Steel typically dominates Bespoked Bristol – it is, traditionally, the framebuilder’s material of choice after all – but handmade, Italian carbon fibre stole the show on the Legend stand.
Marco Bertoletti is one of Italy’s master framebuilder’s and has been designing and building frames for some of Europe’s most well know bike brands since 1989, initially under the moniker of MB Bikes. In 2009 , however, Bertoletti setup his own brand – and Legend was born. A handful of exquisite Bertoletti masterpieces immediately caught our eye at Bespoked Bristol.
All Legend frames are hand built at Bertoletti’s factory in Bergamo, northern Italy. Every customer is fitted and the bike built to their exact measurements, and they can even travel to Italy for a factory tour and to watch the frame being made. That’s a rare commodity in an age where production – not least where carbon fibre frames are concerned – has been shipped out to the Far East.
Five models make up the Legend carbon fibre range and the top two, the HT 10.5 and HT 9.5, are available as fully custom frames, so not only is it built to your exact size, but the carbon layup is customised so the frame rides just how you want it to.
The flagship HT 10.5 model is made from 1k multi-axis carbon fibre tubes. The frame is made using a tube-to-tube construction process, whereby each tube is bonded together, with layers of carbon fibre wrapped over the top, giving each ‘joint’ its smooth finish, before it’s cured in an autoclave. The frame itself has a tapered headtube, while the squared-off bottom bracket is Bertoletti’s own design, which he says improves stiffness.
The frame can be designed to run either a mechanical or electronic groupset (internally moulded ‘tubes’ are used to make cable routing easier) and the claimed frame weight for a size medium frame is just 840g. Naturally, Legend also offer a custom paint programme.
That levels of craftmanship comes at a cost, with a fully custom HT 10.5 frameset an eye-watering £4,999, with the second-from-top HT 9.5 model, which uses a 3k carbon weave, priced at £4,199. Drop down to one of the semi-custom models and the price drops accordingly, with the HT 7.5, HT 5.7 and HT 4.7 costing £2,999, £2,499 and £1,999 respectively.
Bertoletti also builds in titanium, steel and aluminium. Three frames make up Legend’s titanium collection and pictured above is the top-of-the-range Queen model. In fact, this is Marco Bertoletti’s personal bike (he also owns an HT 10.5, of course). It’s made from grade nine (3Al-2.5V) titanium but, crucially, with an integrated, made-to-measure carbon fibre seattube and carbon inserts in the rear dropouts. The frame, paired with a full carbon fork, is designed to be rigid and responsive (thanks, in part, to the tapered headtube), but comfortable enough for long days in the saddle.
All Legend titanium frames are welded in an inert gas chamber by Bertoletti and the welds are impeccably smooth to an give the frame a stunning finish. The hand-finished smoothing process takes as long as the welding itself to ensure the strength and stability of the final frame is not compromised – but the result is worth it.
Expect to pay £5,999 for a Queen frameset. Otherwise, the Il Re (that translates to ‘the king’ in Italian), is made from 100 per cent grade nine titanium for £5,399, while the Le Prince model is made from a mix of grade nine and grade two titanium. It has semi-smooth welds and is polished by hand with a cobalt blue tint which gives the frame a unique finish, although we prefer the traditional titanium finish of the Queen and Il Re frames. A Le Prince frameset will set you back £4,299.
On to steel, and this is the Fedaia, Legend’s take on the modern classic (UK price TBC). Again, it’s made-to-measure, from a lightweight and oversized Columbus Spirit tubeset, giving the frame a very competitive claimed weight of 1,500g. Crucially, the Fedaia has a tapered headtube and is paired with a carbon fibre fork – two features which result in Legend calling the Fedaia “the preferred frame for customers looking for the unmistakeable feel of classic steel with a modern twist on performance”.
Cable routing is external, however, in a nod to the classic styling expected of a steel frame, although internal routing is available on request. The frame can also be built to take an electronic groupset, plus it can be made with clearance and the necessary mounts for full mudguards. Very nice, don’t think? But then we didn’t see anything that wasn’t just that.