Guest Article: The Apple of Cyclops’ Eye

Guest Article: The Apple of Cyclops’ Eye

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Has anyone heard? Jeff in PetroMetro has a Look. So does Marcus. So does Ron, and probably some others who haven’t told us (over and over and over). So does Cyclops. His old bike – his Cannonwhale – suffered from a mathematical challenge more so than it did from one of performance.

Look is a brand that holds a seat at the table of legendary bike brands despite being relatively new to the market. My understanding is that they were originally involved in ski bindings and entered the cycling market by way of adapting the safety-release for bindings to pedals, thereby eliminating the need for toe clips. (I’ve tested the safety mechanism on ski bindings extensively, and by process of the “Signature Frank Double-Release”, can testify that the system works quite well.) They quickly moved into frame building, and by the mid-eighties, Bernard Hinault was winning the Tour de France aboard a Hinault-badge(re)d Look frame. The rest, as they say is History, and now Cyclops owns one. Enjoy.

Yours in Cycling,

Frank

28 of 200 – That’s what the little sticker on the downtube says.

Since I’ve worked at bike shops at various times in my life I’ve always had a fairly nice road bike.  I owned a Guerciotti labeled aluminum Alan with Super Record back in the 80’s, a Bridgestone RB1 in the 90’s, a Columbus tubed, Campy Daytona equipped Univega at the turn of the century, and about five years ago I got a hold of a used Dura Ace Cannondale CAAD5 that this Velominatus Budgetatus parleyed into a SRAM Force Cannondale Carbon Six.  All of them worthy steeds but none were the stuff that dreams were made of as far as I was concerned.

As is my wont – and I’m sure many other Velominati – much mental bandwidth has been devoted to meditating on what I would consider the ultimate bike.  There were many candidates to be sure – Cervelo R3sl, BMC Team Machine, Colnago C50, Pinarello Dogma, TIME RXR Ulteam – but LOOKs have always held me as a willing pawn to their voodoo.  Ask my wife, who knows as much about bikes as I know about rocket surgery, what would be my dream bike and it would only be a second or two before she blurted out “LOOK?”

But a dream is more than a frameset.  You need some sexy wheels and provocative parts to hang on the frame in question.  I’ve grown tired of all things Shimano and though I have been a Campy whore from way back I have been willing to risk a Schleckanical of the Red nature long before the term reared its entymological head.  In a nutshell  a LOOK frameset, SRAM Red, Zipp tubulars, and a cockpit decent enough to be seen in the same company of those three amigos would make me happier than a Frenchman in the Maillot Jaune.

As we all know the cycling gods can wax and wane from capricious blessing to mocking ridicule.  But I’ve done the best I can to fly under their radar in contentment rather than daring to hope and risk being set up for being toyed with by the powers that roam to and fro in the rarified heights of absolute top of the line bikes.  But from time to time the planets align and circumstances like 50th birthdays and changes in economic status present themselves so I decided that a new bike was within my grasp.  But I still did not want to be too pretentious and plop my cash down on a Cervelo R5ca or a Focus Izalco Ultimate.  So I set a limit of $7000 and I was not going to go one cent over that.  Unfortunately a LOOK with the aforementioned parts was closer to $8k.  But I could easily swing a Cervelo R3 or a BMC Race Machine.

Over the last few months I’ve sent queries to various bike shops and internet merchants seeking bids for one of these bikes equipped the way I wanted it and I’ve “built” LOOKs, TIMEs, and BMCs on Wrench Science and Competitive Cyclist so many times that I can see their web pages in my sleep.  But even these online outlets came in over the magic number so I narrowed it down to either a Cervelo R3 (with its BSright proprietary BB/crankset combo) or a Franco Balcom Road.  Julian at Franco pretty much had me sold on his wares seeing as his bike was going to come in at a grand less than the Cervelo so it was just a matter of giving him a call and handing over the credit card.

But I still kept punching LOOK Bikes into the search engine and clicking on the link to the LOOK site.  Then by chance I typed LOOK 586 into eBay the other day and BAM!!!!  LOOK 586 R-Light Limited Edition, new in the box, SRAM RED, Zipp 303 tubulars, $6000 right at the top of the list.  Are my eyes deceiving me?  This is a $10k bike.  Is it my size?  Is it some sort of cosmic scam designed to crush the spirit of this humble Velominatus?  I came home and told Mrs. Cyclops and her eye widened in excitement and she said “Shouldn’t you buy it before it’s gone?”  I immediately logged on and clicked “Buy It Now” and broke out in a cold sweat.  Did that just happen?  Did I just buy my dream bike?

