Gravel bikes are impressively fast on the road, considering their capabilities on the trails; most modern endurance bikes are now perfectly able to take on a little off-road action. But despite the considerable overlap, there are still areas where the two don’t crossover.
Seeking to remedy that, Polish bike brand Rondo has unveiled the Ratt, an ‘all-road’ machine which has been designed to cover both sides of that Venn diagram – without compromise on either.
Rondo’s ace up its sleeve is the Ratt’s ability to accommodate both wide 650b tyres and skinny 700c ones, with the Vario geometry fork helping to keep the handling accurate for the differing wheel diameters.
But if this sounds a little familiar, that’s because it is.
The Hvrt and the Ruut have both been staples of Rondo’s range for years now – with both using the same variable geometry technology to optimise their use with 650b and 700c tyres.
But these models do stand at quite distinct ends of the gravel-road spectrum. The Hvrt is an aero race bike that’s up for being pressed into moderate gravel duties, whilst the Ruut comes in as a ‘typical’ gravel bike in its 700c guise, with the 650b setup being notably burly.
Enter the Rondo Ratt
The Ratt slots in between those two models. With a carbon frame claimed to weigh just 1,000g in a size 54cm, it’s designed to ride just like an endurance bike on the road.
That is, having a bent towards longer distances and greater comfort, but still up for being pushed hard and fast – multiple victories on 'endurance' bikes at Paris-Roubaix are a case and point that these models don't confine you to only endurance efforts.
Perhaps surprisingly, despite the capacity for comfy wider tyres, Rondo has still put a lot of thought into increasing the passive suspension of the frame – the compliance in key areas. To allow for that bit of extra flex, the carbon layup has been adjusted around the junctions between the chain stays and the seat stays; the seat stays and the chain stays; and the top tube and the seat tube.
For hitting the gravel, Rondo has chosen to optimise around 650b wheels as these make for a much closer match with a 700c road set up. For instance, a 650b x 47mm wheel/tyre combo has an almost identical total diameter to a 700c x 28mm wheel/tyre pairing.
This means that the handling characteristics are kept more similar between the wheelsets. It also means compromises don’t have to be made regarding the geometry and tube shapes – trying to squeeze in a much larger diameter 700c tyre of the same width as the 650b tyres would take some significant changes to the rear end.
On the geometry, the Ratt stacks up as a pretty traditional endurance bike with a slight aggressive edge. In a size 54cm, the reach is 388mm and the stack is 547mm, while looking at the front and rear ends, chainstays of 415mm and head angle of 73 degrees are all quite typical measurements, although all on the faster handling end of the spectrum.
But for extra control when taking the Ratt off road, it’s possible to flip a chip at the fork dropouts to slacken off the head angle to 72 degrees.
In terms of the frame specs, the Ratt is both 1x and 2x compatible and the maximum clearance is 47mm in 650b and up to 38mm in 700c. There are mounts for a full set of front and rear mudguards as well as a cable routing port in the left fork leg for a dynamo cable.
Models and availability
There will be two options available to buy in summer 2022. The cheapest is the CF2, which comes in at €3.599 / £3,399.99 and is equipped with Shimano’s 2x10 GRX 400 series groupset and a Rondo’s own Lit 650b wheels shod with 47mm Vittoria Terreno tyres
Going up a model, there’s the CF1 at €4.499 / £4,299.99 and dressed in Shimano’s 2x11 GRX 800 series groupset, with Rondo X Hunt 650b wheels and Vittoria Terreno Zero tyres, again in a 47mm width.
You can view the bikes over on Rondo’s website, here.
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours (opens in new tab) and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20 (opens in new tab). Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually (opens in new tab), to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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