The Look 765 is a new endurance bike with a performance edge, comfortable over long distances but with a quick turn of speed when it's time to turn up the power.
The 765 is at its best over long rides – a few hours with your mates at the weekend, a 100-mile sportive, a long day in the hills, that sort of thing. How come? Because this is bike that you'll probably be able to stay comfortable on for a long time.
Hit the rough roads – that's most of them round our way – and you'll notice that this bike comes with a level of damping fitted as standard. You don't get quite the level of chatter of many other performance-orientated road bikes out there, particularly from the back end. The longer you're in the saddle, the more you'll appreciate that.
Even if you sit down a bit too hard, you'll notice more spring than usual, and less of a thud (just a touch). Granted, 20cm of slim (27.2mm diameter) seatpost extending out of the frame contributes to that feeling, but the fact that the top tube slopes downwards considerably between the head tube and the seat tube means there's going to be a fair amount of seatpost on display for you too.
On the other hand, the 765 also feels like a race bike in many ways. Yes, it has an endurance geometry (I'll talk you through that in a mo) but it's up for a right good hammering (it's a technical expression!). It climbs pretty quickly and it feels secure and trustworthy on the descents and through the turns, although a lower front end would have given me more of an 'attack' position in both of those situations. Despite its height, the head tube holds steady when you get out of the saddle and the oversized bottom bracket does a similar job in the centre of the bike.
Look has tweaked the geometry on this its new endurance frame from that of its standard race bike, like every other manufacturer, giving a less stretched out riding position that many people are going to find more comfortable over longer distances. If numbers don't do it for you, skip the next couple of paragraphs!
We have the large sized 765 in on test and it comes with a 569.1mm effective top tube (compared to the 572.9mm top tube you get in the Race geometry of a 795) while the head tube is 206.3mm (compared to 184.7mm). The 765's stack height (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 602mm (compared to 582mm) and the reach (the horizontal distance between those two points) is 385mm (compared to 395mm).
The long and the short of it is that the 765 has a long head tube and a short top tube (I thank you!), at least compared with a traditional race bike. The riding position is a touch higher than that of a standard race bike, and a touch shorter – a tried and tested formula when it comes to endurance bikes. If, like me, you want to take out some of the headset spacers (we had a generous 35mm of them), you can still get yourself a reasonably aggressive setup, it just won't be baring-your-teeth, punching-the-ribs aggressive.
Everyone alters the geometry when designing an endurance bike; what's less typical is that Look has thrown a bunch of linen fibres into the 765's mould.
Why the hell would it do that? Well, funnily enough, Look has an explanation.
“A layer of linen fibre has been positioned between the carbon thicknesses on the fork and chainstays to encourage the dissipation of vibrations. Another thickness of linen fibre placed around the tube inside the fork and chainstays provides better elongation properties for these tubes, again to filter micro shocks and vibrations that fatigue the cyclist.
“The inclusion of linen, with its vibration filtering properties, increases the bicycle's general performance: the cyclist's body being less loaded, all his energy will be concentrated on steering and pedalling. A real benefit for very long, tough outings.”
Look isn't the first brand to do something like this. Merida, for example, includes what it calls Bio Fiber Damping Compound in some of its bikes, including the Scultura. These are organic flax fibres (linen is produced from flax) designed to do a similar job: damp vibration.
Bianchi, on the other hand, uses a viscoelastic carbon material called CounterVail within the layup of some of its frames to cancel out road vibration to reduce muscle fatigue and save energy while improving handling and control.
Now if you were to ask me whether the linen fibre was damping the ride, I couldn't say for sure. How could I, unless I had another bike that was the same but without the linen fibre? All I can tell you is that this bike doesn't transfer too much road buzz up to the saddle or handlebar, although the 25mm tyres and, as I mentioned, lots of exposed seatpost doubtless play their part there.
One other frame feature that warrants a mention is the asymmetric back end. Look has made the driveside chainstay larger than the other one because of the greater forces it encounters. Many other manufacturers do something similar.
Combined with the big-volume down tube and the full-carbon PressFit 30 bottom bracket shell, those stays certainly provide a firm, stable section of the bike from which you can launch KOM assaults and bids for road-sign sprinting glory.
Other neat frame features include carbon dropouts and fully internal cable routing. The cable housing end stops are removable so it's easy to swap between Di2 electronic shifting and mechanical.
All the 765 complete bikes come with mechanical groupsets. The one we have for review is the top-specced version. Our bike came with an 11-speed Ultegra groupset that performed flawlessly throughout testing, as you might expect of Shimano's second-tier offering.
Ultegra is fabulous stuff. The slim shifters have a consistent, light action and changing gear under load rarely raises so much as a grumble. The dual-pivot brakes are exceptional with very high power from very little effort, even in wet conditions.
The lightweight chainset is almost as good. Look specs a compact option (with 50/34-tooth chainrings) and an 11-32t cassette. Such a wide range does mean you get a few big jumps in sprocket size, and I found that could break up the rhythm a bit, especially when moving up to the largest sprocket which is a whopping four teeth larger than the one next to it. That can absolutely destroy your tempo. That's hardly the point, though. Sling the bike into that smallest gear and it'll reduce the longest, steepest climb into something far less scary. Okay, you're not going to get anywhere particularly fast in the 34x32-tooth combo, but the important point is that you are going to get there eventually, and that's what you need at the end of a tough day on the road.