[album: http://filemanager.dutchmonkey.com/photoalbums.php?currdir=/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/ken@eaglerockcycling.com/Cyclops LOOK 586/]

That was two Fridays ago.  The bike showed up today at 10am.  My boss, who completely neutered himself by buying a 700c, flat barred, I’m an obsequies pussy that thinks the “V” is a television show about hot aliens, comfort bike earlier this year was just as excited as I was to see what was in the box.  After all the oohs and aahs he was like “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”   I ran home and commenced the unpacking/assembly process.  Now before I actually pulled the trigger my wife kept asking “Are you sure this has everything the way you want it?”  “Well, I would like another set of pedals (I run LOOK Keo Carbons on my Cannondale) but I guess I can switch them from bike to bike for the time being.”  “I’m not sure about the seat either.  I hope it’s comfortable.”  Small concessions I must say.  But as I opened the little box that contained the various small parts the first thing I noticed was a pair of Keo Carbon Ti pedals – freakin’ titanium spindles!  I wasn’t even expecting pedals.  Then I opened the box that had the E-Post in it and it was the top of the line E-Post Ti with all the titanium bits.  And nestled neatly next to it was a 125g Selle Italia carbon railed SLR!  What joy, what bliss!  Then I noticed that the Red shifters were equipped with Gore Ride On cables.  It just keeps getting better and better!

I continued with the assembly process and then arrived at the moment of truth – cutting the Integrated Seat Post.  I placed a level on the seat of my Cannondale and measured from the center of the BB to the level right in line with the seat tube once, twice, fifteen times.  Man, I didn’t want to screw this up.  Then I placed the E-Post in the uncut seat mast,  leveled the seat and placed the level on it and measured the same way as before (at least five or six times too).  Then I subtracted the first figure from the second to arrive at what needed to be removed from the ISP.  I wrapped the ISP with blue painter’s tape at the measurement and marked it with a pen.  The E-Post comes with a cutting guide that can be tightened down on the ISP and has a narrow slot to guide the (new) hacksaw blade.  As one more check I held the E-Post in line with the cutting guide and was satisfied that I wasn’t about to ruin a $4000 frame.  The cutting guide did its job and I slide the E-Post into place and tightened it down.  Put on the S-Works Stealth Slippers and clipped in.  Perfect.

And now for the maiden voyage.  I had skipped lunch in order to get the bike assembled as quickly as possible so I squirted some Hammer Gel in the mouth and headed out for a quick 35k.  I stopped at the bike shop to see what it weighed and it was 14.04 lbs/6.36kg (take that @Marcus) with pedals and cages.  The first thing that I noticed once out on the road was the stiffness of the Syntace carbon handlebars.  The Syntace bars and stem are the only parts on the bike that were suspect.  I have heard of the company but know little about them.  But the ergo bend of the drops is very similar to the Easton EC90’s on the Cannondale so that’s cool.  However they do have a little swoop back/curve to the tops of the bars in conjunction with an ergo/aero shape that I instantly liked once I got my paws on them.  The next thing that I noticed was that both the front and the rear SRAM Red derailleurs shift WAAAAAY crisper and quicker than the SRAM Force on Bike #2.  I don’t know if this can be attributed to the mechanics of the Red components or the Gore cables (or both) but it sure is nice.  Next, I would say that the Selle Italia SLR saddle is probably the most comfortable saddle that I’ve ever ridden on.

Does the frame ride like a $4k frame?  Well, Specialized was in town two weeks ago with their demo bikes and I spent an hour on an S-Works Tarmac SL3 with Zipp 202 tubs and I must say that they felt very similar.  The LOOK’s front end was stiff and the bike squirted forward willingly with every pedal stroke yet I felt no harshness from the chip sealed road.  The bike is very comfortable.  And what about the Zipp 303’s you ask?  It was fairly windy on the way out but the wind seemed to have little effect on them and I liked that they don’t seem to be as noisy as some carbon wheels that I’ve heard rattling around behind me.  There’s really only two things to complain about on the bike – the Red Cassette is noisy but I expected that from things I had read about them and the LOOK bar tape seems kind of cheesy.  It is very plasticy and seems like something (as far as feel goes) that you would find on a bike dug out of the basement of your English neighbor’s house.  Other than that I can’t believe that this bike is sitting in my house right now.  It is everything that I have hoped for and it is mine to enjoy.  I plan on laying some serious V down with it.  See you on the road.

