Look Cycles debuted the 566 Origin as an all-new road bike for 2009, and we’ve had the opportunity to put one through its paces for the past few months.
Designed as an “entry level” road bike, the Look 566 Origin’s geometry is different than its racier sisters. The headtube is taller, and the top tube is shorter, giving its riders a more upright, relaxed position, which is perfect for people new to road bikes. And while it’s billed as “entry level”, its performance is well beyond road bikes that are designed more for comfort or newbies. In fact, Look’s got one of their Pro “farm” teams using it in the peloton, so it has race cred.
There are actually two builds available for the U.S. market, one with full SRAM Rival (which we tested) and one with Ultegra SL. It’s damn sexy, priced competitively and spec’d intelligently, and every one of us really enjoyed riding it. Ã‚Â It’s like they took a race bike and gave it touring geometry.
Four different riders, almost 600 miles and one newbie later, the review is done. Hit ‘more’ for technical specs, lots of photos and the full review…
If you’re in the European market, you’ll find that you can’t get the SRAM Rival build…just Shimano options, but one of the models has a flat bar, making it a quick little city bike. For the U.S., the two builds are:
- LOOK 566 Origin w/ SRAM Rival – $2699.99
- LOOK 566 Origin w/ Shimano Ultegra SL – $3199.99
The SRAM Rival model comes on only in the black/white color scheme shown here. The Ultregra build has a red/black color option (shown at the bottom of this review). Before we get to the riders’ reviews, let’s cover the technical features.
The 566 Origin’s 1100g (Size M) frame is a blend of High Modulus and High Resistance carbon fiber, built with tube-to-tube construction. Look calls it a compact geometry, and with a taller headtube and shorter cockpit, we’d agree. It’s basically a shortened version of the Pro Tour geometry they use on their race bikes.
One of the primary features of the 566 is the X-Design “twisted” seat- and chainstays. Look shaped the carbon into very flat, wide sections right in the middle that give the frame vertical flex while retaining lateral stiffness. The profile shots above and below show just how thin the stays get…
…but they’re wide:
The frame is also pretty wide at the seat tube juncture (above) and bottom bracket (below).
The downtube is just about as wide as the bottom bracket shell.
The seat tube flares out at the bottom to make a wide base, further stiffinging the bottom bracket area. (note, we tested the XL…we’ll talk about that in a bit) Combined, all these things help keep the bike very stiff under power, but very comfortable, which is what makes this bike so great. And, yes, that sticker says “Hand Made.”
Up front, the 566 has a couple more tricks up its sleeve to keep the bike very comfortable. The headtube is very tall, and the effective top tube length is slightly shorter than Look’s more performance oriented bikes. Together, this puts the rider in a more upright position, which is great for non-racers, newbies or those just looking for something less aggressive.
One really great feature are the cable guides on either side of the headtube to keep the derailleur cables’ housing from rubbing the headtube. I can tell you right now, cable housing is miraculously tougher than carbon fiber and will rub through in virtually no time. This keeps the frame safe and is much cleaner looking than the little clear sticker patches I have on my frames.
The headtube flares out a little at the top and bottom and mounts to the big, rounded-square shaped downtube, providing a solid platform to mount on, helping to keep the bike stable in the straights and the curves.
The “Frontal Flex Design” fork narrows laterally at the bottom (above and below) to give it some fore/aft flex so it’ll suck up some of the bumps and rough stuff.
The fork weighs 350g uncut (we didn’t cut it on our test bike), and uses Look’s patented conical contact system, which uses a 45Ã‚Âº contact angle for the bottom bearings.
Now, here’s the most striking feature of the frame:
The top tube has the same flat, bent shape as Look’s ultra sweet looking 596 Triathlon / Time Trial frame (below). Look claims this contributes to the vertical compliance of the frame, enhancing comfort. We say it looks dead sexy. In fact, everyone single one of us were inundated with comments about how great the bike looked. In every group ride or race we rode it, people asked about it, stopped and stared and paid more attention to this sub-$3,000 rig than other bikes in the group that easily cost three times as much.
OK, back to the 566:
The cockpit is all FSA. Carbon bars and seatpost, aluminum stem and FSA Carbone 1-1/8″ headset. The XL we tested came with a 150mm stem. Perhaps the smartest spec’d piece on this bike is the handlebar. It has a very shallow drop, which complements the compact, upright theme very well. Even in the drops, your head and neck are in a very comfortable position.
