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Review: Basso Palta II Gravel Bike, Faster and More Capable!

Just over a week ago, Basso unveiled their updated Palta II carbon gravel bike, made in Italy. While some gravel bikes try to be all things to all riders, the original Palta was unapologetic in embracing its racing heritage on the road, sticking to what Basso knew best as a road-focused gravel bike. Now, this new Basso Palta II is bigger, faster, and more capable off-road. Yet, it manages to do so without sacrificing the quick handling on the road that made it unique from the start.

New Basso Palta II Carbon Gravel Bike

We took the new Palta II to the steep climbs of the Italian Dolomites to see how the new bike has evolved. With the updated carbon gravel bike for known road ascents, new gravel sections for us, and even familiar mountain bike descents, it quickly became evident that the Palta II is more versatile than the original while feeling faster than ever.

What’s New in Palta 2.0?

We break down all the details of the new bike in our separate bike launch coverage of the new Basso Palta 2022 (here). But suffice it to say, the key changes are:

  • Increased tire clearance, now up to 700 x 45 mm
  • More integration, with fully internal cable routing and a new sleek two-piece bar and stem cockpit
  • Improved aerodynamics with the Kamm tail tube shape and smoother fork airflow
  • Enhanced comfort with the new seatpost and seat tube flex, plus a more exposed aerodynamic seatpost clamp for rider isolation
  • New adventure capability with additional bottle/cage mounts and lighter carbon construction to hit the same frame weights as before

Key Technical Details

The new Palta II remains compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains, giving riders/buyers the opportunity to tailor it to how they plan to ride, whether mostly on or off-road, or more on rough terrain or tamer ones. The 5 mm larger tire clearance may not seem like much, but the clearance for 700 x 45 mm or 650 x 2-inch tires puts the new bike in proper adventure gravel territory. Add in two regular bottle cages inside the main triangle and a third one under the downtube, plus a top tube bag mount, to make the bike more pack-ready, though there are no fork cage mounts. I didn’t have the chance to use it, but Basso says the new bike will come with a removable lever for thru-axles that incorporates 4 mm, 6 mm, and T25 tools. Designed to tighten any bolts you have on the bike, it should mean you won’t need a separate tool for any regular adjustments on the road.

What Didn’t Really Change?

What doesn’t change is essentially the road-inspired geometry of the original Palta that made it feel so fast. The head tube and seat tube angles remain the same. The Stack & Reach figures of the Palta II frame are slightly modified, but mostly only to allow more commonly used bar setup positions, with fewer spacers beneath the stem. The rider’s weight balance is shifted slightly backward to make the bike feel more stable off-road. Basso did this by shortening the stays by 5 mm (even while expanding tire clearance) and compensating by moving the fork forward at the same time, while the rider remains centered over the bottom bracket with consistent frame reach. The result? All of this adds up to a more well-rounded gravel bike. As prepared as ever to climb big mountain passes, whether on asphalt or gravel. And more capable of bombing long, steep, loose gravel descents. The new Basso Palta II is truly a more fun gravel bike.

Real Weight Savings?

So far, we haven’t received any official weight claims from Basso about the new Palta II frame or frame set, aside from a vague statement that it employs a more sophisticated layup than the previous Palta, possibly even shedding a few grams. But we do have some real weights to suggest that this claim seems reliable. The full-size L Palta II I rode weighed 9.37 kg with a SRAM Rival eTap AXS 2×12 groupset and a set of Hunt Gravel X-Wide carbon wheels set up tubeless with 40 mm Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M tires (including a front GPS mount and 2 bottle cages). Comparing what’s different from the original Palta build I tested at 9.07 kg without pedals (Palta II build is +150 g for the group, -200 g for wheels, +50 g for mount), I would have expected this new bike to weigh the same. Instead, it weighs 300 g more, which could also be explained by a more integrated cockpit, heavier headset, seatpost, seat clamp, and even fork. Nevertheless, it all comes out quite close, suggesting that the new frame set does indeed weigh the same as before. The Palta II isn’t an ultralight gravel bike, but it has never felt heavy, especially not on this bikepark.

Impressions on the Small Details

Another interesting addition is the new paint job for the Palta II. First, Basso added a completely black option and a new Stone Gray that is essentially the same matte gray as they used in the development tests. But the bike I rode was Poseidon Green. There’s just one color in all the photos here, but it changes almost regardless. The shifting, color-changing paint varies from almost golden or bronze from some perspectives, to a deep forest green when seen in the shadows under the tree canopy, to purple when the light hits it just right. The paint color is obviously a minor technical feature, but it makes the bike look truly stunning in person.

One of the few things I don’t particularly like about the complete bike setup has to do with the new Basso carbon ergo gravel bar, developed specifically for the new integrated bike. The fit of the bar to your hands is fantastic, actually, with subtly teardrop-shaped aerodynamic tops, smaller diameter drops that allow for thick bar tape without getting bulky, and just the right amount of 8° flare in the drops. But in order to route all the cables inside the stem and create a clean-looking setup, there’s no round clamp left next to the stem to attach any accessories, such as a headlight, an alternative GPS mount, or my trusty Quad Lock phone mount (I tried, unsuccessfully, on top). The stem does include a direct bolt-on faceplate mount for a GPS and a small light or camera via the GoPro tabs below, but… for a gravel bike…

FAQs

1. Is the Basso Palta II suitable for all riders?

The Basso Palta II is designed to be more versatile and approachable for a wider range of riders. It provides stability, comfort, and tolerance while maintaining speed and performance.

2. What is the tire clearance of the Basso Palta II?

The Basso Palta II has increased tire clearance, allowing for tires up to 700 x 45 mm or 650 x 2-inch, making it suitable for adventurous gravel riding.

3. Can the Basso Palta II accommodate different drivetrain setups?

Yes, the Basso Palta II is compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains, giving riders the flexibility to choose the setup that suits their riding preferences.

Conclusion

The Basso Palta II is an impressive upgrade to its predecessor, offering increased versatility, comfort, and off-road capability without compromising the fast and agile handling that made it stand out. With its updated features, such as increased tire clearance, integrated cockpit, and lighter carbon construction, the Palta II is a joy to ride on various terrains. Whether you’re tackling tough climbs, navigating gravel sections, or descending with confidence, the Basso Palta II delivers an exhilarating gravel riding experience.

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