Look has entered the market somewhere very close to the top end with their e-765 Gravel, the sister bike to the road-going e-765. And it’s a very good bike for mixed terrain riding, even if it is expensive enough to put it out of reach of the many (me included).
Gravel is just the next frontier for the e-bike, after gaining some good traction on the road. And to be honest, assisted gravel bikes have a lot going for them. Gravel bikes need to be capable enough to cope with some technical terrain but also nimble and light enough that they’re fun on the road too. Add a motor and you’re getting a helping hand to get you out into the wilderness, and who doesn’t want that eh?
The e-765 shares a lot of its DNA with Look’s 765RS gravel bike. You’re getting a carbon frame custom built in Look’s own facility that’s got a bit of comfort optimisation going on. At the back Look uses a seatstay design it calls 3D Wave; it’s a sort of double wave profile that Look claims makes the back of the bike 15% more vertically compliant without losing any side-to-side stiffness. Vertical compliance? Check! Lateral stiffness? Check! It doesn’t feature any rack mounts, but you’re more likely to be fitting bikepacking gear to something like this, so it’s not a major issue.
In between those 3D Wave seatstays there’s room enough for a decent-sized tyre. This build of the bike – the more expensive of the two – comes fitted with 37mm WTB Riddler tyres on a 700c Mavic AllRoad Disc wheelset. If you want a bit more bounce under you, you can swap to 650b wheels and bigger tyres; the bike will take up to a 54mm tyre on smaller 650b rims.
Straight out of the box the bike is pretty well balanced between tarmac and dirt. Those WTB tyres are knobbly enough to cope with some fairly technical terrain, but not so aggressive that they feel really draggy on the road bits. You wouldn’t want to fire this bike down a red trail at your local bike park, but for general mucking about on bridleways and fire roads, with the odd rocky section and linky bits on the road, it’s pitched just about right. There are a few trails I’d probably avoid, but for most of the natural riding round here it’s more than capable.
The on-bike position is good for a range of stuff. The bike’s quite tall at the front, so you’re not going to get super-aero on it, but if you get down in the drops it still feels pretty purposeful at speed and the super-stiff stem gives the front of the bike a very solid feel. When you’re on the dirt the head angle is relaxed enough to make the steering fairly predictable through rocky sections; it’s still quick compared to a mountain bike, but it works. The short chainstays make it nimble enough for narrow stuff too, it feels quite agile when you’re working your way (slowly) down a rocky descent.
Look uses the Fazua Evation motor system for this bike, like it does with the road-going equivalent. Fazua has nabbed itself a big share of the market for bikes like this, that are designed to be light enough to ride without power. The e-765 gravel tips the scales at 14.8kg with pedals, which is decent for a Fazua-powered bike with bigger tyres. That means it’s pretty portable if you need to chuck it over a stile or haul it up a flight of steps, or manhandle it onto a car rack.
That low overall bike weight is helped by the carbon frame and the SRAM Force single ring groupset which is one of the lightest out there. The Fazua system itself weighs in at just over four and a half kilos with a 250 watt hour battery. There are lighter systems out there; ebikemotion’s x35 system is just three and a half kilos, and I’ve ridden bikes with it that are under 12kg. The Evation drive is the lightest mid motor drive that’s widely used right now, though.
The gap is not what it used to be, however. if you missed the news earlier this month, Bosch has managed to shave a kilo of weight off its Performance Line CX motor – that’s more of a lop than a shave, really – so a full Bosch system is now bang on six kilos, just about. And that’s with a 500Wh battery too. Bosch doesn’t make a lower-capacity internal battery to compete with Fazua in this market, but when they do – and I’d bet money they will – that weight gap will shrink to around half a kilo. And that new Bosch CX motor is a lot more powerful than the Fazua. For a half kilo weight penalty, I’d take it every time.
That’s not to say the Fazua motor isn’t good, because it is. You get three levels of assistance, and in top mode there’s enough power to get you up some pretty demanding and technical bits without too much effort. On the flip side, in the least powerful mode you’ll get plenty of range. On road bikes with the Fazua system I’ve done 100km rides on one charge. On a gravel bike you’re not moving as fast on the tarmac, and you spend more time under the assistance limit, so more motor is involved. Throw in some harder, technical climbing off-road and it’s riding that’s much more battery heavy.
Even so, you can get a decent long ride out of this bike. I did a 30km loop on the Mendips with 500m of climbing in it, that was about half and half on and off road, with plenty of time in the higher assistance modes grunting up the steep bits, and at the end I had four bars of battery left out of ten. So a 50km gravel ride is doable without really worrying about how much battery you’re burning through, and you could go further if you were a bit more frugal with the modes and relied a bit more on your legs. Like all the Fazua-powered bikes I’ve ridden, the Look isn’t unpleasant at all to ride with the motor off. There’s very little drag from the bottom bracket gearbox.
I chucked the Look through some nice deep puddles and across a few streams to check the waterproofing of the motor unit, and I didn’t have any problems there, although the interface between the motor and the gearbox started squeaking a bit and needed a bit of grease. The motor and the battery are a single unit which you can drop out of the frame for charging. If you want to you can leave the motor at home and just use the bike unassisted; Fazua says that’s a unique selling point but I’m not convinced that many people actually do that. If I’d dropped six grand on a bike with a motor, I'd take the motor along with me, personally. Anyway, if you’ve got six grand knocking about for an e-gravel bike and you want a nice lightweight gravel bike without a motor, you can just get one of them too, right? If the battery was dead and you needed to ride the bike you might leave the motor in the shed, but that’s about the only time I’d really consider it to be honest.
In terms of value, the price is a bit of a sticking point here. There’s two builds of the e-765 gravel, of which only the cheaper of the two – with Sram Rival in place of the SRAM Force, and lower-spec Shimano wheels – is actually coming into the UK, although you could buy this build online at the €6,399 European asking price. The retail price for the Rival-equipped bike is £5,650. Look isn’t a company that majors on value, exactly, but even then it seems like a lot for what you get.
The build I’ve been riding here is more expensive than Pinarello’s new Nytro Gravel which boasts a very similar spec, and it’s not like Pinarellos are particularly value-oriented. Something like Cairn’s e-Adventure 1.0 is over two grand cheaper for a Sram Rival build. okay it’s an alloy frame rather than carbon, but it still looks like much better value overall, and you get a dropper post thrown in. Orbea’s Gain Carbon M21, which is a fair bit lighter than the Look and also sports a Force groupset, is a pound under four grand. The Look seems pretty expensive compared to some of its rivals.
Anyway, that might not be an issue for you. You might like the look of this Look, and you might have the pockets for it. And you won’t be disappointed: it’s a capable, lightweight gravel bike with useful assistance from a proven motor system. It’s a thumbs-up from me, even though I’d personally be looking at cheaper options if it was my credit card coming out.