Riding this bike was the most time any of us have spent with SRAM’s road components.Ã‚Â The Rival group isÃ‚Â SRAM’s entry level road group, but its performance was snappy and efficient.Ã‚Â It’s a full Rival set up, from shifters/levers to brakes to cranks to derailleurs.Ã‚Â Gearing is a 50/34 Compact Crankset with a 12-25 ten speed cassette.Ã‚Â Unlike many road bikes nowadays, the 566 comes with KEO Classic pedals.Ã‚Â These pedals use an injected glass fiber polyamide body with steel spindle and weigh in at 348g for the pair w/ cleats and screws.
In the back, the frame has a replaceable aluminum hanger. Without getting into a component review, suffice to say it worked well, had no problems and is a good match for this bike given the price point.
The last bit to cover is the seat.Ã‚Â The Selle San Marco Ponza saddle matches the white frame nicely, and had generally positive comments from testers…except from Daniel.
Speaking of Daniel, somehow the seat’s nose started turning a little orange after he spent some time on it.Ã‚Â He is a natural red head, but this is ridiculous…
Click the image to enlarge the image.
That’s the weight with pedals…you’d drop 3/4 of a pound if you took the pedals off and weighed it. Ã‚Â Considering most road bike weights are sans pedals, you’re basically getting an 18.2 lb, handbuilt carbon fiber bike with top name spec for $2,700. Ã‚Â Reedonkulous.
Tester #1 – Daniel – Avid Mountain Biker, First Time Roadie
As an avid mountain biker, my appreciation for cycling has heretofore required dirt and fat tires. Although reluctant to join the shaved leg roadies, I could see the potential for increasing overall fitness and performance by riding road bikes. Lucky happenstance put one in the office in my size, and I had the green light to ride it like I stole it. This was my first experience on a road bike, and I got in about 150 miles before having to give it to the next tester.
For this review I’m leaving the technical hoo-ha of integration, lateral stiffness and such to the editor. My two cents are geared on the three most important things that years of riding have taught me: 1) be fast, 2) be comfortable, and 3) look good doing it! Ã‚Â Speed and comfort span extremes from time trial bikes to beach cruisers. So naturally there has to be a happy medium between the two; a bike that delivers all the power like a race bike but with extended rideability. LOOK’s 566 is the answer. Even after my longest ride, 62 miles of moderate climbs and twisty roads in Western North Carolina, I felt fast and was definitely comfortable. LOOK has blended the engineering from their top-of-the-line race bikes with a fit perfect for non-Tour de France riders (heck, for non road riders even). As for the sex appeal, I have never had a salesperson tell me “Daniel, you look hot on this bike”. But you can bet I’d listen if they did. Let’s face it, we don’t go any faster when our socks match our jersey but we do it anyway. Looking good is crucial. So I did an informal survey of how I looked during the Burnsville Metric Century ride in NC. Everyone I passed was drawn to the sleek styling of white and red on top of glossy exposed carbon and felt compelled to tell me how great it looked. To be fair, the people passing me commented too.
The 566 has a style that embraces LOOK’s racing heritage. The bike is fast, fit great, rode smooth, and did it with customary fancy French swagger. Built with SRAM Rival and priced at about $2500 it’s a great deal. I’m sure the roadies will agree; this bike is great in just about every way.
Tester #2 – Marisa – Triathlete (Current Bike: Orbea Orca)
“Wait, the ride is already over? I’m not done yet!”
The shock-absorbing quality of the carbon frame yet seemingly aluminum-like stiffness makes this bike a top performer. Pedaling for fifty miles throughout various inclines, declines, headwinds, potholes, and hairpin turns, the Look 566 Origin responded with stability and comfort. Although, this bike is considered a mid-level recreational road bike, a cyclist could certainly enter an amateur road race and be pleasantly surprised with its responsiveness.
Normally, I am cautious and aware of a bike’s maneuvering capabilities. I simply ride with proper handling techniques. However, on the 566 I felt noticeably more comfortable steering into sharp turns at around 10 mph and leaning into wider curves at around 17-18 mph.
The 566 is exceedingly suitable for all distances, even century rides. The relaxed geometry places the rider in an ergonomic upright position. In contrast, a racer might want to consider a more aggressive design if racing is the predominant activity.