The Aksium wheels might be the lowliest in Mavic's road range but they're some of the best out there for the money (bought alone they're priced at 150 quid). With good bearings, reasonably lightweight rims, and straight-pull spokes, they're pretty quick and we've always found them to be very reliable.
On last Saturday's ride, one of my friends veered right as I was passing – it was a curious manoeuvre and we never did find out why – and his rear mech knocked into the spokes of the Aksium front wheel. Stuff like that usually doesn't end well. It didn't sound good, but the wheel really wasn't too bothered – no broken spokes, no effect on the trueness. That proves nothing on its own, of course, but other similar tales over the years convince us that these are very good wheels for the money. Continental's Ultra Sport tyres come in a 25mm width – that's become the new standard over the past few years – and they're equally reliable.
The FSA handlebar, stem and seatpost are solid if non-remarkable items, all 6061 aluminium. The Vero bar is a compact design with a drop (the vertical distance from the centre to the end of the drop section) of just 125mm. Even most pro riders are using compact bars now, and this certainly makes sense on an endurance bike where a tall front end is part of the DNA.
I like a Selle Italia saddle, always have done, and I found the Flow model here easy to get along with. 'Flow' is the term that Selle Italia uses to describe one of its saddles with a cutaway central section. I can take or leave a cutaway, but the fact that there's less material through the middle means that the saddle flexes more than it otherwise would, and I appreciated that, especially on longer rides.
If you can't or don't want to spend £2,299 on a bike, the Look 765 is available with Shimano Ultegra shifters and rear mech, a 105 front mech, FSA Gossamer chainset and brakes, and Mavic Aksium wheels for £1,999.
The cheapest option, priced at £1,799, comes with Shimano's mid-level but still excellent 105 groupset and Shimano RS010 wheels.
A comfortable endurance road bike that's capable of jumping into life when you crank up the effort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Look 765 Full Shimano Ultegra
Size tested: Large
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
It's a carbon-fibre monocoque frame and fork.
Seatpost FSA Gossamer, diameter 27.2mm, length 350mm
Chainset Shimano Ultegra 6800 50/34T
Cassette Shimano 105 5800 11-32T
Levers Shimano Ultegra 6800
Front mech Shimano Ultegra 6800
Rear mech Shimano Ultegra 6800
Chain Shimano HG600
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6800
Saddle Selle Italia Flow
Handlebar FSA Vero Compact
Stem FSA Omega +/-6°
Handlebar tape Look
Wheels Mavic Aksium
Tyres Continental Ultra Sport II 700x25
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
This is an endurance road bike.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Both are very good.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Look says: "The carbon is combined with natural linen fibres to filter vibrations from the road and so increase comfort on the bike. The composition of the 765 is mainly carbon because this material provides lightness, strength and general rigidity for the bicycle. A layer of linen fibre has been positioned between the carbon thicknesses on the fork and chain stays to encourage the dissipation of vibrations. Another thickness of linen fibre placed around the tube inside the fork and chainstays provides better elongation properties for these tubes, again to filter micro shocks and vibrations that fatigue the cyclist. The inclusion of linen, with its vibration filtering properties, increases the bicycle's general performance: the cyclist's body being less loaded, all his energy will be concentrated on steering and pedalling. A real benefit for very long, tough outings."
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Look says: "The 765 has Endurance geometry with a shorter, higher cockpit than on a Race geometry bike (for example the 795). The cyclist has a less stretched out position and so is more comfortable for long distances."
That about covers it.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The front end is taller than that of a standard road bike and a bit closer to the saddle, so you get a more upright riding position.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it's comfortable both in terms of geometry and the lack of road buzz.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes. Sometimes a tall head tube can feel a bit flexy, but not here.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
There are stiffer bikes out there, but the 765 feels pretty solid.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Just a tiny amount. Not a problem.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
I prefer a lower front end for really attacking the turns, but it wasn't like I felt I was sitting so upright that I couldn't get stuck in – a comfortable middle ground, I'd say.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The biggest effect is probably the compact geometry leading to a lot of seatpost exposure. That allows quite a bit of movement at the saddle. The 25mm-wide tyres provide decent cushioning, but that width is so common now it's barely worth a mention.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
You can't go wrong with a Shimano Ultegra chainset.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's mostly Shimano's second-tier Ultegra and that's very good stuff.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Mavic Aksiums are some of the best value wheels out there at their price point.
I guess if you really prioritise value you might go for next-level-down Shimano 105.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
You can bring the levers closer into the bar for riders with smaller hands.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? I'm not after a bike of this geometry. If I was, I'd consider it.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Although you can get carbon fibre road bikes equipped with Shimano Ultegra groupsets for under £2,000, you'll find others that are considerably more expensive than the Look 765. The full-carbon fork and the quality of the frame help to make this a very good bike.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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 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.