The new Look 795 Blade RS is all about speed, with its design focusing on stiffness and aerodynamics yet without a huge sacrifice to overall comfort. An impressive combination to achieve, and a very nice bike to ride – whether you're racing or just out for a razz.
Look has been at the forefront of the use of carbon fibre for longer than most and it's that expertise that shows through on the ride quality of the Blade RS. Using varying grades of carbon fibre (more about that in a moment) and the way they are laid up means Look has created a bike that is ruthlessly stiff when you drop the hammer but with next to no road vibration or crass banging or rattling over rough surfaces. The 795 has a beautifully smooth ride quality similar to that of a titanium frame.
This means you can cover a good distance at speed without really noticing it, and even on four to five-hour rides I got off the bike feeling fresher than normal without realising where the time had gone.
The only thing that did dampen my excitement a little was how the bike feels when you put in hard efforts like sprinting or powering up short, sharp climbs. You can't argue with the computer on your handlebar, the numbers show that the Blade is really shifting, but I didn't get that feeling as a rider. Maybe the way the carbon is laid up to create that smooth ride has just taken too much of the edge off for my personal taste, but if you like a bike that screams and shouts a bit about what is going on underneath the tyres then you might find the Blade a little tame.
I'm not knocking its performance – it's impressive – I just like to feel a little bit more involved. You can't have it all, though, and I'm not sure I'd swap that smooth ride over the long distance for a bit more fun... Would I? Nah, probably not.
For such a race-orientated frame the Look has some very compact geometry rather than the usual long and low-slung style of a race frame.
On this large model you get a 545mm top tube and a 180mm tall head tube, but the fact that the top tube blends into the stem cutout shape does give the bike quite a tall standover height. If I was out for just an hour-long hard blast I did find the Blade RS a little cramped, especially when descending when you really want to stretch out to lower your centre of gravity through the technical sections.
That's not to say that this hampers the bike overall, I just felt a bit restricted compared with my normal range of movement.
The handling is precise without being twitchy, and the way it behaves on the road gives you lots of confidence to just let the bike go and see what happens. You are often rewarded with a wow! when cornering as you carve a smooth line through the apex and out the other side.
Even when you are caught out by a rough line or have to tweak your road position, the Look responds with little drama.
The taller front end makes for a good climber, giving you a more upright position like an endurance bike so you can sit and spin up the hills. Its stiffness comes into play here too if you want to get out of the saddle for a power climb.
Look has manufactured the 795 Blade RS from a mix of High Modulus (HM), Intermediate Modulus (IM) and High Resistance (HR) carbon fibre grades, with each bringing different properties to the overall ride.
The HM fibres have a very high stiffness rating, which is great for power transfer, but they are brittle so Look says that their placement is considered wisely. For parts of the frame that are likely to see high levels of stress from riding or even being crashed, the use of the HR grade comes into play as it can take decent amounts of deformation. This deformation can also be used to bring a little bit of give to the frame and fork, as well for added comfort like in the curved seatstays.
The IM grade of carbon is kind of a happy medium, so can be used elsewhere in the frame to keep the overall ride balance.
As I said earlier, the Blade has brilliant levels of comfort and that is most noticeable at the rear end. On both the disc and rim-braked models Look has removed the rear brake bridge between those curved seatstays which, coupled with the carbon layup, gives vertical compliance while maintaining lateral stiffness (yeah, yeah, that old chestnut) to reduce road buzz and improve rear wheel traction. Look says the Blade doesn't need to rely on a flexible seatpost thanks to this, which improves pedalling efficiency.
Whatever the planning, it does really work in the real world, and the novel way Look has designed the mount for the rear calliper hasn't affected braking performance or stiffness.
Aerodynamics is one of the key factors when it comes to the Blade RS's design and you can certainly see that from all the varying tube shapes and the way they blend into each other.
At the front end, the stem is integrated into the top of the head tube and the fork integrated at the bottom.
The seat tube is also scalloped to hide the rear wheel, like a time trial bike, which is quite apt as the Look AeroPost 2 seatpost offers four saddle positions, from a relaxed 71.8 degrees to a time trial or triathlon-friendly 78.4 degrees, which gives the Blade a fair amount of versatility.
