When we think of iconic road racing bike brands, Look Cycles is definitely one of the biggest trendsetters of modern times. Let’s recall that Look Cycles pioneered carbon frame design in 1986 when they put winner Greg LeMond aboard the first carbon-tubed frame ever ridden in the Tour de France. Sure, the iconic French brand has come a long way since then, but they knew they were onto something 36 years ago in producing a carbon fiber frame.
Beyond race bikes, Look has been taking their performance-based pedigree for speed to a different category of cyclist—the endurance rider. Look knows not everyone is fixated on a podium finish and that, in fact, most cyclists are happier thinking about long days in the saddle and the achievement of racking up miles. This is where the Look 765 Optimum+ slots into the lineup.
The Optimum+ is a full-carbon frame that blends road design with all-road features. The geometry is designed for long-distance riding, with short reach and high stack. Our test bike was a size large and normally we would test a medium. The reach is 38.5cm with a stack of 60.2cm. For us, that means it’s about the same reach, just much higher than we would prefer.
This is also amplified by the fact that the axle to crown on the fork is 39.5cm, that’s almost 3cm higher than we would normally ride. This results in a front end that even with the stem slammed, it’s almost 8cm higher than we normally prefer. Lack of racy positioning aside, we have to admit that it is pretty nice being a bit higher when you get past the four- to five-hour mark of any ride.
The frame uses a traditional round 27.2mm seatpost with wedge-style securing. The frame fits a BB386 bottom bracket for a wide variety of component compatibility. Most striking is the molded carbon head tube with recessed ports for cables and hoses. From there the lines run internal. The oversized downtube adds lateral stiffness to the large triangle. In the rear, the seatstays have two molded indents that aid in controlling rear compliance. These four sections help add in saddle compliance with minimal effect on the performance.
Our size large has a wheelbase of 103.6cm with asymmetric chainstays that measure 42cm. The overall length is long, and some of that is due to the 70.3-degree head tube. The frame has room for up to 38mm tires if you wanted to hit some dirt roads.
Look has done their research and has hit the nail square on the head with this build. A 2x SRAM wireless drivetrain is simple and modern with 12 speeds on the cassette. The 10x36t cassette is matched with a 46×33 crankset for a range that fits the rider looking to ride all day. Because it’s SRAM Rival, the value is there with the same quality shift you get from their higher-tier versions.
To help aid in keeping the price down, Look supplies the off-brand LS2 alloy 42cm bars, LS2 110mm alloy stem and LS3 alloy 27.2mm seatpost. Look has partnered with Selle San Marco for a Look-branded saddle with the Short Fit Dynamic open fit. A set of Fulcrum Racing 900 alloy wheels are tubeless-ready. They are a bit heavy at 1950 grams (claimed) and have a 19mm internal width. Look wrapped a set of 30mm tubeless-ready Hutchinson Fusion 5 tires to finish the build. As we said, this is a solid build, and a lighter set of wheels is really the only upgrade we would recommend.
Tall and long in general, unfortunately, the size-large frame was a bit big for us. In fact, even the medium would have the same ride characteristics. The first thing the 765 Optimum+ reminds us of is a “race” gravel bike with road tires. The front end is higher than a race gravel bike, but the 30mm tires on this bike look tiny with so much room to spare, especially in the fork.
The in-saddle compliance is remarkably good considering it has a basic alloy seatpost. This means the molded seatstays are working as engineered. We weren’t fans of the stock saddle, because some of that was due to the shape. Since the front is much higher than we normally ride, the added rear-weight distribution had us needing a saddle that fit us better.
Out-of-the-saddle efforts feel very rewarding, and the Optimum+ feels quick and lively. Diving into a corner is a bit different, and you can definitely feel the length of the bike. The steering is also a bit muted—nice for long days when fatigue sets in but not ideal for dicing it up with the mates. The bike goes where you tell it, you just have to lean deep and look for the straightest line through each corner.
The SRAM Rival AXS eTap with wireless shifting is a great value. The 12-speed cassette has so much range that you can practically climb a wall. The 44/33t crankset is nice for long days, but mated to a 10t top gear proved a bit small for the fast descents that make up our daily rides. We were spun out on all our long road descents and even a few fast group rides with slight downhill grades. There was enough gear to stay on the group, but not enough to ride at the front.
With a full mix of rides on the Look Optimum+, we came away seeing its appeal, but it’s not for us. The ride was a bit too endurance based, and the rider position a bit too upright. When we do a long road ride, we still like to ride a more aggressive geometry. The Optimum+ isn’t slow, but the distribution of weight and more upright position left us feeling like a sail in the wind.
The gearing and component selection were spot-on for a long day of climbing. Sure, some riders might need to coast a lot of the downhills, but that is a worthy trade-off for many. Since most of the bike’s components are industry standard, customizing the stem, bars and seatpost is easy. Lacking internal routing and a dedicated, frame-specific cockpit make traveling with the bike and servicing brake fluid far less troublesome. Overall, the Look Optimum+ might not be for us, but it is more likely a solid option for the vast majority of road riders who just love logging miles and exploring new roads.
• Not a race bike
• Gearing to go the distance
• Modern and simple