Guest Article: Jeff in PetroMetro’s Look 595

Jeff in PetroMetro's Look 595

Not only do most of us have a tale of our Cycling Sensei, but we also generally have a story for how we came into our current Bike Number 1. Those of us who were online last week probably noticed Jeff’s manic posts regarding a Look that he spotted at a big-box retailer, for a price that should have him constantly looking over his shoulder for fear of either the authorities or other Velominati who are plotting to steal it.

Look holds a special place in cycling history. Hinault, Lemond, Jalabert, and Hushovd have all won upon these machines while Look was experimenting with building bicycles out of composites. Looking over the frame Jeff now owns, it is a great pleasure to see that, while it obviously showcases the state of modern bicycle technology, it’s roots are still on plain view. With lugs so sexy they should be called luggs, this machine represents the fusion of cycling technology with cycling tradition. Beautiful.

Jeff’s article detailing his experience is so long I considered splitting it into several articles, but I figured everyone could use a good excuse to have a leisurely drink and a long read. So, grab a beer, and settle in.

Yours in cycling,


Many Velominati know some of the details regarding my very recent acquisition of a Look 595. I’ve shared a bit of the intrigue at “Frank vs. The Volcano”.

Before I go on, I must thank all of you for your kind words of encouragement. Velominati, you are my true Brothers of The Cog. I appreciate all of you and hope to meet you guys someday soon.

Steampunk, you have my condolences for purchasing non-refundable round-trip airfare to Houston. I’m sorry, but the well is dry. I got the last one. However, you’re still welcome here in the PetroMetro. As for me, I want a one-way ticket out.

Marcus, how fucking cool are we? Congrats. Is the 595 the new Velominati team issue? Maybe?

Our Excelsis Velominatus (Frank) wanted more than just a post from me. And not just a picture of Julian Dean’s resplendent 595, either. Did I mention I’m a full-on fanboy of Julian Dean now? Two straight years of layin’ down the V on all the other Kiwis. I liked his kit. Way better kit than the standard-issue argyle. Sorry, JV. That shit was ugly.

And yes, Nate, I need the Credit Agricole DECALS, not stickers–forgive me in all my excitement.

No, I’m not wearing a CA kit””ever. I wear black shorts. Colored panels on the outside only. Rule #14 supersedes Rule #17 because, well, Rule #14 comes before Rule #17. And that works for me.

Here are the sordid details. The emotional highs, the crushing lows, a pic, and the ride review. So, pour yourself a glass or four of Chianti Superiore 2007 from Castello di Monastero, break out the Chimay red label, or make an espresso. I give you my humble prose.

Chapter 1: A Chance Encounter

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Right. Too cliché.

My eight-year-old daughter and I went to Memorial City Mall to see “Yogi Bear in 3D”. After the movie, we walked downstairs to a restaurant for dinner. Since both her birthday and our semi-annual camping trip were coming up, I suggested we take a quick detour into Sun & Ski Sports to look at a 24-inch mountain bike for her. (We take our bikes to camp, but she’s outgrown her current ride.) She picked out the one she wanted. Like any good father, I told her she wouldn’t get it anytime soon and I’d sell her into indentured servitude if she uttered one more word about it.

I went back the next day and bought it. Hee hee. By the way, my wife and I will surprise our daughter with her new bike in two weeks.

While at the store to make the purchase, I looked around the bike section with a little more leisure. There were lots of mid-range road and mountain bikes. Nothing awesome. And nothing marked down too much. Meh.

And then””I found a lonely stand with three very top-end steeds: a white 2007 Look 595; a carbon grey 2008 Look 585 Ultra; and some opulent time trial machine to which I paid little attention because I’m not a tri-wanker (Rule 42) and I’m not riding the State Time Trial Championships any time soon.

The 595 was originally priced at $7400″”about right for full Dura Ace back in ’07. Its price was cut to $3200. Excellent, but still too much for this Velominatus Budgetatus. The 585 Ultra, also dressed in full Dura Ace, was originally $6900, reduced to $2500.

I soiled myself.

