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Pro bikes, March 11, 2006

Saul Raisin's Crédit Agricole Look 585

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Photos ©: Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com

Look out for Saul Raisin' hell!

By Anthony Tan

"How about an arty shot?"
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Look's one-piece HSC5 SL carbon fork
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The Pilot stem and bar
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Okay, here's an arty shot
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The bottom bracket
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The rear hub and spoking pattern
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Raisin Hell
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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 detail.

"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 too high!"

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

Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com

Full specification

Frame: Look 585
Fork: HSC5 SL
Colour: Pearl white

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 180cm/ 5"11"
Rider's weight: 69kg/ 152lbs
C of BB to C of seat tube: 505mm
C of BB to T of seat tube: 535mm
C of BB to T of seat: 782mm
Top tube length: 550mm (C-C)
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 582mm
C of front wheel to top of bars: 582mm

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace, 175mm, 39/53
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-23


Wheels: PRO R-50 Classic (Shimano prototype carbon wheels used for racing)
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 4000, 23mm

Bar: Pilot 31.8, 42cm (C-C)
Stem: Pilot 31.8, 130mm
Headset: FSA, 1'1/8"

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace
Seat post: Look Ergopost 2 carbon/Ti
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
Bottle cages: Tacx
Cycle computer: N/A

Total bike weight: 7.89kg/ 17lbs