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.
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.
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.