The Basso Diamante is a great bike if you're going out for shorter, fast rides or if you race crits but it's shorter geometry and harsh ride quality made it less comfortable than other premium race bikes I've tested.
Corner handling is good
Very responsive ride
Jarring ride quality
The Basso Diamante occupies the 'all round' niche of the Italian brand's surprisingly expansive bike range, and have undergone something of a facelift in recent years, it now has a very distinctive look.
It's available in either rim or disc brake forms, although I'm testing it in a custom build so this review will have a particular focus on the frame.
As stock, the Diamante comes equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, which isn't very Italian, so I've put a Campagnolo Super-Record EPS 12 speed groupset (you can expect a review of this soon) and Fulcrum wheels for the real deal Italian super bike.
Basso Diamante: Distinctive geometry
Punchy and aggressive is one way to describe the Basso Diamante frame. With its cut away head tube, the bike's geometry is what you would call, appropriately in this instance, 'slammed'. It's the most aggressively designed bike I've ridden this year and out on the roads it got a lot of admiring looks.
It's a compact bike, and to the eye my size large looks a lot smaller that most other brand's. Avoiding current trends, it only has slightly dropped chain stays – more like the Canyon Ultimate than the more recent raft of GC bikes – which gives it a really punchy look. It even feels tight when you're on top of it.
Looking over a geometry chart it's clear to see why, the Basso Diamante has super short chain stays. At 402mm for a size 56, they're significantly smaller than what you would usually find on a disc brake equipped bike, with most usually being 410mm in length.
As you would expect, this geometry has a dramatic impact on the bike's ride quality, and the result is a bike that feels noticeably shorter than other bikes I've tested this year. I even found myself longing for a longer stem just to draw the bike's reach out.
Compared to the likes of the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6, you feel more perched on top of the Basso rather than sitting in it, and on long fast descents the shorter wheelbase felt twitchy and didn't provide the feeling of balance that the Specialized provides.
But where that lack of length makes it feel a bit unstable, a super short head tube makes it incredibly responsive. This bike absolutely rips around corners and I have no doubt that my confidence is the limiting factor when going round bends. At 155mm the the headtube length is already considerably shorter than the 163mm head tube of the Specialized Tarmac. Currently, I have four spacers under the stem but because of the Basso's cutaway head tube that only equals a slammed stem on any other bike.
It's a super stiff bike, there's no doubting that. Hop on it and kick off and after just a few pedal strokes the bike is up to full speed. I could cover 0-30km/h faster than almost all the bikes I've tested this year. Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to the superb Fulcrum wheels but there's no denying the coursing feeling of speed in the frame.
Riding the bike, you get the sense that riding flat out has been prioritised over comfort. The Basso doesn't have the same numbed ride quality that the Tarmac does. Instead you feel the bumps of the road, and the bigger hits can be really quite jarring and I noticed it was more difficult to stay in the saddle over rough stretches of road and that my hands were taking a pounding.
Racking up a couple of 100km rides on the bike was a good way to put the shorter geometry to a test. At around 70km I felt an aching across my shoulders and in my neck but it was manageable, and it wasn't much more than I'd usually feel at plus 100km. The bigger issue remained the jarring ride quality, which was definitely noticeable after a long time in the saddle.
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Basso Diamante: The build
As this was a custom build and I'm reviewing the frame here, I won't go in to too much detail on the full build, but some parts were important to the quality of the ride. In particular, the Fulcrum Zero Carbon DB wheels. Without a doubt they added a lick of speed to the bike, rolling incredibly well despite their shallow depth.
The Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset is also nice touch and feels fitting with the frame. However, I am left with the overall feeling that it's not as perfect as Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 that the bike comes with if you buy it as a full build. I have no qualms in recommending the latter, having ridden countless kilometres on it.
The groupset is plush and obviously very premium, but it doesn't have the same ergonomics or shifting feel as Shimano's top end option (or even it's Ultegra option, for that matter). The one button, one shift principle behind the Campag setup is a good idea but the thumb shifter doesn't quite sit in the right position for me, especially if you're not riding in the drops. The disc brake and electronic hoods are also much larger than the Shimano ones, so aesthetically Shimano wins out here, too.
The 12th gear is a nice touch and the jumps between gears are very small which feels great when riding at a high tempo. Keep an eye out for the full review of the groupset coming soon.
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