The 765 Optimum+ is very expensive for the components it comes with – even in the context of other, well-established brands. There are some geometry quirks which make it quite distinct from most other endurance bikes. But that said, if you are after an endurance bike which is incredibly stable in a straight line and can fit unusually large tyres, then the Optimum+ does tick those boxes, but it comes with compromises on twisty lanes. If this is the one for you, you’ll just need to have deep pockets and a particular fondness for French engineering.
Masses of tyre clearance
Stiff frame for training efforts
Made in France
Very expensive for the spec
No mudguard mounts
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Of the pantheon of iconic bike brands, there should be little debate as to whether Look is a member. Yes, it might not produce frames in the jaw-dropping quantities of Giant or Specialized, but from its Piet Mondrian inspired logo to the invention of clipless pedals and early carbon fibre frames, Look’s impact on the cycling industry is hard to understate.
But to take a step away from those aspects directly intertwined with Le Tour, the 765 Optimum+ constitutes Look’s endurance platform, designed to offer both comfort and control over long distances. It’s a package that packs quite a number of surprises, so let’s get stuck in.
The frame: Look 765 Optimium+
Naturally, Look is highly proud of its “30 years of ‘made in France’ carbon expertise”, with the 765 Optimum+ reaping the results. At the rear, flattened, “3D Wave seatstays” are designed to flex and soak up vibrations through the increased vertical compliance, whilst retaining the lateral stiffness of the frame.
Perhaps curiously for an endurance bike, there does seem to be an enduring emphasis on rigidity and power transfer. The bottom bracket area is so overbuilt it wouldn’t look out of place on an aero bike, with the chunky downtube that it morphs into underlining the comparison.
More unusual, though, is the geometry Look has chosen to equip the 765 Optimum+ with. Starting from the head tube angle, this is notably slack at 70.3 degrees. To put that in context, most endurance bikes in this frame size sit somewhere between 72 and 73 degrees – 70 degrees is still pretty slack even for a gravel bike.
Now, reducing the head angle typically has the effect of making a bike feel more controlled and less twitchy – but the trade off is that it slows down the steering response.
To compensate for this, pretty much all mountain bikes and many gravel bikes subscribe to the idea of ‘progressive geometry’. This dictates that, once the head angle has been slackened, the stem should be shortened to reduce the steering axis and thereby quicken the steering back up. And so that the contact points all remain in the same place, the top tube should be lengthened to compensate for the shorter stem.
The result should be a bike which is more stable and easier to control, but that still retains its liveliness and ability to take sharp corners. But the 765 Optimum+ has not made those compensations. The stem is a pretty traditional 110mm and, with the reach even a little shorter than on most endurance bikes, there’s no scope for reducing that. Exactly what the effect is on the ride, we’ll get into a little later on.
Another curiosity is the length of the chainstays, at 420mm they match Canyon’s first gravel bike, the Grail, and contrast with the more typical 415mm length as seen on Cannondale’s Synapse endurance bike. Longer chainstays are another feature which tends to make a bike more stable, while also having the secondary (sometimes primary) benefit of opening up the space to fit in larger tyres.
It’s true that there is an increasing number of endurance bikes that can be found with 420mm chainstays these days – but the comparison with the Grail gravel turns out to be really quite apt.
The 765 Optimum+ uses the exact same frame as Look’s gravel bikes – albeit without the addition of quite so many mounts. The stack, reach, head angle, BB drop, chainstay length, all the tubing – it’s all identical. With the 765 Optimum+ billed as an endurance bike, that’s the yardstick by which it’s being measured here, but it is still interesting to understand why some choices might have been made – such as the tyre clearance for 42mm x 700c or 2.1in x 650b.
Creating a new frame platform, and opening moulds, is not cheap - so - here it seems that Look has opted for a ‘2 for 1’ design, but it comes with some trade-offs.
The 765 Optimum+ comes with Shimano’s 105 11-speed hydraulic groupset, which has earnt a high reputation for its performance, reliability and reasonable price. To make a bit of a saving over a full 105 build, Look has gone with a non-series crankset, which mainly just adds a little bit to the weight.
No shortcuts have been taken with the chain and cassette, though, which both happen to be 105 – no third party alternatives here. The wheels also come courtesy of Shimano, being the less-than-catchily-named, WH RS 171. These are quite shallow and quite heavy, but at least come with easy to service cup and cone bearings.
