Cyclocross

Ridden and Reviewed: Look 765 RS Gravel Bike – Cyclocross Magazine

Gravel bikes dominated the scene in 2019, and we saw Old World road-bike oriented companies explore the new frontier that has taken hold of the New World. The drop-bar all-road bikes diverged in design, with mountain bike companies erring towards the off-road geometry, and road bike companies leaning towards pavement.

Look of France introduced its new 765 Gravel RS bike early in the year—we first saw it at Interbike in 2018 then again at the 2019 Sea Otter Classic—and touted it as a road-oriented bike. The bike, however, diverges from an “all-road” style bike with clearance for 700c x 40mm or 650b 2.1″ tires

We have been riding the Look 765 Gravel RS for the better part of a year now and offer a complete long-term review.

Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The Frame

Look has been in the carbon frame game for 30 years, significantly longer than most of the big bike companies. The RS moniker stands for “Racing Sport,” which Look uses for its top-tier carbon models. The company applied its expertise in road and XC mountain bike racing to cook up a new mix of carbon fibers and layup schedule for the 765 Gravel RS to optimize a light weight, efficiency, vibration damping and ride compliance during mixed-terrain riding.

The Look 765 Gravel RS is UCI approved. The E765 Gravel is not. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

Though Brad Cole of Look says the bike leans more toward road than mountain, the geometry is decidedly gravel with a slack head tube angle of 70.5 degrees paired with a 50mm fork offset. With the 700c x 37mm WTB Riddler tires, that yields a 72mm trail calculation, a centimeter longer than traditional cyclocross race bikes.

As a comparison, the Cannondale SuperX with its Out Front Geometry has a trail measurement of 62mm, and the Kona Major Jake with its slack 70.5-degree head tube angle but shorter fork offset of 45mm has a trail of 72mm with a 35mm tire.

The Look 765 Gravel RS has a dropped right chainstay designed to maximize tire clearance for the short 42.0cm chainstay. The dropped chainstay, popularized by Gerard Vroomen with the 3T Exploro, moves the chainstay down below where the chain ring and tire are in closest proximity. The 386 bottom bracket drop is 7.0cm.

The Look 765 Gravel uses a drop stay design for tire and chain ring clearance. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

Our size M review sample has a 55.2cm effective top tube matched to a 51.0cm seat tube. The reach is 375mm and the stack is 578mm. The frame’s sloping top tube leaves a good amount of the 27.2mm diameter carbon post protruding to aid in flex-related compliance. In addition to that, the 765 RS Gravel’s seatstays have two flattened compliance zones Look labels “3D Wave.”

The upper flex point of the 3D Wave seatstays on the Look 765 Gravel RS. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The Look 765 Gravel RS is the first frame we’ve seen that uses the Mavic Speed Release thru-axle system. The frame has a threaded compatible nut in place and opposite is an open dropout that appears much like dropouts of old. The thru-axle has a retainer so it stays with the hub.

To remove the wheel, you unthread the axle as usual. It slides out about 2 cm where the axle is thinner and that slides out through the frame dropout. In use it works quite well. It is indeed speedier, and you do not have to worry about where you placed the axle.

Dropout on the fork of the Look 765 Gravel? It’s not for quick release but for compatibility with the Mavic Speed Release system. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The 765 Gravel RS has a plethora of mounting points for accessories. The seat tube bottle cage mount has three bolts positioned to allow the bottle cage to have a low or high position. The down tube mounting position has four bolts positioned similarly. There is one bottle mount below the down tube near the bottom bracket and there is a set of bolts on the top tube for a “bento” type bag.

The Look 765 Gravel RS has 4 bottle mounts with 10 bolts to offer bottle position flexibility. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

There is a mount for a front derailleur and internal cable routing for a bottom pull front derailleur. The rear is 12x142mm thru-axle.

The Look fork has a carbon tapered 1 ⅛” to 1 ½” steering tube with internal brake line routing through the left fork blade. The ends have the Mavic Speed Release system for a 12x100mm thru-axle.

