Once you get past Look’s gorgeously designed 795 series with their flowingly integrated stem designs, you land at the 785 Huez. Here, the tube and triangle shapes are more traditional, and the spec goes from a fancy “RS” level 790g carbon frame with eTap or Di2, down to the very affordable standard 785 Huez with Shimano 105 tested here (or Ultegra if you spend a bit more). Retail for the complete bike is $2,500 (€2,299), providing you with an extremely upgrade-worthy frame…
The “standard” 785 Huez frame uses less Hi-Mod fiber than the RS version, getting a 990g frame (size small, claimed) and 350g fork. It comes with Look’s own alloy stem and handlebar plus a carbon seatpost with alloy clamp head. The drivetrain and brakes are all Shimano 105, rolling on Shimano RS wheels while you’re sitting on a Selle Italia X3 saddle. All in all, it’s a respectable build that gets the job done at a fair price. But the wheels are bricks. Stocked with Continental tires and tubes, I dropped more than a pound by switching to the Princeton Carbonworks Wave 6560 wheels I was testing at the time (and shown here)…and that was still with tubes. This really brought the bike to life and showed its true upgrade potential. More on that in a minute…
The 785 Huez frame gets front-facing cable ports to lead the shift and rear brake lines smoothly into the frame, with a very straight path. The downtube has just enough girth to look right and provide plenty of torsional stiffness. This translated to both proper power transfer even when grinding or dancing up a climb, and to solid handling when bombing back down that climb.
The brake cable points straight out of the top tube, too, and does so just behind the seat post so it won’t rub the inside of your thigh like on some bikes that exit the cable in front of the seat tube.
Obviously, this one’s a rim brake bike, but they launched a disc brake version for 2019.
…and they shoot straight out of the chainstay, too. The chainstays themselves are small by today’s standards, but they do the job. This is a “climber’s” bike, after all, so it needs to look the part with wispy stays, but they’re plenty stiff enough, too.
The slim seatstays are paired with a 27.2 seatpost to make it more comfortable to ride. The stock perch is decent, coming with a carbon seatpost (bonded to an alloy clamp head). Our 2018 test bike had a Selle Italia saddle, but 2019 spec switches to Selle San Marco brand saddles.
Power transfer is helped by a downtube that ends in more of a box section than the round-ish tube it starts out as. The BB section is large, but not overly wide, using extended sections to capture the PFBB86.5 bottom bracket bearings.
The 785 Huez models come in five sizes: XS/S/M/L/XL. I tested the XL, which roughly equates to a 57, but check the effective top tube length when buying…that’s the more accurate number. Actual weight for the complete bike in stock trim with no pedals was 18lb 5oz. That’s not bad for a $2,500 bike, and it rides very well in this form. But we made it better…
The Upward Upgrade Path
Needing a rim-brake bike for the Mavic Cosmic Ultimate UST launch, I packed up the 785 Huez. But not before throwing my aging Stages PM crank on it, and swapping the stock alloy front end for an ENVE carbon handlebar and stem. I also replaced its perch with the noseless 111g Dash Cycles Stage 9 saddle. Damn, I had forgotten how awesome that saddle was. Between these upgrades and Mavic’s new wheels, the bike was properly (and impressively) light for the long days of climbing. I know…I should have weighed it. But it was light. And it climbed as such, ably rolling up ascents topping out at more than 15% at a couple points, but averaging 6-8% while lasting for hours. Or what felt like hours. But sometimes probably really was hours.
This provided a proper climbing test. From sitting and spinning to standing and stomping. Or standing and just using my body weight to lurch forward one pedal stroke at a time. The frame took any type of effort and transformed it into forward motion.
Then came the descents. It’s here where the upgrades mattered less. Yes, good aero wheels helped quite a bit when hitting the crosswinds coming around mountain passes. But the bike’s character showed through and still required my attention.
Why? Because the Huez series falls under Look’s “Race” geometry category, which means it’s designed to handle like a race bike, not an endurance bike. The 785 Huez isn’t twitchy like a straight-up crit bike, but it does want to act fast when you provide input. Which makes it a good bike for long, fast group rides…it’s comfortable, but snappy. Combine that with a frame that’s worth hanging onto and upgrading as budget allows and I give it a solid recommendation to anyone looking for a low cost, high performance entry into the world of roadies.