Sep 22, 2013 article & images by Nick Salazar

Here it is: the Culprit Legend hydraulic disc brake triathlon bike.
Here it is: the Culprit Legend hydraulic disc brake triathlon bike.

For years, triathletes have been demanding radical, UCI-illegal bikes with boundary-pushing designs, innovative thinking, and genuine novelty. This year, the market has finally responded. There are THREE brand new bikes with amazing designs that are decidedly NOT legal under UCI rules, and made just for triathletes.

Today we feature the Culprit Legend, a bike that brings hydraulic disc braking to tri bikes. It also toys with traditional bike geometry, removing the seat stays completely to eliminate drag. It's an exciting time for the tri bike industry, with manufacturers across the spectrum vying for the attention of triathletes around the world.

  • Here it is: the Culprit Legend hydraulic disc brake triathlon bike.
  • Rear angle of the Culprit Legend hydraulic disc brake triathlon bike.
  • Interestingly, this UCI-illegal bike decided to use legal bars, probably because they didn't want to bother designing their own. These are OEM bars very similar to Shimano's PRO Missile, right down to the bolt-on extensions.
  • The Legend's stem is nice, in that it hides the cables and has them exit out the back, much like our own TriRig Sigma. Now, I'd like to get right out in front of this and say to those of you who suggested Legend copied us, I don't believe that's the case. First of all, the stems are pretty significantly different, they were developed simultaneously, and whatever extent to which they have similar features is either a coincidence or a case of similar minds thinking alike.
  • One thing I don't like quite as much about the Legend stem is that the cable routing is tied to the stem face plate. You have to loosen the bar in order to do anything with those cables. Our Sigma stem makes the cable cover an independent piece to avoid that consequence.
  • A true first on the Legend is a hydraulic DISC aero brake lever
  • Front fork disc brake. The common thought is that this hasn't been done on tri bikes before because a disc beake is a significant aerodynamic disadvantage compared to a properly-designed rim brake. Culprit's position is that, although disc brakes may represent an aerodynamic penalty, that penalty will be offset by the ability to brake later due to greater rider confidence. We've heard this before from the likes of Magura. Personally, I tend to disagree with this statement, as I've been able to get a rim brake to slow me down as rapidly as I'm willing to do regardless of power or modulation. And that speed didn't nearly max out the available power of the rim brake. Of course, alternate opinions are welcome on TriRig. And to be fair, I don't have specific experience with these brakes myself.
  • Rear disc brake. It does seem to stick quite a bit out in the wind. Culprit has provided us with some wind tunnel numbers, which are now at the end of this gallery.
  • You can run the Culprit with cabled brakes instead of the disc brakes, but then you're forced to use TTV brakes, probably my least favorite option. It's a shame, because the frame has some very neat features, but I'm not a big fan of either braking option.
  • Notice anything missing? There is no seat stay on EITHER side of the bike. That's got to save some drag for sure.
  • Look a little closer, and you can see there's still a small brace between the chain stay and seat tube, to help preserve some torsional rigidity ordinarily provided by the seat stays.
  • Again and again, we are seeing some truncated airfoils right at the bottle cage. This is a good thing for several reasons.
  • The cables are very well hidden on the Culprit Legend. And this is a mechanical drivetrain! Nice job, Culprit. The only sad thing is that this is the lowest the stem can be placed - it can't go low enough to get flush with the top tube, because of that cable routing.
  • Rear angle on the bike. Nice.
  • NDS rear cluster.
  • Another angle on the aerobars.
  • This bar is a LOT like the Shimano PRO Missile Evo, but the pads can be set quite a bit wider via this little piece of hardware, which is something the original version desperately needed.
  • The extensions are secured by a thru-bolt that goes through the extensions and threads directly into the bar. This is also an improvement over the EVO bar, which has tiny, difficult-to-adjust internal nuts inside the extensions.
  • The frontal profile is decidedly clean. The one questionable bit is that fat, bulging head tube. But not to worry - Culprit says that is being revised, and will go on a bit of a diet.
  • Another front angle on the bike.
  • The Culprit Legend hydraulic disc brake triathlon bike. One thing to keep in mind is that using disc brakes limits your wheel choice. Right now, there aren't a whole lot of options, although that will likely change in the coming years. And to be fair, Zipp is already working to expand its line with disc brake options, so that might be all the option a racing triathlete needs.
  • My feeling is that hydraulic brakes for the road are kindof like a solution looking for a problem. Cabled rim brakes work VERY well, and when done right, there's no need for the additional headaches that hydraulics bring with them. Sure, hydraulics can provide more power, but if you don't need it, why bother? Of course, to each their own. The market will determine whether hydraulics are here to stay or whether they'll go back to the mountain and CX courses they came from.
  • And here is Culprit's own wind tunnel data about how much of a drag penalty the disc brake actually is. Those are some pretty big numbers for such a small part! Culprit insists there must be some offset due to the increased confidence a disc brake provides, and that an athlete can brake later than they otherwise would with a rim brake. I doubt this claim, but at least now you know the philosophy behind it. Culprit also suggests that disc brakes lend themselves to easier swaps between race and training wheels. However, getting the right brake that has easy stance width adjustments (Trek Speed Concept, Felt IA, Pinarello Bolide, TriRig Omega, etc), those swaps are pretty easy. And with offerings like the FLO 30, a shallower rim great for training but bearing the same rim geometry as its deeper-dish brothers, stance width adjustment and brake pad swaps aren't necessary at all. Again, there are a variety of opinions on hydraulics in general, and their implementation as disc brakes here. They're all welcome on TriRig. Wherever innovation exists, I'm happy to cover it. My thanks to Culprit for being so open with their data, their philosophy, and for making this very cool bike in the first place.

Related Articles
Completely revamped from a year ago, the new Legend prototype is a no-chainstay, disc-enabled frame which Culprit aims to launch via a Kickstarter campaign.
The Graal was nobody's favorite bike. But the Bolide is incredible. Here's our first look at Pinarello's latest and greatest effort.
Beam bikes are back! This year's Interbike had some real surprises up its sleeve, and one of the best was this Falco V-bike.
This is absolutely the best Omni we've ever been able to offer. It's everything we make, plus carbon clincher aero wheels, aero crank, and a Dash saddle, for $5990.
Jeff Bosch appointed his P-Series perfectly, with all the best TriRig gear plus a paint scheme that brings it together like The Dude's favorite rug.