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Basso Diamante SV Disc review

4 Nov 2019
Verdict:

Basso’s Italian racer geometry is in full swing despite attempts to add compliance. But that’s all the more reason to love it

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Aggressive, fast handling geometry (if that’s your thing) • Punchy spirit • Finely crafted • Room for 28mm tyres
Against 
Firm ride • Geometry will be divisive

This time last year we had yet to learn of the existence of Knickers, the 6ft 3in cow from Australia; rapper Dr Dre had yet to lose his trademark case against gynaecologist Dr Drai; Zafar the sexually frustrated dolphin hadn’t forced the closure of a French beach; and news outlets still reported on things that weren’t Brexit.

A lot can happen in 12 months, such as Basso releasing a disc brake version of its aero Diamante road bike.

I tested the rim brake Diamante last spring and really enjoyed it. Long, low and aggressive, there was barely enough room for 25mm tyres, and it came specced with 23mm. It was a classic Italian race bike.

For 2019 the Diamante continues in disc and rim form, but Basso has made it somewhat taller, a move I daresay is designed to up its mass market appeal by softening its aggressive position.

The model I’m riding, however, is the Diamante SV – an important distinction because the SV version retains the racy geometry of the previous model, while including some essential design changes.

Confused? Never mind, let’s move on.

 

EU still ’ere?

What you get with a Basso is a bike made in Italy by a family-run firm founded in 1977.

When it comes to Italian bike companies that’s a story as old as the Colosseum, but what makes Basso special is it actually makes its frames from scratch in Italy, and does so using similar moulding methods to the monolithic Asian factories that build bikes under contract for big brands.

It’s by no means alone in that regard – Sarto does similar things in northern Italy, Time in France and Look in Tunisia – but European manufacturing is a dying art beyond the boutique and artisan, and I’d struggle to name many more manufacturers doing what Basso does, which is to create bikes in carbon fibre moulds (apparently carbon fibre moulds transfer heat more effectively).

Should this matter? Well, a badge such as ‘made in Italy’ does impress some people (although they might be surprised to learn this often only means ‘painted and assembled in Italy’), and the armchair economist in me is impressed that Basso manages to balance the books of being a mid-sized bike maker that actually makes its own bikes in Europe.

I also can’t help thinking that doing things in Italy is both indicative of, and helps to create, an unabashed racing bike such as the SV Disc.

 

I can’t imagine any of the big brands building a bike with 402mm chainstays and 145mm head tubes (size 56) and adding a -11° stem into the mix (to cite some more usual values: 408mm, 160mm, -6°).

Those numbers are low and aggressive, and help create a bike that is brilliantly punchy to ride.

Smoothing operations

The overriding sensation from the very minute I sat down on the Diamante SV was firm, and that’s being generous.

In truth, all the bibshort padding in the world cannot disguise the fact that the Diamante SV feels like sitting on a farmhouse table.

Yet after a few rides it occurred to me that although the bike came worryingly close to being uncomfortable at times, it never quite strayed into that territory, remaining just smooth enough to be bearable for longer, rougher surfaced rides.

The SV features Basso’s ‘3B’ seatpost/clamp, where an elastomer is sandwiched between a groove on the back of the seatpost and the inside of the seat tube in a bid to absorb road buzz.

The clamping point is also positioned low inside the seat tube, leaving more seatpost exposed to flex.

 

Buy now from Cycle Republic here

Does it work? Probably, although it’s hard to say. But in reality the biggest aid to comfort here are the tyres, because the Diamante SV happily fits 28mm, and all that extra volume run at lower pressure delivers comfort where the frame does not.

It was a gripe I had with the original Diamante, so it’s good to see this change.

Less comfortable is the position the SV puts you in if you want to go for the fully slammed look as shown on Basso’s website.

That -11° stem is the culprit, because by my tape measure it lowers the front end by around 5mm compared to the same bike with a more common -6° stem.

Fortunately for me, the bike can incorporate a ‘comfort kit’ – an integrated carbon spacer that increases head tube length by 20mm but is said to retain stiffness. I would have struggled to maintain a manageable position on the SV without it.

Smart choices

So the wider tyres really are the making of this bike, and the comfort kit is a highly adaptable touch, but there are two more crucial things that make the Diamante SV a fun bike to ride.

First, its geometry makes for a very nippy bike, with swift directional changes able to be exacted near instantaneously thanks to a short rear end and stiff, steep front end.

I’d go as far to say it nearly suffers from oversteer, the front diving into a turn more quickly than the rear can keep up with.

 

Second, it has disc brakes, and in particular, Campagnolo disc brakes.

This is the new 12-speed Record groupset, and while I couldn’t say I detected that extra sprocket, the shifting just feels that bit snappier than the last generation.

Yet the standout aspect is the brakes, which in my eyes are currently second to none.

Quieter than Sram and with more agreeable modulation than Shimano, there’s just something about Campagnolo discs that feels more familial in operation – almost rim brake-like.

Yet they’re supremely powerful and, coupled with the extra smoothness and assuredness of Michelin’s wide rubber, help temper – but, crucially, not dull – this bike’s racing predilections.

These components alone can’t make this the perfect bike, though, because to my mind Basso’s focus has been too narrow, putting speed above all-round balance.

But if you do want a relentlessly race-ready bike with lightning handling, and can forgive some discomfort and the occasional wild corner, give the Diamante SV Disc a call.

 

Buy now from Cycle Republic here

Spec

Frame Basso Diamante SV Disc
Groupset Campagnolo Record 12 Speed Disc
Brakes Campagnolo Record 12 Speed Disc
Chainset Campagnolo Record 12 Speed Disc
Cassette Campagnolo Record 12 Speed Disc
Bars Microtech Quantum 
Stem Basso Diamante 
Seatpost Basso Diamante 
Saddle Selle San Marco Mantra Carbon FX
Wheels Campagnolo Bora One 35mm Disc, Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tyres 28mm
Weight 7.78kg (size 56)
Contact bassobikes.com

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Price: 
£7,999

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