Oh, and it matches my team kit and Stealth Slippers perfectly.

Addendum #1:  The SRAM Red cassette is WAY too noisy.  It’s driving me nuts. I’ll be switching that out to a 7900 Dura Ace shortly.

Addendum #2:  I’ve had the chance to descend in the wind on the 303’s and things can get interesting but it feels like I’m getting used to them.

Addendum #3:  I was out on a small group ride in a different town last night with riders I had never ridden with before and was given a heads up about the two “sprint zones” at the end of the ride.  At the first one a guy jumped and I was able to ride around him and collect max points.  On the second one I was in the front with the sun behind us and I saw a shadow jump and I was able to pull a Cavendouche and ride away from them again.  The LOOK is stiff and FAST!!!!  I feel way more comfortable sprinting on it than the Cannondale.

// Guest Article // The Bikes

  1. Thanks, lads! Ha ha ha, I always thought the 566 would be frowned upon in these parts, for its “comfort bike” sort of geometry and marketing.

    Cyclops – I just bought the frameset and then put the parts I wanted on there. I’d been around here long enough to know that buying a complete bike just doesn’t cut it. I’ve been very happy with my build-up and the bike. One broken spoke and one freehub body issue (both rear) in two years of lots of riding. (Neuvation warranted the wheel, though it was two months beyond the 12 month window)

    minion – yep, that is a kinky TT;) Came like that, haven’t gone barreling into any walls with it. Deda shallow drop bars + Campa redesigned shifters were a huge, awesome change for me. I’d been on 105 shifters and anatomic bars and thought it was normal to not be able to reach my brake levers from the drops. Well, I stand corrected. Love the feel and performance of them.

    As for Deda bars, I have the Zero100s on my Casati and love those bars as well. I really like the feel of the partially ovalized flats. Slick bars for sure.

  2. @Ron
    Nice ride. Neuvations are pure Budgetatus gold, if there is such a thing.

    @frank
    Surely that is not the only reason for your Campaphilia.

  3. Ron:
    Thanks, lads! Ha ha ha, I always thought the 566 would be frowned upon in these parts, for its “comfort bike” sort of geometry and marketing.

    Pffftt… I posted my Felt z85 a while back and it was fine, even though I still had my dork disk on (since removed), as well as a mount for a light on my seat post. I think folks around here are nicer than they’d like to let on, sort of a soft nougat center under a hard chocolate shell. The z85 is a “relaxed” racing bike as well, but it’s still plenty “fast” and fun to ride.

  4. Alright lads, today I got a bill for being a dick, due immediately…about 35 kms from home, riding with a friend, when my right shifter stopped shifting. Why? Oh, it snapped off at the head. Nice. I guess this is what I deserved for trying to get a full two years out of the cableset.

    I’m going to replace the brake + shifter cables/housing all at once. It had the original cableset that came with my Centaur gruppo on there. Campagnolo Ultra-Low Friction cableset.

    I’m trying to decide what cableset to pick up:
    1) Stick with Campagnolo?
    2) Give Gore a try? And what set – regular? Professional? Sealed? (I think this is mainly for cx & mtb?)
    3) Jagwire. I’ve heard they are from the same factory as Campa, but not positive about this.
    4) Didn’t even toss Nokon into the mix here either…

    Any feedback appreciated. Campag is ~$45, Gore Pro is ~$100, Jagwire ~$38.

    I think this was a curse for posting it & stealing some attention from Cyclops’ beautiful bike. Oh, and my friend flatted shortly after I lost shifting. Really fun riding that distance with two gears, just my big & small chainring. Maybe I’ll just ride it fixie-style all summer;)

  5. @Ron
    If your outers are only two years old, they are probably fine. I would replace the inners (plus a little cable lube) and let the outers ride. $18 bucks and 15 minutes.

  6. Hey, sgt, thanks for the response.

    Outers = housing, right?
    Inners = derailleur cables, right?