They would be very much worth an upgrade if you’re planning on entering some gran fondos or longer sportives, but when speed isn’t a concern, these workhorse Shimano wheelsets to tend to be ruggedly reliable.
The tyres are Hutchinson Fusion 5, which are tubeless ready and come in a plump 30mm width. Similarly comfortable, the gearing consists of a compact 50/34t crankset and an 11–32t cassette, which is good for getting up most tarmac climbs you’re likely to come across..
The two-piece bar and stem, along with the round 27.2mm seat post are all aluminium and produced by Look themselves. Common standards, they make for quite a user-friendly experience – which ironically is becoming less common, with ever more one piece handlebar/stem units and proprietary seatposts.
A slight mitigation to the user experience is the lack of mudguard mounts and the press fit bottom bracket. That said, at least the BB the bike ships with is a ‘thread-fit’ so you won’t need to knock it out the frame when the time comes.
With the chunky profiles of the downtube and bottom bracket area, the 765 Optimum+ lives up to its looks in terms of stiffness. Admittedly, this might not be the first in your list of desired attributes for an endurance bike. But with that said, if you are one to do all your training efforts on an endurance bike, saving your race bike for race day, then it is nice to have one which doesn’t feel like a noodle.
Still, I didn’t feel any sense of harshness or rattling vibrations when cruising over the small, high frequency bumps of coarser tarmac. This may have been partly down to those 3D Wave seatstays, but really, once you have 30mm of rubber and pressures dropped to 50psi, those kind of subtleties are very much muted.
Regarding the handling, which I think is the most interesting aspect of the 765 Optimum+’s ride, on long, straight descents, it proved a complete blast. Feeling so planted and so stable, I never reached a speed where I felt anything less than complete control.
On the long, sweeping bends of the more major roads as they snake their way down the sides of the larger hills, the 765 Optimum+ proved perfectly adept too. Carving its way down in wide, graceful arcs – almost like when skiing down an empty slope.
Less flattering were the tighter, twistier lanes of the small back-roads or any sudden, sharp left hand turns. Those sledge-like qualities really continued to shine on through, feeling slow and a little ungainly as I tried to thread it through the turns.
It’s made for an interesting contrast with the BMC URS gravel bike I reviewed last summer. The BMC’s head angle is similarly slack at 70 degrees and the chainstays are even 5mm longer than the 765 Optimum+’s. The major difference is in the reach: a whopping 415mm for the BMC compared to 375mm for the Look.
With a stubby stem reducing the steering arc, the BMC URS succeeded in feeling nimble, agile and controlled – the 765 Optimum+ only hits one of those.
The handling characteristics of the Optimum+ aren’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s horses for courses at the end of the day. If you want a bike that rails down the straights and takes its time on the corners, the handling of the Optimium+ will suit you to a T. It’s just worth noting that it comes across very differently to other endurance bikes out there.
It’s also worth just giving a mention to the value. At $3,400 / £2,999, the 765 Optimum+ is very expensive for the components it comes with. The new Canyon Endurace has a full 105 groupset and a carbon frame but comes in at $2,599.00 / £1,699.
Of course, there is that element of history and prestige which Look commands. But Bianchi, the oldest bike brand in the world, sells its endurance Infinito XE with a full 105 groupset for less than the Optimum+, at $3,000 / £2,887.00.
The 765 Optimum+ comes with a quirky geometry quite distinct to most other endurance bikes. If you're after a bike with incredible stability in a straight line – and aren't fussed about cornering speed – then you may have met your perfect match. But if you'd prefer the more balanced handling of a typical endurance bike – not razor sharp like a race bike, but still far from lazy – then you'd likely be best served by a different model.
Should the ride sound right up your street, though, there is still the prerequisite of sufficiently deep pockets: this is the entry level build, there's nothing any cheaper.
Frame: 765 Optimium+, 142x12mm thru-axle, press fit BB
Fork: 765 Optimium+, 100x12mm thru-axle
Handlebars: LOOK LS2 alloy
Saddle: San Marco Monza full fit
Shifters: Shimano 105
Derailleurs: Shimano 105 R 7000
Crankset: Shimano RS510
Wheelset: Shimano WH RS 171
Tyres: Hutchinson Fusion 5 tubeless ready 700x30mm
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