The Rondo HVRT seemingly came from nowhere to attain our coveted Bike of the Year crown last year.
Personally, I was completely blown away by the HVRT’s wonderful on-road ride performance and its ability to alter the way it handles by flipping a chip in the fork that switches between an aggressive, fast, aero road bike to something with a more comfortable ride position.
And it seems Rondo has been doing something right because Cervélo with its new A-series, GT with the latest Grade and Cinelli with the King Zydeco all have their own take on adjustable fork dropouts.
Rondo HVRT CF0 specification
Shimano’s mechanical Dura-Ace has performed flawlessly so far. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The HVRT (high-velocity-rough-terrain) CF0 is Rondo’s range-topping model and comes with mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace, Special Edition Hunt x Rondo 50mm deep 700c carbon wheels, Fabric’s featherweight ALM saddle, an aero-shaped carbon bar from Easton and a dedicated Rondo stem and aero-seatpost with a clever cut-out to fit a rear light easily.
Weight: 7.9kg (XL/59cm – 700c), 8.77kg (XL/59cm – 650b)
Frame: EPS carbon superlight
Fork: Twin-tip carbon
Gears: Shimano Dura-Ace, 52/36, 11-28
Wheels: Hunt x Rondo 50 aero tubeless-ready, Hunt x Rondo Asymmetric 650b aluminium tubeless-ready
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic disc with Ice Tech rotors
Bar: Easton EC70 Aero carbon bar
Seatpost: Rondo aero carbon seatpost
Tyres: Panaracer Race C Evo classic 25mm 700c, WTB Horizon 47c 650b
Saddle: Fabric ALM
Pedals: Shimano PDM-530
RRP: £5599.99 + £271.15 (650b wheels)
Rondo HVRT CF geometry
The twin-tip fork enables you to alter the ride position of the bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Model size: 59cm
Head angle: Hi axle position – 73.8 / Lo axle position – 73.1
Seat angle: Hi axle position – 73.3 / Lo axle position – 72.6
Reach: Hi axle position – 407mm / Lo axle position – 400mm
Stack: Hi axle position – 600mm / Lo axle position – 605mm
Fork offset: Hi axle position – 45mm / Lo axle position – 40mm
Chainstay length: Hi axle position – 408mm / Lo axle position – 410mm
Why did I choose this bike?
I’ve been spending plenty of time with the HVRT in full-on gravel trim. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
It seems pretty obvious to want to spend as much time as possible on the bike that took our coveted Bike of the Year title for 2019. Plus, I enjoyed my time on the bike so much that I really wanted to see how it fared long-term.
This selfishly included a long-term plan to buy the bike – I just needed to convince my better half and holder of the purse strings that I really need yet another bike in my stable, and this one could in fact be a replacement for more than one bike (yeah, right…).
Rondo HVRT CF0 initial setup
The cable routing on the CF0 is simple compared to some of the latest fully-integrated designs. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The main innovation on the HRVT’s clever fork is the twin-tip dropout. This is basically an oval shaped insert that you can ‘flip’ between two positions, which alters the stack, reach, head angle, seat angle and fork offset.
In its high axle (race position) my 59cm test bike has a stack just shy of 600mm, a long 407mm reach, a steep 73.8-degree head angle and 73.3-degree seat with a 45mm fork offset.
The seatpost is a dedicated design, and the captive clamp hasn’t let the post slip yet. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
In the low axle position, the stack rises to 605mm and the reach comes down to 400mm, the head angle relaxes to 73 degrees because the fork effectively increases its length to 380mm (from 370mm), and the seat angle measures 72 degrees. The fork offset then becomes 40mm, so initial setup is a choice between race or relaxed, and that’s before you even get to the dual-wheel sizes.
Rondo HVRT CF0 ride impressions
The HVRT’s chameleon-like character is brilliant. In its high/race position it’s an aggressive bike. The stiff frame is super-responsive and the lightweight, but very aero, Hunt x Rondo wheels mean it holds speed when it gets it.
It is a bit firmer than some similar bikes, but I think that’s down to the relatively slender 25c Panaracer tyres. The bike warrants something bigger and there’s certainly room for them here.
In its racy road trim the HVRT is a fast, agile and very capable bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
In the low/endurance position it has pretty much the same geometry as my old Cannondale Synapse (2014’s Bike of the Year), so feels remarkably familiar and comfortable to ride.
When you switch in the 650b wheels and massive 47c tyres it’s a superb all-road beast, and the WTB Horizons are basically slick so work brilliantly on the road too, especially when descending where you can get lean angles way beyond what you’d think possible.
I’ve spent plenty of time on this bike so far and I’m still loving it every chance I have to get out on it.
Rondo HVRT CF0 upgrades
Since taking the Rondo on as a long-term bike I’ve pretty much kept it standard, only adding a couple of bottle cages and a Garmin mount.
On a bike a penny shy of six grand it’s not likely you’ll need to upgrade anything, and that’s just what I’ve found.
The bike continues to impress on the road, its solidity under sprinting inputs is so impressive and the rapid handling makes it a joy to descend on.
I’m not convinced if the brake fairing on the HVRT is any more aero than a standard fork, but it looks good. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
My other major confession is just how much time the HVRT spends in its gravel trim with the discounted 650b wheels from Hunt in place.
Out of the near 800 miles I’ve put in on the HVRT so far, more than two-thirds have been on rough stuff. Part of that is because I’m enjoying exploring the tracks and trails in my immediate area more and more, and also that the almost slick WTB Horizons feel so good on the road.
Their huge 47c volume smooths out pretty much anything and the big round profile has grip for days, so the lean angles you can get cornering on it are as much as I dare, and masses of fun too.
For my more gravel-based adventuring I switch the pedals for some Shimano ‘trail’ specific platform SPD PDM-530’s.
These are somewhat of a bargain and share the same shape as the legendary M8020 XT pedal, but thanks to cheaper bearings, fittings and axles (which have all proven hard wearing come rain or shine) they retail for just £40 (much cheaper than the M8020’s £94.99 RRP). You can find them easily online for nigh-on half that too, which has to be considered one of cycling’s best value components.
I’m looking to change up the alloy Hunt wheels for their carbon version and go-fully tubeless in both 650 and 700c guise to see if I can drop a few grams from the overall weight of the bike. So stay tuned!