After 3500 miles on my Look 795 Blade RS, I feel as though I can honestly give it a thorough review. I purchased the 795 Blade RS to fill the dedicated aero slot in my bike lineup and ended up with the most versatile road bike in my quiver.
The Blade was first announced last Fall as a replacement for the venerable 795 Aerolight – a unique but highly integrated aero bike. Look’s goal with the Blade was to improve aerodynamics, while reducing proprietary integration. As a result, the old 795’s integrated brakes and proprietary Look 65 BB with ZED Cranks, have both gone the way of the dodo. In their place are standard brakes (rim and disc) as well as a BB386 shell; both of which are much easier to live with.
Also gone is the love-it-or-hate-it Look Aerostem. In its place is a revised version that cleverly (and effortlessly from a mechanical standpoint) routes the cables internally. While the stem is proprietary due to the flattened steerer tube, (which, satisfyingly, makes it impossible to set up askew) it fits the standard 31.8, so your favorite handlebar can be swapped in. While I do like the aesthetic of a one piece bar-stem combo, it can be incredibly limiting if it doesn't feel right. I hate the idea of being stuck with a handlebar I don’t like on a $6k-$12k bike. To me, Look’s ADS stem and handlebar present a happy medium: full cable integration with easy adjustability.
Look’s other goal with the 795 Blade RS was to increase comfort over a variety of road surfaces. Upon the bike’s launch, Look’s EU product manager even stated that he would put their sponsored riders on the 795 Blade frameset throughout the spring classics, including the cobbled classic, Paris-Roubaix. At the time, I thought this was just marketing B.S, but having ridden this bike for 3500 miles on Maine Roads, it's one of the most comfortable carbon bikes I have ever ridden. And I’m not just talking about aero bikes, but ANY carbon bike I’ve ever been on. It even rivals my Time Alpe d’Huez 01 with Active for overall ride quality. (Sorry, but my steel Merckx Roubaix 70 is still more comfortable #steelisreal)
I've been riding on the rim brake version of the 795 with Ultegra Di2 and Mavic Comete UST wheels, complete with the Mavic UST tires. There’s no need to review the Di2 – suffice it to say that it's been flawless for me. The same goes for the Comete’s.
That being said, if you’ve wanted to try tubeless, but have hesitated, you should consider Mavic’s UST system. The setup is a breeze: They really do go on by hand, and are able to be inflated with a floor pump, without sealant. Mine actually sat in my office for about 2 months without sealant in them, and held pressure fine. It is tubeless made easy!
I have three other modern aero bikes that can be compared to the Look: a Wilier Cento 10 Air Disc, a Factor One Disc and 2018 Trek Madone. The bike I can most closely liken to the 795 Blade is the Trek Madone. The Madone, with its ISOSpeed decoupler, is smooth on rough roads and the Blade possesses a similar level of comfort. The difference is that the Look gets you the comfort without the decoupler. The Look’s seatstays actually connect forward of a traditional rearward joint, allowing them to flex for increased vertical compliance while maintaining superior ride quality. This translates into the Madone feeling like an unwieldy, sloppy pig out of the saddle when compared to the Look, which feels similar to a lightweight race bike. just seriously aero when you’re really moving.
Subjectively, the Factor feels the fastest. Unfortunately I don’t own a wind tunnel, but to me, the 795 Blade slots just a fraction slower than the Factor One, on par with the Madone, and a smidge ahead of the Wilier.
Still, the 795 Blade RS feels seriously quick and it has a lively ride feel that is more comfortable and responsive than any other aero bike that I've ever ridden. While I love riding the Factor One - it's an absolute weapon, it’s also abusively stiff on rough Maine roads.
I started doing all of my longer rides on the 795 Blade; rides where I normally would reach for my steel Merckx. Double Century? Felt so fresh at the end of 200mi that I could have easily kept riding. The only reason I stopped was my wife would have stabbed me upon arrival had I ridden any longer that day!
All in all I have completed 10 centuries and one double on the Look this year, and never once did it lack comfort. Why this bike in lieu of a true endurance bike? When you ride 100mi solo, why not use the aero advantage? The comfort is there and over 4-6 hours the aero gains multiply.
For many reasons, I hate the idea of the “quiver killer”. Besides N+1, I think there’s always a single best tool for any job. With that said, the Blade is the most versatile bike I own and the road bike I will most likely call the one bike to own. I found it to be the bike I wanted to ride the most, especially when I didn’t know what the ride would bring, or how long it would be. Century, fast group ride, slaying Strava segments … it does everything exceptionally well.
So, where does it fall short? It’s a touch heavy. If you’re really climbing all day, I'd probably reach for something else. For every ride other than hill repeats, I think this is the bike to buy right now. Any concerns will be dispatched after the first pedal strokes
Think of Look 795 Blade RS as the best traditional race bike you’ve ever ridden, it just happens to also be a top tier aero bike that is comfortable to boot!
Review by @tabernewton
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