I went to the restroom, cleaned up, returned to the sales floor, and quietly inquired about the Looks. The young salesman who sold me my daughter’s bike said, “Yeah, they’ve been here for two or three years. I’m pretty sure I can knock 10% off the sale price of the cheaper one. Want me to take it down?”

Perceptive. And persuasive. He’ll go far.

I am nothing if not casually deliberate. Sometimes I’m deliberately casual. Regardless, I calmly said, “Sure.”

He handed me the 585 Ultra. I touched it. I caressed the 585’s carbon top tube. I ogled the Dura Ace everywhere on the frame (and I’m a Campagnolo guy). I picked it up. It made my Cervelo Soloist aluminum feel like a refrigerator. The 585 was electrifying. I had wicked carbone.

I think I said something about starting a new business and having a very tight budget and ooh this is amazing and how can you sell this for $2250 and I’m not worthy and my Mastercard…

…and then the room spun ’round and ’round.

When I came to, I told the salesman that I had to go, but that I would be back in a day or two.

“No rush. I’m sure it’ll still be here.”

Chapter 2: The Punishing Cost of Indecision

I spent the next two days reminding myself that I’d left behind my career in financial services, that I was committed to writing for a living which meant near-term poverty, and that I would have to rule my budget with iron-like discipline.

Then I ran the numbers. I could put it on my Mastercard at 9.9% APR and pay it off in two years at $111.55 per month. That included $100 for pedals and sales tax at 8.25%. I could sell everything I owned that I didn’t use. I could do without utilities and groceries and reasonable shelter. I could write enough to pay bills. And taxes. Oh, and still put aside savings. (I was a financial planner after all.)

I called at 9:58am on Monday. The store opened at 10am. A salesman named Trey answered.

“Hey, Trey. My name is Jeff. I saw the Look 585 Ultra a couple of days ago and wanted to make sure it was still there. I’ll be at the store in about 30 minutes to buy it. I’m really excited…”

“Sir, I don’t think we have it anymore. I think it sold.”

“Wha? Really. Wow. Okay. Hmmm.” I went numb. If I’d eaten breakfast, I’d have thrown it up. I reached for my blankie.

“Do you want me to call around and see if there is another one in another store?”

“YES, PLEASE, DAMMIT!!!!!! I mean yes, please.”

We hung up. Through my salty tears I asked, “Merckx, what am I gonna do?”

Trey called me back very quickly. “Nope. They’re all gone. But, you know, there’s the 595 here.”

“Yeah. But it’s out of my budget. I can’t do it.”

“Maybe my manager can discount the bike some more. I could give him a call. He’s not in today, but he’s good about calling us back.”

“Okay. Thanks. Bye.” I didn’t even wait for Trey to respond.

I’d blown it.

Then, I thought, “No, Jeff. Not this time. You are such a ‘Ready, Ready, Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Fire’ fucktard. Rule #5. HTFU. Grow a pair. Call Trey back. Ask for the biggest discount you can get and be ready to say YES.

You wanna climb Wannahockalugie next year? Wanna be a true Velominatus? Wanna shoot for a sub-4? Or are you gonna lie in bed and cry? My Merckx.”

Trey called back, much sooner than I expected. “My manager will sell the 595 for $3000.”

I uncurled from my fetal position, but hung on to my blankie.

I started to hedge. “Yeah. Ok. That’s really nice of him. That’s just super-duper. Yep. Ok. Well, can I call you back after I think about it?”

Chapter 3: Merckx, Have Mercy on My Soul

Suddenly startled, I dropped my blankie. There was Merckx, right in front of me, wearing a classic Molteni wool warm-up jacket with rainbow stripes on his cuffs and his collar. (Damn, I want a jacket like that, but without the rainbow stripes ’cause I’ve never won a world championship””Rule 16.) He looked at me. He squinted. He smirked. He looked disappointed, even a little disgusted. I couldn’t let him down, even if he was a figment of my overly developed imagination.

I blurted into the phone, “No. Wait. I’m not calling you back. And I’m not thinking about it. I’m saying yes. YES. YES!!! I want the 595! Today! I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

“Sure. Ok. See you then.”

What the fuck did I do? Oh shit.

