Look was established in Nevers, France in 1951. However, the company had little to do with the manufacture of bicycles during the earliest years of its existence as it was primarily involved in the production of ski equipment. However, before long the firm had diversified its activities and entered the lucrative bicycle sector.
During the 1980s, the company pioneered what became known as ‘clipless’ or ‘automatic’ pedals. Look’s redesigned pedals were an instant success. In 1985, Bernard Hinault went on to win the Tour de France riding a bike that had been kitted out with automatic pedals. In 1994, Look’s ski division was sold off with the cycle division gaining independence. Then, in 1998, Look Cycles was purchased by Dominique Bergin. Look is currently associated with a number of top cyclists such as the Frenchman, Laurent Jalabert. These professionals are regularly called up by the manufacturer for consultations on matters relating to bike design.
Here’s the lowdown on some of Look’s latest bikes.
The 595 is one of the most technically advanced of Look’s creations to date. The 595 Origin comes with a frame that reflects the very latest in carbon nanotube technology. Bike geometry has also been modified to maximise comfort and speed. The 595 Ultra differs from the aforementioned bike in that its frame is 15% stiffer than that of the Origin.
Most users appear to be pleased with the 595 Origin. However, a few have criticised this bike’s Look VO2 Mano Handlebars, which whilst aesthetically pleasing, fail to fulfill their function to a sufficiently high standard.
The 586 Road bike from Look comes with a state of the art monocoque carbon-filter frame which enhances its aerodynamic design and acts to absorb stress. According to dealers, this lightweight bike has been designed to provide the sort of performance and comfort that you’d expect from such a leading manufacturer. Riders have also responded favourably to this cycle, describing the 586 Road as a “smooth and forgiving” bike.
The 585 Origin is a light and comfortable bike. This bike comes with a state of the art frame made from Very High Modulus (VHM) tubes. The 585 Ultra shares many similarities with the Origin. However, the Ultra is considerably stiffer and is therefore designed for very powerful racers. In contrast, the 585 Optimum has been designed for those riders who place comfort above all else. This bike comes with a shorter frame and higher head tube to allow for maximum comfort. Look’s researchers have clearly done well with the Optimum – few riders fault this bike’s ability to provide a comfortable ride.
Like a number of other bikes in this series, Look’s 555 Road cycle makes use of ‘tube to tube’ technology. Tubes are moulded and then cut at the ends so that they can then be assembled by means of carbon-reinforced bonding. The 555’s geometry has been designed to maximise comfort. Additional comfort is guaranteed through the use of Look’s Comfort Concept Chainstays.
The 496 bike has been known to perform spectacularly during the most demanding time trials. Indeed, Thor Hushovd successfully won a number of stages during the 2006 Tour de France whilst riding the 496. The 496 comes with lightweight frame that is well-suited to road-racing and which is designed to increase comfort. The 496 Road bike is unlikely to leave you disappointed.
If you’re looking for the bike of champions, then the 496 Track Bike is likely to be a good candidate for that title. This bike was designed for the Athens Olympic Games and is aimed at the toughest and strongest cyclists. Available in three sizes, Extra Small, Small and Medium, this bike weighs about 400g less than cycles in Look’s previous track ranges. The 496 Track features a handmade frame which, on average, takes manufacturers about 100 hours to construct. Reviewers have described Look’s 496 Track cycle as one of the “all-time great cycle designs.” This is a bike that’s certain to deliver.
The 496 Tri bike has been designed to incorporate some of the best features of the 496 Track cycle. However, the bike’s weight and stiffness have been reduced to ensure that it complies with the strict regulations surrounding competition in triathlons. The seat has been positioned at a specific axis to ensure that the bike is as aerodynamic as possible. Furthermore, the 496’s design has been specially formulated to exert the least possible strain on athletes, allowing them to maintain their energy levels for the other stages of this tough competition. According to its owners, the 496’s integrated fork allows for high levels of stability. Riders have described the 496 Tri as “the perfect Tri bike.”
The 586 is one of the most elegant bikes in Look’s 2008 range. This bike comes with the company’s signature single-shell carbon frame and an overall structure that Look’s researchers believe will make this cycle as aerodynamic as possible. Riders can therefore expect a bike which, whilst lightweight, is sufficiently rigid to deal with the rigours of the triathlon. Riders have few complaints about this bike, describing it as being another one of Look’s “responsive and aggressive” creations. Owners have found that it performs well in all situations from “comprehensive hill workouts” to “flat rides”
Determined that the 986 should deliver even in the most competitive of environments, Look’s research team consulted Miguel Martinez, a medal winner at the Sydney Olympics and a four-time World Champion, over the design of this bike. As such, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the 986 VTT bike has been manufactured using the latest developments in cycle technology The 986 VTT weighs a mere 9.4 kg (including pedals) at its smallest size. You’ll find that the saddle has been carefully constructed to allow for increased shock absorption and minimal vibrations. This lightweight cycle has also been specially designed to maximise the rider’s comfort through the use of state of the art braces. In the words of Martinez, this bike is “easy to use and comfortable” – definitely a good investment for any fan of VTT.