 170, 172.5 or 175mm and it offers 110 and 130mm bolt circle diameter fittings.
The Head Fit 3 headset has independent adjustment, enabling you to alter the stem position without loosening the headset. Look’s E-Post has a shock-absorbing elastomer, available in three densities; ours was medium red.
The saddle height is easily adjustable with inserts, and stem positioning is a cinch. The Zed 2 crankset, massively strong BB65 bottom bracket area and those beefy tubes give the Aerolight immense lateral stiffness, with no frame deflection evident no matter how hard you’re heaving.
The 695 aerolight climbs very well for an aero machine: Robert Smith
The 695 Aerolight climbs very well for an aero machine
Our test machine came with non-pro spec Mavic clinchers, which did add some weight. The Cosmic SLEs have an Exalith braking track and a carbon fairing for aerodynamics. We found them quite noisy, the hollow rim sounding like a taut drum when out of the saddle and braking resulted in Exalith’s characteristic ‘whirr’. Even shod with relatively narrow Mavic rubber, though, cornering grip is great and handling superb – not so rigid that it skips over bumps but with a fine level of suppleness and control when the going gets rough.
The brakes are powerful and have great modulation, while acceleration is very urgent, the climbing surprisingly accomplished for an aero machine, helped by the super-stiff front end. On twisty roads you need a bike that’s responsive, agile, stable and predictable – and the Look delivers. And although it’s not as light as some equivalent road bikes, it’s lighter than many aero bikes.
It’s impossible to comment on aerodynamic performance, but the Aerolight seems to gain speed fast, has a forgiving nature, and we were surprised how fresh we felt after riding hard over a long, tortuous route.
- Note: the build we tested retails for £8499. It’s also available with Dura-Ace mechanical for £6999.