Look 675 - Review

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Brand: Look

Model: 675

Group set: Shimano Ultegra Di2 6770

Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR

The 675 was a new bike for the 2013 model year, though it was first unveiled in 2012. Combining elements from the 695 and 566, it is not meant to be a comfort bike, nor a race bike, but something in between. A comfort bike with some raciness, or a racy bike that is also comfortable, whichever you like. While it does have a slightly taller headtube than classic racing geometry, it is not as large as some of the American bikes in the same category. According to Look, it is a bike that is great for all occasions.

Check out the full review after the break.

The A-Stem

Bike came kitted with Ultegra Di2 6770 and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels. It is a very unique looking bike due to the clean lines formed from top tube to the integrated A-stem, a feature first seen on their 927 mountain bike. This design is said to increase front end stiffness by eliminating the need for spacers. While the system does look nicer than a stack of spacers and seems adequately adjustable, we can’t say that we noticed the front end to be any stiffer relative to other bikes in its class. The Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels also contributed to the 675 good looks with a blacked out brake track, thanks to the Exalith surface treatment, and the extra thick carbon spokes.

Unfortunately, acceleration was not on par with the bikes racy good looks. There was a noticeable delay between putting power on the pedals and feeling it on the bike. This made the bike feel heavier than it was, and our legs feel weaker. This is especially concerning considering the high zoot wheels on our test bikes. Normally, we feel that a good set of wheels is the best way to liven up any bike, but the 675 fitted with +$2k wheels felt dead. Not good.

Unfortunately, the wheels had flaws of their own. The brake track treatment is said to improve durability, power, and modulation, but in our experience the power was very good, the modulation was not, and the squealing was unbearable. So much so, that I found myself braking later and shorter, so I wouldn't have to hear as much noise, as well as carrying less speed going into turns. The braking had a bit of an on/off feel to it. I suppose that this is something you would get used to and adjust your riding style accordingly, but coming from the smooth, consistent feel of my Dura Ace 9000 brakes and wheels, it was a bit unnerving. To me, the quiet speed that a well tuned bike has is one of the things that made me fall in love with riding, and with all of the braking noise, I could never get comfortable on the bike to enjoy it.

Carbon spokes and Exalith brake track

A bit of a disclaimer about the wheels: this is not a long term test review; we only had a day with the bike. We received the bikes built and tuned by Look mechanics for the purpose of our ride, so we assume that they were properly set up. However, that didn’t stop us from making a few adjustments (grin). With a bit of tinkering, we were able to reduce (but not eliminate) some of the noise. When we brought this up with the Look representatives, and they told us that it was probably the result new wheels/new pads and should go away once broken in. We can only assume that this is correct given the amount of positive reviews these wheels have received from other media sources. Also, we didn’t get to test the wheels in wet conditions, where they are reported to really shine.

Enough about the wheels, how did it actually ride? Steering was solid and it did track well. As mentioned above, the front end was stiff, but not exceptionally so, about average with this class of bike. The 675 is true to its intent with stable and predictable handling, do in large part to the longer wheelbase/chainstays. Comfort was good, effectively muting most cracks and bumps, but not as impressive as one might expect from a bike with long haul aspirations.

The build kit takes an obvious shortcut with a 105 series cassette, which is a common industry practice, but hard to forgive at this price point. Working in the 675s favor is the fact that Look has a long and storied history in the cycling world. It is a hard to quantify allure of a french bicycle, and Look is definitely high on this author's desire list. Unfortunately, we did not feel that the 675 lived up to the heritage and high price. The 675 is also hurt by the fact that we were riding a number of very nice bikes around the time of this review, and did not benefit from the comparison.

Shown with the steel spoked Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels

As carbon road bikes continue to develop, we are required to make less compromises. While we were once willing to have a bit of extra weight and give up some responsiveness for a smooth ride, now there are more than a few bikes on the market today that are light, stiff, and fun while still delivering a stellar ride. We can’t help but feel that the 675 is a bit behind-the-times among the latest crop of performance bikes.

Andrew’s feelings for the bike were not helped by the fact that it almost killed him. He flatted on the front during a twisty descent. Things got a little hairy, but he managed to stay upright.

With all of that in mind, we would be hard pressed to recommend this bike, and feel that there are definitely some better options at much lower price points in domestic brands, and direct competitors in the premium ‘Euro-prestige’ sportive market. The 675 is a bike I was excited about, and one that I really wanted to like, but, unfortunately, I was let down.

Rating:

Comfort 3/4

Handling 2/4

Acceleration 1.5/4

Total = 10.6/20

Bonus:

Spec -1 for the 105 cassette

Appeal +1 Great looks, unique style, French racing heritage

Value -1 With an ‘as tested’ price of $7200, there are far better bikes at this price point

Final Rating: 4.8/10

Look seems to be aware of some of this bikes shortcomings and have addressed these issues for the 2014 season. They are now offering two versions of the 675: the original (which we rode) and a 'Light' model. The light has carbon headset races, bb shell, and fork dropouts. This leads to a reduction of about 120 grams. A much more important change, in our opinion, is the switch to tubeless ready wheels. For 2014, many Look bikes will come equipped with optional American Classic tubeless ready wheels. This is a wheelset that we are very excited about due to its low weight and extra wide internal width which promises to provide an impressive ride. We hope to have a pair of these to review in the coming season. Finally, while pricing for 2014 is yet to be finalized, word is that Look is going to be more aggressive with pricing in the North American market, which could make the 675 a bit more appealing in the coming season.

The new 675 Light