They don’t make them like that any longer – a tour of Look’s back catalogue

One of the most interesting parts of touring bike manufacturers’ premises is the collections of bike which were cutting edge in their day, that they often have stashed away in a back room somewhere.

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Toe clips and straps ruled before Look’s clipless pedals

Look’s factory in Nevers, in central France, is a prime example. Look has been at the cutting edge of bike design ever since it moved from ski bindings into bicycle components and frames, back in the 1980s.

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The KG86 had carbon/kevlar tubes bonded to aluminium lugs

Bernard Hinault won the Tour de France back in 1985 using Look’s revolutionary clipless pedals and Greg Lemond won the 1986 Tour on Look’s KG86 carbon frame. We found a KG86 complete with Look’s original composite clipless pedals leaning against a wall in a room full of old machines in one of Look’s offices.

>>> Icons of cycling: Look’s clipless pedals

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There’s a round titanium tubeset under all those fairings

Before the UCI put the spoilers on bike design with its 3:1 tube profile and non-structural components rules, there were some increasingly radical machines being built. Look’s 1997 KG296 CLM was made of titanium and developed especially for the time trialist Alex Zulle. The frame was actually made of round tubes but with added titanium fairings to improve aerodynamics. Wheels were either 650c or 600c and the frontal cross-section was only 28mm.

>>> How would an end to the 3:1 rule affect bike design? Experts have their say

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Look’s engineers worked on aerodynamic designs from 1994 onwards

An earlier aero design from Look was this 1994 track bike, which was ridden to the French national championship by Philippe Ermenault. Look’s engineers worked with the French national coach and an aerodynamics expert to develop the bike. It won the 1994 national championship on its first outing.

>>> Icons of cycling: Francesco Moser’s 1984 hour record bike

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The KG381i used tubes with differing wall thicknesses

2002’s KG381i was ridden to a second straight Tour de France polka dot jersey by Laurent Jalabert.