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Verdict: 
Offers an excellent balance of stiffness and comfort at a pretty good price considering the technology and materials involved
Weight: 
8,010g

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.

  • Pros: Massively efficient; sublime handling through the corners
  • Cons: Not the most exciting bike when it comes to feedback; tall front end

The ride

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.

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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.

Look 795 Blade RS riding-4.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - front.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS riding-3.jpg

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.

Frame and fork

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - UCI sticker.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - rear.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - rear brake 2.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - head tube.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - saddle.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - seat tube.jpg

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - bottom bracket.jpg

Overall, the Blade RS is a quality frameset that is very well built and finished.

Value

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.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best and fastest 2019 aero road bikes

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.

Look 795 Blade RS - bar and shifter 2.jpg

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.

> Lightweight vs aero: which is most best?

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.

Conclusion

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.

Verdict

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

Frameset

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."

Overall rating for frameset
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Excellent throughout.

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?

No.

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.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

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.

Your summary

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

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

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

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

2 comments

Avatar
Ogi [168 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

I think I've never read more boring review, for such a stunning bike. Taller front end? Put away those spacers and you'll be fine. Get -10 degree/-17 degree stem for those pro legs.

Stack to reach ratios for the Look are (XS-XL): 1.38, 1.40, 1.43, 1.46, 1.48. Spesh Venge (49-61): 1.33, 1.35, 1.38, 1.39, 1.43, 1.46. Trek Madone SLR (50-62): 1.38, 1.39, 1.40, 1.44, 1.47, 1.51, 1.54.

Comparing Look's large with Spesh and Trek's 58s, it comes down to 1.46 vs. 1.43 vs. 1.47, with Look being between Spesh and Trek. Not much of a difference. In addition, for example, I've never read a review which said Trek Madone has tall front end or feels like "endurance".

Journalism these days...

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [379 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

The headtube area does look very tall, but I agree with Ogi... the geometry numbers are not far off other race bikes, such as the Specialized Tarmac.

Thumbs up for the BB386EVO bottom bracket. That gives you loads of options.

I can't imagine spending that much on a bike now, without going to disc brakes though. Carbon fiber wheels co-exist much better with disc brakes, but the cable routing is easier.