My budget was increasing incrementally but was dependent on securing employment. I had cause for optimism – actual interviews – and set about securing a loan with which to actuate any potential purchase. I went about the business of establishing the Look’s credentials. I contacted Action Bikes who informed me that their Wimbledon branch held custody of the model consonant with my scale. I went down there on my bike – this was an exercise in reconnaissance and no purchase would be forthcoming; I’d yet to secure those much needed funds.
They were helpful in Action and fitted pedals to the bike so that I could take it for a ride. It felt long in its reach, this bicycle, and the attending staff member declared that he was aware of this. He said that a shorter stem could be fitted, and implied that this would be done gratuitously. I left Action Bikes very alive to the idea that this was the bicycle I’d been looking for.
Reflection supplemented this notion. The Look 566 was reviewed as being ‘comfort orientated’, in that an enlarged head-tube and shorted top-tube allowed for a more relaxed posture. My test-ride did not give this impression; it felt racier than I was being led to believe, which implied that the other bikes I’d investigated would be racier still and could not be purchased, therefore, without trying them out first (which was not possible given that they were available exclusively online).
In an attempt at banter, I had asked whether Action intended on stocking whatever bikes Look at in mind for 2014. They thought not, for Look was not a marque that had sold particularly well; their customers were often unaware of the brand and were not reassured by the fact that Look was a French manufacturer. In their ignorance I assumed these clients to be incipient enthusiasts. Yet, with the Tour de France as the sport’s most distinguishing feature, it seemed strange to me that Look’s Gallic origins would be a matter for consternation. People wanted Specialized, Giant or Trek, mostly, and that was that. I doubt Bianchi, Colnago or Pinarello suffer such ignominy, which might say something about how the British perceive the Italians more favourably than they do the French. I have another theory: it’s in the name itself: I suspect the word ‘Look’ just comes across as being a bit odd, primarily because it’s more normally understood in its verb form. None of this bothers me – on the contrary, it all points toward this being a wholly appropriate bike.
I let it lie a while, just to see what my subconscious might throw up, and returned nine days later, with the funds in place, and took the now stem-shortened 566 for another spin. There was a noticeable improvement, not just in my posture but in my impression of the bike as an aggregate. On the one hand it didn't feel as radically different from my steel bike as I had expected, but on the other it felt much lighter (to be expected) and maybe more “responsive”. Reassuringly unvacillated, I bought the thing. Having parted with my borrowed cash, I took the bike home on the train – for it had no pedals – and my certitude held firm. I awoke the next day and remembered I’d spent £1,550 on a bike, but still my conviction did not waver.
Within a week I’d purchased a half-priced Look bottle cage off of eBay, a pair of pedals, and a bracket to house the saddlebag presently appended to my other bike. But, such were my circumstances, it would be another two weeks before I finally managed to ride my new Look 566 and had to content myself with admiring side-glances whenever I vacated my flat.