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Readers’ Rides #3

Banshee Legend Mk. 1

Words by Dean Wilkes.
May 1st, 2009

Dean wrote up an excellent description of his new bike – the Banshee Legend Mk1 – on our gear bulletin board earlier this year.  I was so impressed that it gave me an idea – and Readers’ Rides was born.  Dean’s bike was supposed to be the launch of the feature but I think he got sidetracked by dry riding conditions. It was worth the wait though.  Thanks Dean!

Cam McRae

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 The Banshee Legend Mk1 ready to be assembled.

I heard a saying recently that made me think about building a new bike; there’s a moment just before the honey that’s sweeter than the honey itself. I experienced this feeling before my first ride on my new Banshee Legend Mk1. In the end though the ride was even better than the anticipation.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 This is where the magic happens.

The journey I traveled to get one of the first Banshee Legend frames was lengthy, and required a little patience on my part, but was well worth the wait. Two years ago I was not in the market for a DH frame, but Banshee was on the hunt for 50 riders to help develop a DH frame.  I kept up to date on the bike’s development but never really pursued getting on the list because I am not what most would consider a DH racer.  In 2007 I bought what turned out to be the first Banshee Rune in North America – which ultimately began my relationship with the Banshee brand.  I am very impressed that the men behind Banshee listen to people who ride their bikes.  In fact there are a few tweaks to the 2009 Banshee Rune that resulted from my experiences and suggestions to Keith (the designer of the Banshee frames).  As a result of this relationship my name was added to the list of 50 riders that would receive the first pre-production Banshee Legend Mk1 frames. The frames are purchased by the riders and feedback both good and bad is provided to Keith and Jay so that the bike can be further improved.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 Compact linkage and a low COG with the shock nestled in the frame. Cane Creek Double Barrel shock w/ti spring, e.13 SRS+ and Gravity light cranks.

In early January of this year (2009) I received an email from Banshee informing me that my frame was ready for pick up. The next day it was in my hands and oh my was it worth the wait.  The Legend Mk 1 is a purpose built DH frame designed by Keith Scott of Banshee Bikes and is intended to be a true World Cup level DH bike. It is based on what Banshee call a virtual 4 bar suspension design that allowed Keith to tune the suspension characteristics of the bike to be a top level performing bike.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 Bushings rather than bearings at all pivots.

On first inspection you can notice the machine work of the cradle where the rear shock rests inside the downtube of the frame. The welds on the frame are simply works of art and very little prep work was needed when I assembled the bike from the ground up.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 A no-nonsense cockpit: Elixir CRs, Point One Racing DM LE stem and XO shifter (with the matchmaker system).

A unique feature of the Legend is the pivots which rotate on precision Igus bushings rather than bearings. The pivots also offer a zerk fitting, which allows lubrication and maintenance that takes mere minutes with minimal tools.  These bushings are inexpensive, easy to replace and help to ensure that the bike remains laterally stiff throughout its range of travel.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 5 speeds is all you need.  DT hubs with Mavic 721s and XO rear derailleur.

In true DH form it has a 44.5” wheel base, low 14” BB height and slack 63.1 degree head angle and 8.5” or 7” of rear wheel suspension.  I set the bike up with the recommended 30% sag and must say the suspension system is well controlled and plush which makes the bike very fast and stable. The bushings make the rear of the bike extremely stiff laterally which in turn gives it very predictable handling. An additional feature that I noticed right away upon pedaling the Legend was a built in pedal platform; when you mash on the pedals there is very little bob and a huge rush of propulsion.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 Banshee Legend Mk 1 ready to roll.

I have built this bike as my dream DH bike and no compromises were made on the spec. Every component was selected with function, performance and weight in mind. The bike weighs 36.06 lbs.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
 The author adding to the Legend.  Photo ~ Dave Mackie.

I have ridden the Legend almost non stop weekly since January. The bike is simply amazing to ride in all weather conditions.  I have had limited contact with others, that received the first frames, however several of us agree that almost anyone can get on this bike and simply just start to ride….and ride fast.  Some other DH bikes have a learning curve and take a while to get used to, but this was not the case with the Legend.  After 30 feet on a trail you are letting it all hang out.

readers' rides 3 Dean wilkes.
  After 30 feet on a trail you are letting it all hang out.”  Photo ~ Dave Mackie.

Dean is pretty stoked on his new ride.  I haven’t spent much time on the new generation of Banshees – and no time on the Legend.  Do you like Dean’s spec?  Interested in trying a Legend Mk.1?  Any questions for Dean?  Ask away here…