reviews
editorials
"how tos"
maintenance
race schedules
event reports
 
pageok

 

 
Look 566 2009
By Tom Demerly.
Read this first about our reviews

Look 566 2009

Look's 566 combines racing heritage with civilized ride quality and a choice of pure components.

Look 566 2009

Review Note: You’ll see a new look to our reviews for 2009. We’ve built a new studio specifically for our product photo shoots. The new photos will show greater detail where we can control color and lighting more accurately. We can devote more time to photographing details since we aren’t relying on weather for good conditions. We hope you find the new photo format useful. As always, we write and photograph all our own reviews.

Look 566 2009

Thor Hushovd scores another victory for Look. Look may be the top winning road bike brand over the previous decade.

I’m fond of the saying “Form follows function” and also enjoy a pleasant surprise. I’m pleased to say both apply to the Look 566.

Look’s new 566 is part of the emerging “performance luxury class” of road bikes. Think BMW 5 Series performance at Ford pricing. It is a bike filled with impressive surprises; a series of delights in the frame design, but also in the parts kit. In fact, when you go front wheel to back on the new Look 566 there is not a single error with the bike, and perhaps only a slight wrinkle with the logistics (more on that, read on…).

The Look 566 is what happens when a racing company decides to make a bike for how we really ride. Are we racers? Yes- we are. We ride hard and compete with our friends on club rides and in the occasional local criterium or road race. We ride spirited club rides that are really races, competitive tours, centuries and daily fitness and “training” rides. We aren’t doing the Tour de France but we may go there to ride up L’Alpe d’ Huez as a true disciple of the event.

Look 566 2009

What if you could combine race performance but add ride comfort? You'd have Look's new 566.

We’re racers; we ride with a competitive chutzpah. We don’t want a lame “comfort” bike with bland handling and pedestrian component spec from a generic brand that also makes child trailers. We want a sports car born of Formula 1, Tour de France racing lineage that has athletic road manners and thoroughbred looks. That is the Look 566.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

The unique design of Look's rear end provides incredible ride comfort: Leaf spring seat stays and chain stays combine to give vertical compliance (soaks up the bumps) and lateral stiffness (accelerates responsively).

No other manufacturer is better positioned to build the ideal performance luxury bike than Look. Look’s heritage is clear: Racing. No other bike company has been as scope-locked on racing as Look. In one Tour de France no less than four separate teams with competing interests rode Look carbon fiber frames. That is a bizarre happenstance considering the brutal competitive interests and likely alternate sponsorship opportunities. The implication is clear: These teams selected Look because the bikes offer a competitive advantage. It wasn’t a marketing move per se’, at the time Look bicycles were barely available in the U.S.

Look’s lineage cements their status as the leading carbon fiber road bike manufacturer. They control their own exclusive manufacturing, another feature that sets them apart from other brands. It is about the racing purity and bloodline. No other manufacturer is as prepared to make a bike like the Look 566 as Look Bicycles of France. Several have tried, but they fell short on both frame geometry and component spec.

Look 566 2009
A taller head tube is the concession to a less rakish rider position. The top tube dives quickly providing nimble response out of the saddle.

The two primary differences between the Look 566 and the Tour de France team bikes like the Look 595 is head tube height and angle: It’s higher on the 566 and a trifle more stable. The best news is the rest of the geometry remains essentially the same- meaning the chassis of the bike is a racing chassis. This is where other “performance comfort” bikes went limp but the Look remains a real racer. It takes less work to manage the speed of the 566 and it’s more comfortable since you manage the position of the handlebars relative to the saddle using less headset spacers. The head tube provides structural support of the cockpit, improving ride quality and handling. It is a better, more elegant solution than a stack of headset spacers without giving up race handling. The best of all worlds.


Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

A few nice details from a frame manufacturer that only does high end: Cable housing guides prevent frame scratches and maintain the precise position of cables for better shifting performance.

In addition to race-bred geometry the complex shaping of the frame enhances ride performance and comfort. It is a bike of complex details and shapes. The down tube is a square oval, already used with success by Cervelo. It is melded with a flat-ish leaf spring top tube for plush shock absorption. The seat tube is minimal and, as such, is discreet in its transmission of road shock. You don’t feel the bumps, but the down tube means you feel the thrust. The bottom bracket is a meeting of conflicting agendas: small diameter seat tube for comfort and massive, full width “squoval” (square-oval) down tube for responsive jump when you hit the pedals hard. The rear triangle uses every recent design concept for side to side stiffness and vertical compliance: Wishbone seat stay, leaf spring seat stays and chainstays, hour glass curve for both seat stay and chain stay. These shapes mean the rear end is stiff side to side but vertically compliant while retaining its racy geometry. Comfortable and snappy, race bred performance.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

Adding to the beefy bottom bracket stiffness is the integrated chainstay bridge shown alongside the leaf-spring chain stays (right). These combine to moderate the conflicting agendas of comfort and stiffness.

The Look 566 is sold with a choice of two component ensembles, Shimano’s new ice-gray Ultegra SL or SRAM’s Rival. While we love SRAM components we actually liked the Shimano equipped version of the 566 better. User reviews posted to roadbikereview.com tend to confirm this. The average user review of SRAM Rival was 3.83 of 5 stars while the new Shimano Ultegra SL faired better among user ratings at 4.18 of 5 stars. The component kits are pure on the Look 566. They include Shimano Ultegra brake calipers, chain, cogset and crank- there are no short cuts, no cut corners, no substitutions.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

A pure Shimano Ultegra SL component kit with Fulcrum aftermarket wheels and a high end, carbon fiber cockpit for under $3000 U.S. The solid component kit adds value to the frameset. A SRAM Rival version is also available for $2499 U.S.

Cockpit on the 566 is a true delight, The FSA CarbonPro 305 Compact ergonomic drop bar. I love this bar because of its comfortable bend and unusual, flat top section that increases the surface area of contact with your hand improving ride comfort. The bar is STI lever specific so there is a nice big flat section when riding on the hoods. A basic alloy 4 bolt clamp FSA stem joins your handlebars to the fork steer tube.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

Cockpit on the 566 is comfortable and a delight to use due to the unusual, flat profile of the upper handlebar combined with the shallow drop.

Look 566 2009

The fork on the 566 is another proprietary feature contributing to the bike’s ride characteristics. How do you make a fork comfortable with responsive, accurate steering? Simple: vary the profile of the fork blades. The fork on the 566 is designed specifically for this bike- it isn’t a generic fork used on other models. This is another advantage Look has over bike brands. Since they make their own carbon forks and frames, they can design them differently from other manufacturers. The fork on the 566 is an “F2D Frontal Flex Design”. It’s a long buzz word for a blade profile that tapers to control stiffness and flex. It works. The fork is racy in steering but comfortable in ride. This is another thing missing from other “performance/comfort” bikes. The fork is almost entirely carbon fiber: Steer tube, blades, everything is carbon fiber except the drop outs. As a result, it is very light at only 350 grams before cutting to size, and your dealer will likely cut a bit off saving even more weight.

The variable thickness profile of the fork helps to soak up road shock but still steers with precision. It isn't soft and it never chatters. The front end feels solid and confident but does not complain about course pavement and bad roads. This is like electronic ride control for the front of your bike. since the top of the crown is so hefty braking is sure footed and responsive.

Another nice surprise on the 566 is the wheel spec. The Fulcrum Racing 7 is made by Campagnolo’s Fulcrum division that supplies Shimano compatible race wheels to non-Campag users. It is a 24 mm deep truncated “V” section rim similar to the classic Mavic Open 4 CD profile. There is a lathe-turned braking surface for good wet weather stopping performance and a wear indicator line to see rim and brake pad abrasion. The front wheel uses 20 radially laced spokes with 24 cross-three drive side, radial non-drive side spokes on the rear. Even the quick release levers on these wheels are very nice. This wheelset is a cut above the normal original equipment wheels we’re seeing on other bikes in this price range. Total wheel weight is about 1850 grams.

The pleasant surprises continue with the tires: Hutchinson Equinox Pro Tech tires in 700 X 23c. This 66 thread per inch tire is fully Kevlar belted for puncture resistance and has a unique two-durometer compound for grip at high lean angles and low rolling resistance on the straights. This tire also uses Hutchinson’s performance tuned “droplet” cross section for increased traction when cornering but minimal rolling resistance when rolling on the flats. I like this tire very much. It is the perfect tire for original equipment as it combines the conflicting agendas of performance, ride comfort and durability. I wish more bikes used this excellent Hutchinson tire.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

It is nice to see something different (and better) for wheels and tires: Fulcrum Racing 7's shod with Hutchinson Kevlar Equinox 700 X 23c tires.

Look rounded out a perfect job on component spec with the FSA carbon fiber seatpost that has an easy to use two bolt adjustment head holding a Selle Italia XO road saddle, a good chair most riders will like very much even on long rides. The seatpost binder collar is a modular alloy one so no worries about stripping a bolt here.

There are few saddles that strike an equitable balance between comfort and weight as well as maintaining a low, sporty profile. The Selle Italia XO does both and has a benign, rounded profile. since the rider posture on the 566 is slightly more upright the wider hind quarter of this saddle is a logical design que. The saddle is deepish so you get additional suspension from the rails. There isn't a bad spot on this saddle. It isn't the lightest chair available, but trading some weight for a lot of comfort is a worthwhile exchange.

Look 566 2009

Finally, the finish of the 566 is truly nice with a pleasing paint scheme and enough carbon poking through to confirm its place on the periodic table of frame materials. The entire bike has a gloss finish, which I like. We all know that white/black /red is the de-facto color story in racing bikes and the arrangement of that color story on the 566 is sporty and flattering. The graphics are modern but not flashy. It’s a fine finish, good color scheme and a great overall look.

I can’t conjure a single criticism of the Look 566 as a bike. It’s the best in its class. It is a truly inspired convergence of great frame design and manufacture with an aftermarket quality component kit. They simply didn’t cut a single corner- not even on the tires. The frame is outstanding, best in this crowded category of sport/luxury road bikes. Everything about the frame and all the components is top notch. If I dig deeply for any criticism it is that the warranty is 5 years instead of lifetime. This may be more a reflection of Look simply not rewriting their warranties since the 1980’s than of the frame’s ultimate lifespan since carbon is generally more durable than any other frame material.

Look 566 2009

Look 566 2009

Flattened, "craned" top tube, Square-oval down tube, skinny seat tube and massive field-sprint bottom bracket combine the varied demands of conflicting ride agendas to create comfort, stiffness and a realistic riding posture.

Pricing on the Look 566 with Ultegra SL is another pleasant surprise at $2999. The 566 is $2499 for the SRAM Rival version. Considering the component kits with both spec, and the quality of the frameset it is like getting the component kit free. This positions the bike as Look’s least expensive road bike, and as such, a bit of a bargain for buying into the Look racing lineage.

The sport/racing performance category has enjoyed significant growth as riders become more aware of what they want and need in a nice road racing/performance bike. Manufacturers have had to stay one step ahead of increasingly sophisticated consumer expectations in this difficult category, one that combines racing expectations with more courteous ride quality. It’s a demanding category to design for, and it took a true race bred company like Look to build the ultimate category killer among performance luxury bikes.


 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
Site Designed and Maintained by: Intuitive Business Solutions

 
pageok