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Look KG 386 & 381i(10 posts)

Look KG 386 & 381iflying
Aug 18, 2002 3:22 PM
I have been narrowing down my search for a new lighter bike.
Riding a steel Colnago MXL now & like it but want to try a lighter bike. After going back & forth with Alum vs carbon I am kind of stuck on carbon.
Look's price & quality seem like the best route for me as I like the geometry too.
I like both the 386 & the 381i for looks, weight & price. The 386 is a bit lighter but not much. I am wondering how the lugless design & wishbone rear of the 386 will ride?
Can anyone with experience on these elaborate on what the differences in ride would be between these two?
I am 155lbs & climb a bunch on every ride. Average 50 to 75 miles per ride.
Any info would be appreciated.
re: Look KG 386 & 381ifiltersweep
Aug 18, 2002 6:50 PM
I can't say that I rode both, but I just picked up a 281 (and test rode a 381i that was already built) which is the same as a 381i with a different exterior finish over the lugs and a different style headset- I can't say enough great things about the bike... ride, appearance, price- I won't bore you with the details.

I don't know where you are in your purchase process, but photos of the frames just don't do them justice- especially for the nude carbon and their unusually shaped tubes. I'd test ride them both if you can- and I don't think you can go wrong with either.
re: Look KG 386 & 381iflying
Aug 18, 2002 7:24 PM
Thanks for the input
I am pretty close to buying but because I live on an Island there will be no test rides ;-( Nobody sells them here.
Where did you find a 281?

I am looking at either the Kelme 381i or the Blue & black 386. Actually I would like the nude black but the Kelme is on sale for a great price.

Was this your 1st carbon bike? If so did you come from steel or Aluminum?
re: Look KG 386 & 381ifiltersweep
Aug 19, 2002 4:28 AM
I found the 281 at my LBS. It was hanging over the cash register with an obnoxiously high price tag, and I asked how much they really were- turned out they were on clearance and we went from there.

I was riding aluminum/carbon fork (no comparison)- and you might want to really be careful about the geometry of the Look- my 58 Trek frame is actually smaller than a 57 Look. The Look geometry fits me much better than the Trek. I'm not saying Look has a sizing problem, but they are closer to "real" size than some other frame makers (like Trek, which run notoriously small).

I did try OCLV- but felt the Look gave the perfect amount of road feedback (I need some, but not too much) while the OCLV was too muted... if that makes any sense.

Finally, are you SURE no one sells them? I didn't think anyone sold them around here, but discovered that TWO shops carry them, but they are not the type of stores that heavily advertise, they are not part of a chain, etc... then again, I don't live on an island.
I have a 386, and my friend, a 381I. Here is the low downPaul
Aug 19, 2002 4:25 AM
I did a short ride on his 381i, and it's a real nice bike. I might get it in the future. I built up my 386 last Fall, and just love it. It's thebest riding/best fit bike (57 cm) I've ever had. After riding C-Dales for years, the carbon is a great ride.


I don't like the feel of the 1" carbon steerer/fork. Not as stable as an alloy steerer, but this is true for other 1" carbon steerers. My friend has a Merlin X-lite with a Reynolds Ouzo, and complains the same way I do.

The 381I has an 1 1/8 steerer/integrated head set as you probably well know. He says he gets a popping sound from the head set once in awhile, I see others on this board with bikes from other manufactures say the same thing. Out side of that, he loves the 381I, says it's the best bike he's ever ridden. He also has a custom Spectrum build by Tom K., a Kestrel ironman, an ALTrek, etc. But he can't get off the Look (Kelme paint out of totalcycling).. comes with Look carbon spacers, bearings, he got a USE alien seat post. hard to adjust, he's 200 lbs, no problem yet. I called Excel, and they told me there is no weight limit on the 381i. They wanted 600.00 more then totalcycling.

I f I had a choice, though it's hard. I still would get the 386, better looking, and internal lugged (no problem). I don't like external lugs, mainly for cosmetic reasons. either bike is a good choice, if you race, then get the 381i.

Any other questions, feel free to ask.

I ride a 381i and love it . . .Look381i
Aug 19, 2002 4:39 AM
but I have never tried the 386. The 381i is the best riding bike I've had (current bikes: Guerciotti Neuron, Colnago Dream Plus, Habanero Ti). It seems to have all the best features of the other frames, including comfort of ti, liveliness of steel, lateral stiffness of aluminum.

I have the Kelme, which looks a hell of lot better in person that in pictures--beautiful paint job and attention to detail in finish. The matte black CSC also looks very cool in person, very stealthy. As the other poster mentioned, the tubing shapes are also unusual, which is only obvious in person.

I noticed that most of the Kelme team rode 386s in the Tour this year. I don't know why. I was there and tried to get an answer from the team bus, but my halting Spanish was insufficient for a good understanding. All I got was that they are good frames, perhaps a little lighter. It might have been a sponsor call to promote the 386.
Do you get the popping/creak sound from head set? 381i is thePaul
Aug 19, 2002 5:31 AM
best bang for the buck. It has the same top tube as my 386, adjustable wheel base. And your right, have to see it up front to get the engineering aspects of it. Great bike, enjoy!!

I have (so far) the only 386 around, and really love the ride. Yellow/black strips, K's--sharp.
No popping or creaking . . .Look381i
Aug 19, 2002 8:49 AM
In fact, one of things I like about the Look is that it's so quiet. The Dream Plus transmits every little noise right up the frame. The Guerciotti is much quieter but still seems noisy compared to the Look.

I have 1/2 inch of spacers under my stem. Does thaat make a difference one way or another on headset or steerer tube movement?
A good mechanic tells me that for a 1" steerer,Paul
Aug 19, 2002 10:13 AM
don't use more then 1" of spacers, same for 1 1/8", don't use more than 1 1/8 spacers (what Look gave him for his 381i. One guy on the board wrote he felt flex with a high stack height. I have 1" of spacers, and have not noticed any problems except some noodle effect when hitting bumps a certain way, don't believe 1/2 less spacers would make a difference. Some may say if affects cornering/steering with a higher stack height, hell, I'm not that good to see the difference.

Your right, the Look is quiet. good solid feel on the bumps. My 386 was advertised by Look saying it was 15% stiffer then the 281. I have never felt any flex from the BB, my friend says he feels it on his Merlni, but not on the Look. I don't thik the pros would ride either one if they weren't good bikes.

good luck
That's the usual rule of thumb . . .Look381i
Aug 19, 2002 11:10 AM
I have 25 mm on my Look HSC2 (Guerciotti frame), which is a 1" steerer. To preserve the same saddle to bars differential, I didn't need as much on my HSC4 (381i) because of the headtube design, I guess.

By the way, I almost went with the 281, largely to save money. I still wonder whether the integrated headset will stand the test of time. I was pleased to find when it came time to make the decision that the 381i was on sale at WCP (and even less at TC). That probably means that the 2003 model will look a lot different, but I can't worry about it too much.