Look are best known for their market-leading clipless pedals but the French company also packs plenty more innovation into their range of carbon frames. The 585 Optimum is a frame and forks package that’s built for speed but also with a real focus on comfort. It’s got ‘sportive machine’ written all over it (no, don’t be silly – that's a metaphor).
The 585 Optimum is made from VHM (Very High Modulus) carbon fibre and it’s a lugged design rather than coming out of a mould more or less fully formed like a monocoque. It’s assembled from tubes bonded into connectors at the joint points. Think about how the pipes are joined in the plumbing around your house – it’s a similar concept. Kind of. It's also the way Colnago and Verenti make their top end bikes.
The 585 Origin (same price) comes in a fairly standard racing geometry but the 585 Optimum – our one – has a top tube that has been shortened by 15mm and a head tube that has been lengthened by 16cm. So the head tube on our XL model is 191mm instead of 175mm on the equivalent Origin.
That might not sound like much but it makes a big difference to your overall ride position. You sit considerably more upright than normal on this bike – higher at the front with less stretch to the bars. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not sit-up-and-beg – get down on the drops and it’s fairly aggressive – but it’s not as racy as a standard set-up.
Is that a good thing? It depends what you’re after. It’s certainly more relaxed, puts less strain on your back, and you don’t feel like you’re leading with your head as much. But, on the flip side, your upper body isn’t as flat so you take more wind on your chest. In other words, it’s less aerodynamic. Or, you’re less aerodynamic when you’re on it.
We ended up positioning the stem as far down the fork steerer as possible just because we like that low down and dirty arrangement. In fact, we’d have been better off with the standard 585 geometry, but that’s just a personal preference. If you want more back-friendly height, particularly for long rides like sportives, this could be spot on for you.
Even with the bars as low as we could get them, this is a comfortable bike. As we said, the 585 Optimum comes as a frame and fork package (complete with headset and seatpost) so you can build it up however you like. Ours came with SRAM Force gearing and deep-section S80 wheels. Our times over regular rides say that those wheels are quick but they’re not exactly yielding, yet we felt perfectly comfy aboard the Optimum 585 over the course of two or three century rides – maybe more, now we come to think about it. The frame silences road chatter really well with just enough give through the wishbone seatstays to keep you riding ache free as you rack up the miles.
Efficiency is good too. The bottom bracket shell, for example, is made using ‘Compressed Carbon Technology’. This means that high pressure is applied when the unidirectional carbon fibres are in the mould to increase the stiffness without adding weight. Up front, the head tube is effectively one large lug and it handles the stresses and strains really well when you get aggro. Combined with Look’s HSC 5SL full-carbon monocoque fork – and, in our case, those sturdy S80 wheels and a humungous square-section stem – it provides plenty of rigidity when you fling the front end about.
The 585 Optimum is surprisingly light too. We don’t think it looks especially light – maybe that’s just us – the small sized frame weighs in at 990g while our XL was a very respectiable 1100g. That’s properly feathery. And you’re looking at a claimed 285g for the fork – a bit lighter if you cut the steerer down. Again, seriously light.
The S80 wheels, on the other hand, aren’t especially lightweight; they’re clearly designed with aerodynamics as the main priority. Yet our complete bike (without pedals) – size XL – still came in at 7.92kg (17.4lb). You could easily drop a chunk off that with skinnier wheels… as we did for a few hilly rides. And a top level groupset like SRAM’s Red or Shimano Durra-Ace would be perfectly at home on a frame like this.
As it is, the 585 Optimum accelerates and climbs admirably with the frame stiffness really coming into play when you get out of the saddle and stomp. There’s a crispness about it that feels great, and no sensation that you’re chasing the bottom bracket around as you put the power in. It’s equally good on the descents with the fork performing with an accuracy that belies its light weight. We half expected it to go walkabout through the tight stuff, but no, you get a confident, assured ride.
One other feature that’s worth mentioning is that rather than a standard headset, you get Look’s Head Fit 2 system fitted here. This consists of a threaded collar attached to the steerer tube and a carbon ring that you tighten down onto the top of the head tube, doing away with the need for a compression plug. This means you can adjust your stem without affecting the headset – you can take it off for travel if you want and the bearings will still be correctly adjusted. And you can adjust your headset without affecting your stem too. Plus, without the compression plug, it saves about 40g. It’s a neat system – we like it.
Overall, the Look simply works. You can get lighter bikes, you can get stiffer bikes, and you can get more comfortable bikes. But the Look's strength is that it scores highly on all three making it a very strong all-round package. For sportive-type riding – long rides where comfort really counts – it's a winner.
High-quality carbon frame and forks package that's light, stiff, and super-comfy – an impressive all-rounder with a sportive-friendly feel
road.cc test report
Make and model: Look Optimum 585
Size tested: XL
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Would prefer the standard geometry model
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 39 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.