Legend HT 7.5  £2999.99

9/10

Supremely smooth ride with incredible handling and stiffness, it's out of this world. Better start saving now then...

Weight 7250g   Contact  www.legend-bikes.com/

by David Arthur   March 11, 2013  

Legend's very lovely HT 7.5 is one of those rare things, a custom carbon frameset that's made in Europe. In Italy to be precise. Legend are one of a small band of manufacturers that haven't outsourced frame production to the Far East, a shift that has seen the biggest revolution in bicycle production in the past couple of decades.

From a factory in Bergamo, Italy, Marco Bertoletti has been building frames by hand since the latest 80s, and began making carbon frames in 2003. So he's got loads of experience and knows a thing or two about building a frame then. You can understand then why I was expecting a lot from this particular carbon frameset and the bike it was built into.

Frame

Legend build in titanium and steel too, but custom carbon is where the excitement is. They are one of a handful of European facilities that can produce a carbon frame in-house. The HT 7.5 is their third-tier offering and carries a £2999.99 price tag (that's for the frameset). Yes, making frames in Italy isn't cheap.

However, you do get a custom frame, and that, along with the Italian production, is their USP. The process starts with a bike fit, I headed to Bike Science in Bristol where experienced fitter Andy Sexton sized me up. These measurements are taken using the Retul system and once Andy is happy with the fit they are sent to Legend (I should add at this point that I didn't ride a custom frame, instead a stock 56cm demo bike that just happened to fit my bog standard dimensions).

With these measurements, and after a chat with the customer to determine the characteristics of the frame they want, and the type of riding they want the frame for, a frame is measured up. On the more expensive HT 9.5 and 10.5 the custom process even extends to individually moulding tubes to suit, so you could opt for a stiffer frame for crit racing or comfier for gran fondos. To offer a more affordable frame the HT 7.5 uses a stock set of unidirectional 3K carbon tubes that are moulded in small batches.

A tube-to-tube process is used to bond the tubes together, giving the junctions their fantastically smooth appearance. The tubes are mitred to precise tolerances, then bonded to their corresponding tube and layers of carbon are laid over the top. Legend use an electronic jig to ensure an accuracy of 0.1 degree. The frame is then popped into an autoclave to cure it. 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. Producing custom carbon frames using the more common moulding process is prohibitively expensive, as moulds cost a fortune and you need one for each size. So for custom carbon, this tube-to-tube process leads the way.

Legend use a hollow oversized bottom bracket shell with a keyed interface for the thread inserts on this frame, and it's available with regular or BB30 options. The rear stays are slim and designed to balance the demands of transmitting energy to the rear wheel while absorbing any unpleasant road surface that might lead to a jarring ride. The seat tube is a recent upgrade for the HT 7.5, with the areas at the seat clamp and front mech reinforced. An integrated seatmast is an available option.

You can choose whether you want a frame with mechanical or electronic internal cable routing, and they use internally moulded carbon pathways to make routing cables a cinch. Or if you prefer external cable routing, that's an option too.

Once you've sweated the details of your custom frame, all that is left is to pick the colour. Here Legend offer a wide range of options (it's worth looking at their website for an idea of what they offer), but I felt the gloss black to carbon weave fade finish, with red and white fade decals, gave the bike an exquisite appearance.

Appearance wise the Legend has a classy arrangement of mostly round tubes. It's an appearance I'm a fan off, there's no superfluous curves or shapes here, it's function and performance over style. Minimal tube manipulation then is the order of the day, the down tube is fairly oversized and enlarged to meet the bottom bracket shell at its full width. Their own full carbon NS1 fork slots into a tapered head tube. The chainstays are lent a curved shape with a slight square shape to them. Seat stays, naturally, are slender and combine into a wishbone at the seat tube junction.

Legend claim a frame weight of 980g, which is right on the money for a top-end frame. There are lighter options, but the HT 7.5 isn't trying to compete with such lightweight competition.

As this wasn't a custom frame, I won't dwell on the geometry, but for the record the test bike has a 56cm effective top tube with a 15.5cm head tube.

Build

No point labouring on the build kit of this bike for too long, the actual build will be chosen by each customer and Bike Science offer just about any flavour of specification you can imagine. As befits an Italian made frame, we had a full Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed groupset to play with and Campagnolo Eurus wheels, and a Deda Zero cockpit and Prologo Scratch saddle.

Needless to say, the gears performed brilliant, using an 11-speed block give a gloriously smooth transition right across the range with no large steps from any sprocket to the next. Shifting gears gives you much more feedback, both audible and tactile, than either Shimano or SRAM, but the thumb shifter takes some getting used to.

This bike hit the scales to the tune of 7.25kg (16lbs) which is plenty light enough that you really can't blame the bike for holding you back.

How does it ride?

In a word, superbly. I've ridden a few very top-end carbon frames in my time and without doubt the Legend meets all the same criteria that allows me to slide it in amongst such company. It's easily one of the five best carbon frames I've ever ridden.

What most awed me about my time on the Legend was how beautifully it managed to combine an effortless pace with sublime comfort. Some of the roads on my regular loops are potted and scarred with potholes and rough surfaces, but the Legend just appeared to be able to mop up all the vibrations and effectively cancel them out before they reached the contact points.

And when you want to get a bit of lickety split on and give it the beans, it responds with an engaging eagerness. It's stiffness under power and lightweight made short work of climbs. Yes, it's one of the best and most rapid climbing bikes I've ridden in a very long time. Dump a load of watts through the pedals on a tight and twisty course and the stiffness in the frame is there to be felt, and it has the handling to support your desire to wring its neck.

Descents are often the best way to asses a frame, and on such roads the HT 7.5 has a stiffness along its length that many frames just don't posses. This means it tracks with incredible accuracy and authority.

Yet every time I stepped off the Legend after a ride, it was the class-leading ride comfort that most impressed me. If the HT 7.5 is this good, how good would the range-topping 10.5 ride I wonder? I can only begin to imagine...

A huge price tag yes, but it has the world class ride quality to justify that price. There's often marginal differences between carbon fibre frames but the Legend is way out in front in some very exclusive company.

Verdict

Supremely smooth ride with incredible handling and stiffness, it's out of this world. Better start saving now then...

road.cc test report

Make and model: Legend HT 7.5

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Made to measure custom carbon tube-set, 3K multi-axis carbon reinforced with UD carbon, individually moulded in high pressure autoclave in Italy to each customer's requirement and our design. Internally moulded top tube for rear brake cable routing as standard, other internal routing options available on request.

A very reactive and responsive frame with excellent rigidity. Perfect stability on fast descents, built to race under the most demanding environments. Each frame is built to the physical characteristics of each rider, with NO rider weight limit {within reason!}

Frame weight from 980g. Full carbon NS1 Fork. BSA Press Fit or BB30 bottom bracket. 3 year guarantee Bicycle built to order on request.

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

3K multi-axis custom carbon tubes

Over size tapered head tube & OS fork for excellent stability

Handmade joints {lugs} boned and cured in our autoclave

Electronic (Campagnolo EPS & Shimano Di-2) or mechanical groupset with internal gear cable routing options

Ultra lightweight BB shell with aluminium threads

Painted to design using our on-line frame painting simulator

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The finish is first class

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Carbon fibre using tube-to-tube construction process allows for customisation

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Though this wasn't a custom frame for me, the demo bike I tested fitted me perfectly, and Andy at Bike Science ensured all the contact points where in the optimum places

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

It was fantastically comfortable, really smoothed out the rough roads and handled sudden impacts very nicely

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

When you stick it in the 11 and give it the beans, it responds with the stiffness of a race-ready bike. I'd happily race it

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Oh yes, very well indeed. It's a fast bike

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Perfectly weighted

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The handling was supremely good. The stiffness in the frame means it tracks through corners with great confidence, and allows you to easily push it right to the limits and be very much in control

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
9/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

Legend will build a bike to order so it's completely down to their preference, this was a demo bike built to allow us to assess the frame

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? If I had the money, I'd buy one, yes really

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

I'd be prepared to give this a bike 10/10 for performance, but in the knowledge of the two models above it (the HT 9.5 and HT 10.5) I'm wondering if they're even better. The HT 7.5 is a stunning bike, easily one of the best riding bikes I've ever ridden

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Been looking forward to reading this- Marco and team made the Maxima and other custom models for Viner (who sadly went under last year), and I know from owners how good those bikes are- I 'make do' with a mere standard monocoque Viner, love it, so if I were in the market for an upgrade, Legend would top the list. £3k is a lot of money, but also pretty good value compared to some rivals!

posted by StuAff [105 posts]
11th March 2013 - 22:55

13 Likes

Love these frames, met Marco, can't wait to get my 10.5 ...

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
12th March 2013 - 18:23

13 Likes

I've had the pleasure of meeting Marco and seeing these frames in the flesh. The guy is so passionate about cycling and producing great bikes. Their finish is superb and are built beautifully. I've now booked in to get a fitting and order an HT9.5 - if I can push the budget I might even go and visit the factory and see the frames being made.

I can only dream how the 9.5 will handle after reading this review.

posted by RichmondTTer [8 posts]
14th March 2013 - 11:10

13 Likes

When you consider that the Legend 7.5 , 9.5 and 10.5 are all genuine "custom made carbon fibre frames" that are not only built to fit you but also have their tubing fine-tuned to your personal requirements their price tag/s start to appear much more reasonable...

Given the choice between one of Marco's creations and a mass produced frame that arguably has more marketing behind it but less craftsmanship on offer I know where my money would go...

Ride safe Cool

posted by The_Campag_Kid [1 posts]
14th March 2013 - 13:08

12 Likes

I used to be a very happy and content owner of a finer perfecta. I loved the dialed in handling and lightning quick acceleration of that bike,I thought it could not be bettered apart from a higher spec viner . I'm now a proud owner of a legend 5.7 and have to concede I was wrong about my viner. I'm currently getting in a good solid two weeks of training in Majorca and have been putting the legend and myself through the pain barrier on the islands twisty climbs and deccents.F++KING hell what a bike,what a frame,what a LEGEND.god knows what the 10.5etc rides like.

Ouseburncoffeecompany.

posted by ouseburncoffeec... [2 posts]
15th March 2013 - 10:47

15 Likes

just found out that they offer to show the factory,and meet the man himself, Marco Bertoletti. now should i tell the wife or not !!!!

posted by Vinerman [40 posts]
15th March 2013 - 13:30

12 Likes

Take her with you,I'm sure she can amuse herself in Milan for the day while your meeting Marco.

Ouseburncoffeecompany.

posted by ouseburncoffeec... [2 posts]
16th March 2013 - 16:59

22 Likes

loving this review

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
28th March 2013 - 18:03

13 Likes

I'll take two

seven's picture

posted by seven [119 posts]
2nd August 2014 - 22:05

2 Likes

whats the grade of carbon tubes?

posted by Vinerman [40 posts]
2nd October 2014 - 11:32

15 Likes

I agree with The_Campag_Kid a custom made bikes are best

posted by Vinerman [40 posts]
2nd October 2014 - 11:33

18 Likes

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