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The LOOK 586 Origin – looking fine with Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 carbon clinchers on each end and Vancouver in the background.
What’s Cool About LOOK Cycles – a Brief Review
1. They make their own stuff. Yup – they own two factories (in France and Tunisia), where they design, mould, build, produce, paint, and ship all their carbon bikes – no outsourcing here.
2. They Innovate. Regardless of how conservative or provincial an outsiders’ perception is of the French (based incorrectly on Parisians and ASOnians), the guys at LOOK have continued to push with new bike designs especially in the last few years – they were the first to perfect the clipless pedal 25 years ago, and showed us the world’s first Integrated seat post design (the E-Post) that had some genuine benefit other than aesthetics with some vibe damping.
3. They know racing. They’ve been involved in pro team sponsorship for as long as I ca remember (which for me goes back to 1985), and that’s proof they love bike racing as much a we do, and the brand image is built on competition – not city bikes, comfort bikes, or electric bikes.
I first rode the 586 at LOOK’s 2008 model launch last July, but didn’t really get to dial the fit until my tester arrived this winter – and the bike quickly grew on me. The fit of the 586 came together for me in short order, and as I’ve had a mix of 4-5 other test bikes come through in the past couple months, the 586 has risen into my top-group for ride quality, of which fit is a key component.
‘Ride Quality’ – that personally defined measurement we each have for any bike – for me it’s a combo of well-placed stiffness, long ride comfort, climbing ‘agility’ (great for dodging rabid chipmunks) and descending stability. Maybe a lot to ask, but that’s the ante in the top tier of high performance bikes these days.
Look has evolved their own design into a nice package that blends stiffness where it’s needed with the comfort I want. Although it’s ‘officially’ aimed at club riders and any one who wants a comfortable ride, you’d never know this bike isn’t a racer. I suspect however, we’ll see a LOOK follow suit like they did with 595 and 585’s and introduce a 586 “Ultra” version next year. While the 586 is reasonably stiff as is, there are always the guys who “need” that “next level” of stiffness and those few less grams.
For anyone who appreciates nice curves, this frame should float your boat. I think the LOOK 595 has nice lines – so no surprise that the more I live with the 586, the more I like looking at it… which can be a problem on my rides…
The obvious story here is the frame – the lines are curved, smooth and flowing, in sharp contrast to LOOK’s other 5-series lugged designs. The 586 frame’s front triangle is formed as single piece in a large mould, to which the rear triangle is then attached. The process requires less material than their lugged frames, hence the weight savings.
The not so obvious story is the ride – until you take it for a spin – but I’ll get to that later…
The built in cable guides on the headset – nice touch to save the paint.
The head tube, downtube, and bottom bracket unit provide a solid platform to resist pedaling and riding forces from the head tube down through the bottom bracket. The down tube starts out from full width of the head tube and widens as it flows toward the bb.
The head tube is built to LOOK’s 1.125” top bearing and 1.25” bottom bearing standard, which coupled with LOOK’s HSC6 fork provides a stiff front end that defies noticeable flex.
Also new on the 586 is the Look HEAD FIT System, which threads onto a special insert and attaches the forks to the frame independently of the handlebar stem, allowing riders to change bars without affecting the headset tensions or adjustment. This may not mean a lot to the average rider, but I certainly liked it as I swapped out 3 sets of bars and stems I the first month I had the bike.
The seat tube transitions from ovalized at the top, down to trapezoidal where it joins the bottom bracket. The down tube starts full width of the head tube at the front end junction, and transitions to a slight box-shape where it flares to join the bb.
It’s plain to see in these 2 pics how beefy the stays are where they become part of the bottom bracket. And what looks like a lot of material is more importantly shaped tubes to specifically anchor the bottom end against pedalling forces – without adding unwanted- or unneeded weight.
The chain stays are almost full bb height at the junction, but quickly transition to a much thinner, but wider plain about midway to the rear axle.
The shapes of the seat- and chain-stays are both sexy and functional. Also note how the seat tube flares considerably as it approaches the bottom bracket.
Given the variety of shape and material make up available to create the tube sets these days, it’s no wonder ride performance can be dialed considerably throughout a frame. The rear stays on the 586 are no different, and Look have absolutely thrown in some shape. What you can’t see is their choice of carbon mix and layup that also impacts the ride quality. So although there are a lot of different ways to get from A to B (ie: create a tube set that delivers the manufacturer’s desired ride quality), Look has one that really delivers in my key categories of:
• lateral stiffness to hold the rear wheel as true as possible under all different pedaling forces,
• vertical compliance to aid in ride comfort, and
• sexy shapes that just look cool.
The rear dropouts are super-hard carbon, molded in unison with the rear stays, but done at much higher pressure to make ‘em hard enough to handle the QR compression loads and a lot of shock and vibration. They’re a tad lighter than alu-drops, and the bolt-on alu derailleur hangar is replaceable.
LOOK’s signature E-Post gets an update for ’08 with a Titanium bolt, plus a redesigned elastometer that is built into the seatpost (and changeable) and eliminates the need to run multiple elastometer rings to dial your desired ‘comfort’. It offers 3cm of vertical adjustability, which is more than a lot of integrated posts.
The sleek integrated seatpost comes with 3 densities of elastometers – gray, red, and black, and a lot of spacer sizes ranging from 1mm – 10mm in thickness – enough for even minute saddle adjustments.
Although not the lightest seatpost around, it remains a viable design, offers huge for/aft adjustment and is even reversible. I like to run my saddle a bit more forward, which can end up looking goofy with some seatpost setbacks… but not here.
Tri-guys will love the new reversible E Post R32 with it’s +/- 32mm of for/aft adjustment, which also features a side-pull single bolt adjuster – which also comes on the new R5 model for folks who prefer very little setback, or lots of downward tilt.
I tested all 3 of the bumpers and found the differences to be small, but noticeable. I actually found all three quite comfortable to ride with, but settled on the black one mostly because I liked the color. This bumper system does a great job of smoothing the ride, while allowing the frame to be as stiff as needed.
The 586 comes in your choice of colors – the all black raw carbon finish I tested and this sexy red-black number.
The 586 is sold ‘technically’ as a frame/fork combo – allowing customized builds any way you like. I bolted on FSA’s new K-Wing Compact bar, and OS 99 stem. The K-Wing as long been a staple in the FSA stable, and as their Compact-style bar selection grows, it’s a welcome addition to see the K-Wing built with the shorter 80mm reach and 125mm drop distances.
The black carbon weave bar accented with red and white graphics is a perfect match for the 586. The 220g gram posted weight ain’t the lightest we’ve seen, but the comfort and cool curves more than make up for that.
The K-Wing ride and bend is pretty nice – and I like more with every ride. It took me only a few minutes to get used to the slightly higher position of the flats, which then transitions at the bend back to its original height from the stem. This ‘drop’ also provides a large flat platform to transition into the lever hoods – and matched perfectly with the SRAM Red levers I used for a smooth & flat gripping surface.
The bar is ‘ergo’ shaped on the tops – ovalized instead of round – which offers a wider platform to fit the palms of hands. The lower front profile of the tops should also reduce wind drag compared to traditional shaped round bars. This width also carries through the bend before narrowing for the hoods – extending the wider platform.
The drop is ‘ergo’ curved – starting in a tighter radius before relaxing as the curve extends – the result is a ton of comfortable places to grip that should suite a lot of riders.
I found a slight interference as the bar tops contacted my arms when in the drops – but only when sprinting or out of the saddle – and only if I was gripping the bars really deep into the drop. It certainly wasn’t enough to change my opinion though.
I taped my set only to just past the bend into the tops, as the shape already fit nicely into my hands, and it was obvious the sweet carbon finish and graphics looked cooler than even FSA’s own bar tape.
Built in cable guides under the bar tops allow for clean stashing of cables from all levers (that means from leads on inside and/or outside of the bar curve.) There’s plenty of room for cables to run clean through, but not enough for anything to rattle – outta sight outta mind.
The OS-99 CSI STEM is forged and CNC-machined AL7050/T6 aluminumm wrapped in a glossy carbon 3k weave finish. It features 6/4 Titanium hardware and weighs in at 118 grams – a nice looking match to the bar and bike.
Next up I bolted on SRAM’s new RED gruppo. My full review is coming later, but it’s markedly improved over FORCE in several areas – weight, shifting actuation, and lever adjustability being the stand out points.
The RED levers feature strong springs for super positive feel and ‘zero-loss’ cable actuation’ for no mechanical lag in shifts. The levers retain their excellent shape, but now come with adjustability to set ‘em up for different reach distances – allowing perfect set up for any sized hands.
The RED front derailleur now comes with a titanium chain guide, further reducing weight, and due to a redesign in the left shift lever mech, now features a trim position for the big ring, while the small ring trim spot has been eliminated. With pro riders spending a lot more time than most riding in the big ring, it was a logical improvement.
Red’s rear derailleur still has the same positive shifting snap as the Force version, but now has ‘Exact Actuation’ that eliminates idle lever play, and engages cable pull at the slightest lever movement.
Now back To Our Regularly Scheduled Bike Review…
It’s hard to not have fun when riding a bike you feel good on and if I didn’t have a bunch more bikes to test, I’d be having a lot more fun on the 586.
• Climbing – This bike just felt great both climbing seated and standing, and on the bar tops & hoods (the two places that account for 90% of my uphill positioning). Power transfer feels solid while both seated and standing, and regardless of grade, there was never any ‘mushiness’ through the drivetrain.
At the Tour of California Expo, the 586 was clearly the big attention getter , as LOOK Cycles-USA showed a sub-14lb model, and this custom one-off in retro La Vie Claire livery. Look had no plans for mass production of this paint scheme, until the emails started rolling in, so they ordered 50 from HQ – and they sold out in a day…! We’ll let you know if they plan any more…
I ran the bike on both the spec’d Mavic Kysrium ES wheels, and my ‘house set’ of Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 wheels. The overall ride was nice with both, and even with the Mavics (which I find not that great at absorbing bumps) the bike still felt very comfortable, while the handling and ride remained crisp on the more forgiving Bontragers.
Overall handling is quick and responsive, but without a harshness that a super stiff frame would deliver – LOOK’s combo of wheelbase (slightly shorter wheelbase when compared to same sized models from other recently tested brands), and also in their choice of head & seat angles seemed to be just right for my tastes. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, just LOOK’s own way of presenting the ride as they want it.
Forgetting the geometry numbers, this bike dives into hard, fast curves, and really does feel connected to the road. Planting my foot on the outside pedal and pushing – it’s easy to find the sweet spot through the turns. Some riders will interpret the ‘agility’ as being less stable than their current ride, but I found any ‘quickness’ noticeable only in side by side comparisons with other bikes, and it quickly evaporated after a few miles alone with the 586.
Having now spent quality time with both the LOOK 595 Origin and the 585 Origin, I can only say I’ve found a new sweetheart from the French brand.
• Price: US $3995.00 Frame/ fork/ headset/ E-Post
• Get more info at LOOKCYCLE-USA
• And special thanks to ObsessionBikes.com for the build!
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