Guest Article: The Apple of Cyclops’ Eye

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 €œLOOK?€

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 €œbuilt€ 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 €œShouldn't you buy it before it's gone?€ I immediately logged on and clicked €œBuy It Now€ and broke out in a cold sweat. Did that just happen? Did I just buy my dream bike?

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/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 €œV€ 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 €œI 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 €œAre you sure this has everything the way you want it?€ €œWell, 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.€ €œI'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.

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99 Replies to “Guest Article: The Apple of Cyclops’ Eye”

  1. Nice story and congratulations again! Happy riding. Of course, what do we do with the whole Velominatus Budgetatis thing? I guess you provide hope for the rest of us…

  2. 6.36kg?!? Curse you cyclophosphamide (this is the iPhone autocorrect of your name- cool eh?)! Curse you!

  3. @Steampunk

    It can go one of two ways. Since the bike originally listed for $10k and I got it for $6k I think it still qualifies for Budgetatus status.

    Or

    I could legally change my name to Velominatus Spendalotus.

  4. Fantastic! I love new bikes, bike parts etc. Loved putting them together when a customer came in at the shop, and love getting them myself. Reading this makes me want to upgrade one of my steeds (or add a new one to the stable). Congratulations on your new baby @cyclops, I know you’ll treat each other well and dish out plenty of the V in the process.

  5. Veeeery nice Cyclops. I agree about the bar tape… rewrap those ASAP. You came in $1,000 under budget, spend $15 on some new bar tape! And man, 14.04 lbs… I hope you aren’t planning on entering any UCI-sanctioned races.

    Also, I’ll be glad to take over the reigns as the resident Velominatus Budgetatis on my $1,200 ride that I picked up for less than a grand, new.

    Though, maybe Brett wins that contest with his $8 commuter.

  6. @mcsqueak
    You and me both, brother. Bike #1 is a CAAD9, which I got for under a grand Canadian””back before that actually sounded like a lot of money to Americans.

  7. @Steampunk

    Ah yes, back when us Yanks could drive into Vancouver BC, feeling like kings of the world, rolling around in a bed full of loonies and toonies like a deranged Scrooge McDuck. Now your money is worth more than ours AND you have a better health care system, all in exchange for just sticking it out with the Queen for a few hundred years.

    But I digress. I’ll gladly co-chair the title of Velominatus Budgetatis with you, it’ll be a new era for American-Canadian relations. Just try not to beat the Bruins too hard, OK?

    @RedRanger

    Careful, you might wake up in a bathtub full of ice water in a motel on the wrong side of town, one kidney light but with a LOOK sitting in the corner.

  8. Great article! We used Syntace bars on the old Red 5 Racing Team and they were great!

    Look bikes are great! Makes me miss the KX I had – and sold.

    Glad that the bike matches your kit. Could do w/o the crotch shot-as-proof but you might submit it to Pez and see if Richie will send you some socks. LOL.

  9. Heartwarming stuff.
    Had me at the first line.

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

    Got chills :-)

  10. Oooooowwwww that things hawt, been keeping an eye out for your new ride for a while now! I know the dream bike scheme well.

    And BTW I hate to point this out but can people stop buying dream bikes that are my size? Or even look like my size? Actually I think I need cycling retail aversion therapy. Or 2 black eyes, so I can’t see things on the internet. Or to go back and look at Frank’s bikes. Yeah, that’ll do it. No way I’d EVER fit onto one of those.

  11. OMG. That is so haute! What an amazing turn of events to get it at just the right time and price. You should redecorate your house around it.

    I agree with you about the bar tape. It feels like a grip on a golf club that’s been sitting in the garage since 1985. The upside is that you can clean it with a wire brush and not hurt it. If that counts as an upside. On a $10,000 bike. That only cost $6,000. Wait. What’s the downside? I must be missing something.

    Nice cutting job on the seatpost. That’s not stressful or anything. (Scotch, please! Make it a double.)

    I luuvvv the graphics!

    I am soooo happy for you that your new bike is even better than you expected. Well done!

  12. I am, as we speak, going through the process of constructing a new steed.

    Carbon frame from China (I am a Velominati Budgetatus)
    Force from Ribble
    Fulcrum from CRC
    Speedplay, Selle Italia, FSA etc have also contributed. Don’t think I can match this superb steed thou. Nice pick up.

    Trying to keep it all under $2500 AUS

  13. Good one.

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

    c’est possible? Work not good enough??
    Belle mezzo indeed, well played. Now you have the bike of your dreams, is that a good thing? Hell yes, ride the shiet out of it. There are always more dream bikes coming down the pike. It’s V time now.