    So you are saying just put on a new FD & RD cable?

    I doubt my LBS carries Campagnolo cables. Just go with what he stocks?

    (I tend to overthink things, so trying to not do that here…)

  7. Only local shop doesn’t have any Campa compatible cables. Just read the manual, suggests replacing cables + covers every two years. Plus, my bar tape is also 23 months old. And I’m itching to test out the fi'zi:k glossy tape I have sitting in my closet.

    I just might recable and retape and ride in slick-shifting style for the rest of the summer.

    And some good news – pulled the hood off and the head was poking out. Frayed and broke around 2″ from the head. Phew, I thought that was going to be a bear to get out.

  8. Ron:
    And some good news – pulled the hood off and the head was poking out.

    Is that you Congressman Weiner?

    If you’re going to retape anyways, go for it. New cables are always nice, and it’s not much more money. Just be sure to deburr the outers after you cut them so they don’t beat up your fancy new cables, and have some extra ferrule ends on hand JIC.

    I’ve never used the Gore cables, so no opinion on what’s better.

  9. @Cyclops
    I suppose you won’t be envious of my bike anymore then? Don’t blame you. That’s a gorgeous bike, Bel Mezzo.

    And yes, get a 7900 cassette on there ASAP. When I upgraded to Red I didn’t bother buying the red cassette, just went straight DA. It’s quiet, sexy, smooth but you know all this.

    Fuck, I have a shit ton of catching up to do. I go away for three days to buy windows for the new home build and this place goes crazy. Nice work, twatwaffles.

  10. @mcsqueak
    My bike is a cheap Italian AL framed bike, yet it came with clipless pedals and no Dork Disk. Its like they set you up to ride in style no mater what level bike you get.

  11. @Ron – there’s no point in replacing just the inners, if you want the best shifting/braking (and you’re taping the bars anyway) you should go the whole hog. I’d get your LBS to whistle up some Campagnolo cables too – nothing else is as good with Campag derailleurs in my experience.

  12. @Cyclops

    Cyclops:
    Whatever it takes to get you on the road – well I guess I would have to draw the line at a recumbent because that’s not really a bicycle, right?

    Correct, a recumbent is not a real bicycle. Continue enjoying your LOOK. Despite what we tell our wives, there will be other bikes. I’m riding dream bike #3, and #4 is on its way. I like the DA 7900 cassette upgrade and, of course, fully support the white saddle and white bar tape – always.

  13. @Marko

    I go away for three days to buy windows for the new home build and this place goes crazy. Nice work, twatwaffles.

    heheheeee, I can’t claim any credit but yes, it’s been a whirlwind of amazing photos, verbose comments and Ernesto.

  14. @Gianni

    And when I posted the above comment I hadn’t even seen the discussion happening over on the Rules pages concerning try-athletes, deleted posts, but most importantly, Steampunk’s cafe making a pink jersey. Sheesh – if le Domestique makes a pink jersey I just might have to buy one, enter a try-athalon, and post some off-topic pics of myself just so I can play along.

    I’m never going to a place without internet access, recycling, diversity, and public radio again. True, best place to buy windows but that’s about it.

    It’s good to be back.

  15. @Marko
    Does it take three days to get to the trading post and back?

  16. @Gianni
    Actually (in best Cliff Claven voice) it was once the site of the largest trading post in North American at one time during the Fur Trade.

  17. North America. Amurka.

  18. @Marko
    Did you travel by dog-sled, or canoe?

    If by canoe, I hope the portages were not too grueling.

  19. @Marko
    Where the fuck do you live? I’m pretty sure you’re in Minnesnowda, but how can it take three days to buy windows? You must be off the grid. Comes the revolution, I’m hiding at your place. NO ONE will find me there.

  20. @Nate
    Canoeing this time of year, of course. The dogs are tied up until October training rides. As for portaging, if you do it enough you begin to like (even relish) a good stiff portage. It’s akin to climbing and cycling and a good way to tell the dedicates from the casuals.

    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    There’s this place called Warroad about 4 hours west along the border from here where Marvin windows are made. It’s all two lane, moose avoiding, town hopping travel. My goal was to not spend more on windows than my BMC is worth. As it happens, I spent a third on windows than what my bike is worth and got top shelf windows from the outlet.

  21. I actually like the bar tape
    oh wait – I’m English

  22. @Ron
    Great bike and photo!

