Banshee Legend MK1 review

Aug 31, 2009
by Tyler Maine  
Source: acair422.pinkbike.com

The Legend MK1 is Banshee’s first frame to foray into the downhill race scene, but I wouldn’t call the frame beginner's luck. Many recall the burliness of Banshee in past years, via models such as the Scream and Morphine. Since then the boys over there have been busy combining the knowledge of how to build a strong and stiff frame, while applying some weight savings techniques resulting in a definite contender.

Check out my review inside,Now when most companies design a prototype they often generate rider feedback via a small select group of pro riders and/or in-house guys who ride. However, Banshee realized that most people who buy the frame won’t be silky smooth pro riders but will be your average downhiller, some who race as well as some who don’t. So they gave power to the people. By choosing 60 riders from all over the world, with different riding conditions, styles and abilities, Banshee generated a massive amount of rider feedback spanning almost the entire skill spectrum. While this process is both time consuming and expensive, the result is a first year production frame that is truly evolved in respect to its generation one moniker.

Banshee’s research and design method is just one way the company maintains such great rider relations, but rider/co-owner Keith Scott (also the Design Engineer) is extremely accessible, knowledgeable and friendly. As I sat down to describe the suspension design, I thought who better to hear it from then straight out of the horses mouth? In a recent e-mail I asked Keith to describe the Legend design: "The Legend uses a variation of our VF4B (Virtual Floating 4 Bar) linkage that is refined and optimized for DH race performance. All suspension characteristics such as axle path, leverage ratio, chain stretch and anti-squat have been dialed to make the frame perfect for DH racing. The Legend is designed to stiffen up under pedaling to maximize acceleration and control under power, whilst remaining fully active to offer maximum traction over any terrain. The Suspension is isolated from braking forces so that it remains active under braking, meaning you can brake harder and later with more control. The initially rearward axle path sucks up small square edge bumps, whilst chain stretch and pedal kickback reduces as you move through the travel so that you don't get kicked off the pedals when the going gets rough. The whole linkage, like the rest of the frame is designed for one thing... speed!"

Jason from Banshee talks about the Legend:
Views: 29,442    Faves: 11    Comments: 12

Fortunately, I was chosen to be one of those 60 riders mentioned earlier, so the following review is for a prototype frame. Please keep in mind some of the frame’s shortcomings were picked up by test riders such as myself and have been addressed for the production models which will be available next season. Well Keith, let’s see if you’re description matches my results!

I equipped my medium sized frame with a 2008 Fox DHX 4.0 with a 300lb titanium spring from the guys over at Obtanium. I rode this shock on my 2006 Turner DHR and found that many of my initial complaints about the DHR weren’t the shocks fault, rather the frame’s shortcoming. The Legend’s design provides a superior pedaling platform and surprisingly (or at least surprising to myself as an adamant Turner guy for several years) tracks with more accuracy and consistency through the rough stuff. Up front I’m running a 2008 Marzocchi 888 ATA World Cup. While the ATA model does seem to suffer from some mechanical maladies, I’ve found it to be completely bottomless and very progressive when functioning properly (which contrary to internet hearsay is more often then I believe the general population considers it to be). The fork does lack some small bump compliance but like the frame, when you pick up the speed and toss in some big pointy rocks, the trail simply becomes paved. I have a set of Magura Louise BAT brakes which are fairly light and have enough power for the smaller, more technical mountains that dominate the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast. A set of Sunline VS-One bars with SRAM X.9 shifting all powered by a Race Face Evolve DH crankset round out the drivetrain/cockpit portion of the bike. Before going onto the frame I would just like to give a huge thumbs up to Kenda tires who have really struck gold with the Excavator and Telonix model. Both roll relatively fast but brake, corner, and all around survive way better than any other combination I’ve tried to date!


First Impression-
Mother is right, there’s only one chance for a first impression, so don’t screw it up! After three seasons on the old square-tubed Turner DHR I was reluctant to believe that any bike would surpass the great ride characteristics of that frame. From run number one, the Legend has done just that and defied my expectations in the best way possible. The long wheelbase (45.8”) is extremely stable at high speeds and evokes confidence in longer corners without taking a year and a day to get through the tighter ones. Pedal performance is good on this frame. As Keith described, the axle path enables one to stay on the pedals at the top of race courses despite often choppy conditions that leave most riders pumping for speed, while Legend riders can simply lay down the power (even with flat pedals!). Being from northern New Jersey the need for a frame to handle the east coast's burliest rock gardens (and not get handled) was a must for me; think of the Legend as the mob’s muscle because it doesn’t take no shit from nobody!

Keith's Claims-
Engineers tend to believe (oft for good reason) that their particular design is superior for a myriad of reasons. After getting Keith’s description, I was determined to really test his assertions up against my sometimes less than smooth riding. Infamous for its brutality on parts, Diablo provides a great testing ground for all equipment, leaving some frames cracked from the pressure. Yet even after an epic case off a 15ft drop, a few square edged rocks unseen, the frame remains as tight as it was the day I unpacked it from the box! Even the paint seems to be resisting flying debris well, displaying few scuffs or scrapes.



As described by Keith, the design is intended to isolate braking forces from the suspension design ideally preventing the suspension from “squatting” under braking. When a frame squats, not only is speed lost as the rear wheel tends to smack into obstacles opposed to rolling over them, but it also subtracts travel available for the rider and bump absorption. Seemingly by a feat of magic (or as Keith would suggest, a good design) the frame actually feels as if it gains speed over rocks as the suspension seemingly does some degree of “pump work” for the rider; that is, instead of squatting into every available hole, the wheels simply float along the tops creating a paved sensation typically resulting in speed and an ear to ear grin.

Back in the days of more primitive designs, floating brake arms were used to help prevent “brake jack”, which is simply when the suspension reacts to braking forces. This reaction can easily buck a rider off-line or off the bike entirely. Proper braking technique dictates that one should do as much slowing as possible in a straight line before the corner in an effort to sustain balance, speed and preferred line. Unfortunately proper technique isn’t necessarily always available or used (at least in my case) but the Legend simply exclaims, “Ay don’t worry bout it!” Braking forces seemingly don’t apply to the suspension’s prerogative which is to smooth out the trail as much as possible.

Check out the full geo. specs here.

Final Thoughts-
If you’re one of those people who wants to blend in with the crowd and doesn’t want their ride to be a source of conversation in lift lines, this frame might not be for you. But, if you can tolerate the compliments and confidence this frame generates, then give the Banshee Legend some serious consideration. I’m beyond happy with the bike and find it a joy to ride. It’s snappy, stable, pedal friendly and not for nothing, it’s damn pretty to look at!

If this write-up has left you with any or many questions please don’t hesitate to e-mail me, post comments, or get in touch with the guys at Banshee directly. Throughout the season Banshee has proved to be a very supportive company whose R&D process is just one example of their conscious efforts to be involved and responsive towards riders and riding. I’ve been assured that for next season the already great geometry will be undergoing several rider induced tweaks such as a longer top tube for added high speed stability, a lower BB height as well as slacker head angle that will improve the cornering that final degree needed to make it one of the better turning bikes on the market. There is also a “big” change being made for production bikes, but apparently Keith has decided to keep the news hushed until a later date, so keep an eye on Banshee's blog for continual updates on the Legend in addition to their other frames. While perfection is never achievable, Banshee’s pursuit has generated a frame that I believe truly will soon become Legendary!

I would just like to quickly thank the following companies for their continued support:

Marzocchi Suspension
661/Royal/Sunline
And of course, Banshee Bikes




77 Comments

  • + 3
 I'm hoping to be riding/racing on one of these next season. I've done as much homework as I could on the rig, and this is just the icing on the cake. I guess it also helps I'm a die-hard Banshee fan. Goddamn I can't wait 'till the MKII is released.
  • + 4
 I am one of the 60 lucky riders to get on this ride. And this bike kills it, I have put this bike through hell and it is just as tight as the day I got it. All that and the Banshee crew rocks.
  • + 2
 If you check Pinkbike's archives you will see almost the same article and comments about the Legend last year. Well it is almost a year later and a nothing has changed. I have lost confidence in Banshee's ability to deliver a DH bike on-time for 2010. The "Legend" is an appropriate name.
  • + 2
 That video IS from last year... a throwback to interbike 08.
  • + 1
 It really is a nice piece of machinery. Bo how has been testing the bike in Denmark seems really pleased with it and it feels really really good – btw - thank you Caine for posting the link to the pic I took of Bo during a race in march – thought I would post it myself when I saw the legend was being reviewed.
  • + 1
 this didn't seem like a review so much as an advertisement, there's really NOTHING negative about the bike? It looks sweet and I believe it performs well, but the review just doesn't seem that in depth. I still want one of course!
  • + 0
 Phobo - this bike is next impossible to get our hands on, so when Jon offered to post his feelings we thought like you in that his thoughts would be biased. Unfortunately, they are some of the few thoughts out there on this bike at this time. We'd love to get a production model and thrash on it next year, but it's still a prototype.
  • + 1
 hey too be honest the only thing I wasn't a huge fan of on the bike was the bushings in the pivots which are being switched to bearings for next year. If you have some in depth questions please don't hesitate to ask me or shoot the guys at Banshee an e-mail, Keith typically responds within a day or two and loves for people to pick his brain about bikes!
  • + 1
 If the suspension is anything like that of the Rune that I have this bike has to be amazing to ride. The back end of the Rune stays very active under braking, so much so that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between braking and not-braking over the really rough stuff. Keith has been hitting the nail on the head with all of these new designs that's for sure.
  • + 1
 I rode a 2010 proto a few months ago and I can defiantly say that it is a sweet DH rig. It rips corners similar to a Iron Horse Sunday... The bike has amazing ultra plush suspension... Put it this way.. Its nice enough for me to consider it over my ohter choice for 2010 an Intense 951. my 2 cents anyway...
  • + 1
 the green paint in person (which is what came on my frame) is outstanding especially in the light but it's one of those things you kinda gotta see in person....any suggestions on a new paint scheme if your not a fan (no sarcasm jus curious!)
  • + 1
 thank you builttoride haha i'm not sure if the bike actually does accelerate but simply not slowing down and being able to maintain speed in those sections I think qualifies as "accelerating" (relative to other bikes that might be slowing down)
  • + 1
 feel a replacment for my orange 222 is this frame (after ive saved up) also does anyone know about the durability of the frame dont want a evil revolt that will last 3 weeks and break
  • + 1
 how many of them broke? One? that doesn't really make that a rule.
  • + 1
 I think the review is pretty shallow. I've already preordered the legend based on other reviews but this one has very little info about the frame besides the stuff you can look up on the banshee page Wink
  • + 2
 Ive had mine for a wile now and i couldnt be more happy with it. Check out my bike at my profile and say what you think. The bike just gives you more confidence. I love it.
  • + 3
 66 degree head angle? I thought they said this was going to be a dh race bike
  • + 1
 good call
  • - 1
 how do the engineers measure a bikes head angle? is the bb and rear axle aligned and then measured? or something else?
  • + 1
 It says 64 in the specs.
  • + 1
 Jay made a mistake saying 66 degree's in the video. the frame pictures actually has a 64.5 degree head angle, and it will be a little slacker for production... down into the 63's
  • + 1
 ok. well thats better
  • + 1
 the V10 has a 67 degree head angle. this bike, like the V10 probably relies on sag in the rear to bring the HA down.
  • + 0
 "..the frame actually feels as if it gains speed over rocks as the suspension seemingly does some degree of “pump work” for the rider; that is, instead of squatting into every available hole, the wheels simply float along the tops"

please.
  • + 1
 This is a result of chain stretch, it happens to an extent on any bike that has chain stretch. As the suspension compresses, the chain tension increases, spinning the back wheel.
  • + 1
 So this bike is effected more than most bikes by chain stretch, enough to noticeably spin the rear wheel on impact. What happens when the wheel isn't already in the air (floating between rocks and free to spin) and you have a hard impact? Your drivetrain would have to backpedal to compensate, right? How would that not create noticeable pedal feedback?

If the suspension actuates the drivetrain, won't it effect the rear wheel's ability to independently react to the terrain as well as it should? Kind of like adding unsprung weight?
  • + 1
 To an extent...

The maximum chain stretch on the legend MkI is actually less than most DH bikes, however the inital rate of chain stretch is greater in the first 50% of the travel before leveling off.

That said, the MkII Legend has had the initial rate of chain stretch reduced a bit due to rider feedback.
  • + 3
 Can't wait to ride one of these.
  • - 3
 wait i thought mic hannah was sponsored by GT
  • + 1
 That is an old video from a year ago, just before the perproduction bikes went out for rider feedback. Mick was one of the earliest proto testers.
  • + 2
 It was between his Cannondale and GT ventures. I believe during that one year sabbatical
  • + 1
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/3210124 Here's one Smile Awesome one!
  • + 2
 Yeah - the deal with Banshee was always just to ride as a 'test pilot' and we were going to see if we could swing an outside sponsor for a team with Mick on it. That never came about and Mick signed with GT. One of the interesting points from Mick's feedback was that his first runs he felt a bit unsettled - this is a bike in his words that NEEDS you to really push it - when he let go it was in his words one of the best rides he has tested. Mick was signed to GT when he made these comments - so I take them as unbiased praise.
  • + 1
 yeah that would make a lot more sense. i thought this video was recent so it confused me a bit
  • + 1
 i tryed one here in DK and WOW!! its sweet

