When most companies include a phrase like integration leads to the renewal of aesthetic codes in the product information we tune out. When that company is Look, we pay attention. After all, no other brand has delivered such a distinctive look with platform after platform.
Their latest bike, launched just in time for Le Tour, is a top to bottom update of the 695 , a bike we reviewed two years ago. This new bike, dubbed the 695 Aerolight took the platform in two directions. You guessed it, lighter and more aerodynamic.
Lighter was handled by materials and lay-up. New 1.5k weave was used and the tube thicknesses are thinner then the previous 695 because of it. Aerodynamics are handled by the obligatory aero tube shapes and more unconventionally, brake placement. While the rear brake is hidden under the bottom bracket, similar to the new Madone and a few other new bikes, it is the front brake that really caught our attention, or rather didnt, as it is almost invisible. Integrated into the fork blade itself Look claims the brake offers more stopping power than a traditional caliper brake, a claim we cant wait to test. Ridley displayed a similar concept years ago and let it languish in the shelf until finally releasing it with the Noah FAST. Looks version uses stand alone brake arms set up in a V configuration, unlike the Ridley which relies on carbon arms integral to the frame and fork. Wide rims are presumably no issue for frame as demo bikes were fitted with Zipp Firecrest rims.
Beyond these brakes integration is still the watch-word for Look, and they are one of the few companies truly delivering something different with their integration. The old C-Stem design is replaced with the Aerostem. Still angle adjustable, from 13 to +17degrees, and a substantial beam of carbon the design shaves 20grams and improves aerodynamics by forgoing the traditional faceplate with a band clamp. Although how much more aero is debatable. It cant be very significant. The new fork, integrated with the down tube, probably provides more aero savings and with continuous fibers from blade to steer tube does away with the need for a heavy steel bearing race at the crown.
The Zed 2 single piece crank set is part of the 695 Aerolight spec and should prove to be what it has always been incredibly light and incredibly stiff. It is truly an engineering marvel. Using massive 65mm bearings, it is threaded through the bottom bracket instead of being assembled from two separate crank arms. A three-lobe insert makes each crank adjustable between 170, 172.5 and 175mm crank lengths. Thanks to the integral carbon spindle the Zed 2 is the undisputed champion of crank set stiffness-to-weight ratio. Integration continues with the E-post system and its adjustable ride dampening elastomer and the Headfit 3 headset allows stem height adjustment without altering headset adjustment.
A new 695 Aerolight will cost a little over $6000 dollars for the frame set alone. Sure its expensive, but it does include the integrated Aerostem, E-Post and Zed 2 cranks. You can also be sure no other bike on the group ride will have the same aesthetic codes.