French firm LOOK are one of the most innovative carbon bike builders in the world. The 695 frameset being used by the Coﬁdis team sets a whole new benchmark for component integration. Despite being tested alongside some of the best bikes in the world, it has also reset our smooth yet super-fast performance expectations in the course of the test process.
Ride & handling: Surprisingly smooth and comfy despite impressive power
With the massive box-section stem, similarly monolithic frame tubes, claims of a chainset that is 50 percent stiffer than most competition, and the Super Rigid badge, we were expecting a brutally unforgiving ride. We got a real surprise when the front end of the bike was remarkably smooth riding over rough sections.
Stay in the saddle and the medium elastomer seatpost insert also does a very good job of sucking out sting from edges and potholes. There’s a noticeable difference when you swap between the soft and hard options, which we’d equate with reducing or increasing tyre pressure by 5-10psi respectively.
The fat Firecrest proﬁle Zipp wheels also help take some sharpness out of bigger hits, but it’s deﬁnitely the frame that’s doing the majority of the road-smoothing work.
There’s a bit of bounce from the broad bars and stem if you really wrench them about out of the saddle, but the frame certainly isn’t giving anything away in terms of wattage. It surges forward with super-powerful purpose as soon as you even think of sprinting, and even our most muscular sprinters were impressed by the direct drive of the crank and frame combination.
It’s particularly impressive driving hard in the saddle at higher speeds, where the cadence smoothing comfort and aero advantage of the deep rimmed Zipps really make themselves felt. While there’s a fractional hesitation as the wheels light up, it accelerates and climbs with an insatiable appetite that aggressive riders will love.
The new Firecrest rim proﬁle makes the 404s really great handling wheels even in gusty wind conditions. They shove across slightly in strong winds, but they never snatch, wobble or wander randomly. They increase stability and turning authority in high-speed sprint or descending situations too, making the LOOK extremely easy to ride fast or very far – or both. The surprising comfort levels, easy handling and seated power delivery also make it a great bike to ﬁt aero bars to.
Frame & equipment: Light frame and fork and uniquely adjustable chainset
While most framesets come with frame, fork and maybe a seatpost and speciﬁc stem, the IPACK kit also includes a dedicated ZED crank and bottom bracket. This unique one-piece carbon crank in a 65mm diameter bottom bracket comes in at an ultra-light 320g without rings.
The spider also takes compact or standard sized rings. Thanks partly to an external collar system that removes the need for a heavy internal steerer plug, the fork also weighs under 300g. Despite the big rectangular-section main tubes, the frame comes in at well under a kilo, creating an ultra-light chassis. You can also choose between the stiffer, sprinter-style Super Rigid SR back-end version tested here or a smoother standard layup frame.
The integrated ZED 2 chainset is super light yet stiff
The rider interaction points are equally innovative. The massive box-section C-Stem uses a wedge and clamp system to give inﬁnite angle adjustment within a 13-degree to -9-degree range. This effectively gives 35mm of change in bar height without you needing to swap spacers or saw down the fork.
The E-Post uses a combination of an extended seat mast and a plug-in top section with switchable elastomers of different density. This setup lets you choose between a soft, medium or ﬁrmer ride in the saddle without weighing any more than a standard super-light seatpost.
Internal cable routing, Di2 preparation and a range of colour options complete a properly standout frame package. At £3,799 for the complete setup it’s relatively good value too.
For another £3,200 you get the no-holds-barred Coﬁdis Team Replica. This includes SRAM’s super-light Red groupset (with a Force front mech), Zipp Service Course carbon bars and Zipp’s 404 Firecrest CCL wheels shod in top Schwalbe rubber. LOOK’s own Keo 2 Max carbon composite pedals and Fizik saddle provide premium contact points.
However, while the ZED cranks are impressively stiff underfoot, the shifting across the rings is absolutely appalling despite repeated adjustment. Thankfully, LOOK are in the process of upgrading the old rings to top-quality forged Praxis Works pieces as standard. This should shift a whole lot better.
Origin: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear