Our friends at Look got aggressive in 2003 with the use of monocoque carbon fiber technology. The 486 and 386 framesets were in decent availability for the 2nd half of the year, and the lucky folks who rode them were universal in their praise of their stiffness and lightness. Look’s lugged frames maintained their widespread popularity as well, with the 381i standing fast in its position as our best-selling Look. For 2004 we’ll see widespread incremental changes, and only a few facelifts to the line.
The KG 486 keeps its place at the top of the heap. This was the frame raced by Christophe Moreau and the other Look-sponsored GC contenders in the Tour de France. The frame itself will remain the same, with the only major change being that for 2004 the frame will come equipped with an HSC-4 SL fork, shaving nearly a quarter-pound from the frameset. Look has done away with its red/white color, and is now offering a beautiful blue to white fade, along with its wonderful Gloss Black version.
The KG 381i has been refined, lightened, and renamed the KG 481 SL. The main change is in its Promax Super SL carbon tubeset. These new tubes save 50g over last year’s frame, and the lug-to-tube transitions are now seamless. You’ll also get the HSC-4 SL fork here. The price increases $400 to $2799, but starting in 2004, you get the Look Ergopost 2 Ti carbon seatpost – a $180 retail post. So in reality, the price increase is only $220. It will be available in the Jalabert edition, a white to blue fade, and Gloss Black.
The KX Light is largely the same frameset as 2003. The only two changes are its fork – it, too, comes with the new HSC-4 SL fork. The other change is the color choices: Gloss Black and White/Carbon. One interesting detail here is that for 2004 Look flat-out says that the oversized, diamond-shaped high modulus tubeset of the KX Light makes it their stiffest non-monocoque frame. Perhaps this is why Team Kelme chose the KX Light for the Tour de France in 2003.
The KG 386 of 2003 has been transfigured into the KG 386i. The central change is that the 386i now comes with an integrated headset. Other than that, the song remains the same here. The two colors for 2004 will be Black/White and Black/Red.
The KG 461 for 2004 comes with an upgrade to a HSC-4 full carbon fork, which sheds over a quarter-pound from the weight of the frameset. Like the KG 481i, the KG 461 will have seamless tube-to-lug transitions. This frame gets the stoutest price increase for 2004 – up $300 to $1799. The frame will come in the Jalabert edition, Blue/White, and Gloss Black.
Look’s entry level frame, long known as the KG 361, receives a facelift for 2004. Renamed the KG 451, it’s a round-tubed High Resistance carbon frame, 200g lighter than the KG 361. The fork gets upgraded to the HSC-3. The Matte Black Team CSC color is gone, and in its place is a beautiful Gloss Black with red-trimmed white decals.
Look makes no bones about the fact that they no longer do all of their production in-house at the Nevers, France facility. They’ve opened up a second production plant in Tunisia. As history scholars might recall, Tunisia is a former French protectorate. The two governments continue to have very close ties, and Tunisia has what very well might be the most stable government in all of Africa. Certain frames, forks, and pedals will be made in the Tunisian facility in order to resolve what was at times last year horrible availability of their most sought-after products. Please keep one fact in mind: the bike industry contracts out an enormous amount of production to independent manufacturing firms in Taiwan. What makes Look’s factory in Tunisia unique is that Look owns and operates it. All workers there are employed by Look, and all of the quality control systems of the Nevers factory will be in place in Tunisia. Given that the quality of the Tunisian-made products will be first-rate, and given the generally horrendous socioeconomic state of the entire African continent, we have nothing but the highest regard for Look’s expansion to Tunisia. The world would be a better place if more companies implemented their strategic plans with one eye on profitability, and the other eye on the betterment of the world.