    I thought your Cannnondale was pretty cool but this is extremely cool.

  14. Very cool that you had no idea the extra bits would be included. Talk about a nice surprise!

    I had wanted a LOOK since I was a kid and saw a few of them hanging up on the shop walls. The owner had been a team mechanic back in the 80s and had a few of the first carbon lugged frames on the walls. Those bikes have always been in my mind. I’d love a 595 or a 586, but my Velominatus Budgetatus is that of a lowly graduated student. (Ha, one reason, amongst the many, that I want to finish my degree is so that I can finally earn some decent money and start buying proper bikes, like a 595!) Anyway, moving from a too big Al Cannondale R900 to a LOOK 566 still was a pretty awesome trade up for me.

    Sram Force – This is on my new cx bike. Call me crazy, but I don’t like it. I do like my Campagnolo Record and Centaur, and I even have to say I like my Shimano 105 better. It just seems like there is too much opportunity to misshift. And when you are in a spot of bother and need a bigger cog, I’d rather push less than more. I’m hoping I’ll get used to it soon.

    Cyclops – great story & congratulations on your dream bike! Let me know if you want me to post my 566 here. I don’t want to steal your thunder. Or I could post it in The Bikes. I have some extra spacers so been reluctant to post it, due to an old neck injury.

  15. Nicely done on all counts Cyclops. Big ups on the choice of bike.

    Lovin’ the colour scheme as well.

  16. @Ron

    Go ahead an post it Ron. We can make this the snobby LOOK owners/he-man Trek haters thread. As far as the spacers go: my best riding buddy that nursed me through my first centuries and the like is a Ski Patroller that got taken out by a reckless snowboarder a few years ago and broke his neck. He has this huge extension thingy on his stem he fondly calls the “plumber’s helper”. 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?

  17. @All

    Thanks for all the props guys.

    You know, this bike really is a dream come true, right down to the colors. Though I’ve really lusted after LOOKS for a while I’ve been disappointed with some of their color selections recently. I hate the Red/White Cofidis frame and while I could have lived with it I wasn’t too stoked about the gold accents/graphics on last year’s 586. Even my Cannondale Carbon Six, while close, fell short in the looks department – it has silver lettering instead of white (it has grown on me though). But the new LOOK is PERFECT! I love everything about it. The tube shapes are unique and sexy. The way the Red group and the Keo Ti pedals have little red accents on them. Even the Syntace bars have given me new hand positions that I’ve been merrily experimenting with. I’m just so stoked (and thankful) to have this bike.

    Thanks, God.

  18. @mcsqueak

    Now your money is worth more than ours AND you have a better health care system, all in exchange for just sticking it out with the Queen for a few hundred years.

    And better skiing.

    @Cyclops
    I actually just now read the story, awesomeness! Really great to land on a dreambike – the R3 was that for me (there’s a story about that somewhere) and the first experience with it is just awesome. I knew everything about my bike – but your interwebs purchase added a whole dimension of unknowns that – as they worked out and fell into place – must have been beyond amazing.

    The most sincere and heartfelt congratulations.

  19. @frank

    I just read your story Frank. We should have sex together. Umm, I mean, wait… Isn’t it cool when our wife’s share in our excitement/passion? Though she’s not a cyclist my wife has been a great support of my riding/racing – she’s been considering going to massage school to be my personal soigneur – and she has this huge smile on her face as she listens to me gush about how cool the LOOK is and how happy I am to have it. Cool wives rock!!!!!

  20. @Cyclops
    You hate the red/white Cofidis frame eh? Well you would – you have a 586 – it’s the less “race driven” version of the 595. Do you like Porsche Boxsters too?

  21. @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.

  22. Steampunk:
    @RedRanger @mcsqueak
    There was a time””not that long ago””when the Velominati Budgetatus were known as the Cognoscenti. Just sayin’…

    I apparently wasn’t around yet. Are Cognoscenti considered “Rule 5 fundamentalists” because they HTFU by riding cheaper bikes? I don’t fully understand the reference, but then again I haven’t finished my coffee yet this morning.

    @Cyclops

    Cool wives/girlfriends are the best. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be spending the amount of time any of us spend cycling if our partner hated the fact we were doing it.

  23. @Cyclops
    Just to echo what everyone else has beens saying, rad bike, am stoked for you, and we expect to be seeing you on some Idahoean podiums anon.

  24. It beseech the Keepers, I humbly suggest addition of the following Rule:

    “A Dream Bike is always, always faster than your last Dream Bike. No documentation or data is needed to support this axiom.”

    Nice, nice ride @cyclops. A fine article as well, congrats!