  23. Cyclops :
    @Marcus
    Just personal preference. It needs a third color. If it had some black on it too it would be a different story.
    My Porsche of choice would be a 917K from the Gulf livery.

    I concur. Or maybe in Martini Rosso livery from the following year? Slightly off subject, but you got to go with the flow.
    I’m lazing on a beach in Vanuatu and forgio all about Dauphine and Suisse VSPs. I’m really THAT relaxed…

  24. I was training for my first event (130km Etape Caledonia – the only closed road event in the UK) on my Specialized Tricross. With only a week and a half to go my friend who alerted me to the existence of this awesome site GAVE me his Allez! That’s gotta be Budgetatus status for me doesn’t it?

  25. @snoov
    Does your friend have any other bikes he would like to give away? I’ll gladly send him my mailing address.

    Welcome to bicycle racing, snoov. That is a great story about your sensei. Do him proud.

  26. @Bianchi Denti

    I’m lazing on a beach in Vanuatu and forgio all about Dauphine and Suisse VSPs. I’m really THAT relaxed…

    What? No Dauphine or TdS VSP? Where are your priorities, man? Oh. Wait. You’re in Vanuatu. And I’m in Houston. Nevermind.

  27. I love LOOK bikes. I have recovered my old late-90’s LOOK race frame with the aim of restoring it. That is all.

  28. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    And you’re one to bash someone for missing a VSP event!

    @Jarvis
    You’ll be needing to provide regular updates on that Progetto.

  29. @Nate
    I’ll been needing some money to progress that Progetto

  30. Pedale – Thanks! Coming from someone who posts such awesome photos, that is a nice compliment.

    Bianchi – Forgetting to enter your VSP picks is terrible. I did it in the Dauphine & I’m just starting to feel better.

    Two sets of Campagnolo cablesets on order. Going to go all in and do my LOOK & Casati at the same time and just get it over with.

  31. I put the DA 7900 cassette and chain on last night. World of difference. It is so much quieter and shifts even better now. Smoove like budda. SRAM needs to ditch the whole Power Dome concept.

  32. Frank sent me (and all the other Velookinati) an article from Rouleur about LOOK. I want to move to France and work for LOOK. Even if it’s just sweeping floors and cleaning toilets.

  33. @Cyclops
    That is precisely what I emailed in my reply, too! I want to work for Look.

  34. @Jeff in PetroMetro @Cyclops
    Get in line.

  35. @G’phant
    Possibly the most memorable comment for me in the article was this one (which sounds like it could’ve come straight from Steve Jobs): “I have to write the strategy for Look, and on of the directions is that we have to listen to the market. But the voice of the market is not what moves us – never. If you listen to salesmen, even marketing people, you are dead. Their voice is the voice of the past – what is in the market today and what people want today is in the past. So in the ocmpany the products are driven by R and D, and sometimes I stop the engineers talking to salespeople because they are not allowed to talk about the past. I want them to have pure ideas about what we can do today that was not possible yesterday.”

  36. @frank
    Any chance you could flick me said article the boys are chatting about up there? Sounds like it’d be something of a read.

  37. @cyclops

    any update thoughts on the Zipp 303s??

    Are these the one’s the Cx boys are using, or a roadie version? Or the same thing?

  38. 303s are great, and tough.

  39. @Oli
    is it the hubs that make them so fast, or just a good al around package? I fear I may be seduced by how they look as much as anything, but have a notion for some slightly deeper carbon rims for summer track racing, but not enough (like 404s) for folk to say, why has that twat got deep carbon rims on a Spesh Roubaix sportive bike, if ya know what I mean….

  40. Good hubs, relatively light and aero without having to worry about them coping with crosswinds. Plus they seem pretty tough, as I say. I’m not saying they are the best wheels out there but, seeing as how you asked, they are pretty bloody nice.

    Not paying enough attention to know for sure if the CX scene use the same ones as the roadies, but I think that’s the caper.

  41. Where did the anti-English comment come from? I have a Cervelo, a Pegorettl and a C50 in my cellar. Keep your Look. You should have waited for the 695, anyway.

  42. @Cyclops
    Try the 2012 XG 1090 cassette. I just got one for a new set of wheels. Silky and WAAAYYY quieter than the PG cassettes (of which I have two).

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