I would consider purchasing the bike as-is. My internal jury is still deliberating on the SRAM Rival components, I’d probably opt for the Ultegra-equipped model. Overall, I was really pleased with the Look 566 Origin, and I’d feel competitive using it as my training and long-distance touring bicycle.
Tester #3 – Richie – Cat 3 Road Racer (Current Bike: Madone 6.5)
It felt smooth, and it handled vibration well. I ride and race on aÃ‚Â Trek Madone 6.5, and the 566 it felt heavier and didn’t turn quite as fast.Ã‚Â I’d feel comfortable racing on it, but it’d be better for a touring bike or long mileage.Ã‚Â It was Ã‚Â very comfortable.
I’m 5’11″Ã‚Â and the XL frame felt a little too big.Ã‚Â I felt higher off the ground than normal.
Comfort is the main word I’d use to describe it.Ã‚Â I didn’t ever notice it flexing any, but it didn’t climb as well as my Madone.Ã‚Â It wasn’t bad, just a little more of a dead feel, which could be due to it being a little heavier.Ã‚Â I felt like I had to push a little harder to really get it up and running. It definitely looked good, and it shifted well.
Tester #4 – Tyler – Avid Cyclist and General Bicycle Conneusseir (Current Bike: Pinarello F4:13)
I was very excited to test the 566.Ã‚Â The claims of “speed” and “comfort” are exactly what I look for in a bike…I’m not a racer, but I like to go fast and ride a lot, but I don’t want a really aggressive geometry.Ã‚Â I like a more upright position, and it’s how I have my own road bike set up. Therefore, the way I test road bikes is by trying to hit as many manhole covers, cracks and rough patches as I can and see if I can comfortably remain seated and in control.Ã‚Â I’m happy to say the 566 tackled the worst I could ride over with aplomb.Ã‚Â It never skittered or bounced, and it never beat my backside up.
I put about 300 miles on it through our local hills and curvy roads in Greensboro (NC) and on flat, straight roads in Daytona Beach (FL).Ã‚Â Personally, I’m not a fan of compact cranksets…too much shifting and can’t seem to use the full range of the cassette in the small gear.Ã‚Â However, I can see the point on a bike that’s intended for comfort riders or beginners, but I would change out the rings or crankset for normal gearing if I were going to keep the bike.
The XL size we tested is the largest frame they make, and only on my very last ride on the bike did it start to feel a little small (I’m 6’2″ tall).Ã‚Â Not really cramped, but I would say anyone taller than me should look elsewhere.
The Performance: The bike is stable around turns, even at speed, and standing up to sprint never felt mushy.Ã‚Â As far as I can tell, the X stays do their job well…turning pedal power into forward motion without discernible waste, but keeping the bike comfy over less than perfect roads.Ã‚Â Overall, this bike feels and performs like bikes that cost much more.Ã‚Â Perhaps the best thing I can say is this: If I were in the market for a new road bike, this would be on my short list.Ã‚Â I love the looks, it’s fun and easy to ride and it’ll go as fast as you can pedal it.
Pedals: The Look pedals are fine, but personally, I prefer something with 2-sided entry.
The Look 566 Origin is a real value, and a real performer.Ã‚Â It brings weekend racing performance and all day riding comfort to the table, then packages it into a sexy frame at a bargain price…and it comes with pedals! It’s a great bike even for experienced riders, and offers an easy way to start with a top-notch frame, then upgrade as the budget or skill level allows.Ã‚Â There’s no reason why this bike couldn’t be a 16.5 lb racer by moving up to a top-level group, lightweight wheels and a few smart component picks.Ã‚Â We wouldn’t be surprised if Look shows a higher end group on this frame by Interbike…we already know they’ll be switching the Ultegra SL model to the new 2010 Ultegra kit.
Perhaps the only complaint we have is the lack of larger sizes…taller riders are not likely to consider an XL frame that’s equivalent to a 57cm size. Ã‚Â Since most people fall into the Under 6’2″ category, we really have to give this bike a full 5 thumbs up. Ã‚Â It’s just too good of a deal for everything it offers.
Check out our Podcast (Episode #1) for an interview with Look Cycles’ Chris Wehan regarding the 566.
If you pony up for the Ultegra SL-equipped model, you’ll have your choice of the white/black frame we tested or this red/black beaut: