First Look: Rondo RUUT AL
New brand Rondo, launched into the gravel market this summer with four brand new bikes complete with classy design, unique forks and a choice of materials. Rondo are no stranger to the bike market - they are the people behind NS Bikes – this time they wanted to create a new brand that fitted how they ride and where.
Rondo wanted to produce a drop-handle-barred bike that could be ridden race fast but that was also suitable for commuting, backpacking and social rides. Rondo launched the bikes a little before Eurobike this summer but got a real boost when the Eurobike judges awarded the RUUT CF1 a Gold award for its design. And we would agree, the aesthetics are awesome and the frame design is unusual on the CF1 and 2 at least. We've got the Ruut Al in for test along with its more ‘normal’ frame design, although the dropped chainstay design has kept its place.
In order for the bike to have a split personality for all categories of riding, Rondo created a fork dropout called Twin Tip, and it’s the most intriguing part of this design from this new startup company from Poland. They designed a fork that allows them to change the axle height and therefore the head angle, seatpost angle, bar height and the trail, thus changing the bikes’ characteristics with just a set of allen keys. Simply choose from the high position and a slacker bike with an endurance bias and the low position giving a steeper head angle and a racier feel.
The fork with its Twin Tip flip chip is the most attention seeking part of the design and whilst unusual for a gravel bike fork it should be more familiar to many mountain bikers with flip chips in their suspension links in order to adjust the travel or feel of the bike.
It’s a simple solution and apparently easy to change. The axle is removed as are the chips and neatly refitted back into the forks in the opposite position, job done; well almost. You now need to remove the brake mount adaptor or add it depending on which way you are flipping. Failure to do this will result in non-functioning brakes and or bent rotors - so best not to lose the adaptor then.
The AL is finished in what, Kona back in 1996 called Scab Red and it’s a pretty perfect name for what is semi-matt dark red colour for the main frame, it works well with off grey and pink highlights of the forks, although the AL doesn't get the matching stem that other bikes in the range do.
The wheels or rather the front hub deserves a special mention, not for having silky smooth sealed bearings, they all do these days, but for being in what the BMX market call Oil Slick finish. Strangely rather like an oil slick in water. Rondo has further worked their design magic to add a small group of 4 matching spokes around the valve hole. They have also taken a lead from what I would have thought of as an ‘old boy’ trick (no offence and much respect) by placing a small band loosely around the hub body which permanently keeps your hub looking shiny. It's a nice touch.
The rims are of course colour coded with some of the highlight accents on the frame and shod with fairly huge 700x43c Panaracer Gravel Kings. They are certainly large volume and look impressively capable on straight line Gravel so it will be interesting to see how they perform across variable terrain.
Finishing kit is pretty normal and good quality with a Charge spoon, and own brand bar, stem and seatpost doing the contact points. Groupset duties are mostly provided by SRAM with APEX 1 HRD with Gear set up being 42T chainring mating with a 11-42T Sunrace cassette. It’s also worth noting that Rondo really do want you to try a bit of everything on this bike with mudguard and rack mounts included allowing for year round riding and carrying capabilities. Our Rondo Ruut AL comes with all of the above for £1600.
We’re really looking forward to using this bike on our commute and taking it out on the Salisbury Plain for an adventure before hitting a bit of old school singletrack. We'll be flipping back and forth to see how that fork Twin Tip switcheroo changes the handling and our enjoyment.
To have a look the rest of the range click here - www.rondo.cc