  25. Cyclops :
    @frank
    Cool wives rock!!!!!

    Oddly enough, Mrs./Dr. Eightzero prefers the term Velomihottie to the lexiconographical substitution. She reminds of this everytime she kicks my sorry ass up a mountain. A simple matter of thrust to weight ratios, even if she doesn’t know how to train properly.

  26. Best decision possible to ditch the Red cassette. It’s a brilliant idea, except that the outer edge of the “powerdome” is milled down to about 0.5mm thick. As stiff as the aluminum backing plate is, it can’t suppress all flex, so what you get is a knife edge of hard steel that gradually eats into the soft aluminum splines on most freehub bodies. That in turn allows the cassette to wobble and it wedges against the outer cogs and will eventually destroy the lockring threads. I went through 3 freehubs before making the switch to Shimano cogs. SRAM could fix it all by just machining in a little foot (like 3mm wide) on the outer edge of the dome part and they’d probably only add about 10 grams to the thing while saving customers from whining and complaining like me.

    Also, nice ride…

  27. @mcsqueak

    I apparently wasn’t around yet. Are Cognoscenti considered “Rule 5 fundamentalists” because they HTFU by riding cheaper bikes? I don’t fully understand the reference, but then again I haven’t finished my coffee yet this morning.

    I don’t get it either. A Cognoscentus holds Rule #5 over any other rules in the (mistaken) belief that looking good makes you a pussy. I have no clue what Steamy is getting at there, except maybe he’s saying that you just swing your leg over whatever bike you can find, not worry about it, and just get on with it.

    We think of the Cognoscenti like the Catholics do Opus Dei; they they’re all of them nuts, but we love them anyway.

  28. @eightzero

    Oddly enough, Mrs./Dr. Eightzero prefers the term Velomihottie to the lexiconographical substitution. She reminds of this everytime she kicks my sorry ass up a mountain.

    Yeah, some of them like it (it’s still int the lexi). Mine, when she saw the edit, said something along the lines of, “Rule 5, bitches.”

    A simple matter of thrust to weight ratios, even if she doesn’t know how to Train Properly.

    You keep telling yourself that. I do the same thing. I’m really a much stronger rider; she’s just got me on the ratio. That’s all. (Repeat as needed.)

  29. @Chris

    Best decision possible to ditch the Red cassette. It’s a brilliant idea, except that the outer edge of the “powerdome” is milled down to about 0.5mm thick. As stiff as the aluminum backing plate is, it can’t suppress all flex, so what you get is a knife edge of hard steel that gradually eats into the soft aluminum splines on most freehub bodies. That in turn allows the cassette to wobble and it wedges against the outer cogs and will eventually destroy the lockring threads. I went through 3 freehubs before making the switch to Shimano cogs. SRAM could fix it all by just machining in a little foot (like 3mm wide) on the outer edge of the dome part and they’d probably only add about 10 grams to the thing while saving customers from whining and complaining like me.

    This is why I ride Campa.

  30. My humble submission. Thanks, Cyclops for sharing the stage. Your LOOK deserves all the glory here though!

    LOOK 566 (2009)
    2009 Centaur gruppo
    Deda Newton shallow bars
    LOOK Keo Max 2 pedals
    Sella Italia SLR saddle
    Ritchey stem + post
    Neuvation wheelset (to keep at a my Budgetatus level, but surprisingly nice, strong wheelset for the price)

    I had lusted after LOOKs for a long time, when they came out with this model I finally had enough money to get one. I’d been on a too big Cannondale R900 for all of my budding Velominati life (around six years). HUGE change from 1998 Al Cannondale in the wrong size to a carbon bike.

    I’ve moved some spacers to above the stem since the photo was taken, but still playing with setup to get things just right. And very nervous about cutting the fork. Trying out a 110mm stem at the moment (100 in photo) and that has felt better. I think I was too scrunched up. I broke my C5 vertebrae playing college lacrosse and my neck still gives me soreness on the bike. Hoping to work through that with exercises and then properly slam the stem down. (And to just come clean and admit all my sins, that is a saddle man-bag clip on the saddle, also since removed, of course!)

    Welcome to the club, Cyclops! You and Jeff have now restoked my LOOK-Lust, which I’ve had under control for a full two years. I’m now off the wagon…

  31. @Ron
    Nice bike Ron. I would have gotten a 566 a long time ago if you could get them with a top end group as a complete bike. How did you get one with a Campy group? I thought they only came with Ultegra or Force.

  32. Very nice bike! Something about campagnolo and deda handlebars is an expression of what is right about the world in cycling! Is it just me or does it have the kink in the top tube as well?

  33. 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.

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