Look out for Saul Raisin' hell!
By Anthony Tan
"How about an arty
Look's one-piece HSC5 SL
The Pilot stem and bar
Okay, here's an arty shot
The bottom bracket
The rear hub and spoking
When Saul Raisin arrived on the shores of Malaysia at the beginning
of February, the 23 year-old says it was he who had undergone the biggest
change since he was last here year; almost everything else - his team,
bike, equipment and sponsors - had remained unchanged.
Explained Raisin, "Compared to last year, I'm stronger; I'm older,
I've got a year of racing in Europe - so I think I'm coming here better
than I was last year, but how much better, that's a good question. I
haven't tested myself on any climbs, so we'll have to find out," he
said a day before the race began.
Later that week, the boy from Georgia went on to win a fantastic mountain
stage to the Cameron Highlands before riding for his team leader Francesco
Bellotti, the Italian finishing second overall while Raisin did well
enough to secure 11th place. Both riders showed reserved contentment
with their efforts, as their primary season objective lies a little
further down the track at the Giro d'Italia.
However, something Raisin wasn't afraid to hold back his feelings on
was his pearl white Look 585. Or some of his mechanics attention to
"They [the mechanics] give me a hard time about being particular, but
if you put my race bike up against my training bike, there's a difference
in the seat height - it's never the same," Raisin says with wry smile.
"At team camp, I hopped on the bike and the seat was two centimetres
Although his Crédit Agricole team used the exact same bike last year,
the only difference in 2006 being the paint-job (previously all black)
and Pilot stem and bars, the American is all acclaim for his current
ride: "It's really one of the best bikes I've ridden - and I'm not just
saying that because I'm on the team," he said. "It's super stiff for
how light it is, it's a good climbing bike, it's really a good all-round
bike. I like getting on it."
The 585 is Look's lightest frame to date - "a pure technological wonder
weighing only 990 grams" reads the marketing blurb. Compared to Raisin's
previous ride when he first joined Crédit Agricole's espoir program
in 2004, the Look 486, there's a startling 310 grams' difference, so
it's little wonder the company's rapt about their flagship frame.
Besides the weight, the major distinction between the two is that the
486 is of monocoque construction with an oversized seat tube and bottom
bracket cluster, whereas the 585 is a reversion to a more traditional
looking frame but using very advanced materials and construction. Very
High Modulus (VHM) carbon tubes are used throughout, with forged carbon
lugs that includes a bottom bracket that is claimed to be 50 percent
lighter and 25 percent stronger in lateral rigidity than the 486.
Raisin says that despite being only a second-year pro, he's ridden
on plenty of bikes in his time as a road racer. US brands Specialized,
LeMond and Litespeed have all been part of his stable, as well as famous
Italian mark Pinarello during his tenure with the US national team,
and it was his performances there which first saw him catch the attention
of his current team.
"I've ridden quite a few bikes, just testing them out. The Scott bikes
that Saunier Duval ride, I've ridden one of those too and they're really
nice, but the Look as far as pro teams go has to be one of the top bikes
out there," he says.
Asked how it compares with the Look 486, Raisin not surprisingly says
the most noticeable difference is weight above anything else. "I don't
think it's lost any of the stiffness; some of the guys have been saying
the other one was stiffer, but me, I think this one's stiffer than the
other one. The other one was a little more aerodynamic, but this one's
at least a pound lighter."
When we tell him that the Cyclingnews scales saw his size 55
(going off the centre-to-centre measurement of the top tube) 585 came
in at a modest though unremarkable 7.89 kilograms, Raisin defended his
machine by saying the bike was weighed with his 32 spoked training wheels;
swapping his Shimano carbon hoops lops off another half a kilo, he says.
"I don't think you can even buy them," says Saul about his prototype
box-section rims. "We got them last year and they're stiff, lightweight,
just a really good all-round wheel. And the Continental tyres, I like
them a lot, too.
"In Europe we get a choice to ride on the deep dish or box [section]
rim - I always go for the lighter wheel instead of the more aero wheel."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here