Kevin Landry is a Banshee team rider and as such, this is not an unbiased, fully objective review. Instead, it is meant to be an informative bike check that gives you the impressions of a racer & freerider at the top of their game after 2 full seasons on the Legend.
The Banshee Legend MKII was designed by suspension engineer and general Scottish bad-ass Keith Scott and was released in 2010 after almost 4 years of refinements from riders around the world. I personally have been riding the Legend MKII for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and look forward to another season aboard the Banshee flagship DH race bike.
Key Frame Features and Specs
- INA Cartridge Bearings
- Titanium pivot axles
- Maxle compatible rear axle
- 150mm rear end
- 83mm BB shell
- 8” of rear wheel travel
- 9.5″ x 3″ shock
- ISCG 05 chain guide mounts
- 30.9mm seat post
- 1.5” headtube
- 3 sizes (S, M, L)
- 13.7 inch Bottom Bracket Height
- 63.8 Head angle
- 17.4 inch chainstay
- Not a Scream!!!
Both of my Legend MKIIs have been built up with no compromise parts, which for the purpose of this review will allow me to concentrate on the frame only.
- Manitou Dorado and Revox combo to handle suspension duties
- Raceface Atlas FR: Bar, Stem, Cranks, seatpost
- Saint Drivetrain, Brakes
- Sun Ringle Wheels w/ Maxxis High Roller 3Cs (and High Roller 2’s which are a treat)
The Legend MKII frame quality and attention to detail is second to none, including Ti bearing hardware, extra hangers and touch up paint – even the box the frame arrives in is pretty cool. The Legend is an aggressive weight, with the large weighing in just a couple grams below 4kg. Banshee specs the Legend with oversize bearings, and after a season of pressure washing the bike at the WBP and putting it away wet the frame action still feels smooth and supple.
The weight of the bike is usefully low and the mass is centrally located providing a balanced chassis that is easy to turn. The low shock position helps with this advantageous C.O.G. but does not hinder access to the shock’s adjustments. The Legend’s 1.5” headtube provides a number of headset and subsequently set-up options, easily accommodating zero stack headsets or an AngleSet.
There are several ride characteristics which become apparent from the moment you saddle up the Legend, the first being its pedaling efficiency. This bike, when equipped with a 38 tooth chain ring, is an extremely capable pedaling bike with excellent power transfer. It avoids bobbing or wallowing within its travel, and accelerates better then several mid-travel bikes I have ridden in the past.
The next most prominent ride characteristic of the Legend is its cornering ability. Sometimes I feel the bike is on rails as opposed to tires. I have found that the Legend is capable of holding speed through the tightest corners, and definitely rewards an aggressive cornering style. I noticed this while following several friends, that the Legend is always capable of taking ‘the most’ inside line. If you watch any videos of the Banshee World Cup team’s Adam Brayton or Matej Charvat, The Geronimo Team, Paul Genovese, or Alan Hepburn you can see the Legend’s inside line capability.
The Legend was designed to utilize a rearward axle path, which is quite advantages when your goal is to squeeze every last bit of speed out of a section of trail. The bike literally accelerates out of every bump, root cluster, rock or square edge bump you encounter, as the axle path essentially acts to push the bike forward.
The suspension design is a virtual pivot system, achieved through a short link 4 bar linkage. The main advantage of this design (other than achieving the rearward axle path) is to separate braking from suspension – allowing you to brake to your heart’s content, while the suspension still remains plush and active. The suspension curve is quite linear, allowing you to take advantage of the tuneability of modern shocks and allowing you to create the perfect suspension feel for your style or terrain.
The Legend has a very balanced and stable ride, and this is most notable through the chunder, where the bike feels planted, and very capable of holding your line. Like all current Banshees, the Legend is equipped with internally ribbed (for your pleasure) chainstays, which provide a very stiff rear end and contribute to the bike’s ability to hold its line in the rough.
I have found the Legend to be a very capable jumper, feeling at home on both slower speed steeper jumps, as well as high speed slacker jumps like Crab Apple Hits in the WBP. I wouldn’t rush to the village jumps with it, but I can’t imagine a DH bike that I would. The Legend is also a capable rig when tackling bigger free-ride type features and inspires confidence if you have to ‘guinea pig’ them. This leads into the Legends’ durability, I’ll be the first to admit I have cased some big stuff on this frame – ask Paul Stevens about that Retallack ‘shittack’ for instance, and the Legend has taken it in stride.
As with all high performance tools, some of the advantages, depending on your perspective and riding style could also be interpreted as disadvantages and the Legend is no different.
I personally, would like a slighter shorter chainstay. Although I am confident that if I could ever achieve World Cup speeds I would be stoked with the extra stability a longer rear end would provide.
The linear suspension curve could also be a negative if you were to build the bike with an older, or more basic shock which lacked the high and low speed compression adjustments of the Manitou Revox, Bos Stoy, Fox RC4 or Cane Creek Double Barrel.
Proper chain ring selection is essential in order to maximize pedal efficiency, as my 2010 Legend was built with a 36t chain ring and experienced minor pedal bob/feedback. However when I built the bike up with the recommended 38t ring (which the suspension was designed around) the pedal bob/feedback was eliminated.
In conclusion, the Legend is a no compromise speed machine which allows the rider to perform at the top of their ability, and can take years of abuse.
When looking to purchase (or just check out the Legend in person) there is only one shop which comes to mind in the Lower Mainland, North Shore Bike Shop on 14th off Lonsdale. Matt has several Legends built up ranging from affordable to completely boutique, so go check them out. Thanks to Garrett Grove and David Fournier for photos.
What’s your ideal DH ripper? Do your thoughts on the Legend jive with Kevin’s? Send it below…