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Exclusive hand-built Italian carbon fibre beauty arrives for testing and turns a few heads along the way

Marco Bertoletti has been building frames since 1989 from his factory in Bergamo, Italy and the latest bikes to bear his name are from Legend, custom made-to-measure frames available in a choice of carbon, titanium, steel and aluminium.

There's only a select band of frame builders left in Italy. Others, along with the rest of the industry, have outsourced the manufacturing to the Far East. Nothing wrong with this at all, but Marco is passionate about retaining a heritage of handbuilt Italian frames.

He’s been building at his own high-tech facility in Italy for years and has supplied frames for other brands but in 2009 he decided it was time to offer his own range of bikes. Legend Bikes is the very splendid result. We’ve been wanting to ride one ever since we first saw them in the UK at the Bespoked Bristol Show earlier this year, so when we got an email from Bike Science in Bristol asking if we’d like to ride their HT 7.5, we leapt at the chance.

Run by expert bike fitter Andy Sexton for the past two years, Bike Science specialise in bike fitting and use the latest Retul technology to assist in fitting bikes to cyclists. They’ve been supplying Legend Bikes for a year. Legend fits well into their portfolio, which also includes Van Nicholas, Boardman and Kuota, as they can measure you up, send the dimensions to Legend and eight weeks later a custom frame will arrive.

Andy takes bike fitting very seriously and gave me a thorough once over. I wasn't having a frame made, just having a 55cm demo bike fitted for me. With a few changes, it did the job very nicely.

We spent the best part of the morning fitting the bike to my position. Using Retul (Andy was one of the first in the UK to get the super accurate motion sensing measuring tool) and his vast experience, we moved the bars up, the cleats on my shoes back, the saddle back a little... lots of minor adjustments that, with Andy’s careful eye, soon had the bike fitting me almost perfectly. If you’re looking at a Legend frame, the cost of the bike fit is included in the cost of the frame.

The Legend HT 7.5

So, let’s talk about the bike I’ll be riding... The HT 7.5 is third down from the top in the Legend range, and costs £2999.99 for the frame and fork. The frame is made using carefully mitred tubes of T700 carbon fibre, These are first bonded, and then they have layers of carbon wrapped around these joints to give the frame the structural rigidity. The frame is then cured in Legend’s autoclave.

This construction technique allows each frame to be individually tailored to each rider, and the choice of carbon and dimensions of each tube can alter the characteristic of the frame. You can effectively ‘tune’ the frame to suit your exact requirements. A bit stiffer for racing? A bit softer for cruising? Faster handling or a more relaxed geometry? Anything is possible with this method of construction.

You can also let your imagination run wild when it comes to choosing the paint finish. This example has a very fetching gloss black fade into carbon weave with bold red/white decals that gives the HT 7.5 presence. Andy also has a very lovely matt celeste paint finish on a 10.5 hanging up in his studio that was tugging at my heartstrings.

The frame is simply gorgeous to look at. The curved chainstays are breathtakingly beautiful; I’ve never seen any others that look this elegant. The seat stays are reasonably slender round tubes and merge into a flattened wishbone at the junction with the seat tube.

Both the seat tube and top tube are simple round tubes, but they’re both on the large size. The down tube is even bigger and is round all the way from the head tube until it gets to the bottom bracket. Here it widens to match the full width of the bottom bracket, with the sides shaved off giving an unusual but purposeful appearance. The bottom bracket is a regular-style with outboard bearings screwed in.

The rear brake cable is routed inside the top tube, neatly entering underneath and exiting out top. The gear cables are routed externally along the down tube. If you wanted an electronic groupset you could have the wires routed internally. A tapered head tube continues the oversized theme and into it slides Legend’s own full carbon fibre fork.

You could only really have Campagnolo on a true Italian frame, couldn’t you? A Chorus 11-speed groupset with a standard 53/39 chainset fits the racing credentials of this frame. Wheels are Campagnolo’s Eurus with their unique spoke lacing pattern that sees the spokes grouped in threes on the rear wheel. A Deda Zero100 stem, Superzero seatpost and Zero stem and a Prologo Scratch saddle (my choice) complete the package.

Time to get the scales and tape measure out now. Legend claim a frame weight of 980g (but don’t specify what size frame that is). The complete bike without pedals comes in at 16lbs (7.25kg). The effective top tube is 56cm, the head tube is 15.5cm, the front reach is 59cm and the wheelbase is 99cm.

Check out www.bike-science.com for more info or www.legend-bikes.com.

Thanks to Peter Cole for use of the Legend factory photos.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

12 comments

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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I hope Dave doesn't see though lovely b&w pictures of the frame builders, he might get idea's and be off to Italy now  3

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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you're getting some good bikes in recently, first the Passoni and now this italian lovely.

Recently met Marco Bertoletti, real craftsman, great stuff ...

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michophull [137 posts] 3 years ago
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Generally smart but why does every set of wheels these days have to be built with ugly black spokes ? The spoking patterns look daft too.

A pair hand built with stainless spokes in a more conventional pattern would be the icing on the cake.  39

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Ozy Mandais [1 post] 3 years ago
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Why can't I agree with you? the current crop of "me to" bikes don't seem to have the elegance or panache of the classic pre 90's machines. The graceful lines of a Colnago Super, Pogliaghi, Cinelli, Pinarello,Coicc and the master builders from Holdsworth and Thame, so many others, where are the fantastic color scheme of Hetchens and Mercian. The very bulk of the over size tubes and the plastic frames (read carbon) the heft of the new front forks verses the curve of an Olmo or Bianchi. Thank god their are still artists practicing their craft with beautiful lug work and exceptional brazing skills. How can you compare the craftmenship of today with the artists from the "reparto corsa" We should give thanks that you could still get a bike from Pelizzoli and I bet Marco Bertoletti could make a real bike if he wanted to.

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usernameforme [53 posts] 3 years ago
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Don't tell me your going to ride the bike with the brake QR open

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Legend UK [1 post] 3 years ago
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Marco builds many classic frames as well, steel, stainless steel, Titanium. Tig welded or brazed with micro cast lugs.

http://legendfactory.eu/Collection2013/tabid/96/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

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Bike Science [9 posts] 3 years ago
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Ozy Mandais wrote:

Why can't I agree with you? the current crop of "me to" bikes don't seem to have the elegance or panache of the classic pre 90's machines. The graceful lines of a Colnago Super, Pogliaghi, Cinelli, Pinarello,Coicc and the master builders from Holdsworth and Thame, so many others, where are the fantastic color scheme of Hetchens and Mercian. The very bulk of the over size tubes and the plastic frames (read carbon) the heft of the new front forks verses the curve of an Olmo or Bianchi. Thank god their are still artists practicing their craft with beautiful lug work and exceptional brazing skills. How can you compare the craftmenship of today with the artists from the "reparto corsa" We should give thanks that you could still get a bike from Pelizzoli and I bet Marco Bertoletti could make a real bike if he wanted to.

Marco does indeed offer a complete range of steel, titanium and aluminium bikes as well as the carbon fibre frames, so there's something for everyone. Each frame is built with the same attention to detail with custom geometry, paintwork and ride/handling characteristics

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Bike Science [9 posts] 3 years ago
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michophull wrote:

Generally smart but why does every set of wheels these days have to be built with ugly black spokes ? The spoking patterns look daft too.

A pair hand built with stainless spokes in a more conventional pattern would be the icing on the cake.  39

Each bike is completely custom spec so if you want handbuilts then no problem.

Despite what Dave says in the article, it IS possible to build an Italian bike with Shimano/SRAM bits too  32 We have the HT 5.7, HT 7.5 (once it's back from road.cc's clutches) and HT 9.5 demo bikes built up and available for test rides by appointment

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Vinerman [60 posts] 3 years ago
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Great bikes, they seem to be having great reviews lately. seems like Bertoletti is the real deal.

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anthonyd923 [5 posts] 3 years ago
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I've got a Bertoleeti frame that was made for me by the chap at Comtat cycles. Absolutely fantastic bike and i can't praise his craftsmanship enough.

Do it. You won't regret it.

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robert_obrien [118 posts] 3 years ago
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StuAff [126 posts] 3 years ago
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When's the full review going to appear?