Our Force 1 Model has matte olive green paint and is UCI approved. The claimed frame weight is 1,200 grams, and the uncut fork weight is 350 grams.

The Build

The Look 765 Gravel RS is currently available in 2 builds. One features a Shimano GRX drivetrain and double chain rings, and the other is a 1x SRAM Force 1 build. We reviewed the SRAM Force 1 build of the bike.

Our review bike was a 56cm Force 1 model for review, so it is not unexpected that the drivetrain is entirely SRAM Force 1 with a 42 tooth X-Sync chain ring on the Force 1 carbon crank, a 11-36 SRAM 1170 cassette, 1130 chain and Force 1 hydraulic brake/shift levers. The Force 1 rear derailleur is a medium cage model that accepts a maximum rear cog of 36 teeth.

Our review bike came with a SRAM Force 1 build. Look 765 Gravel RS © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The brake calipers are SRAM Force flat mount with 160mm SRAM Centerline rotors front and rear. Look includes a Token Ninja threaded cartridge for the 386 EVO bottom bracket.

The Look 765 Gravel RS follows the integrated cockpit style of the 795 RS road bikes or the 989/987 RS mountain bikes. The Look aluminum stem is attractive and you can flip the stem to offer varying height but maintain the integrated look.

The Look branded aluminum bar has a comfortable “compact” bend and measures 42cm at the hoods and has a slight (12-degree) flare from the hoods to the drops. The 765 Gravel RS uses a standard round steerer with the stem and a 35mm stack of spacers shaped to give the integrated look. The design still allows the user to swap to another brand of stem.

The 765 Gravel RS has an integrated-style stem that still allows you to swap in your own. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The Look seatpost is carbon with a 27.2mm diameter and bonded 2-bolt aluminum head. A wedge-style binder holds the post in place for a clean appearance.

Mavic Allroad Disc CL aluminum wheels (1660 grams pair actual-with tape) are part of the package that weighs 18.5 lbs without pedals, 11.5 without wheels. The tires are WTB Riddler 700c x 37mm with butyl tubes installed on the 22mm wide internal rims.

The fork has plenty of clearance with at 37mm WTB Riddlers in place. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The SRAM Force 1 model of the 765 Gravel RS costs $4,500 USD. The GRX model costs $4,200.

The Ride

The front wheel on the Look 765 Gravel RS is a bit out in front of you due to the slack head tube angle and slightly increased fork rake. I began on pavement with the stock wheelset pumped to 30 psi and the bike just took off from under me with the first pedal stroke. My first impression on a short road climb is the efficiency is remarkable. Immediate uphill acceleration with increased effort brings a big smile. Road cornering is precise and confident.

Off-road the bike tracks well, and the acceleration and climbing efficiency are amazing when powering over roots and small rocks. If you have to lay it out for a short ride-up, the bike transfers your effort to the rear tire. The front end doesn’t wander, despite the longish front center that makes the front wheel appear a bit out in front of you compared to a pure road machine or older ’cross bike with a more aggressive front end. This might feel like an ideal one-hour cyclocross racer.

The stiffness that allows excellent road manners, handling and acceleration makes the bike skip around on those same roots and small rocks. The WTB Riddler tires have a shallow gravel tread, and with tubes, I ran the 37mm tires with 30 psi. On normal fire roads with packed dirt and gravel, this was a reasonable setup.

During my review period, I swapped in a variety of wheel/tire setups with 700c wheels and tubeless tires from 38-42mm wide. The ride characteristics improved significantly with rubber more appropriate to my trail riding and lower pressures.

I began to really love the front end balanced with the short chainstays. Diving down steep trails, the front tracks very well, giving confidence.  Look recommends 40mm at the widest for a 700c wheel, and the 42mm WTB resolute is a tight fit, so I agree with Look if you want some clearance around the short chainstays.

The Look 765 Gravel RS uses the company’s “3D Wave” seatstays. 37mm WTB Riddler in place. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The Mavic Allroad Disc CL wheels are a fine set with 20 spokes in front and 24 on the rear and a good tubeless profile. The wheelset’s claimed weight fits the 1,600-1,700 gram range we typically see for OEM wheels on this type of bike. Mavic’s 22mm internal width is a bit dated for a gravel wheel, with wider rims better fitting wide gravel tires. Still it’s not a bad choice, and directed the bike design to include the Mavic Speed Release system which I like a lot.

The carbon frame has internal routing for a clean look. Look 765 Gravel RS Gravel Bike, 2019 Sea Otter Classic. © C. Lee / Cyclocross Magazine

The choice of a 42-tooth chain ring with an 11-36t cassette is a bit tall. I understand that the 103-inch gear is good for being in the paceline or bombing down a long road descent. I also get that the 36 tooth low keeps the steps reasonable for a road-oriented ride, but the 32.7-inch low gear is just not enough for a mountainous mixed-terrain ride. Even fire roads often have grades that exceed typical paved road climbs, and with the need to maintain traction, I would prefer a lower gear.

With the included medium cage Force 1 rear derailleur, the 36-tooth cog is the limitation, so I sacrificed the high end for the low and put a 38-tooth ring, making the low just over 1:1 and the high just under 3.5:1. A 93-inch high and a 28.5-inch low with still reasonable steps in between made for a reasonable single ring spread for single-day, unloaded, hilly mixed-terrain riding.  With the Force 1 carbon crank, the spider can be swapped for a direct mount ring should you want to go lower.

The steerer came cut with  35mm of spacers below the stem, and the stem can be flipped to offer more height, so the bike has plenty of adjustability for those who need it.

I also used the Look 765 Gravel RS bike during cyclocross season. I have become accustomed to racing the Kona Major Jake the past couple of seasons, so the slack front end and increased trail did not feel slow to me at all. The 32 and 33mm cyclocross tires left a lot of mud clearance, and the smooth area behind the bottom bracket let the muck slide right through.

The short chainstays keep the rear wheel under you for traction up slippery ride-ups and the longish front center and long trail make the hair-raising steep drop-downs easier. The road-like efficiency makes accelerating out of a turn or up that climb feel easy. The down tube is huge so grasping it to lift the bike to shoulder is a bit cumbersome however.

The Verdict

Look put a lot into the 765 Gravel RS, and the bike comes together as a complete and capable package. The carbon bike is relatively light, has great road manners and dialed off-road geometry for a variety of conditions. The Force 1 build could use some tweaks in my opinion, but it may be perfect for someone who is more road-focused. After racing it in cyclocross, thanks to the geometry, I think this is my favorite bike of 2019 for its fun versatility.

At $4,500 with a Force 1 build, the Look 765 Gravel RS is competitive with other race-oriented bikes such as the 3T Exploro and the Specialized Diverge we have recently reviewed.

For more on the Look 765 Gravel RS, see the specs and photo gallery below.

Look 765 Gravel RS Specs

MSRP: $4,500 USD, as tested
Weight: 18.5 pounds (no pedals), 11.5 pounds (no wheels, no pedals)
Frame: Look RS carbon fiber, dropped chainstay, 12mm thru-axle, flat mount disc
Fork: Carbon Fiber with carbon steerer: 1 ⅛” -1 ½”, 12mm thru-axle, flat mount disc
Shifter/Brake Levers: SRAM Force 1 HRD, 11-speed
Brakes: SRAM Force 1 hydraulic, Centerline rotors 160mm front, 160mm rear
Crankset: SRAM Force 1
Chain Ring: SRAM X-Sync, 42t
Cassette: SRAM Powerglide PG-1170, 11-36t
Wheels: Mavic Allroad Disc CL alloy tubeless clinchers
Tires: WTB Riddler 700c x 37mm, TCS tubeless
Cockpit: 90mm Look LDS aluminum stem, 42cm Look LS2 Gravel aluminum bar
Seatpost: Look LS2, carbon, 27.2mm diameter
Saddle: Fizik Antares, Kium rails
Warranty: Lifetime, frame and fork
Country of origin: Taiwan
More Info: lookcycle.com

Photo Gallery: Look 765 Gravel RS