pic of the Danish Banshee Ryder Bo Andersen beating his legend:
www.pinkbike.com/photo/3820515
  • + 2
 great pic but do U actualy have mountains in DK? Razz
  • + 1
 Nope just some hill's that is why riders from denmark almost every month goes go germany, sweden, and other places to ride other than the local hill's / trails
THe local trails are nice but short
  • + 1
 Sweden?! U mean Vallasen? or north like Gesunda/Are? I live in Goteborg and it's bloody pointless to have a DH bike here.
  • + 1
 yep those places Wink
  • + 3
 Advertisement from a sponsored rider does not equal a review....
  • + 0
 Agreed! But at the same time it's very hard to compare bikes. Only few are given the possibility to get like 5 bikes and test each for a week in Bikepark. yea the bike mag journalists are given the chance, but still among them it's only few who are realy capable of giving good opinions (dirtmag, littermag, descent world and few others) I hate to see some xc marathon guys from some happyride mag, testing DH/FR bikes and then U watch pictures where a guy has no even a proper riding stance.
  • + 1
 Nofree - this bike is next impossible to get our hands on, so when Jon offered to post his feelings we thought like you in that his thoughts would be biased. Unfortunately, they are some of the few thoughts out there on this bike at this time. We'd love to get a production model and thrash on it next year, but it's still a prototype.
  • + 1
 I rode this bike on a demo day and I have to say his thoughts on the bike are pretty close to the way I felt and rode a lot of different bikes. I can't wait to see the refinements!
  • + 1
 As I mentioned above - Mick Hannah pretty much raved about this bike AFTER he signed with GT. He didn't have to say anything nice about it - but he did...
  • + 0
 The author of this article isn't sponsored by Banshee...
  • + 1
 I would just like to quickly thank the following companies for their continued support:

Marzocchi Suspension
661/Royal/Sunline
And of course, Banshee Bikes

He's getting something from banshee, not an independent reviewer....
  • + 1
 He got the legend frame at cost price... just like all legend test riders got. Banshee can hardly charge full price for a pre production frame.
  • + 1
 i knw a guy who is testing one of those and ive seen him ride it and it just floats over everything ang looks like it handles super well
  • - 1
 That's ridiculous. How can a bike look like it handles well? You ever seen a good rider ride a bike and think, geez that bike's handling is junk? And I'd say 75% of reviews say a bike floats over everything - just another line from the ad wizards.
  • + 2
 DUDE THE BIKE IS KICK ASS
  • + 1
 I love the machining on the frame near the linkage, very differant.
  • + 1
 nice article dawg, sweet bike
  • + 1
 make that a 09 proto with 2010 parts... my bad...
  • + 1
 Is it only me or am I correct that most of the mk1's I see are size Large?
  • + 1
 There is just as many mediums as large. Maybe more medium's. And some size small's.
  • + 6
 So it may be only due to the fact that large riders are a bit more vocal Wink
  • + 1
 Here is a link to a photo of a small Legend.

photos.nsmb.com/files/2/1/7/2/4/img_0006_2.jpg
  • + 2
 wow thats brilliant
  • + 0
 I can't help thinking that it just looks like the new DW Turner DHR. Not like that's a bad thing.
  • + 0
 Legend images were released before turner... so maybe it is the other way round?
  • + 0
 That may be true but they are running different suspension platforms, and the shock on the Legend is pointing upwards, while the DHR's is pointing downward. The rear ends on each bike are somewhat similar looking, but completely different. Nothing against Banshee but I'd bet money on the new DHR riding better.

I find it funny that in this article he is comparing the old square tube Turners(04-06) to the new '09/'10 Banshee. But I can understand that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it motto comes into play here.(old DHR = tank)
  • + 0
 A lot of bikes look pretty similar. I mean there can only be so many cool designs out there, eventually someone's new bike is going to look like someone else's.
  • + 1
 bushing instead of bearings, awesome work!
  • + 2
 SO BEAUTIFUL!!!
  • + 1
 Looks great, i'd love to rip on one of these.
  • + 0
 Ha ha ha!!! He said "Uh" 43 times in that video! Oh and "uh" sweet-ass frame!!!
  • + 1
 can't stand the paint
  • + 1
 sweet looking bike
  • + 1
 shweet
  • + 1
 nice article jon
  • + 1
 That looks amazing!
  • - 1
 even if this was a poor bike pinkbike would still be all all over it. Every review is the same
  • + 3
 This is an article submitted by a fellow user on the site. If you want to do a better one, please do so and submit it to Tyler@pinkbike and I'll gladly look it over too.
  • + 0
 i defs want this bike!

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