As you'd expect, the Blade RS comes with full internal cabling for a smooth and clean look and I'm happy to report that no matter how rough the road, there is no pinging or rattling of the cables against the inside of the frame.
Like a lot of performance frames, the Blade RS has a massive junction between the down tube, seat tube and chunky chainstays for maximum stiffness which also sees it use a press-fit bottom bracket; that won't be to everyone's taste, but I certainly had no issues with creaking even after riding it in the wet.
Overall, the Blade RS is a quality frameset that is very well built and finished.
In the UK, the 795 Blade RS is only available as a frameset – that includes the frame, fork, headset, AeroPost 2 seatpost with two post heads, the ADS stem (six sizes, 80-130mm) and 50mm worth of headset spacers – for £3,000, which puts it up against the likes of the Pinarello Prince FX. While I liked the Pinarello, I'd say that the Look brings much more to the ride across the board, especially in the stiffness versus comfort stakes.
The build we have in for testing is a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, Corima deep-section wheels and a Look carbon aero handlebar, which is available in Europe with a rough conversion of around £7,445. That puts it very much in the superbike category.
The weight of 8.01kg isn't exactly groundbreaking with all that fancy kit on board, but that is often the compromise when it comes to bikes with an aerodynamic theme.
Price-wise, it also compares quite well to the 3T Strada frameset, a similarly designed aero bike that excels in comfort and performance and costs £3,700.
Overall, the Look is a very nice bike to ride in a range of circumstances, and up against the opposition it does pretty well on the price front considering all of the technology and materials used in its construction.
Offers an excellent balance of stiffness and comfort at a pretty good price considering the technology and materials involved
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Look 795 Blade RS
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the frameset is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Look says, "There was a time when aero road bikes only focused on aerodynamics, but this time has passed and the 795 BLADE RS is LOOK's iteration of a bike that fulfills all road cyclists dreams.
"The 795 BLADE RS cuts through the air, provides unmatched stiffness to weight ratio in the aero bikes category and it maintains traction where other bikes fail thanks to an innovative rear triangle design and large tire clearance. Rim brake and disc brake versions are available so that no matter which braking system the cyclist prefers there will be a 795 BLADE RS for him.
"In summary, the 795 BLADE RS is packed with so many features that assure it is the fastest, smoothest and most versatile bike LOOK has ever made."
Quirky geometry aside, the Look is a great bike to ride whatever you are doing on the road and is a showcase of how good carbon fibre can be used in bike manufacturing.
State the frame and fork material and method of construction
Look states: "The new 795 BLADE RS is made with a mix of different carbon fibres. We combine these fibres to optimize the different performance parameters.
HM : High Modulus
High-end fibers. Their stiffness rating is very high, about double that of HR. These fibers are used wisely because they are more brittle. HM fibers allow added stiffness with the lowest weight penalty.
IM : Intermediate Modulus
They have good resistance and fall somewhere between HM and HR of which they are a good complement.
HR : High Resistance
High resistance fibers are less stiff in elongation but can resist deformations and impacts better, they are very useful in high stress areas and also in areas where controlled deformation is beneficial to the ride quality of the bike."
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
For a bike with such racy intentions the geometry of the Blade RS is surprisingly tall at the front with a short top tube similar to an endurance bike. Sizing may be limited for taller riders too as the range only goes up to an XL.
Full details here - https://www.lookcycle.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2018/10/GEOMETRY...
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack figures are a little bit taller than usual for a similarly sized bike, but that is offset by the recessed stem position.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfortable indeed. The rear triangle really does its job.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Excellent levels of stiffness throughout.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very efficient indeed thanks to plenty of stiffness at the bottom bracket.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? The lively side of neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Blade RS is a proper race bike that has sharp and quick handling traits.
How did the build components work with the frame? Was there anything you would have changed?
This is a top end build which worked faultlessly with the frame, although I can't help feeling the Corima wheels don't offer the excellent levels of braking performance found on a lot of the latest carbon fibre wheels.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Many other top end framesets in the market like those mentioned in the review are of a similar price to the Blade RS.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It is quite an outlay for a frameset but Look has shown that it knows what it's doing when it comes to carbon fibre frame manufacturer to deliver an excellent ride quality paired with stiffness.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!