The LOOK 596 frameset and Zed crankset
Last time I hinted at some of the technical features of the LOOK 596 time trial frame. Many of them were introduced on other bikes. The clever E-post integrated seatpost design has been adapted to the deep section seat mast of the 596. Since the R32 version of the E-post is reversible, the rider can configure the saddle position far forward to suite triathletes or slammed back for Pro Tour riders.
The Monobloc fork has been a distinctive feature of LOOK’s time trial bikes for years, but the 596’s fork refines the idea somewhat. While retaining the narrow 20mm needle bearings of the previous generations, the 596 fork adds an 1-1/8 bearing at the bottom. Keep in mind that the Monobloc fork gets much of its stiffness from the fairing portion in front of the head tube, as the fork legs blend into the fairing rather than neck down to pass through a small headset bearing. Available in four lengths, the proprietary stem articulates from a 2-position mount in the fairing and has a 31.8mm handlebar clamp.
The really trick part of the 596 is undoubtedly the Monobloc Zed crankset. It is a one-piece, hollow carbon crank. Read that again: one-piece. Instead of dealing with the issues of keeping that lefthand crankarm attached to the spindle (which must be surprisingly difficult for carbon crank manufacturers, based on what I see as a mechanic), LOOK sidesteps the problem by integrating both arms into a monster spindle. The only metal components to the 320gr crank are the machined bearing seats on the spindle. The 596 goes beyond the oversized BB30 frame standard in terms of size. To install the Zed, the left crankarm is snaked through the BB shell and then a lockring is tightened to hold the crank and cartridge bearings in position. The whole system should seem familiar to any mechanic who has worked on an American-style BMX bottom bracket or an Astabula crank.
The carbon spider is essentially a plate of carbon fibre drilled for both 110mm and 130mm bcd chainrings, providing options for both standard and compact double chainring set-ups. If anything, this feature points to LOOK’s intention to bring this crank to their road frames, as a compact double has little use on an elite time trial bike. By LOOK’s claims, the Zed just misses beating the very lightest cranks on the market on weight but blows them all away on stiffness.
A unique feature of the Zed crank is the pedal interface called Trilobe Technology. Rather than having aluminium threads anchored into the carbon structure, the Zed has a rounded and tapered socket moulded into the carbon. A special Zed version of LOOK’s Keo pedal has the matching titanium plug, from which the pedal spindle is eccentrically machined. By rotating the plug in the crank socket, one designates the effective crank length from 170 to 172.5 to 175mm. A fixing bolt then holds the pedal in place. It appears as if only the Keo Zed pedal will be compatible with the Zed crank.; otherwise, the 596 comes with a BB adapter for traditional, English-threaded BB/cranksets.
With choice of one stem, the whole kit of frame/fork/headset/crank/pedal/seatpost should retail for $4,999. Frankly, that is a bargain when talking about the big leagues of bicycle bad-ass. When posh, a la carte components like Zipp cranks cost $1000 and aero forks start at $500, the LOOK 596 stacks up really nicely against the competition. The display bike weighed 16.5 pounds with SRAM Red and rear disc.
A track version will be available for $11,000 (um forget about what I said about bargains).