This article originally published on BikeRadar
Last week, in Corsica, French company Look launched the 695 Aerolight road bike in spectacular fashion – via helicopter. We gave you a sneak peek on BikeRadar, and now have full details on the aero machine being ridden by four Cofidis riders at the 2013 Tour de France.
The 695 Aerolight is the original Look 695 road bike with an aero makeover. It will be available in XS-XXL sizes, and each chassis kit will include a Look frame, fork, headset, Zed 2 cranks (minus rings), stem, brakes and seatpost for €4,699 with further pricing to be announced.
There will be several complete bike build options. Top of the tree will be the Premium Pro Team, with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels – this bike is said to weigh 6.6kg (14.6lb) with pedals but will cost an eye-watering €11,990. The same bike with Mavic Aksium wheels will cost €8,490.
An Aerolight 695 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 11-speed and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels will be €7,990. The cheapest complete bike spec will include Ultegra Di2 11-speed and Mavic Aksiums for €6,490.
New 1.5k carbon and integrated brakes
To develop the 695 Aerolight, Look combined knowledge gained from their Look 596 and L96 framesets, sponsored track riders, the Cofidis pro team, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and a wind tunnel. They also worked with Dr René Hilhorst, who spent 17 years as a Formula 1 aerodynamicist.
They’ve developed an ultra-light, high-modulus 1.5k carbon for the bike, using a greater number of thinner layers to create lighter, stiffer structures with fibres oriented for optimum strength. Unlike many manufacturers, Look do their own carbon pre-preg preparation and development, allowing ultimate control of the finished product.
The main feature of the new machine is its integrated brakes – Look are the first to have placed the front brake in the middle of the fork leg. The HSC7 fork has a vertical rectangular window, which Look believe prevents deformation under braking loads. In this window is housed the patented dual lever brake concept, which comprises twin brake arms – the outer remains flush with the fork leg, to preserve aerodynamics, and the independent inner operates the brake.
Said to improve braking by 20 percent, the design is also adjustable to work with rim widths up to Zipp’s Firecrest, and permits tension adjustment without any disassembly. The front brake cable routing is completely internal too, passing through the stem and steerer tube all the way to the brake. Claimed weights are 320g for the fork and 137g for the brake.
Very clean lines on the fork edge, and tension adjustment access holes in the outer brake arm
The rear brake is mounted under the chainstays, and is a V model developed with TRP. It weighs a claimed 130g and also has internal cabling that passes inside the bottom bracket shell. This is also adjustable from 17mm to Firecrest width, with the use of washers. Because the rear brake has been moved, the seatstays have no bridge or caliper above the wheel, which avoids the turbulence they cause.
Another new component is the Aerostem. It has a similar square profile to the chunky C-Stem, but is slimmer with a cleaner frontal profile. Instead of a conventional bolted faceplate, the system uses a semicircular carbon cover – almost a shim – at the front of the bar. A thin stainless steel clamp then envelops the bar and holds it with two 3mm bolts, hidden in a stem recess protected by a magnetised cover.
Like the C-Stem, the 160g (claimed) Aerostem is adjustable from –13 to +17 degrees for a precise fit, and comes in 80mm to 130mm lengths in 10mm increments.
Each 695 Aerolight build comes with Look’s one-piece, 320g Zed 2 carbon crankset. It’s incredibly stiff and has unique triangular lobes within each crank, making it possible to alter the effective length to 170, 172.5 or 175mm.
The Look Head Fit 3 headset has a 1 1/2in lower bearing that fits directly onto the Continuous Fibre Design (CFD) tapered steerer. Its independent adjustment allows the stem position to be altered without the headset being loosened.
The Look E-Post seatmast design appears again, with coloured elastomer (three options) separating the frame and seatmast from the saddle clamp and offering some extra comfort – black is the hardest, red is average and grey is softest. There’s the option of a new bracket that hangs beneath the saddle clamp to support an internal Di2 battery.
The tubing has some aerodynamic shaping and, although it’s still largely square, Look claim it creates about 3 percent less drag than on the original 695. This measurement probably applies to the electronic cabled version, though, as with mechanical groupsets the Aerolight can be configured with removable down tube cable stops – together with the cables, this will interrupt airflow.
There are five colour options for the 695 Aerolight – the Premium Pro Team, as shown here; Premium Reflect, with bold reflective frame and wheel decals; Premium Heritage, which plays on the Look Mondrian logo; Flash Blue, which is black with blue highlights; and White Acid, which is white with acid green highlights.
First ride impressions
We rode a Look 695 Aerolight Premium Pro Team on a 40km Corsican route that had almost no straight or flat sections and would be a serious test for any bike. First of all, bike fitting was simple, with saddle height easily adjustable with inserts and stem positioning a cinch.
Corsica has more than its fair share of twisty roads, with endless blind corners, often with broken or melted tarmac and gravel in all the wrong places. When you’re descending on such roads for the first time, in a group of people who don’t know the roads either, you need a bike that’s responsive, agile, stable and predictable.
The combination of Zed 2 cranks, a massively strong BB65 bottom bracket area and beefy tubes gives the Aerolight immense lateral stiffness. No matter how hard you heave on the pedals, power is relentlessly channelled to the rear wheel, with no deflection at all. Acceleration and climbing are therefore very efficient, helped enormously by the super-stiff front end.
The integrated brakes on the Aerolight are wonderfully powerful but have great modulation, too, requiring less force though the lever but allowing great feel. The fitting of Zipp brake pads might have assisted this, as they’re compressible and grip the braking track tenaciously; the downside is that they wear out relatively quickly.
It’s impossible to comment on aerodynamic performance, but the Aerolight certainly seemed to gain speed faster downhill than the 695. It also demonstrated a more forgiving nature – the frameset wasn’t so rigid as to skip over bumps but offered a fine level of compliance and control when the going got rough.
We were surprised how fresh we felt after riding hard on such a tortuous route, and expect the Aerolight to prove a good choice over many more hours in the saddle.
For more information on Look products see www.lookcycle.com.
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