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Basso Palta II: update of popular gravel bike goes the extra mile

Previously praised for its road-ready aggressive geometry, Basso's new Palta II has doubled down while increasing long-distance comfort

Will Strickson
9 Oct 2021

Basso Palta II first ride review

Basso's versatile gravel bike edges towards endurance riding while maintaining it's racy feel on both dirt and tarmac

In his 2019 review of Basso's Palta gravel bike, Cyclist's James Spender was full of praise for it's road-inspired geometry with aggressive positioning and agile handling helping it find a home at speed both on and off-road.

However, there were some concerns about the versatility of that geometry, with room to increase comfort on longer distance rides. Though the platform wasn't launched to be a traditional gravel bike and the Palta's continued popularity over four years proved the Italian manufacturer right.

Cut to 2021, Basso has now launched the Palta II with hopes of further developing the features of the bike that helped it stand out and brought accolades including being named one of our best products of 2019.

Assuming you've come here after reading our breakdown of the Palta II's new setup, you'll have noted that the geometry has been tweaked, sadly James couldn't make it to Basso's press event in the Dolomites to test out the Palta so I went instead.

Riding the 1× Sram Rival model with the Microtech RE28 wheels, first impressions were overwhelming positive though, two days of consistent climbing and descending and the altered geometry meant that comfort didn't need a second thought.

It has kept its talking points with an aggressive position still the focus, allowing you to all but forget you're not on a road bike when riding on tarmac and no struggle reaching high speeds on long mountain descents.

When the tarmac disappeared, the carefully considered vibration-damping systems – including the new carbon handlebars and more exposed seatpost – ensured the Palta II felt at home on hardpack gravel, grass and on trails dominated by loose, bulky rocks. 

The added flare on the bars definitely played its part, riding in the drops for long periods was only natural, especially off-road and downhill.

Although Basso says this generation is slightly heavier than its predecessor, you'd be hard pressed to notice, it handles climbs without complaint – riding the Passo Gardena was only hindered by the desire of a gear between the Rival's 1×13 offerings – and, if anything, it was a struggle keeping the front end down on steeper, loose-surfaced gravel climbs but that's more a comment on my technique and legs than the bike.

Its handling is something to shout about, too. Switchbacks could be taken confidently at speed – with wider tyres adding to grip around the bends without increasing rolling resistance too much – and finding lines on more technical trails was more about watching the surface than perfecting the bend.

All in, Basso's alterations to the Palta only certify James's comments, though you'll have to wait for his opinion on the new bike. However for me the Palta II excels in what it's intended to be and, while the previous model still has its place, the refinements that have been made mainly increase the its versatility.

It's still made for speed and for road cyclists that don't want to stop when the surface changes, it's exactly the product you need, James described it as 'monster road' in his review and Basso has taken that to the house even using it in its own content, but the Palta II has opened itself up to more traditional gravel cycling, with longer distances more than within its capabilities.