We have a Rondo HVRT CF1 in for testing here at road.cc, and we have time for a quick look while it's out being put through its paces by our man Stu.
Rondo says that its HVRT CF 1 is the “first variable geometry road plus bike in the world”.
'Road plus’ tends to refer to bikes that are designed to tackle rough roads as well as smooth tarmac: pot-holed roads in the back of beyond and the odd gravel track or cobbled section (okay, there probably aren’t too many of those around your way). Other brands use the term ‘all-road', Cervelo says ‘modern road’, and there are various other labels floating around. Rondo says that the HVRT CF 1 has enough clearance for a 700C x 30mm tyre, or a 47mm-wide tyre if you swap to smaller diameter 650B wheels.
Rondo doesn’t see the HVRT as an off-road or gravel bike, though.
“It will work fine on smooth gravel and stuff like that but it's not designed as an all-out off-road bike,” says Rondo. “The whole point of the additional feature that the bike has – which is 650B compatibility – is to allow you to take shortcuts that will get you to your favourite empty road and also let you ride on poor asphalt comfortably.”
What about the variable geometry? If you’ve not come across it before, this is down to Rondo’s Twintip fork with an insert at the bottom of each leg. You can orientate this insert in two different ways to alter the position of the front wheel axle.
“This unique solution lets you adjust your riding position and the handling of the bike,” says Rondo. “Choose between a low position and snappy handling, or a more upright position and relaxed steering.”
Rondo introduced the concept on its Ruut gravel bike back in 2017. When Matt Page reviewed the Rondo Ruut AL1 on off.road.cc earlier in the year he said, “The HI setting puts the bars 10mm closer to the ground – it puts the axle higher in the fork. This steepens the head and seat tube angles by 0.5 degrees too and slightly increases the reach. The effect is a slightly more aggressive, race-orientated position.”
Matt found the difference made to the Ruut AL1 by flipping the insert to be quite subtle, so it’ll be interesting to see what reviewer Stu makes of the HVRT CF 1’s similar system.
Want some numbers? Stu has the 54cm HVRT CF 1 and Rondo says that switching the insert position alters the reach by 7mm, the stack by 5mm, and the fork offset by 5mm too.
With the insert in the HI position the head tube angle is 72.8° and the seat tube angle is 73.3° while in the LO position those figures are 72.1° and 72.6° respectively.
Both the frame and fork are made from carbon-fibre and, unusually for a road plus design, you get many aero features: deep-section tubes and fork legs, a seat tube that is cutaway around the leading edge of the rear wheel, an integrated fork crown, an aero seatpost…
The Hunt wheels are held in place by thru-axles front and rear.
The groupset is Shimano’s second-tier Ultegra. We know from experience that Ultegra performs as well as top-level Dura-Ace and the difference in weight is minimal.
The Rondo HVRT CF1 is priced at £5,500. One way or another, this review is going to be an interesting one because it’s such an unusual bike. We can’t wait to find out what Stu thinks.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.