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Rondo Ruut CF2 review

9 Apr 2020
Verdict:

The Rondo Ruut is an innovative step forward in versatility and multi-terrain riding, though will suit gravel fans more than road riders

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
The TwinTip fork is a great innovation that makes a noticeable difference • Very good handling off-road • Great balance of stiffness and comfort
Against 
Slightly pricey in this spec • Suited more to gravel than road riding

Road riding traditionalists will be weeping into their espressos. Where once it was all about svelte tubes, skinny tyres and rim brakes, now the notion of road cycling has evolved to the point where new bikes sport disc brakes, clearance for fat tyres and a rugged off-road sensibility.

The Rondo Ruut is the perfect embodiment of this change. It includes numerous off-road elements, including a 1x groupset, dropped drive-side chainstay so that it can use 650b wheels with 2.1in tyres, and it comes with full mudguard and pannier mounts. Yet the company still considers it a thoroughbred racer.

‘The bike has a sporty, fast character so I would definitely say it’s a racing machine,’ says Rondo brand manager Tomasz Cybula, adding, ‘I wouldn’t consider it a typical adventure bike. That one is coming soon.’

The idea of a bike more geared to adventure than this has our imagination running wild. So what exactly is the Rondo Ruut – a hardy off-roader or nippy racer?

Buy from Wiggle for £2,429.99

Cybula suggests that it can be both thanks to its variable geometry. The TwinTip fork has a dropout insert that can be flipped to change the ride characteristics, an innovation that won the bike the Eurobike Gold Winner award.

Cybula claims he came up with the idea ‘while preparing breakfast on a Saturday morning’, he says. ‘We were considering whether to design and build a race-focussed bike or a more relaxed, more versatile one. Then we had the idea of building both in one bike.’

In principle, doing so is quite straightforward. Flipping the dropout insert changes the height and angle of the front end. In ‘race’ position the head tube angle is increased (relatively speaking), the trail is reduced, the wheelbase shortened and the riding position lowered for a slightly lower, racier set-up.

Conversely, when the dropout insert is flipped, the angles become slacker and the riding position more relaxed for an endurance-focussed ride.

In practice, I was quite shocked at how much difference a few millimeters of change in the fork made. Switching to ‘race’ mode, the bike indisputably took on a more aggressive and responsive character, aided by the lower position.

That was far more suited to me, as most of my riding is on hard-packed paths and bridleways, rather than loose trails.

Changing the dropout is a little more hassle than it looks, though. Mainly that’s because it affects the position of the disc brake calliper relative to the rotor, requiring a spacer to be fitted behind the calliper mount.

It’s a little more fuss than I’d like.

In truth, I have reservations as to whether most riders would make the switch regularly. I expect many may choose a position and stick with it, but Cybula argues to the contrary.

‘Our feedback is that riders are using it,’ he says. ‘Personally, I regularly change the position accordingly to use or terrain.’

Buy from Wiggle for £2,429.99

Ruuts in the road

The Ruut CF2 is a lot of bike. With its 35mm tyres, high top tube, angular curves and 9kg weight it’s on the bulky, ostentatious side. Some of my riding friends called it ugly; some thought it was perfectly on-trend.

In terms of looks, this is far removed from the subtle charm of a racy road bike. In its more aggressive geometry, however, it does feel like a road bike through and through.

On normal road rides the Ruut had a certain racy character at heart, encouraging me to  sprint for signposts and haul myself up steep road climbs. It is quite hefty despite its carbon frame, though, and that did take its toll on longer rides.

I would have preferred a lighter set of wheels, too. The alloy Rondo own-brand wheels are suitably bulletproof, but just a little overbuilt for the road. Off-road, however, I was really impressed with the Ruut’s performance.

On the gravel tracks of the New Forest and Surrey, the bike was ideal. First there’s the Sram Rival 1x groupset, which has a 10-42t cassette married to a 40t chainring.

That’s a huge range of gears, with an easiest gear equivalent to a compact groupset with a 38t rear sprocket. It allowed me to climb up incredibly steep inclines, even ones strewn with rocks.

The Ruut’s seat tube/top tube junction design seemed to fulfil its purpose of dissipating bumps and impacts to the saddle. The rear end of the bike was remarkably smooth, and it meant that with 35mm tyres the Rondo felt the same as other gravel bikes I’ve ridden recently that have sported 38mm tyres – and some even wider than that.

I was left thinking that the Ruut would be perfectly suited to those who predominantly ride gravel or trails. It would be a capable partner for the likes of the Dirty Reiver or Rainmaker Rollercoaster gravel sportives where speed off-road is a factor.

But at the same time it’s a little too committed to off-road to really offer enough on the road for anyone who hopes this might be a one-bike-fits-all solution, even with its switchable geometry.

Your money pays

The model I tested was the CF2, which is the third peg down for the Ruut. I suspect that had I trialled the flagship CF0 – with its upgraded spec and pricetag of £5,299 – I may have found that it could juggle the mixed demands of road and off-road a little better, thanks to lighter, nippier wheels.

At a penny under £2,700, the CF2 is certainly the best value in the range, but with an increasing number of well-appointed, competitively priced gravel bikes emerging onto the market, it does seem a touch on the expensive side.

Ribble’s carbon CGR, for example, comes with Sram Rival for a full £700 less than the Ruut. Of course, the bike does showcase some impressive innovations and unique off-road prowess, but consumers will have to decide whether that is worth the premium.

There’s no doubting, though, that the Rondo Ruut CF2 is an advanced, intelligent and thoroughly fun bike if your appetite for riding extends beyond the tarmac.

Buy from Wiggle for £2,429.99

Spec

Frame Rondo Ruut CF2
Groupset Sram Rival 1
Brakes Sram Rival 1
Chainset Sram Rival 1
Cassette Sram XG1150 10-42t cassette
Bars Rondo Flare 
Stem Zipp Service Course SL
Seatpost Easton EA50 
Saddle Fabric Scoop Flat
Wheels Rondo Superlight, Panaracer Gravel King SK 35mm tyres
Weight 9.1kg (large)
Contact hotlines-uk.com
Price: 
£2,699.99