Merckx grinned at me. He nodded, almost imperceptibly. It was life affirming. I did the right thing. And then he vanished. I was hoping he’d leave that wool Molteni warm-up behind as a talisman, a gift from, well, Merckx. No such luck. I couldn’t wear it anyway””the rainbow stripes. But he gave me something better. He gave me strength””The V. I seized this chance. Thanks, Eddy. You really are the greatest.

Before I could stop myself again, I pulled my riding gear together, stuffed it in a race bag, and walked out the door. The credit cards were burning. (It was gonna take two cards now.)

Chapter 4: It’s Mine

To make a long-ass story merely long, the Wrench didn’t get in for about an hour after I paid for the bike. The Wrench’s name was Chris. He did the cutting.

I knew I’d spend quite a bit of time on the trainer in the store getting the fit right. That’s why I brought all my riding stuff. I even brought the cold weather gear so I could head outside for a few laps and then come back for some more tweaking.

The guys were great. It was a very laid back atmosphere. They were happy to have a customer that knew what to do. I was happy I could work with guys who weren’t condescending bittermen. It was a very good experience. And the price still floors me.

So. As for the ride quality–I’ve only been out for a 1.5 hour shakedown cruise. The seatpost is not your dad’s Campy Record 27.2. I had Chris cut the integrated seatpost just a little lower than perfect so I had some wiggle room. Look designed the seatpost so you can use spacers for up to a 40 millimeter adjustment. I will add about 5 mils of spacer for my ride tomorrow. Today it felt a little low.

I’ve used every hair of the 1.5 cm setback. As I go up, I will bring the saddle forward a bit.

I have the stem slammed. I left the steerer tube tall enough for two 0.5 cm spacers, just in case I want to raise the stem later. To be Rule #45 compliant, I’d have to move one spacer down, but I’d rather leave the stem slammed. (Can I get a ruling? I’m comfy with it right now.)

By the way, the carbon fiber spacers are so cool. Each says LOOK. I could make pretty awesome key fobs out of the ones I didn’t leave on the bike.

I’d like to say I have barbone, but I’m not there yet. These bars scream 2007. They’re carbon, they’re ergo, they’re narrower than I’m used to, and they have that flat oval top. I rotated them down just a smidge, and now the flat part isn’t “aero”. If I rotate them back up, the levers look out of compliance (Rule 46). It’s a manufactured non-compliance problem.

I’ve never ridden a bike this light. I took it to a crit course that’s close to where I live. I rode at an easy to moderate pace, making sure all was tight. I did one hot lap””well it was half of a hot lap. (I’ve got a lot of speed work ahead of me.) The acceleration is other worldly.

I entered a left-hander hot enough not to pedal through it. I had visions of sticking a pedal on Day One and breaking something carbon. The bike is lightning quick. Twitchy in a very good way. I could have pedaled through the corner as I didn’t have to lay it over as much as I thought I would. The rest of the corners were just like buttah.

I have a little bit of toe overlap. I’ll be mindful when I trackstand at a light.

I feel amazingly lucky. Broke but lucky.

Total damage: $3355.75. At 10% over two years, that’s $147.22 per month, or $3533.31 when all is said and done.


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146 Replies to “Guest Article: Jeff in PetroMetro’s Look 595”

  1. @Steampunk
    I live in the damn near fucking tropics. It’s not supposed to freeze here. EVER. It hasn’t stopped me from riding, though. Isn’t there some kind of relativity regarding Rule #9? No?

  2. Steampunk :
    @Jeff in PetroMetroDude! You’re throwing me under the bus on another thread! S’okay: I’ll definitely buy you coffee first.

    I’m nothing if not passive aggressive.

  3. @Marcus
    HOW. FUCKING. AWESOME!!!!! 190K. Gawd. That’s a helluva shakedown cruise.

    Oh yeah, it’s summer where you are. So, give some details. Whadya think? Chicks dig the white carbone, no?

  4. @Gianni
    Thanks, Gianni. You know, you and Frank were a big reason I turned down this path. I’d have looked at those bikes and thought, “My bike’s good enough for what I do. I could never step up for one of those.” That video really sent me over the moon.

    Rob getting us all pumped up for the big event taking our predictions; you DS’ing the whole thing (and scoring some nice PEDs); Michelle doing the pro handups and playing cinematographer; and Excelsis Velominatus actually slaying that damn beast–I am so inspired.

    I haven’t trained like a bike racer since 1990. But I’m back at it now. I don’t see taking out a license again, but I won’t say never. I’m damn sure enjoying this new bike.

  5. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Mine is the “cofifis” red and white – but yes chicks do dig it
    As for u racing, it would be a waste of a 595 not to race it. That is what they are built for!Heard that many of the cofidis team still prefer 595 over the 695 ipack because it is a more aggressive setup.

    Photos Monday

  6. I CANNOT WAIT to see the pics. I just googled your bike. That is soooo haawt.

    As for me racing, I have a long way to go. My weight is fine, but everything else is just so pedestrian. I look the part, but I sure don’t ride the part right now.

    I got nostalgic and found my old training logs and manuals. I got that itch. I may have to scratch it.

  7. I’m coming late to this party, but it was worth the wait. Great tale. Congratulations, Jeff.

  8. @Steampunk
    Your story remains obscure, and, to recycle one of my favorite frankisms, is useless without photos. Details, please.

  9. Fantastic write-up! I can’t wait to see it! How about a nice recovery ride tomorrow?


  10. @Nate
    Sorry: had to reassemble and tinker after the flight home. Story about getting bumped to business class and the cute flight attendant to follow.

  11. @Steampunk
    Nope. I call Bravo Sierra, Captain Steampunk, unless you live in a terrarium. However, the ride is SWEEEEEEEET. I’d take it.

    And all of us still want to hear the sordid details about the flight attendant.

  12. @Steampunk
    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Papa Sierra on top of Bravo Sierra. The lighting differences in that one reek of Photoshop.

    Nonetheless, I must say that the way you’ve been publishing this bit of fiction in nonlinear dribs and drabs is highly entertaining.

  13. Background was photoshopped. Lighting was poor, so I had to shoot inside, and bikes indoors just make me sad…

  14. @Steampunk
    What year is your 585? Between yours, mine, and Marcus’s, this place just reeks of hot, French carbon.

  15. @Steampunk
    Your equivocal posts are giving me a real through-the-looking-glass feeling. Soon I won’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. Keep up the good work, Murakami.

  16. Jeff in PetroMetro:

    I got nostalgic and found my old training logs and manuals. I got that itch. I may have to scratch it.

    Jeff am familiar with training logs (I look at mine every 10 years for nostalgic thoughts on 5% body fat) but manuals?
    Explain please… are these something that would have made me a good racer??

  17. @Rob
    Manuals: A couple are recommended season long schedules from the dark ages that I got at a racing camp. Eddie B.’s book is basically what they were, but in 3-ring binders. Pre-wattage and almost pre-HR monitors. Quite a lot of meats and liver were part of the diet recommendations (really into iron-rich foods). One is a booklet on stretches specific to cyclists.

    I found pictures of me in the lab at U.T. Austin where I raced and was a student (pretty much in that order). Internal thermometer inserted (you know where that went), muscle biopsies extracted, vein catheter installed, breathing tube in, nose pinched closed, razor sharp tan lines, sun-bleached hair on my head (I’m now completely bald), 7% body fat, looked like a greyhound. We didn’t train in helmets back then, so no strap tan lines on my face and neck. Just golden brown pre-cancerous youthful skin. Oh, didn’t have sunscreen then either. If we did, I don’t remember using it much.

  18. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Ah thanks for the clarification this reminds me of the Monty Python sketch that went something like: OOh you had it good we just lived in a box. Reply; Well la di da you had it good we lived in a drain pipe under the road…

    I guess I am just a bit older and was coming up before that era so I did not get formal coaching, my team mates and I just did what everyone else seemed to be doing, hopefully a little harder. I did ride into the Eddie B. times but only got stuff from Velo News which was thin to say the least.

