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Legend Venticinquesimo review

5 Nov 2015
Verdict:

Venticinquesimo means 25th in Italian. Legend just means legend.

Last month Cyclist deputy editor Stu Bowers said if he had the money he’d buy the Rolo bike he reviewed. That was a big ‘if’ as that bike costs the best part of £13,000. And by best part I mean you’d have £200 left to spend on marriage counselling. So, not to be outdone, I hastily bolted my pedals to the Legend Venticinquesimo as soon as it landed in the office and busily set about it with a tape measure and Cyclist’s finest torque wrench. At £6,300 for the frameset alone, there was no way I was treating this thing with anything but the kiddiest of gloves. Calling it a work of art is an understatement.

Beauty pageant

There are almost as many quotes about beauty in literature as there are amusing incidents involving cats on the internet (to that end, Google ‘Cat in a shark costume chases a duck while riding a roomba’, which in years to come will likely be recognised as the zenith of human creativity). One of the best is from Aldous Huxley in his poem Leda: ‘Beauty for some provides escape/Who gain happiness in eyeing/The gorgeous buttocks of the ape/Or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying.’

Legend Venticinquesimo frame

While that might sound a touch flowery, it is an excellent way to sum up my feelings about the Venticinquesimo. I’d draw the line at trying to find parallels between a primate’s posterior and the carbon-tubed, titanium-lugged frame, but it’s a bike in which beauty provides escape. I mean, just look at it… 

Now hopefully you get what I mean. Next to the original Cinelli Laser (which will never be bettered) this is the most beautiful bike I have ever seen. 

The lugs might look seamless but are actually made from a series of mitred, welded and hand-filed grade 9 and 5 titanium tubes, each fabricated by Legend’s founder, Marco Bertoletti. Into each lug effortlessly sleeves the bespoke carbon fibre tubes, which have been meticulously wrapped and cut so the seams that run the length of the weave line up precisely with the tip of each lug. Hand-engraved lettering and logos pepper the head tube and seat tube, and even appear under the bottom bracket shell. The level of detail is amazing, the craftsmanship astounding. There’s a case to say it’s worth the admission price alone. Yet the Venticinquesimo does whole lot more than just sit there looking pretty.

Race relations

Before we continue, let’s get one thing straight: this is not a race bike any more than an E-Type Jag or an Aston Martin DB5 belongs on a circuit. Yes, those cars could be raced, but they are far too precious, and it’s the same with the Venticinquesimo, which marks the 25th anniversary of Mr Bertoletti’s company. 

‘We have made the bike with this mix of materials to represent our story,’ says Legend’s Manuel Colombo. ‘We work in all materials, but Bertoletti is known for his ability to work with titanium. However today we invest a lot of energy in carbon fibre, too. So here we have made a frame close to titanium but lighter, yet still showcasing our welding. This is not a bike for competition, but for people who want something exclusive.’

Legend Venticinquesimo seatstays

With the pricetag of £12,000 for this build, Legend can guarantee the exclusivity bit. It’s a limited edition as it is, and the fact that the factory has turned out just 15 frames in 11 months tells you just what kind of elite club a Venticinquesimo owner belongs to. However, that’s not to say that if you weren’t either entirely cold-hearted or obscenely wealthy – or, indeed, both – you couldn’t race the Venticinquesimo. 

For starters it has impeccable handling. Not just sharp, accurate or confident, but impeccable, sharpening up the faster you ride. It’s the same story elsewhere. Although the frame weighs around 1,350g (each one is different as each is made to measure), the overall build here is 7.19kg  for a size 56cm. As a result the Venticinquesimo floated finely enough up gradients, with a feeling that much of the weight was held in the bottom half of the frame such that the bike could be flicked from side to side with minimum effort. 

There was one area in which I found the Legend wanting: stiffness. A swap from the shallow custom wheels by Ambrosio to a pair of deep-section Reynolds 46 Aeros leant more punch, but still the bottom half of the bike felt lacking in urgency at times. While only apparent when pushing it – further down the rev-range and it was solid enough – it was sufficiently flexy to make itself noticed. However, the Venticinquesimo could have been a noodle and I’d still have loved it. 

The way you make me feel

There are many bikes that outstrip the Venticinquesimo in performance terms, and I don’t think Legend would disagree, but there are very few that present such a rounded, cultivated riding experience. The Festka One we tested in issue 33 was such a bike, as was the Colnago C60 from issue 27. Both very different – one a custom carbon machine, the other a top-level race rig – but in their own way they both presented themselves in the same way. They were refined. They had character. They made me want to ride them. And that, I think, is the most important characteristic of a bike. Does it make you want to ride it? If the answer is yes, that bike is for you. 

Legend Venticinquesimo review

The reasons for this are myriad, and often shallow. As great at climbing or sprinting or wind-cheating as your bike may be, if you’re honest you probably like it because of the tube shapes, the colour or the headbadge. And that’s OK, because cycling has always been this way. It’s a fickle business, with teams coming and going on a sponsor’s whim, the great stories transcending sporting endeavour and becoming romanticised into folklore. We love the theatre of the sport, we love how it makes us feel. We feel drawn to it. That’s how you should feel about your bike, and that’s how I felt about the Venticinquesimo. 

Would I like this bike as much if it cost £1,500 and lots of people had one? Probably not. When I rode it I felt special, and that feeling was inextricably linked to one of exclusivity. Call me superficial, but then so is cycling. As a sport it is just entertainment; as a pastime it is just indulgent. Beyond fitness or the planet-saving commute, you ride for your own pleasure, so maximise it. Buy something you love, love having it and love riding it. 

I reckon I’ve got at least another 30 years of riding left in me, which means the Venticinquesimo would end up costing just £7.69 a week. Bargain.

Spec

Legend Venticinquesimo £6,300 frameset
Frame Legend Venticinquesimo
Groupset Campagnolo Super Record EPS
Chainset Rotor 3D+ chainset w/ Q-rings
Bars Legend control bars
Stem Control Tech TiMania
Seatpost Legend titanium
Wheels Ambrosio custom carbon tubular
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow
Contact legendfactory.it
Price: 
£12,000

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