Look 795 Blade RS
The Look 795 Blade RS is a super bike. It’s a top shelf bike that stands out even among the best in the world. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of argument about that, but let’s talk about the details.
The Look 795 Blade RS is among the best bikes in the world.
In 2016, the height of technology for a race bike was an ultralight ultrastiff frame with rim brakes. Aero road bikes around were around but not loved. Disc brakes were also around but top shelf frames either didn’t include them or did so as an afterthought. A few years later, the landscape has completely changed.
The ultralight climbers bike is dead.
Every top shelf frame released is aerodynamically optimized. You can still purchase a climbers frame, but even climbers frames get their turn in the wind tunnel. Disc brakes are no longer an afterthought. More and more, the best frames available aren’t even offered with rim brakes as an option. Given that landscape, it would be a disservice to discuss the best of the best and not make it an aero disc frame.
Consumers who walk into a shop today looking for a road bike and walk out with something that doesn’t fit that formula are choosing a compromise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. People make compromises for all kinds of reasons that make a lot of sense. There is also a whole world of bikes that aren’t in the road, race, bike category. But if you are looking for the very best road, race, bike, what you should be looking for is an aero disc frame.
If you are looking for the very best race ready bike you should be looking for an aero disc frame.
I’ll discuss the disc brakes a bit more when I start talking about the Vision Metron 55 SL Disc wheels I choose for this build. Let’s start with the aero part. The UCI is the biggest reason that aerodynamics started getting the attention it deserved.
For a lot of people, even well informed bike people, the UCI seems like a distant consideration. The UCI is the governing body for competitive cycling. The ways in which it affects the cycling landscape stretch way beyond the world tour races that many people associate with it. The UCI covers road, track, mountain bike, BMX racing, BMX freestyle, paracycling, cyclo-cross, trials, and indoor cycling.
The UCI has a much bigger impact on consumer bike choices than most people think.
What I’m concerned about, in this context, are the UCI rules for road racing. In 2000, the UCI mandated that all bikes used in competition had to be a minimum of 6.8kg. With weight suddenly off the table, the arms race at the very top of the competitive cycling landscape didn’t go away. Instead bike manufacturers figured out other ways to go fast. As it turns out, aerodynamics is actually far more important than weight.
A lighter bike is faster up a steep hill. There’s no denying that fact. The reality, however, is that when you ride a bike, you don’t only ride up steep hills. The rest of the time, an aerodynamic frame will net you more speed than a lightweight frame. The differences in speeds are also greater for aerodynamic savings than for weight savings. Shave a few pounds off a bike build, and you’ll only save a few seconds on that steep hill you frequent.
A lighter bike is faster up a steep hill but what about the time it takes you to get to the hill?
An aero frame might save you over a minute in the time it takes you to get to the hill. The aero frame might also mean you get to that hill in the same time but having ridden at a lower power output. That means you get to the hill a little bit fresher. You have a bit more energy to try and reclaim those few seconds of savings the light weight build would have saved. Let’s also not forget that it’s typically possible to shave a few pounds off your middle section. That way you can enjoy both aerodynamics, on a heavier bike, and weight savings up the hills.
As you strive for weight savings on the bike don’t forget your middle section.
I’m guessing that by now, those reading are either arguing with me or are on board. So how does all this relate to the Look 795 Blade RS? One of the complaints often leveled against aero frames is that they are all the same. It’s true that the wind tunnel tends to leave many of the designs somewhat similar. But even among the best and most slippery designs, there are those that stand out from the crowd. The Look 795 Blade RS is one such frame, and it stands apart in a few ways.
Before I get too technical, I want to mention panache. My riding friends throw the term around with a laugh or two. Some companies have it and some don’t. Of course, this is all subjective, but for me, part of the allure of panache is the exoticness of it.
Look is a brand with panache to spare.
Do the American brands have panache? I’m not sure, but surely some of the Italian brands do. At the very top of this, completely subjective ranking, I would likely call out a few brands, and for me, Look is right there in the running. I review top end gear all day long, but a Look frame still gives me pause every time I look at it. The paint is gorgeous, the details are exquisite, and there’s enough history to fill another few pages if I wanted to.
Panache aside, let’s get back to the more technical aspects of what makes the Look 795 Blade RS one of the best frames available on the market today. Comfort has emerged at the very forefront of modern bike design. The more a bike leaves you feeling beat up, the less energy you have for forward momentum.
The best modern road bikes put comfort near the top of the design priorities.
It’s a realization that has started to influence the design of bikes in all categories. Adoption in the road race category has been a bit slower, though. A bike that leaves you feeling every nuance in the road subjectively feels faster, but is objectively slower. It’s this area that the Look 795 Blade RS really feels special. There are only a few aero road frames that take comfort seriously, and the 795 Blade RS is one of them.
The Look 795 Blade RS is exceptionally comfortable.
My reviews are rarely at the very front wave, and this gives me some perspective. If you look around, you’ll find reviewers talking about how the 795 Blade RS feels boring. I know where this comes from, but I would say it’s an indication that a reviewer hasn’t spent much time with the frame or done much analysis. Spend an hour or two on it, don’t dig deep into the numbers, and you might get that impression.
