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Basso Palta II review

21 Jan 2022
Verdict:

An all-surface bike perfect for roadies wanting to go further with improved comfort that doesn't compromise racy feel

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Perfect for road cyclists wanting to get into gravel • Much improved comfort • Performs well across all surfaces • All thrills
Against 
Headset cap is fragile • Hunt wheels in review aren't sold with the bike

The Basso Palta II is a gravel bike aimed at road cyclists, which in itself shows how much the way we look at riding bikes has changed over recent years. When cycling boomed a decade or so ago, the rage was for road. Wiggins gave Britain its first Tour win; the world’s finest cycling magazine was launched, and a nation rushed to its local bike shop to buy something expensive and carbon with thin tyres.

Great days. But after ten years of riding on the same roads with the same traffic every weekend, desires began to change.

Those same riders are today lured instead by the scenic, motor vehicle-free delights of gravel. And while some are rediscovering their youth, others are stumbling headfirst into new territory.

So when Basso’s marketing director, Joshua Riddle, describes the new Palta as being ‘a gravel bike for road cyclists’, it makes complete sense.

Basso itself has made the same move from road to gravel, and this bike’s previous generation showed it. Successful though it was, its aggressive geometry didn’t seem to fit what gravel riding seemed to be about.

 

The Palta II – oddly the bike’s third iteration – seeks to wash away any doubts without losing the thrill of a road-inspired racy gravel bike.

Basso Palta II design and geometry

The most obvious change is the raised front end, which came about because an overwhelming number of customers were adding spacers on the original Palta for a more endurance-friendly position.

The new bike has a slightly higher stack for a more upright position, and the top tube slopes down at a steeper angle to allow for more exposed seatpost.

Both these changes work to add comfort on rough surfaces, as does the new carbon layup focussed on the seatstays that the brand says increases vertical compliance while maintaining lateral stiffness.

On top of that, Basso has subbed in new gravel-specific carbon handlebars that allow for cables to run underneath so they’re out of sight but still easily adjustable.

There are no mounting bolts on the forks or under the down tube for bikepacking bags, but there are a couple of bolts on the top tube for a mini-pack, although they are neatly hidden beneath a rubber cover for when you are in race mode, not rough mode. Equally neat is the multitool stashed in the thru-axle.

To keep things nippy on the tarmac, the Palta II has been aerodynamically refined with kamm-tail tube profiles on the head tube, down tube, fork legs and seat tube.

And while I can’t verify Basso’s aerodynamic claims, I can say that the Palta hasn’t lost any ‘roadiness’ as a result of these adjustments.

Basso Palta II performance

Basso held the Palta II launch in the Dolomites of Alta Badia, which combined gravel sections with a couple of classic road climbs in the form of the Passos Pordoi and Gardena.

In those circumstances the Palta II was a more than capable climber, its weight being light enough to help me to float up climbs and its 1× SRAM Rival groupset offering a wide enough range to cope with the gradients.

Where it truly shone, though, was on the descents. Its more forgiving geometry, paired with flared bar drops and grippy 40mm tyres, allowed for confident cornering around the hairpins of northern Italy.

When tarmac turned to palta – the word for gravel in Italy’s Veneto region – it willed its way up sharp inclines riddled with large rocks, though its lack of heft demanded a lot of adjustment of my centre of gravity to keep the front wheel grounded.

On technical, loose sections, the Palta II got the off-road endorphins flowing, with the line between careful control and holding on for dear life practically translucent. It made for a hair-raising experience at times, but then that’s all part of the fun.

Basso Palta II verdict

While many gravel bikes aim to tame rough trails, the Palta II offers more of a thrill ride and the chance to push speeds both on and off the road. Away from the mountains of Italy and back on British tarmac, its road-gravel persona proved a godsend on our rutted, broken roads.

And while it aims to be racy, the Palta II does have the geometry for a long ride – after two heavy days of riding at the launch, I would have loved a third.

As more sub-sections appear within the road-gravel market, it would be easy to place this bike nearer the ‘road’ end of the spectrum, best suited to road riders who want to venture off-road only occasionally.

But that would be to do the Palta II a disservice. Sure, it’s a comfortable companion on the road, but it’s a giddy child when you switch to gravel, begging for faster and further, reminding you of the fun you had as a youth, and pushing you a little too close for comfort at times. But you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pick of the kit


Wahoo Elemnt Rival watch, £349.99, uk.wahoofitness.com

Sometimes part of the beauty of adventure is not knowing where you’re going – being able to get lost without being truly lost. Wahoo’s Elemnt Rival watch has all the tracking capabilities you’d want, including support for an array of different sports and a special triathlon mode, so you can get your stats without a computer.

If you want both, the Elemnt Rival is able to be paired with other Wahoo devices, allowing you to see your live heart rate on your computer, which is handy for controlled efforts. It can also receive texts, calls and emails.

• Buy the Wahoo Elemnt Rival watch from Wiggle (£349.99)

Alternatively…

Basso Diamante SV: On the beaten track

For those who haven’t been swayed by gravel yet, the Basso Diamante SV (£8,949) is a certified road racer. It has speed in all areas, with aggressive geometry, stiffness and quick handling.

• Read our full Basso Diamante SV review

Basso Terra: Take it eeeasy

Basso’s other gravel bike is the Basso Tera (£2,199), which offers many of the Palta’s features but at a lower price thanks to its aluminium frame, and has a rear suspension system to smooth off-road terrain.

Basso Palta II spec

Frame Basso Palta II
Groupset   SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR
Brakes SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR
Crankset SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR
Cassette SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR
Bars Basso Carbon Gravel
Stem Basso
Seatpost Basso
Saddle Selle San Marco Ground
Wheels Hunt 35 Carbon X-Wide, Pirelli Cinturato Gravel 700c × 40mm tyres
Weight 9.3kg
Contact bassobikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£2,199 frameset, full build from £3,599