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