With the radical frame shape of the carbon model to its unique TwinTip fork, the Rondo Ruut certainly looks plenty different to your average gravel bike.
The interesting fork design’s inserts and twin position axle path mean you can effectively change the geometry of the front end.
By setting the fork in the high position it increases the stack, slackens the head angle and gives more trail, which means more space for bigger tyres and/or fenders. This makes the bike more endurance biased and able to handle rougher terrain with more stability.
The low position offers the flip side. By lowering the cockpit it steepens the head angle and shortens the trail, effectively making the Ruut into more of a race bike — be that on- or off-road.
But who are Rondo and why have they gone gravel?
Rondo (which comes from the Polish word for roundabout) is a new brand from the Polish collective that started out with distribution company 7Anna.
Originally the company brought in some weird and wonderful kit to Europe, such as the massive travel Hannebrink DH fork, but continued to grow by handling premium brands such as Mondraker.
Since then, founder Szymon Kobyliñski has started MTB brand NS (originally North Shore bikes), which builds tough dirt jump hardtails, and NS has gone from strength to strength with FMB icon Sam Pilgrim now riding for the brand.
The collective also has a design team working on Crème bikes, whose retro inspired design for urban machines mixes style and simplicity.
This idea for a gravel bike, Kobyliñski tells us, stemmed from the team’s experience of riding in Poland: “Here we all ride and race as much as we can, but the winters are hard, cold, icy and there’s lots of snow, so it becomes quite dangerous to mix with cars and trucks when training in the winter.
“So we decided we wanted something that we could use on the many gravel roads, tracks and trails throughout the winter. Then we thought, if that’s something we want their must be others who do too.”
For a new start up brand the idea of building a bespoke carbon frame and fork (especially one as complex as this) is daunting. Most smaller outfits would stick to alloy or steel, with the carbon frame coming from a catalogue and an open mold design.
Kobyliñski says “It was a huge undertaking for us, especially as we’ve always built our business within itself, we haven’t had any investors or outside help. The idea was to stay focused by being rider owned. With Rondo though we’ve taken a big risk, just opening a carbon mold tool for a frame like this means €100,000 investment, then you’ve got the fork too.”
The bike had to be sports focused, designed to go fast, and one that could handle itself in the bunch on the road. So the Rondo team quickly decided that it needed to be able to alter the geometry.
“The idea was to have a changeable design, so that we cater for both the racers and the more endurance character, it’s similar to Trek offering both H1 and H2 fit in its frames, we are just trying to offer the same but on the one bike,” says Kobyliñski.
The final design of the carbon Ruut was headed up by industrial designer Jerzy Dabrowski, while all of the graphics were designed by Maciej Ryniewicz, who Kobyliñski describes as Poland’s no.1 graphic designer — Kobyliñsk also tells us that the whole team met through cycling.
That TwinTip fork in numbers
The TwinTip fork design, which switches between the two positions, changes both the handling character and the ride position.
In the higher position you decrease the trail by 13mm, steepen the head angle by half a degree and lower the cockpit by 10mm, adding half a degree to the seat angle. The final change is adding around 6–7mm to the reach.
The frame and fork are designed to take both 700 and 650b wheels, and with a 650 rim the bike can take up to a massive 2.3” tyre front and rear so you should be able to get out into some pretty extreme conditions.
A bike designed to take rubber of this size probably doesn’t need to concern itself with compliance in much of the frame, but as Rondo wants the Ruut to be usable in as many ways as possibly it designed the Ruut frame to move.
For the top tube, the seatstays junction is shifted well in front of the seat tube, and on the carbon frames it is flattened and sculpted to enable plenty of flex.
On the carbon frame the chainstays are shaped and sculpted to provide both tyre clearance and clearance for a single or double ring drivetrain (up to a 52/36). This again adds to the bike’s versatility.
The steel and alloy versions are 1x drivetrain compatible (up to a 44t ring). Kobyliñski explains that “the complex shape of the chainstay, which is shaped in three axis, just isn’t possible for most tubing manufacturers as the machine to form in that way doesn’t feature in their facilities, so we decided that the alloy and steel would be single ring only.”
The Ruut range
The Ruut range starts with the AL, which is made from custom formed 6061 aluminium.
The frame is beautifully finished with smoothed double pass welds and full internal cable routing.
The AL comes with SRAM Apex 1x (40 x 11-42) and hydraulic discs, Rondo’s own 21mm wide rim tubeless-ready wheelset, a custom colour matched Fabric Scoop saddle and Panaracer’s Gravel King skinwall tubeless tyres — in a generous 40c that measure up at 43mm when fitted.
The frame and fork are both equipped with rack and fender mounts, and the AL is priced at £1,599.
Next in line is the Ruut ST version.
This skinny, steel tubed model looks stunning in the flesh and is built from a custom specification set of Tange tubes.
It has the addition of a three sets of bottle bosses, which will give it a bit more bikepacking/touring appeal, alongside the rack, lowrider and fender mounts.
The ST comes with SRAM’s Rival 1 (40 x 11-42), Rival hydraulic brakes, a Fabric Scoop saddle, Rondo flared bar and 40c Gravel Kings like the AL. The ST is priced at £1,999.
Ruut CF1 and CF2
The carbon version comes in two flavours, topped by the Force 1 equipped CF1 and joined by the Rival equipped CF2.
As the carbon frames are significantly lighter, Rondo thinks these are the ones that will be bought up by those with a more competitive focus. So instead of the fat 40c Gravel Kings, both the CF1 and CF2 come with 35c tyres.
The CF1 gets an uprated tubeless-ready wheelset running a superlight version of the alloy rim, which is also a mm slimmer at 20mm. The drivetrain and brakes are all Force 1 and the seatpost is upgraded to an Easton EC90 unit on the CF1. The CF1 also gets an Easton EA70 bar.
The CF1 has a claimed weight of 8.2kg (L), which is pretty light for a bike of this type, and is priced at £3,199.
The CF2 shares the same frame and fork as the CF1, so both are single and double drivetrain compatible with full internal routing for cables, hydraulics, and electronic drivetrain wiring.
The CF2 comes with Rival 1 (40 x 11-42), 35c Gravel Kings and an Easton EA50 post, as well as a Rondo flare bar.
The CF2 is priced at £2,599.
The whole range gets the same full carbon fork with the TwinTip technology.
Kobyliñski also pointed out that because it has designed the graphic and colour schemes on the Ruut to include the stem there will be stock at Rondo dealers for different lengths of stem. So, if you buy a Ruut and need to change the stem according to fit, this can be done free of charge.
Rondo is also offering colour coordinated water bottles aftermarket.