EXCLUSIVE: Look's new MTB pedals and frame

Look returns to the dirt with new pedals and frame

French pedal specialist Look is back in the mountain bike scene with its own pedal design after years of steering clear or using a licensed design.

Look USA unveiled its 2008 line-up Thursday, and the big news was a return to the dirt with a mountain bike frame and the new Quartz pedal. The pedal incorporates similar design priorities to the Keo road pedal that has revitalised the company in the last few years: generous bearing surfaces, low weight and carbon fiber technology. And because it's a mountain bike pedal, shedding mud - or 'evacuation' as Look calls it - is also a priority.

"The last time Look sold a mountain bike pedal was the S2R, a heavy clipless pedal that was quickly overshadowed by our competitors," Ming Tan, Look USA's vice president of marketing told BikeRadar. "We established three design criteria for the Quartz: mud evacuation, pedal platform surface area and weight. We engineered the Quartz line for simplicity, performance and durability, not easy things to accomplish. We also needed to hit certain price points."

The Quartz pedal will be available in three models: the Quartz Carbon Ti (246g per pair including cleats and hardware); the Quartz Carbon 278g per pair including cleats and hardware); and the Quartz (298g per pair including cleats and hardware). According to Look USA, they'll hit the shops in October

Look pioneered the modern road clipless pedal in the 1980s, introducing a mechanism that would release when the foot twisted outward. Previous designs had required the rider to unlock the mechanism and had never gained popularity. However, Look struggled to come up with a mountain bike pedal to compete with Shimano's SPD design, and for a while ceded the mountain bike market entirely, before licensing Crank Bros Egg Beater as the 4x4 a couple of years ago.

New hardtail mountain bikes

Look also officially announced its new hardtail mountain bike frame, the 986, which it has been teasing for a while. (Take a look at the 986 teaser video on Look's site) Laurence Leboucher recently won the French championships aboard a 986 and the company has had a little help from one of cross-country mountain biking's biggest stars in its development.

"2000 Olympic mountain bike cross country champion Miguel Martinez has come out of retirement to not only race on Look's 986 hardtail, he's also on our French mountain bike development staff," said Ming Tan.

The 2008 Look 986 mountain bike frame is made in France of high modulus carbon fibre. Its most unusual feature is an extended seat tube replacing the traditional seat post, which no doubt helps keep the weight down to a claimed 1,200g. This is a design that has become common in high-end carbon fiber road bikes in the last couple of years.

The 986 will be available in two versions, the 986 VTT Pro Team frame and the VTT red frame, in small, medium and large sizes. The frame includes the Look Reverse 5 E (for elastomer) post with +/-5mm positioning from the seat tube centre line, and 360 degree micro adjustability. The geometry is classic cross-country racer as you'd expect with head and seat angles of 71.2 degrees and 72.2 degrees respectively and 42.5cm chainstays.

The 986 frame will be available in late September, early October and will cost US$2,499US.

The frame will also be available as two complete bikes. The 986 X0 Pro Team bike will have a Rock Shox Reba Team fork with 85mm travel and remote lockout, Mavic CrossMax SLR 6 wheels, Continental Speed King 2.1 tires, SRAM X0 trigger shifters and rear derailleur, Avid Juicy Ultimate disc brakes and levers, FSA K-Force Light 44-32-22 cranks with ceramic bearings, FSA stem and bars, Fizik Gobi saddle, and Look Quartz carbon pedals. Look says it will weigh 21 pounds with pedals and retail for $5,499US.

The 986 X9 (pictured) is specced a tad more conservatively, and retails for $4,499US. Available in late September, early October.

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