The French company Look can boast some notable firsts in carbon bike-frame history. The first Look carbon frame – the KG86 – used bonded carbon/Kevlar tubes and helped Greg LeMond win his first Tour de France in 1986. And in 1988, Look built the KG96 frame completely from carbon fibre. The technology has progressed significantly over the years, but Look continues to innovate.
Since learning how to build frames stiff enough to satisfy the brawniest of riders, manufacturers have concentrated on how to increase ride comfort without affecting performance. Look’s solution with the 765 HM is to sandwich a layer of flax linen fibres between its high modulus carbon-fibre sheets, calling the resultant material Carboflax.
Here it’s used in the fork and chainstays to absorb road vibrations, and prevent them from reaching the rider, offsetting the ultra-stiff carbon that gives the frame its performance.
Recent Look frames have utilised a lengthy head tube, and integrated it into a sleek design for maximal front-end stiffness. Aimed at fast endurance riders, the 765 HM’s head tube in my large size is a hard-to-ignore 206.3mm long, unsurprisingly matched to a generous stack height of 602mm [vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the head tube].
The head angle is an easy-going 72 degrees, and the effective top tube 569.1mm long, creating an unaggressive riding position. While everything’s in proportion, the larger frame does have an unwieldy stance alongside bikes with racier intentions.
But that’s exactly the point, and despite appearances, the feel is more race bike than five-bar gate. Yes, the position is less stretched and a little more upright, but with the stem slammed and riding on the drops, I didn’t feel I was catching the wind much more than usual.
As well as the Carboflax construction, the seatstays curve inwards, and the frame’s semi-compact design with slightly lowered seatstays leaves plenty of the 27.2mm seatpost free to flex, which all adds to the impressive ride quality. All those years of carbon craftsmanship are obvious in the frame’s refinement and responsiveness.
Even with average Mavic Ksyrium wheels, fitted with 25mm Continental Ultra Sport tyres, the 765 HM has a willing kick, and climbs efficiently. Choppy, broken tarmac and sudden direction changes can’t upset the bike’s composure, and its handling is unerringly precise.
Look claims a medium frame weighs 990g, with a 330g fork, but then there’s quite a lot of it, and this isn’t designed as a headbanging pro racer. The overall 7.8kg weight is never intrusive and, from the saddle, impossible to feel.
For the 765 HM, comfort is key, and there it succeeds, with a position that reduces pressure on the comfortable Q-Bik saddle, and through your wrists and hands on the classy Zipp handlebar.
Shimano Ultegra Di2 ensures slick, rapid shifts, but does account for a chunk of the budget. Much as I appreciate its efficiency, the frame isn’t ideally configured for Di2, with the wire exiting the junction box beneath the stem and partly following a brake cable, before continuing some distance alone towards the down tube port. With ever-neater cable solutions appearing, this arrangement smacks more of an afterthought.
Overall though, Look’s 765 HM has the response and feel of a race bike with a position made for day-long comfort. Unfortunately, that classy frame costs, as does electronic shifting, seemingly at the expense of better wheels in this case, it just depends where your priorities lie.
Look 765 HM Ultegra Di2 specifications
- Weight: 7.8kg (L)
- Frame: Look 765 HM Carboflax Technology
- Fork: Look 765 HM
- Gears: Shimano Ultegra Di2 50/34, 11-32
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
- Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium
- Tyres: 25mm Continental Ultra Sport
- Handlebar: Zipp Service Course 80 aluminium
- Stem: Zipp Service Course 80 aluminium
- Seatpost: FSA SL-K carbon
- Saddle: Selle Italia Q-Bik