RONDO is a polish brand that produces particularly good looking road and gravel bikes. But they are not only known for their sleek designs. Their innovative « adjustable geometry » concept can definitely keep you talking and theorizing for a while.
In this review I got the help of my ex-colleague, professional bicycle mechanic and experienced rider Floran. He shared his own experience and thoughts on the RONDO RUUT AL.
The adjustable geometry is a particular feature that allows you to attach the axle of the front wheel in two different heights. One position brings the front of the bike slightly higher which makes for a more comfortable position, the opposite would bring the front end lower creating a more agressive position.
How noticeable is the geometry change?
For me, the change of geometry is quite significant, when the front end is higher, it feels like a proper gravel bike, putting less stress on the neck, the shoulders and the wrists. This position is more suitable for long distances.
How often do you change the geometry ? And how long does it take to do the switch ?
I actually don’t change it often, I got used to the higher position (meaning slightly more upright body position, the position of the wheel itself is actually lower) that’s more suited for what I do: Gravel rides, trips, commuting and some road cycling. For all these types of cycling the bike is like a swiss knife for me (I’m not a purist of any of these discipline)
It only takes me a few minutes to flip the "flip chip".
Geometry changing step by step:
take the wheel off
unscrew the « flip chip » flip it and re-screw it
set the brake caliper for the new position, either with or without adapter
put the wheel back on
fine tune caliper adjustment
Where does RUUT AL1 shows its maximum potential ?
I think it's the versatility. The performance is good on climbs, flats, gravel, asphalt, with a 20kg load or unpacked. I always get the feeling of moving fast.
Any downsides so far ?
Not really a big downside. Only one detail: the nice looking oil-slick paint on the hubs is not very resistant, specially beside the disc brakes. It’s probably the heat coming from the disc that has some slight damaging effect on the paint.
Are there any changes you would like to do ?
Honestly, I bought the bike like that and I’m happy with the way it is. The position is perfect: the stem’s length and the handlebar width. The group-set and brake are very reliable.
I’ve done a few minor changes like polishing the crankset and changing the seat post for a Thompson, those changes were mostly aesthetic. I would also like to buy a second set of wheels, to have a fast setup and a gravel/trips set up.
How about the fit ?
I’m 1.8m tall (5’11inch) and the bike is size M. The fit is perfect.
The Rondo RUUT AL is generous in tire clearance, it allows for 45mm width on a 700c diameter, and for 2.2inch on a 27.5inch diameter (622-45, 584-57)
The carbon fork is provided with the famous flip-chip for the change in head angle and fork trail. This model has one rack mount but the 2021 model comes with triple fork mounts, for "anything cages" and bikepacking setups.
A compact geometry
In order to remain compact, even when increasing the tire clearance, Rondo has came out with innovative solutions for the gravel cycling world. The "carved" seat tube is more often seen on time trial bikes, the goal being to reduce the chain-stay length but leaving plenty of room for wide tires. The asymmetric chain-stay opens wide very close to the bottom bracket to allow for tire clearance while remaining compact. The drive train side of the chain-stay plunges avoiding any interference with the chainring.
Many thanks to Floran for sharing all this valuable knowledge and real feedback on this really cool bike !