For those of you who like music, this review is technically my second album with all the risks and consequences it can have… So I’m grateful that Azelia & Neil have asked me to test the Look 695 for it, what a bike it is!
Aesthetically, I absolutely love it. The 695 (unlike its big brother the 795), is built with a “traditional” stem design which won’t stand out from the crowd. It is a bit more conservative, but this isn’t a set up you’ll get tired of. The frame is beautifully crafted, the highlight to me is the square shaped down tube with “Look” stated rather loudly. You will notice its bulkiness when particularly analysing the frame, but again, it blends beautifully with the rest of the bike’s harmonious design. The inside of the seat tube bears the mention “Fabriqué à la main” (handmade): small proud reminder that this isn’t an ordinary bike, a lot of French savoir faire contributes to its design.
I find the frame’s “bar code-like” display of colour stripes stunning. Taken from Look’s logo, it’s a discrete evocation of the La Vie Claire team from the mid 80’s & its legendary jersey. Riding this bike, you get to feel you own a bit of this history, look back and you may see Hinault and Lemond arguing about a Tour de France victory behind you. The frame has an elegant glossy finish, catching the light beautifully despite the fact it’s mainly a black frame. You can’t look at it and think it is boring!
The bike is equipped with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset: reliable, functional and performing as you’d expect from the brand. Basically, you can count on it.
The bike I tested was equipped with Edco Umbrial 45mm carbon wheels and what a tremendous set of wheels these are. Before going any further, I must highlight that a bike this good demands an equally good set of wheels, an incredible amount of performance is lost otherwise in stiffness, acceleration, etc. These Edco wheels are the best I have ever used: despite their 45mm profile, they are very predictable and stable in crosswinds, the breaking is excellent for carbon rims, even in wet conditions (this is exceptional enough to be highlighted). These wheels offer a very low friction level, resulting in “free speed”, this is very noticeable as you ride along regardless of your speed. One last very positive point, Edco wheels come with a patented cassette system, compatible with Campagnolo, SRAM and Shimano, which is unique. If, like me, you own bikes equipped with different groupset manufacturers, you’ll still be able to switch wheels between them, while other cassettes won’t allow it.
Back to the bike! On the road, it is both a rocket & probably the most comfortable bike I’ve ridden. Like the previous bike I tested and my own, the Look 695 was equipped with 25mm tyres (Continental Grand Prix 4000SII). In terms of comfort and performance, 25mm is now the benchmark for most manufacturers. The Look’s frame offers good clearance so 25 or 26mm are a no brainer both at the front and the back. The secret of this bike’s comfort is the elastomer logged at the top of its integrated seat tube: it dampers roads imperfection for your upper body but doesn’t compromise the power you produce (technically, being more comfortable, you’ll be able to produce power for a longer period of time).
I rode this bike again and again, and never really wanted to head back home, it is truly playful and the direction is very precise: I had great fun downhill with it, feeling immediately very comfortable at its control. It is so comfortable, you won’t necessary realise how fast you were, checking Strava will quickly demonstrate it though!
It is a very polyvalent bike with this particular set of wheels, perfect for rolling hills and flat courses. Go for a lower rim profile, and it will be an awesome companion for climbs in the Alps or the Pyrénées. It was with a heavy heart that I had to bring the bike back to the shop: what more could I tell you to demonstrate how wonderful this bike is.
Laurent also wrote a review of the Storck Aernario here.