The French are an inventive bunch,
but it’s a unique brand of invention.
Creativity, daring and a sense of
drama seem to be as important as the
actual use of the object itself.
To simply invent something new is
not enough—that’s not French. A list
of French inventions sounds like a
setup to a Bond film, or at the very
least, one hell of an exciting weekend:
the sea plane, the scuba tank, the
parachute, and of course, the bikini.
All invented by Frenchmen.
Cycling culture in France has not
been immune to this unique brand
of innovation. It was a French metal
worker that first attached pedals
and cranks to the front wheel of
a foot-driven velocipede in 1863
and created the first recognizable
bicycle. Who he was specifically
has been lost to time, but that he
was French is beyond doubt.
With the rise of American and Asian
brands, it would be easy to assume that
spirit of invention has been diluted,
or at least has migrated across the
Atlantic. Invention and innovation are
on the fast track around the cycling
globe, but they lack a certain daring,
a certain sense of drama, a certain “Je
ne sais quoi”. While it’s all fast, stiff, and
light, it is not French.
How would the French do it today?
Well, they are still doing it, and doing
it incredibly well. One glance at the
all-new LOOK 695 and you can
immediately see invention with a sense
of French drama and daring.
Secret Processes and the Spirit of
The 695 marks a significant change
in the way LOOK makes their
bicycles. The previous flagship, the
595, used lug technology, while the
695 employs a monocoque technique.
The reason for the shift was very
simple; LOOK engineers felt the 595
took lug technology as far as it could
go, to the very limits of stiffness and
weight. The answer? Monobloc and
Continuous Fiber Design.
The front triangle, right through the
integrated seat mast was designed
with this Continuous Fiber Design
principle in mind. Sheets of carbon
were kept intact as much as possible
and oriented to utilize the strength
inherent in the fiber’s grain. LOOK’s
Monobloc construction has another
key element that maximizes this
technique. Voids between carbon
layers, or pockets of resin, are where
cracks in carbon start. To ensure
voids are eliminated, higher pressure
is needed in molds than attainable by
traditional techniques. LOOK wanted
a better solution and found one.
The problem is they can’t really tell us
much about it. It is a closely guarded
secret. The basics are that in areas of
very high stress—the head tube, the
bottom bracket, and the seat cluster—
LOOK places steel forms within the
frame as it is being molded. This
allows the pressure exerted on the
frame during construction to be more
than tripled in these critical areas.
How exactly do you get the steel forms