Rondo has nailed the potential versatility of a gravel bike with its smart geo adjustment system
Buy if, You're looking for a bike that can do pretty much everything a drop-bar bike could feasibly be expected to do
Pros: Super versatile, great riding gravel bike
Cons: Losing the brake adaptor would be a pain, I'd like a dropper option too
The Rondo Ruut is one of the few drop-barred bikes on the market with adjustable geometry. A simple flip-chip in the fork adjusts the gravel orientated bike from an aggressive road-race like stance to one which is more relaxed. At the same time, there’s easily room for 700x40c tyres, while 650bx2.1in rubber can also be squeezed in. This makes it one of the most versatile ‘all-road’ or gravel bikes on the market.
The Rondo Ruut CF1 is one of our key bikes for 2018. We’ve collated eleven bikes that we believe you should know about in the coming year. Some are super bikes, while others might display great value for money, but they all have one thing in common — they’re all important bikes that show how incredibly varied road and mountain biking is today.
The angled chip, located at the fork’s dropout, moves the wheel in relation to the frame, which changes a number of facets of the frame’s geometry to give the two distinct flavours of ride.
The Hi setting is more relaxed — better for those longer, cruisier days in the saddle, or arguably on more technical terrain. The Low setting is more aggressive, ideal for gravel racing or cyclocross. Stick some proper skinny rubber on there and Rondo says it’ll be perfectly happy on the road too.
Flip this and your bike transforms into a different beastBen Healy / Immediate Media
In the Hi position, the Large sized bike has a 582mm stack height, 391mm reach, 71.5-degree head angle and a 70mm bottom bracket (BB) drop. By flipping the chip you get the Low position. This has a lower 572mm stack, longer 397mm reach, 72-degree head angle and lower BB thanks to a drop of 74mm.
Constants include the 560mm seat tube, 160mm head tube and 420mm chainstays.
The hidden change is the adjustment in the fork’s trail figure. In the Low setting it’s 13mm shorter than the Hi, which makes it more reactive and race-like. In its Hi setting the increased trail makes the bike more stable and relaxed to ride.
The CF1 model has a carbon fibre frame with a relatively distinctive silhouette. The seatstays look to extend past the seat tube junction into the kink with the top tube and are said to improve vertical compliance on rougher terrain and comfort. Plus there are asymmetric dropped chainstays to allow for a shorter back end with decent tyre clearance.
The funky top tube / seatstay junction splits opinionBen Healy / Immediate Media
Rondo Ruut CF1 kit
Rondo offers its Ruut in a number of different iterations, including alloy and steel framed versions, and as a frame/fork only package. The CF1 is its top level carbon fibre bike though, and it’s fitted with decent, if not super, high-end kit.
Increasingly 1-x drivetrains are seen on gravel orientated bikes thanks to the simplicity they offer and the relatively wide range of gears available from bigger cassettes. The CF1 is equipped with a SRAM Force groupset with a 40t ring up front and a 10-42t cassette, giving a 420 percent gear range.
SRAM Force gears give a decent rangeBen Healy / Immediate Media
Given the bike is designed for roads and trails with variable surfaces, it’s also no surprise to see disc brakes — SRAM Force again with 160mm rotors for predictable, powerful stopping.
Rondo’s carbon bolt-thru fork (the frame is also bolt-thru) holds its own alloy wheels, with a 20mm internal width, wrapped in Panaracer Gravel King SK 40c tyres, which have a reasonably, if not overly, aggressive tread pattern.
Panaracer rubber impressed meBen Healy / Immediate Media
The finishing kit comes from Easton and Fabric, with an alloy bar and carbon post, and the popular Scoop saddle. Rondo supply the 100mm stem (though the Small gets a 90mm version).
Rondo Ruut CF1 ride impression
The Rondo Ruut out on the mountain roads and trails of Peille in the South of France
The Polish company’s CF1 carbon frame is designed with a flattened and kinked top tube which smooths out ruts and bumps. While the 40c tyres aren’t the widest I’ve seen on gravel bikes, there’s a definite damping effect through to the saddle, making it a comfortable bike to ride on a wide range of uneven surfaces.
On smoother roads the Panaracer rubber has a close enough tread to keep the wheels running fast, so while it’s not race-bike speedy, I reckon it’ll hold its own on most ride-outs, especially when dropped into the more aggressive Lo position. It’s one of the few gravel bikes that don’t feel like a compromise in these situations.
Rondo’s carbon fork is stiff and has loads of room for chunky tyresBen Healy / Immediate Media
The tyres were equally impressive when I took them on to more demanding terrain too. They have both super-supple skinwalls and pretty tenacious grip despite not having the most gnarly of tread, which gave confidence on both slippery cobbles and in deeper sections of mud.
The frame’s compliance isn’t at the expense of pedalling competence though, and the 420mm chainstays keep things nice and snappy. Where there is a slight disconnect is between the comfort of the frame and the stiffness of the fork. The stiffer fork certainly highlights the comfort of the frame (given the same rims are used front and back, and the tyre pressures can be equalised).
Riding the Rondo highlights how versatile gravel bikes can beBen Healy / Immediate Media
I’m a fan of single ring drivetrains on gravel bikes as there’s less requirement to push the chain from ring to ring and it keeps life a lot simpler. You certainly use the full range of the cassette though.
SRAM has been developing its single ring drivetrains on the MTB side of things for years now, and has the tech pretty much sorted. The chain rarely drops thanks to the clutch in the mech and the alternating thick and thin teeth on the chainring — regardless of how rowdy you can get the bike to go.
Over the length of a truly grim ride it’s inevitable that the transmission starts to complain, but I feel that this would only be exacerbated by a multi-ringed set up.
Rondo’s own wheels performed well on testBen Healy / Immediate Media
Changing the geometry makes a marked difference to the way the bike handles.
In the more racey Low setting the bike feels very similar to a relatively aggressive endurance road bike on tarmac. Off road, it’s still very rideable in this setting and works well on forestry roads and long, fast sections of dirt.
When things get a little more choppy though, or if you’re descending fast on loose roads, I found that the slacker, higher setting calmed the bike down enough to add that extra bit of confidence needed here as you soon find the limit of the Low setting when things get technical.
In the Hi setting the bike is a comfortable day-long cruiser of a bike on more relaxed terrain and would suit those who want to chuck on a frame and saddle bag and head into the hills for a day or two.
Plenty of mud room out backBen Healy / Immediate Media
Changing the chip requires you to also add or remove a brake caliper spacer, and losing this would mean the bike would not go in to the Low setting. It’s not a complex process and could be done on the trail, but I suspect most riders will change it before a ride and possibly with a wheel change, if desired.
The ability to fit 650b wheels with 2in-plus tyres adds another dimension of comfort and off-road potential, and should be a consideration for those who will be looking to take the Ruut on even more varied terrain.
I’d also like to explore adding a short-travel dropper seatpost to really make the most of the bike’s capability.
Riding since the age of 13, Technical Editor Tom has ridden hundreds of bikes over the past few years, from aero race bikes to EWS-ready enduro rigs, with a fair few others in between. Most likely found in the woods practicing his scandi-flicks.