Bike Test: Look 795 Blade RS Disc
Cutting down boundaries
Ever since Look began developing carbon frames back in 1986, the French brand has always been a pioneer in cycling. As the years passed, they have only further fine-tuned their craft. This progress has been driven in part by professional cycling as well as customer feedback. The all-new 795 Blade RS maintains Look’s total integration heritage but leaves more room than usual for personal customization.
The Look 795 Blade RS uses a combination of four different types of their top-tier carbon, and each has a specific trait that gets placed strategically to deliver optimized performance and compliance. Just over 30 percent of the bike is comprised of high-modulus carbon, which is extremely stiff but brittle. To complement this, over 50 percent of the frame uses their intermediate modulus that offers improved durability. Strategically placed high-resistance carbon helps minimize deflection in high-stress areas.
Our size-medium frame has a frame reach of 38.6cm and a virtual top tube length of only 52.6cm. Thanks to the 26.8mm of seatpost setback and a 120mm stem, the bike fit our 5-foot-10 test riders perfectly. At 99.8cm, the wheelbase is a bit on the long side for a race bike, but for a bike that could be transformed into a TT bike it is perfect. The disc brake version is also 10mm longer in the chainstays than the rim brake version. This added length allows the disc brake model to fit 30mm tires, while the rim brake version maxes out at 28mm.
The head tube looks tall, but at only 15.5cm, it is just visually misleading, thanks to the way the top tube integrates with the stem. The head tube is at 73 degrees on our size medium. By the numbers, this is a road race bike that has gotten aero-optimized to cut through the wind. With flat-mount disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles, it’s all up to modern specs too.
Our Blade was delivered with a SRAM Red eTap drivetrain matched with their hydraulic disc brakes. For gearing, it came with a standard crank (53/39) and 11-28 cassette. This combo is great for an aero bike but is becoming less popular, thanks to mid-compact chainrings. The Blade has a proprietary seatpost with two seat-clamp toppers that can be oriented in two directions each. This means there are four options to choose from, all delivering a different amount of setback. Sitting atop our seatpost was a Selle San Marco Aspide with carbon rails.
“This sort of engineering and understanding of carbon placement is what sets modern carbon bikes apart from imitators and frames designed only a few years ago.”
Up front the frame uses a proprietary stem and headset spacers that allow cables to be routed under the stem, then through the spacers into the head tube. There are six different stem lengths to choose from, ranging between 80–130mm. Bolted to the stem is a Look aero ADH2 handlebar with Look-branded bar tape.
To keep things moving, the 795 rolled on a pair of French-made Corima 47 WS wheels. They feature a unique lacing pattern with 12 spokes on the front wheel’s rotor side and 8 on the opposing side. In the rear, this pattern is reversed with 12 spokes on the drive side and 8 on the rotor side.
Owing to the multiple seatpost toppers, the 795 can fill many roles as a TT bike all the way to an aero road bike. The handling was very responsive but still maintained a steady, confident ride. The bottom bracket is very stiff, and hard efforts are rewarded with the energy efficiently transferred to the wheels. In the saddle, the bike offers a very stiff seatpost that doesn’t deflect at all. This is also rare in modern bikes since most utilize the seatpost for compliance.
Instead, Look has done some engineering magic because the rear triangle, while laterally stiff, is surprisingly compliant. It was so surprising that we had multiple testers baffled and checking tire pressures. This sort of engineering prowess and understanding of carbon placement is what sets modern carbon bikes apart from imitators and frames designed only a few years ago.
The fork also seems to get some of the magic treatment, because while stiff, offering no disc brake rub, the compliance and smooth ride quality are evident. The fork is also asymmetric, with the disc brake side getting the bulk of the carbon and the drive side a slimmer profile. The entire shape of the fork and the way it seamlessly mates with the downtube is something of precision and beauty. The Corima wheels, while not tubeless or wide by today’s standards, were a perfect match for the 28mm tires. They are stiff and hold up well even in heavy wind.
Overall, the Look 795 Blade RS looks a lot like a few other aero bikes that have been on the market for some time now, but within only the first few miles, it clearly sets itself apart. Between the carbon layup and knowledge, the 795 has set a high standard for aero bikes without resorting to mechanical widgets for compliance.
Great geometry and craftsmanship have been merged here into an aero bike that climbs just as well as it slices through the air. Unlike Look’s previous top-tier bikes, where nearly all the components were proprietary to the bike, the 795’s stem, crank and handlebar can be swapped out. That’s called progress.
Proving their carbon knowledge
Proprietary is still the name of the game
A comfortable aero option
Price: $4000 (frameset)
Weight: 17.25 pounds
Sizes: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
Helmet: Mavic Plasma
Shoes: Vittoria Velar
Socks: Look Thermo
Glasses: Tifosi Synapse