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First look: Look 795 Aerolight frame

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Jul. 29, 2014

PARIS (VN) — Look doesn’t play it safe.

The company’s new 795 Aerolight road frame oozes integration, stepping into a realm typically reserved for narrowly-focused, ultra-aggressive time trial bikes. It’s another bold step from the relatively small French brand, which has never been afraid to throw out tried-and-true designs, the modern headset and stem for example, in favor of its own inventions.

The brakes are hidden away, tucked inside the fork and under the bottom bracket. The cables, housing, and Di2 wires are only seen for a brief moment before they dive into the frame, away from the wind. The bike’s clever Di2 routing is among the cleanest the industry has ever produced. Even the stem is tucked away, notched into a steeply rising head tube to create a single, uninterrupted swoop of a line from the handlebars back to the rear dropouts.

The looks, well, you either love them or you hate them. The 795 is a piece of industrial design that is either ahead of its time, or woefully off the mark. I’d argue for the former; lovers of classic lines will certainly see the opposite.

795 Aerolight aerodynamics

The 795’s integration serves a purpose beyond tidy looks, of course. Look’s goal was to develop an aero road frame that could compete with the best available — bikes like Cervelo’s S3, the BMC TMR01, and Felt’s AR series.

To that end, the 795 borrowed aero features from bikes already in the company’s range, notably the brakes from the 695 aerolight and integrated stem from the 675, and combined them with deeper, more aerodynamic, NACA (National Advisory Council for Aeronautcs) tube shapes throughout the frame.

Look did not provide test results relative to its peers, but does claim that the new frame decreases drag by 8.7 percent relative to the 695. Based on our recent wind tunnel testing of that frame (available in the July issue of Velo), the 795 should fall in the same ballpark as the fastest frames available.

Brake details

The 795 uses the same front brake that was debuted on the 695 last summer. The small linear-pull brake sits inside the fork legs, with each arm flush with the outside of the fork. Look claims that the brake is 20 percent more powerful than a traditional brake, and VeloNews testing can indeed confirm that it’s a powerful solution. Modulation is somewhat diminished, though.

The rear brake will be based around the Shimano direct-mount standard, and is located behind the bottom bracket on the chainstays. The 695, which places its rear brake in the same position, had some issues with brake rub under high load, so the chainstays of the 795 have been stiffened considerably. Looks says that the rubbing issues are now gone.

Of course, integrated brakes are not for everyone. Swapping wheels takes a bit more time, and the brakes cannot be easily adjusted for different rim widths. Thankfully, Look will also sell a version of the 795 with traditional caliper brakes mounted on the fork and seat stays. The company expects about 75 percent of customers to opt for the fully integrated version, but wanted to make the traditional brakes available for racers.

Brake cable routing is clever and clean. The cables enter the front of the head tube and are then routed around the headset bearings before splitting towards their respective brakes. Di2 wire routing enters at the same port and exits at the derailleurs. The frame even includes a slot on the top tube that hides away the Di2 junction box completely.

Integrated stem

The 795’s integrated stem is identical to the stem found on Look’s 675 endurance frame. It’s light — just 160 grams — and offers an impressive range of adjustment, from 17- to 13-degrees. With the 110mm version installed, that’s just under 60mm of vertical adjustment. You’ll get more with a longer stem, less with a shorter one.

Of course, a traditional stem/spacer setup will still provide more range of adjustment. If you ride with a particularly high or low bar position, take a very close look at the geometry charts. The front end of the 795 has been built in between traditional race and endurance geometries, so it should work for most riders but not everyone.

There is some room for adjustment along the fork steerer as well, but raising the stem will interrupt its smooth transition to the top tube. The 795 uses Look’s Head Fit 3 headset, which allows for stem adjustments without altering headset adjustment. There’s no compression cap, just a carbon ring that threads onto the steerer itself to compress the bearings.

The stem is available in lengths from 80 to 130mm, in 10mm increments.

New E2 seatpost

Look has used its integrated E2 post for years, which slots into an extended seat mast and is adjusted with rubber spacers, but the 795 gets an updated version. The shape has changed due to the bike’s aerodynamic seat tube, and it’s 30 percent lighter. Best of all, though, is the new locking mechanism; a single half-turn of an allen key is all that is required to loosen or tighten the post.

The new E2 post is compatible with Monolink saddles as well as standard railed saddles.

Look 795 technical specs

The 795 will be available in two versions, the Aerolight, with integrated brakes, and the Light, with standard brakes.

Six sizes are on offer, from XS to XXL.

Look did not provide a bare frame weight, noting only that the 795 weighs about the same as the 695 — around 1,000 grams. Module weight, which includes frame, fork, crankset, seatpost, headset, stem, and brake calipers, is claimed to be 2,400 grams.

Look’s Tunisian factory is producing the 795 now, and frames will being shipping in the next few weeks.

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Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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