Rondo is a new brand based in the North of Poland. In a sign of the times, their entry to the market was with a gravel bike. We got the chance to test out the Rondo Ruut AL and headed straight for the hardest terrain we could think of to put it through it’s paces; the Pieniny Mountains.
Words and Images by Max Burgess
Rondo Ruut: Three Flavours
The Rondo Ruut is available in three distinct variations based on frame materials; carbon, steel and aluminium. With each version comes a different appearance based on the behaviour of the material. The most striking being the carbon CF1 & CF2 and their symmetric tube layout that offers a non-standard junction between the seat stays and the seat tube.
The common theme among the models is the innovative front fork that allows for two different riding positions using an oval block that holds the thru-axel. Rondo call it ‘Vario Geo’ and by flipping this block, the whole geometry of the bike is altered by lowering the front end as well as pushing the bottom-bracket slightly lower and further forward.
The Ruut is a bike that truly represents the evolvement of road bikes capable of performing on rougher terrain. The area through Pieniny offers the perfect location to find out what the bike can do with long road sections between great gravel and single track.
The Rondo Ruut AL performed admirably on the road with a lively performance, most likely down to the shorter chain stays. On the gravel, the bike excels with sturdy and capable handling.
Like most bikes of this category, the Ruut was born to get dirty. As we pushed further towards the peak of Magurka, the gravel gradually gave away to muddy single track. This resulted in some mud splattering to have any MTB rider proud. The trail that led across the ridge was a continuing fusion between awe-inspiring views, drool-worthy gravel tracks and hellish mud-baths.
Lunch was the perfect time to reflect on the Rondo Ruut AL and what it has to offer. Pricing through the range starts at €3699 for the highest spec’ed carbon frame, down to the aluminium version that we had to test which comes in at an impressive €1899. The Rondo Ruut AL has a very healthy parts list with such a reasonable price.
Much of the bike is built from Rondo’s aluminium proprietary parts; from the flared handlebars, stem even to the hubs and rims. An Easton EA50 seat post holds the comfortable Fabric Scoop in place, which gives a steady platform to perch your behind on.
The now defacto choice on gravel bikes of a 1x groupset takes the form of Sram’s third-tier Apex 1. A 40t chainring along with Sram’s XD 11-42t cassette means there is plenty of range for even the most testing of ascents. Even though not as smooth as the higher-tier Force 1 groupset, Apex proves more than capable.
The Panaracer Gravel King 40mm tires are an inspired choice. Offering good performance on the road with plenty of grip for the gravel sections. They didn’t quite stand up to the muddiest single track, however, even some MTB’s would have struggled. Moreover, if you are looking for something for rougher conditions, the Ruut has the capability to mount smaller 650b wheels. This offers clearance for RoadPlus tires such as WTBs 47mm Horizon or even 2.1” MTB tires!
Descending back down into the valley with muddy bikes and feet, we got back to the pristine tarmacked roads. Again we marvelled at how well the Rondo Ruut AL can handle itself on multiple surfaces. Before our return home, a quick bathing for both bike and shoes in the waterfall as we crossed the border back into Poland.
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