    I always wanted to get tested to see what was what and my only chance came at a local bike shop who got a heart monitor and rollers with a pedal cadence speed. I warmed up and then did a max blow out go on it – I remember 212 hr and 250 on the pedals – but remember a Japanese Kirin rider had done 300 rpm at a bike show.

    Part of why I wanted to see pedal rpm was in the winter at that time we were roller racing at Ben Olken’s bike shop in Cambridge MA. once a week.

    Fun stuff and great days.

  19. @Marcus

    Mine is the “cofifis” red and white – but yes chicks do dig it

    Some guy named Moncoutie stole your new bike and won the Tour Mediterraneen today. Just thought you should know.

  20. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    That guy Moncoutie is the reason I still wear the Vuelta Climber’s jersey. A funny little fellow is David, possibly the biggest ‘fraidy cat in the peleton – but a man to be respected nonetheless for his skills and making the most of them. I think he would now be riding the 695 ipack?

    Here are some photos of MY 595.

    Other than ther ride quality, etc., there are a few relatively “different” things about it the design of this bike that I love:
    – the integrated seatpost system is fantastic – relatively easy to adjust and looks way cool. Will be interested to see how much effect the different “ride quality” spacers have on the bike.
    – the headset system that doesn’t have a need for a headset screw at the top of the steerer tube. Allows you to remove the stem without loosening the headset – and all you are left with at the top of the steerer tube is a press fit cap (next trick for Look – design a mini-bike computer that can sit there in place of the cap).
    – whilst initially being somewhat skeptical of the Look bars – especially the tops that angle back towards the rider – think they actually work really well for me.

    My one disappointment is that I have had to swap the Look Stem for a Ritchey WCS Carbon I had lying around to get a better fit. Disappointing because the Look stem is a freakin massive pig of a thing that looks rather cool. Comparison below.

    Excuse the as yet uncut steerer tube – just gonna work out the best height there (yes Frank I can hear you, “Slam that Fucker down”).

    All in all very happy indeed!

    This is my first experience with deep dish rims and I made a discovery last night – they are insufferably loud on a pair of rollers.

  21. That is the shit! Wanna trade? Those wheels and cages make it look like an F1 car.

    As for the noise of the wheels on rollers, that’s just you firing off your guns.

  22. @Marcus
    Badass ride! I have a pair of the first-generation Cosmic carbones that have stood up fabulously – looks like the new ones are even sweeter.

    I think your front bottle cage is upside-down, though.

  23. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I am actually ditching those cages (off old bike) for some Look carbon cages – pathetic i know – but wait til you see what I am about to do to a saddle that will soon adorn this bike…

  24. @Marcus
    Ohhh. That’s why my bottles keep falling out. I learn something new here everyday!

    I wish you liked the fit with the white stem. That thing looks sooooo cooool.

  25. @Marcus
    Depending on the appointments (beer fridge, TV, bike workstand), you may also refer to your fortress as a man cave.

  26. @Marcus
    Wow, that is sweet! Nicely done. I’ve found myself renewed in my love for Looks. Bel Mezzo!

    A few things:
    – The black stem is cooler than the oversized white one, though.
    – Slam it down, ya wee lassie.
    – Can’t wait for you to change up the saddle. That thing is the ugliest one ever made!

  27. @Marcus
    Don’t tell Frank, but he’s wrong about the white stem. It looks like it has eyes and wings, like a shark or other killer beastie. I think it’s cool.

    But it’s not my website. This is just between you and me, Marcus. Right?

  28. Sweet bike Marcus!

    Yes, the saddle has to go. I’d rip all the stickers off the rims too, stealth that shit up.

    Now I want a Look too!

  29. @frank

    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I vote for the white stem, slammed down, with any other saddle.

    Nice set of Looks, boys! On a slightly different but related note, I found myself odd man out on Sat in a six-man pace line with five Times (more lugged carbon than you can shake a stick at) and me on the Wilier. Not a Spesh or Trek anywhere in sight!

    Good times!

    PS it’s been in the 20’s here for the past few days, SB in February has its strong points

  30. @Marcus very cool bike!

    The saddle does kinda let it down IMO but if it work’s for your arse then by all means!

