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Pro Team Tech 2004

May 19, 2004

Marion Clignet's Team France Look KG 496

Photo ©: John Stevenson/Cyclingnews


It's an Olympic year and that means national squads are pulling out all the stops to go for gold in Athens. On the track, Team France's secret weapon is the new Look KG 496 frame. John Stevenson found out as much as the tight-lipped French squad is prepared to divulge.

In action

Like many teams, the French squad spent a couple of extra days in Sydney after the recent round of the UCI Track World Cup, taking advantage of the gap between Sydney and the world championships in Melbourne to get in some fine-tuning on the track at the Dunc Gray Velodrome.

The headset

It was also a chance for the team to get acquainted with the bikes they will be racing at the world's and the Athens Olympics, Look's new KG 496 carbon-fibre track bikes. These new rigs arrived just before the world cup, and the French team elected not to use them until riders had had a chance to train on them. With competition out of the way they were unpacked and assembled and when Cyclingnews rolled up to Dunc Gray yesterday, various members of Team France were belting round the track on the sleek, black new machines.

Cyclingnews diarist and Team France pursuit and scratch race specialist Marion Clignet isn't one to hold back when she likes something (or when she doesn't as her diaries attest!). She's delighted with the new bike, telling us that it feels faster than the her old KG 396 PKV, and it's something like 1.9kg lighter. "You can tell that it's narrower," she said.

Three position seat clamp

As well as being narrower, the KG 496 has several features that should make it faster. For a start, the down tube follows the curve of the front wheel more closely than previous bikes, improving air flow off the wheel and over the frame. (The frame's not made from tubes, of course, being a carbon-fiber lay-up, but it's a useful shorthand.)

Similarly, the back of the seat tube closely follows the shape of the rear tyre. With disc wheels front and rear, the KG 496 should be seriously slippery, though of course Team France aren't saying how slippery - or indeed giving any other details of the bike until after the Olympics. (Our photos show the bike with a spoked rear wheel in place and untrimmed chain as it was quickly assembled for a training spin.)

Easton Attack Aero bar

One obvious feature that Marion was raving about was the Easton Attack handlebar. As well as being lighter than the team's previous bar, the Attack has what Marion feels is a better position - and she was particularly taken with the rubbery grips Easton supplies, which stay tacky even if they get wet from sweat.

Bolt me in

While the Easton bar is elegant and effective, another aspect of the bike that caught our eye is less elegant, but equally effective. In the heat of a full-power start, track riders have a habit of pulling out of the pedals. The French team mechanics prevent this by adding a bolt and nut to the riders' Look pedals that locks the engagement mechanism shut. It's not pretty, and you really don't want to crash while you're bolted in like this, but it works.


Images by John Stevenson/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Look KG 496 carbon fiber
Fork: Look
Colour: bare carbon

Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace track
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace

Mavic (rear training wheel shown)
Tyres: Dugast tubulars

Stem: Look adjustable
Bars: Easton Attack
Headset: Look

Pedals: Look, modified
Seat post: Look carbon fiber
Saddle: Selle San Marco