Tak the time to get to know the Look 795 Blade RS and you’ll come to appreciate that it’s both fast and comfortable.
It’s not the reality, and it’s somewhat by design. Look employes something called the 3S design on the 795 Blade RS. 3S design stands for “Smooth Sword Seatstays.” It refers to the removal of the brake bridge, even on the available rim brake version of the frame, and replacement with outwardly curved seat stays. The idea here isn’t new, but this take on it works very well.
What the 3S design allows is vertical compliance with lateral stiffness. Look has chased a desired feature and succeeded in making it work. The traditional way of allowing rear flex for the sake of comfort is to make a compliant seat post. Instead, the 795 Blade RS keeps the seat post very stiff while allowing the entire rear of the bike to flex vertically. This approach increases pedaling efficiency, as well as increasing traction and comfort.
The marketing copy for the 3S technology actually talks more about traction. For me, the real story of that rear triangle design is much more about comfort than anything else. I think the most compelling story of this whole bike is comfort, but there are a lot of other great features.
Unlike your typical race bike, the Look 795 Blade RS is a serious distance machine. It’s comfortable, it’s aerodynamic, and the 795 Blade RS is unique in its ability to transform into a TT bike. Unlike the 795 aerolight, the 795 Blade RS uses a seatpost, although it is proprietary, instead of a fixed seatmast. The Look Aeropost 2 can be set up for a variety of positions with effective seat angles of 71.8º, 73.8º, 76.3º, or 78.4º. The adjustability allows for a seat tube angle more like what you’d see on a TT bike.
It’s possible to set the Look 795 Blade RS up as a Time Trial bike.
This consideration for a Time Trial position comes with an added feature that’s one of my favorite things about this frame. On the back of the Aeropost 2, there’s a third bottle mount. I doubt that I’ll ever transform the bike to a TT setup, but that third bottle mount is a big deal. Long distances in hot and desolate areas have left me desperately looking for a water fill up. The ability to mount a third bottle is a real advantage.
Typically, I watch product releases in the bike industry as they happen and report on what I find interesting. From time to time, I like to take an opportunity to seek out the best of the best and use it as an example of where the industry is heading. Some people point at the product manufacturers and think they are being somehow malevolent in constantly evolving their focus.
The reality is that technology is constantly evolving, and the best manufacturers are on the forefront of the trends. A good brand wants to provide the best possible product. The Look 795 Blade RS is an example of the very best in the industry at this moment in time. It’s not some big conspiracy that weight has taken a back seat compared to aerodynamics. It also doesn’t much matter if you want to follow the trends or not, they will continue to exist.
The Look 795 Blade RS is an evolution of the 795 Aerolight. I loved the design of the previous generation Look bikes. The Blade RS, however, is more conventional and has a wider appeal. In addition to the proprietary ADH2 seatpost, the Blade RS also uses a proprietary stem.
The Look aero design stem fits the square steer tube that the Blade RS uses and allows for routing of the cables into the frame. Similar to the Trek Madone, the ADS uses spacers that split apart so that the height is adjustable without significant disassembly. Both of these proprietary parts come in the box included in the €2,999.00 frameset price. The ADH2 handlebars are not required and not included. They are among the best, though, and the only choice I wanted to make for this bike. Look for a separate review of them coming soon.
There is some forum chatter about issues with the headset not staying tight on this bike. I did not have any issues beyond an initial, post build, tightening.
This build missed my big summer trip. It also coincided with a very definitive end of the season in Portland. I was tight on time to test it, and I wanted to do something with it that was fittingly epic. What I dreamed up was a 150 mile ride. Once I had my plan, I started putting the pieces together to make it happen. I was planning to pick up the bike late in the week and take it on the long ride that Sunday. Then things got delayed. Instead, I did the same ride two weeks in a row. First on my Fuji then on the 795 Blade RS. What better way to get a feel for how the bike compared than do the exact same route so close together?
What I found in testing this bike is that it is exceptionally comfortable. It leaves my arms and shoulders feeling much fresher. I rode the two back to back rides with different people at different speeds, so elapsed time isn’t directly comparable. What was comparable was how I felt. On the Look, my arms and upper body felt substantially better. 150 miles takes me about 9 hours, and no matter what, 9 hours of riding leaves you tired.
Spend all day riding and you will definitely appreciate the approach Look has taken with the 795 Blade RS.
The Look 795 Blade RS does a much better job of isolating that tiredness to your legs, and it’s fast. My FTP drifted downwards this year as I trended towards endurance but my Strava times stayed near my best ever. Just two days after the first 150 mile ride I picked up the Look and took it out for around 20 miles. Without much recovery time I still came just under my personal records on multiple Strava sections.
I trained for endurance and the Look 795 Blade RS helped keep my speed close to what it had been.
For those interested, the full built bike weighs in at 18lbs. That includes Vision Metron 55 Disc SL wheels and a SRAM Red AXS groupset. The frameset in size medium weighed 1360 grams, and the fork is about 400 grams. This is not the lightest bike around, and yet, I still set some of my fastest times on it. Plus, I set those times feeling better in my upper body and generally more comfortable. Comfortable and fast are the best ways to sum up the experience, but don’t forget panache. It’s a beautiful bike, and it’s not likely you’ll see two at your local group ride.