    Agree with @Brett, lose the decals & stealth it up

    Actually don’t mind either of the stems, but fat & thick does the trick, has been my motto for quite a while (& the ladies too….) & it probably works on a bike stem also

  31. Thanks boys – but please – try a Selle SMP before you knock them. I doubt I will ever go back to any saddle that has any contact point “through my main street”.

  32. @sgt
    Much obliged.

    Look was never on my radar. I wanted a Cervelo S3 or R5, either with SRAM Red. Just running across the Look, then getting it, has totally opened my eyes. I am luuuvvving this bike. My ride today was great and has me sooo excited about my ride tomorrow. And that’s what it’s all about.

    Good to hear about the lack of Madones or any of the 47 choices of Specialized. All of them are great bikes, but everyone in Houston has one.

    Five Times? Did you run into a small squadra of pros?

  33. @Marcus
    Ahhh. Considering the design from that point of view, it makes sense. Drooping the front of the saddle is probably much better than the more conventional cutting a hole in the middle.

  34. @Marcus
    I concur with most posters on this – it Looks (as it were) fantastic, and the saddle does have to go. I had one, once. It remains the most expensive, and most uncomfortable, thing I have ever had to sit on. And I went to boarding school …

  35. @G’phant
    At the risk of going too far off the topic of Look bikes, there is a risk with getting the wrong-fitting SMP. As I understand them, the different models come with varying width gaps to allow for variances in width between one’s ischial tuberosities, ie. your sit bones located in one’s gluteus maximus (how much fun must Hippocrates and his mates had coming up with these names?).

    Other than a “wearing in period” where i got used to the ridges (which soften), all my SMPs (onto no. 3 at the moment) have allowed my sit bones to be the only pressure points on the saddle. No pain, no pain.

    Other than your sit bones, where else down there would you want to put pressure on? Leaving aside the aesthetic niceties or otherwise, these babies work!

  36. @Marcus
    I’ll second all that, and for myself will never go back. I use a specialized with the same concept and it really makes sense.

  37. @Marcus

    where else down there would you want to put pressure on?

    Really, Marcus? Has no one had the talk with you about “the birds and the bees”? Ok, there’s a mommy and a daddy. The daddy takes his…

    …nevermind. I’ll let Brett take this one.

  38. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Hey Jeff, lets go back to last week. You took three days and 75 posts before you found the cojones to buy your bike. Based on this I would hazard a guess that you are singularly unqualified to give any advice regarding birds, bees or saddles!

  39. @Marcus
    Singularly guilty as charged.

    As for your saddle, I’m with you. I’d ride an SMP, but I don’t have the money, so I’m stuck riding the Selle San Marco Rever that came with mine. I just let everything go numb and then I don’t have to think about it anymore.

    Cojones? Who speaks Spanish in your neck of the woods?

  40. @Marcus
    Given who I bought the Sella from (it wasn’t Brett or any of his associates) it would not surprise me if I was sold one which doesn’t fit because they didn’t have any others in stock and saw the opportunity to make a sale. I was younger and naiver in those days, and had been scared into prompt action after my todger went completely numb during an extended wind trainer session. As a result of the todger numbing experience (never repeated and thankfully resulting in no lasting adverse effects) I am totally down with the concept of pudendal nerve-protecting slits, and (like Rob) ride a Specialized saddle which employs the same device but which has the added benefit of not hurting my arse like a double scoop upsized arse pain on national arse pain day. (Incidentally, the Sella is available for sale – together with the Dura Ace crank I removed when I switched to a compact (he said, hoping that it did not bring on another outbreak of compactosis in the community).)

  41. @G’phant
    There is a very scientific testing apparatus which can be used to test the width of one’s ischial tuberosities. It is called the arse-ometer and it goes something like this:
    1. Obtain two pieces of soft white sliced bread.
    2. Place the two pieces of bread together on a flat surface. Voila, you have created an arse-ometer.
    3. Sit on the arse-ometer.
    4. Stand up and check how far apart the deep indentations are on the arse-ometer.
    5. Use this distance as a guide as to which selle smp to buy.
    6. Do not eat the arse-omter after use.

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