Kestrel Legend Racing Bike Review

Kestrel Legend Review

Price

Pros

Design, ride quality, frame options

Cons

Elite pricing

Summary

Every part of the bike is designed to maximize your performance during the heat of competition, and it delivers on the promise.

Our Rating

84/100

Manufacturer

Kestrel's 2018 Legend SL series is focused on one thing: winning races.

Each of the three versions of this bike comes with a different set of parts and features on the same basic frame, centralized around the Shimano Ultegra, Shimano Dura-Ace, and SRAM RED eTAP variations.

Here's everything else you need to know about these high-performance racing bikes.

Tech Specs

FRAME SIZE: 48cm, 51cm, 54cm, 57cm, and 60cm
BRAKE TYPE: Ultegra STI, Shimano Dura-Ace STI, SRAM RED eTAP
SHIFTERS: Ultegra, Shimano Dura-Ace, SRAM RED eTAP
RIMS: Oval Concepts 527, 700c 18/24H, Oval Concepts 723, 700c 20/28H, ZIPP 202 Firecrest, 700c 18/24H
TIRES: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires, Vittoria Corsa tires, ZIPP Tangente Speed tires
PRICE RANGES: View on Amazon

The three versions of the Legend share some features but diverge wildly on others.

Take note of these - there's a big price gap between the low and high models, and you'll need to decide how much the added performance is worth for your races.

Frame Size

All versions of the Legend come in five frame sizes: 48cm, 51cm, 54cm, 57cm, and 60cm.

Unfortunately, Kestrel doesn't provide much information on which frame size is suitable for buyers. To know that - and let's be honest here, you're not planning to pay thousands of dollars just to reduce your performance by getting the wrong size - you'll need to visit an authorized dealer.

Kestrel Legend buy now
Kestrel Legend Frame

The weight of the bike and frame, as shipped, differs between each model. The Shimano Ultegra starts at 15.66 lbs, the Shimano Dura-Ace drops it to 15.01 lbs, and the SRAM RED eTAP gets all the way down to 13.70 lbs. As always, frame size can affect the final weight of the bike, and the loss of every bit helps.

We do not recommend looking for sizing guides online. These may not be accurate for any given model, and individual variations in the human body can affect which size is right for you.

Brake Type

For brakes, the three models stick closely to their named components.

  • Shimano Ultegra: This version of the legend uses Ultegra STI components, from the levers down to the cassettes and crankset. 
  • Dura-Ace: The middle version of the Legend uses Shimano Dura-Ace STI components, which are a measurable step up from the Ultegra system.
  • SRAM RED eTAP: It may not have the easiest name, but the SRAM RED eTAP brakes are a step up from Dura-Ace. Most notably, the entire system is about 100g lighter (which matters in a race).

Shifters

The shifters match the brake types and stick with their namesakes.

Everything mentioned for the brakes continues to hold true here - the systems are distinctly different, and which one you get determined the final quality of your bike.

Rims

The rims are one of the most distinctly different parts of the three Legend models.

  • Shimano Ultegra: The base version of the bike uses the Oval Concepts 527, 700c 18/24H rims, which are fairly standard as rims go. They're not bad, but they're not especially notable either.
  • Shimano Dura-Ace: The mid-range model uses the Oval Concepts 723, 700c 20/28H tubeless compatible rims, and it's probably worth making the conversion if you're serious about winning races.
  • SRAM RED eTAP: The elite model switches over to a ZIPP 202 Firecrest, 700c 18/24H wheelset. This component - which includes a constant-width rim and minimal torque - is one of the major factors in the elite model's high price.

Tires

Much like their rims, the three models of the Legend come with different tires.

  • Shimano Ultegra: The basic version of the legend comes with a set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires. These are reasonably good tires, and cheap enough to easily replace in the event of a blowout.
  • Shimano Dura-Ace: The mid-range model comes with Vittoria Corsa tires. We were a little surprised to see these since the Corsa line is somewhat infamous for getting flats on a frequent basis. That's bad on racing bikes, and one of the reasons it's best to switch over to the tubeless options the rim allows.
  • SRAM RED eTAP: The elite model, much like the rims, switches over to ZIPP. Specifically, this model comes with the Tangente Speed tires, which were specifically designed to work with the changes brought by the Firecrest rims. All things considered, you'll want to stick with these (or another Firecrest-compatible set of tires) instead of switching them out since tires not meant for an unusual rim will have reduced performance.

All models come with the standard 700 x 25c size tires.

Price Range

Prices vary significantly between the Legend's three models.

  • Shimano Ultegra: $2,799
  • Shimano Dura-Ace: $4,299
  • SRAM RED eTAP: $8,999

Things We Like

We particularly liked the one-piece structure of these bikes - with no need for bonded joints, the entire bike is lighter and stronger than it would otherwise be. Other positive points include:

  • Unique changes for each frame size to maximize performance
  • Aggressive racing design
  • Comfortable ride quality

Things We Don't Like

Our biggest sticking point with this model is the pricing of the elite version - it's literally more than twice the mid-range version, and while the SRAM RED eTAP system is good, we're not sure it's "entire spare bike" good.

The switch to ZIPP's wheelset and tires isn't enough to explain the difference in prices here. Other than that, we had no particular problems with these bikes.

Buying Advice

If you're serious about winning races, we recommend picking up the Shimano Dura-Ace model, which offers highly competitive performance at a more reasonable price.

The Ultegra isn't a bad model, but when victory is on the line, it's always better to get the best bike you can before diminishing returns become prohibitively expensive (as we feel they do for the elite model).

Conclusion

The 2018 Kestrel Legend is a racing bike worthy of the name.

Every part of the bike is designed to maximize your performance during the heat of competition, and it delivers on the promise. If you feel like your current bike is holding you back, take a look at the Legend - it might just help you become one.

Last Updated On:

2 thoughts on “Kestrel Legend Racing Bike Review”

  1. Hi Max,

    Could you comment on the stiffness of the head tube and bottom bracket? Lighter weight sometimes can mean added whippy-ness in important areas. I weigh 185 lbs and frame flex is always a concern for me. Thank you!

    Regards,
    Ernie

  2. Hi Max,
    I enjoyed your review of the Kestrel Legend models. I have a 2016 Kestrel Legend 105, I’m not a racer, I just wanted a good quality carbon frame bike to ride. I read that Kestrel claims to be first carbon bike frame manufacturer and sounds like they produce a high end product, I know I have enjoyed mine for the past two years, light weight, rides and looks good.
    My question is, if Kestrel is such a high end, top quality bike brand, why don’t you see any Kestrel’s in the pro race teams stables, there doesn’t seem to be much media hoopla around the Kestrel brand like I expect there should be after my own positive personal experience with the brand. Maybe there is and I’m just missing it.
    Any insight on that?
    Thanks,
    Mark

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *