The first thing I noticed before even hopping on the bike was the insanely supple first few centimeters of rear suspension travel. The bike would sag under its own weight, and needed hardly any pressure to get it moving further. On the trail, this gave incredible tracking and grip in the first part of the travel, and rolling speed down the trails seemed massive, as you can barely feel the initial hit of the bumps trying to slow you down.
On small bumps, the rear suspension really did outperform the front end, and the change to a 203mm air spring from 190mm later in testing helped to equal this out. To really equalize the performance, I think a change of fork could help to give the same incredible traction in the beginning stroke, something like a Formula Nero or the Ohlins DH38 with multiple adjustable air chambers could be tuned to give a super light initially stroke to match the rear. The 49 is a fantastic fork, but the tuneability to match this style of bike isn't quite there.
I have been waiting to try a downhill bike with a truly long chainstay length for a while now, and the Legend didn't disappoint me. Yes, sometimes it feels like a monster (and doesn't fit properly on to most ski-lift racks), but in reality, the long chainstay puts your center of gravity more into the middle of the bike. This makes weighting and steering the front easier, and the 'Holy crap my bike feels massive in this tight corner' goes away, as that is caused by being too far off the back of the bike and the light front wheel starting to get away from you. Planting the front wheel into the turns and staying central allows the back wheel to lose traction slightly and oversteer around the corners. Secondly, on fast sections and especially off-camber and flat corners, moving your body weight fore and aft is de-sensitized, making it much easier to add or subtract body weight to adjust grip between wheels as you feel the tires tracking then sliding.
On long corners the Banshee corners like a demon, too; the achievable lean angle is more than anything else on test before breakaway. Do you need to lean over more to be faster? I don't know, but it makes you feel like a king. The massive wheelbase, centralized position and low bottom bracket height are to thank for this. If those corners are rough and loose, the supple initial stroke of the suspension really keeps the wheels tracking the ground.
As suggested by Banshee, this bike does pump and generate speed better than the high-pivot DH bikes with idler wheels to generate more speed, and I think this could be an advantage depending on the track, if you were racing at Leogang, for example. The midstroke support that helps with pumping also helps to hold the bike up in its travel when pushing hard into berms and trying to increase exit-speed. The downside of this characteristic is that the bike is harder to hold on to, and absorbs less in the midstroke in rough sections like rock gardens. But on a track like Andorra or Val Di Sole when bump absorption and scrubbing off speed is the priority, then the full high-pivot bikes will offer a less fatiguing and easier ride.
Despite the falling rate of the leverage ratio at the end of the travel, the Legend took everything I could throw at it in its stride, although the production version will have slightly increased progression at the end of the stroke, as requested by some of their team riders.