Basso Venta review

Handmade Italian endurance machine

BikeRadar score4/5

Basso bikes are lesser known in the UK next to rival Italian brands, the Bianchis, Pinarellos, Colnagos and Wiliers of this world. The 40-year-old company has always prided itself on its Italian-made bikes since Alcide Basso’s original creations to the company's latest handmade-in-Italy carbon creations.

The Basso Venta is based around classic Italian racing geometry, with a steep 73.5-degree head angle, 73-degree seat angle and a tight back end of 404mm chainstays (with a cutaway in the seat tube to enable the rear wheel to be tucked in nice and tightly). The 391mm reach and 600mm stack on our 58cm test model puts you in a fairly aggressive ride position, but one that’s also not overtly so.

This means that the ride position is something you can live with day-to-day, though you’ll also need to feel comfortable with the nature of the bike and its whip-like responses on the road. The Venta is as surprising as it is understated in its finish.

The tight wheelbase and snappy steering geometry immediately put you in mind of a thoroughbred racer, but the subtle compliance in the chassis (especially in the fork) adds a layer that subdues road noise without making you feel isolated from the road itself.

It's very much a bike that you have to keep your wits about you when onboard, with its exciting combination of the lightness in the bike as a whole and the lightness of touch it takes to switch direction quickly.

Perhaps going some way to explain the Venta’s enticing blend of agility and ride quality is that Basso’s engineers told us they worked extensively on the material selection and orientation of the fibres to dial in some compliance in the frame, in order to open up the race-shaped focus of the geometry and add leanings towards more non-competitive endurance riding.

The Venta gives a light, lively ride with whip-like responses
The Venta gives a light, lively ride with whip-like responses

Aside from handling the construction itself at its Italian base, Basso also manufactures its own wheels in Italy under the Microtech brand.

The MCT38 35mm-deep alloy clinchers fitted here use beautifully smooth hubs, mating to the rims via Sapim spokes (16 front/24 rear). The rim itself is mid-width (with a 15mm internal dimension) and offers some nod to aero with its blunted-edge V-section. At 1,700g a pair they’re reasonably light for a bike at this price.

The Basso Venta feels most at home when sprinting or cornering hard

The complete Ultegra groupset including cranks and brakes is very welcome on a bike under £2,000, and so is the perfectly pitched all-rounder gearing of 50/34t, 11-28t.

The remaining parts (also from sister brand Microtech) are all good and solid-performing. The Microtech logos do look a little dated, but the design work underneath is certainly bang up-to-date, with the nicely compacted drop to the bars and stiff stem up front being particular highlights.

The overall swift and responsive ride makes the Venta a great value choice for budding racers, or those who prefer their riding in shorter, faster blasts rather than epic days out.

The Basso Venta feels most at home when sprinting or cornering hard – on longer rides you do get the feeling you're having to put in a little more effort to keep on pace, so it's certainly more Usain Bolt than Mo Farah in that respect.

All this is wrapped up in a reserved design, rather than the usual flamboyance we’d expect from an Italian thoroughbred.

Basso Venta specifications

  • Weight: 7.8kg (58cm)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Gears: Shimano Ultegra 50/34t, 11-28t
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheels: Microtech MCT38
  • Tyres: Michelin Dynamic 25c
  • Stem: Microtech
  • Bar: Microtech compact alloy
  • Seatpost: Microtech alu
  • Saddle: Selle San Marco Era

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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