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LOOK KG171... a tale of classic carbon fiber

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LOOK KG171... a tale of classic carbon fiber

Old 05-18-20, 11:58 PM
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LOOK KG171... a tale of classic carbon fiber

Let me start this tale with a confession, blasphemous though it may sound in C&V: I have been hankering for a modern bike, something designed and built this century, aero with all carbon frame and bits, and unfathomably light weight. There, I said it, not knowing that this desire would lead to nothing good.

My most "modern" bike has been a ~1996 or so LOOK KG171 carbon bike, alongside a collection of 70's and 80's steel frames. It is an objectively great bike, with pro racing pedigree. Some backstory on the LOOK KG171 series in the pro peleton is here., The LOOK is lighter than any of my steel frames, rides admirably, though it never quite excited me. It is a touch big (56cm, vs my usual 53-55), and I've had to make some compromises to get it to fit. It has an uncomfortably high toptube, short seatpost and short stem. I do like the traditional look of the bike though, with round tubes and horizontal top tube. The bike is kitted out with carbon Campy 10s from about 2000 or so. I'm not sure if it's yet considered classic, but it has been starting to feel dated.

My LOOK as she sat a week ago:

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Old 05-19-20, 12:08 AM
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So I began searching Craigslist for a suitably modern replacement. A Trek, Specialized, or Giant? Nah, too soulless. A Parlee, BMC, or Cervelo? Sure, but have you seen the asking prices? How about a modern Time or LOOK frame? Well, what's the point of dropping a few grand to get a modern version of my exact same bike? And then... there she was... the bike I was always looking for....

The exact same bike I already had, in the same exact color, only in my proper 53cm size. I had to have it.
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Old 05-19-20, 12:21 AM
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As I raided the ATM and wheeled over to the seller's house, I questioned my own sanity. This frame met none of the needs I set out to achieve. It was 20+ years old, had none of the modern technology I was looking for, and had the same dated and bland color. It made no sense at all. So quickly, before the seller could change my mind, I threw my money at him, grabbed the beautiful frame in all its glorious, eye-searing yellow, and headed home.

A close side by side look at the bikes shows subtle differences from a ~'93-'97 production run. The 56cm is probably the newer of the two, with headtube cable guides and larger graphics. The 53cm however has a "Titanium Equipped" sticker and sure enough, has a Ti front derailleur post vs. stainless steel. Otherwise the bikes are the same. The effective geometry is pretty darn close, with same rear chainstay length, and barely shorter front end.


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Old 05-19-20, 12:34 AM
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The bike built up quickly, with no compatibility issues. Why would there be, when I'm just switching things over between two identical frames? I cleaned and polished the Campy10s carbon bits. I mounted the triple derailleurs with old-man knee-saving gearing. The new frame has short seat tube, 50cm but 53cm top tube, so now my seatpost is fully extended, not minimally so. I'm using a long stem and HS adapter to get the same riding position.

Ironically, if the 56x56 frame was a touch too big, I now have 50x53 that is a touch small, with compromises made to get it to fit me. The bike weight is almost exactly the same, 18.2lbs versus 18.5lbs using a bathroom scale.


On next episode of Guerc's tale of mental illness: Riding impressions.
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Old 05-19-20, 08:59 AM
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iíve got a 1995 look kg 131 that iíve really enjoyed riding the last few months. picked up the frame off e-bay to replace a 2002 coppi aluminum/carbon frame fatality from a rear-ending vehicle. transferred over the components and itís been riding like a dream. i totally understand your sentiments. occasionally half-heartedly search for another late Ď90ís look frame sibling and almost pulled the trigger on one last month. yours is gorgeous. happy riding!

