After a week of slightly disappointing new bike releases, the 2019 Diamante is a big relief.
A tough act to follow
I’ve always had a soft spot for the previous Diamante. It marked a big step forwards for the brand when it was released, as they really upped their game from the previous range to make some bikes that appeared truly high-end. But what they really got right was the look of the bike – specifically the proportions.
This was in part because of their unique design at the top tube/head tube junction, where the stem could be partly recessed into the head tube. This was combined with an aggressive long and low position to create a shape that made many of the offerings from the big brands look gawky in comparison – especially in the larger sizes.
Too much of a good thing?
Several new bikes have been revealed recently, all claiming to be stiffer, more aerodynamic, lighter, more compliant, and generally better in every way. They all show off the latest technology, they all make you go faster than ever before, and they all leave me cold.
That shouldn’t be the case, since they tick a lot of boxes for me. I appreciate the benefit of aerodynamics, and really like disc brakes. I’m certainly not a luddite, and have no problems with the big brands. It just seems that design has stagnated a little.
Enter the new Diamante
The Diamante occupies and interesting place. Basso make an aero bike (the Diamante S.V.), so there’s no real pressure for this to make big sacrifices for aerodynamics. They also don’t seem very interested in making an ultra-light climber’s bike. The aim of the Diamante seems to be to make the best bike to ride.
By the looks of it, Basso’s idea of a ‘good ride’ is a pretty spirited affair, because what they’ve created has a lot of the ideals of the race bikes from the pre-‘aero’ era. What’s more, it’s still got those aggressive proportions, helped out by the sunken stem. With boasts about how the new bike is stiffer than the old one just about everywhere it matters, the new Diamante makes no bones about what you’re supposed to do with it.
Moving with the times
So what has changed with the new generation of Diamante? Well you can have discs, for a start. There’s also now clearance for 28mm tyres – both big ticks on the checklist for me. They’ve also changed the tube shapes from the previous edition for a smoother shape, which I’m not against. Finally, the seatpost has lost some bulk, and the clamp updated.
The hefty Microtech stem that everyone liked is still there, and is also available in an integrated bar/stem option. Just like before, if the head tube is a little short, you can add a spacer which also raises the upper headset bearing, and looks a bit better than a regular spacer stack.
Last of a dying breed
The new Diamante is now almost in a class of its own – and mostly because other brands have lost interest. The idea of a bike that’s created to look great and to be great to ride fast seems to have fallen out of fashion, perhaps with the exception of the Colnago C64 (although the loss of the ‘Traditional’ geometry option is a huge shame). While brands seem to have picked up on our desire to enjoy bike riding, they seem to have lost touch with the idea that we might enjoy riding fast on a bike that looks cool just as much as we enjoy the kind of rides implied by ‘endurance’ or ‘gravel’ bikes.
Among this week’s releases, the Diamante should have fallen by the wayside. The big brands bringing out new flagship models dwarf Basso in terms of familiarity and marketing budgets. However, these new releases have really brought the Diamante into relief. I’ve no idea how many watts it’ll save me while coasting downhill, it doesn’t have an integrated feed box, and it doesn’t have a bar/stem combo that’ll hide my cables. But this bike makes me stop and think about tearing up the roads between sleepy towns on the continent, and none of the others really hold my attention for long at all.