Look's 566 combines racing heritage
with civilized ride quality and a choice of pure components.
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Thor Hushovd scores another victory for Look.
Look may be the top winning road bike brand over the previous
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.