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Old 05-19-20, 05:36 PM
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very nice! I have had several LOOK cf bikes but never have found a 100 series... I have an earleir model and had 2 later models (200 and 300 series). I like the yellow!
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Old 05-20-20, 12:40 AM
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I think I just found my next ďtargetĒ - that looks great and the racing history of that model is impressive!
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Old 05-20-20, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
I think I just found my next ďtargetĒ - that looks great and the racing history of that model is impressive!
I thought you already had a Look CF
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Old 05-20-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I thought you already had a Look CF
No, I have a Vitus 997 (992 with CF tubes). Rides great. Similar era as the KG171, I think. The model was ridden by some pro teams, you see it in Lotto colors sometimes. Itíll be getting CF rims soon.
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Old 05-20-20, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Guerc View Post
The bike built up quickly, with no compatibility issues. Why would there be, when I'm just switching things over between two identical frames? I cleaned and polished the Campy10s carbon bits. I mounted the triple derailleurs with old-man knee-saving gearing. The new frame has short seat tube, 50cm but 53cm top tube, so now my seatpost is fully extended, not minimally so. I'm using a long stem and HS adapter to get the same riding position.

Ironically, if the 56x56 frame was a touch too big, I now have 50x53 that is a touch small, with compromises made to get it to fit me. The bike weight is almost exactly the same, 18.2lbs versus 18.5lbs using a bathroom scale.


On next episode of Guerc's tale of mental illness: Riding impressions.
i fully understand the mental reference. I fall deeply in love with frame after frame. I have 3 great touring bikes the same size. We all need an intervention.
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Old 05-20-20, 12:56 PM
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Love LOVE that bike and have always had a soft spot for anything Look. Pedals. Frames. Ski bindings...

But that conversion stem is hideous. Prime candidate for the Innicycle conversion headset https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...n-headset.html
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Old 05-20-20, 03:51 PM
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So tell me about the 56cm...,

I have a KG196, but...
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Old 05-20-20, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocket-Sauce View Post

But that conversion stem is hideous. Prime candidate for the Innicycle conversion headset https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...n-headset.html
The headset adapter is indeed hideous. And I get a lot of flexing and creaking when I lean into the bars on a climb. I previously got none on the 56, because it was slammed down and I was using a short 90cm stem.

I like your headset adapter a lot! Is there a minimum headtube size? This frame has a tiny 100mm headtube. Pm sent!

I also got this Chris King headset in the deal that Iím reluctant to throw out (but I bet it could find it a home somewhere). I really would like to find a late Ď90s Salsa steel or Ti stem with the right rise and length.

One of those LOOK adjustable Ergostems might also be the ticket. Pricey but period correct and was an option on the bike back in the day.

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Old 05-21-20, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Guerc View Post
The headset adapter is indeed hideous. And I get a lot of flexing and creaking when I lean into the bars on a climb. I previously got none on the 56, because it was slammed down and I was using a short 90cm stem.

I like your headset adapter a lot! Is there a minimum headtube size? This frame has a tiny 100mm headtube. Pm sent!

I also got this Chris King headset in the deal that Iím reluctant to throw out (but I bet it could find it a home somewhere). I really would like to find a late Ď90s Salsa steel or Ti stem with the right rise and length.

One of those LOOK adjustable Ergostems might also be the ticket. Pricey but period correct and was an option on the bike back in the day.
I think the ergostem is amazing- but maybe really only fits the 196 as far as aesthetics- but hell, its a look with a proper era look stem that should really help get the fit exactly as you need it. I want one actually... but they are not cheap even if you can find one.
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Old 05-21-20, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
I think I just found my next ďtargetĒ - that looks great and the racing history of that model is impressive!
yes, I'd consider the 171 as in the top 5 of Look bikes to have.
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Old 05-22-20, 09:14 AM
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A few shots of the KG171 in action. Sadly, neither of these riders are me.

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Old 05-24-20, 05:44 PM
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Finally got the drivetrain adjusted, after 2-3 shakedown rides, but still experimenting with the right fit.

On the local hill climb, my new 50x53 frame with the SF Bay nestled between hills in the background:



At first I was trying to replicate the fit from my old bike. Then I realized I had so many compromises and weird angles to make a just-slightly-too-big bike fit that it wasnít what I was after.

Old 56x56 LOOK in exactly the same spot:


instead, Iím now trying to get a just-slightly-too-small frame (50x53) fit like my all-time favorite bike, a 53x54 Guerciotti.


Same spot. This is a 30 mile ride, with 2,400 feet of climbing and some painfully steep sections. Triple is necessary for me.

Last edited by Guerc; 05-24-20 at 09:58 PM.
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