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Rondo HVRT CF1 2021

7
£5,399.00

VERDICT:

7
10
An impressive race bike that delivers on speed and comfort, although I'm not sure how much TwinTip really adds
Excellent stiffness levels
Brilliant wheels give big aero gains
Wide tyre clearance, especially with 650b
Expensive for the spec
Weight: 
8,360g

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The Rondo HVRT CF1 is an incredibly fast and stiff road machine that, thanks to its tweakable geometry, can be set for aggressive riding or backed off a touch for longer, more epic jaunts. Comfort levels are good too, plus you get decent tyre clearances. A look at the spec list does make you query the price, though.

The TwinTip carbon fibre fork gives the HVRT variable geometry, by way of adaptors that adjust the thru-axle's position to either HI or LO, for what's effectively two types of bike. I'll go into it in a bit more detail in a moment.

I spent the majority of the test in the HI setting – the most aggressive one – which means the HVRT behaves very much like a race bike.

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Its frame is stiff, especially around the bottom bracket, and the whole thing feels very tight and responsive. Set up in the HI mode the Rondo is one of those bikes that just eggs you on to ride a bit harder and a bit faster.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - riding 5.jpg

Climbing hard out of the saddle sees you well rewarded for your efforts, as there is no noticeable flex either from the frame and fork, or from the components (such as the Easton carbon handlebar or the deep section wheels).

At 8.36kg on our scales it's no lightweight, but it doesn't behave like a heavy bike either.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - riding 2.jpg

The tautness of the build also pays dividends on the descents, where the HVRT feels very confident in the bends – even at very high speeds. That extra weight gives it a planted feel which helps, especially as the firmness of the frame can see the bike bounce around a little on broken surfaces.

Also the steering is quick, but not overly so, which gives added confidence in the bends.

All this stiffness doesn't result in an uncomfortable ride, though. Even with the 25mm tyres pumped up hard there is still enough forgiveness in the frameset to avoid it becoming tiresome on long rides, and the Rondo gives good levels of feedback.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - riding 3.jpg

It's on the flat where the HVRT really comes into its own. Not only do the frame and fork have plenty of aero styling cues, but the CF1 wears Hunt's Carbon Limitless super wide, deep-section rims.

When I tested Hunt's fully built 48 Limitless Aero Disc wheels I was absolutely blown away by their performance, both for speed and stiffness. They really suit the riding style of the HVRT, and you can cover a lot of ground for what feels like not much effort.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - rim and tyre.jpg

Switching the TwinTip dropouts over to LO changes the dynamics of the Rondo. Front end height is increased, the head angle slackens off, and you get a longer trail figure.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - front disc brake.jpg

It doesn't make a huge difference, to be perfectly honest, but it is noticeable. The handling calms down a little and the higher front obviously gives a slightly more comfortable position, especially on longer rides.

TwinTip and the geometry

Switching between the HI and LO settings is pretty straightforward and only takes a few minutes, so it's not too much of a faff if you want to change the settings for a big ride and then back again when you get home.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - fork.jpg

Our 54cm review model has a 144mm head tube 530mm seat tube length, and 408mm chainstays. Obviously, these don't change, but lots of other measurements do.

In the LO setting the Rondo has a head angle of 72.1°, an effective top tube of 551mm, a seat angle of 72.6° and a fork offset of 40mm. Bottom bracket drop is 67mm, while the stack and reach are 551mm and 378mm respectively.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - seat stays 2.jpg

Switch the tabs to the HI setting and this changes to a head angle of 72.8°, 550mm effective top tube length, a seat angle of 73.3° and a fork offset of 45mm. The bottom bracket drop becomes 72mm, while the stack and reach are 548mm and 385mm respectively.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - top tube.jpg

The HVRT is available in four sizes, with effective top tube lengths of 532mm to 589mm (LO setting).

Frame and fork

The full carbon frame is obviously designed with aerodynamics in mind, which you can see from the large-section tube shapes throughout. The fork is integrated with the bottom of the head and down tubes, while the seat tube is sculpted around the rear wheel.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - front mech.jpg

The whole frame flows nicely in my opinion, and touches like the internal seatpost clamp give a very clean, smooth look – although the HVRT lacks the fully internal front-end cable/hose routing we're now seeing on a lot of top-end bikes.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - head tube badge.jpg

Rondo has gone for a press-fit bottom bracket, and dropped the driveside chainstay to increase tyre clearance. The HVRT takes 700c tyres up to 30mm wide, or 47mm tyres on 650b, which certainly opens up your options away from the roads.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - bottom bracket.jpg

The fork is full carbon fibre as you'd except at this price, and has a fin that shelters the disc caliper. While its effectiveness is questionable, it does look cool.

Overall build quality looks very good. Removing the seatpost and having a bit of a nose around with a torch doesn't bring up any surprises or rough finishes.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - seat post bolt.jpg

Finishing kit

This CF1 version is based around a mechanical Ultegra groupset. I've ridden Shimano's latest second-tier setup over many thousands of miles, and there really is very little to fault. I've written a full review of the R8000 rim-braked option here – the hydraulic disc-braked version shares many of its components.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - drivetrain.jpg

As a quick recap though, the shifting is faultless; really precise, with plenty of feel at the lever. It's impressive considering how light the shifting motion is.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - rear mech.jpg

Not that you should be doing it, but if you happen to find yourself shifting across the chainrings or cassette under heavy load, the system doesn't get flustered like some cheaper groupsets can. In keeping with the racy intentions of the CF1, Rondo has specced an 11-30T cassette paired to a 52/36T semi-compact chainset.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - cassette.jpg

With 160mm rotors front and rear, the braking system has more power than it needs, but it is a joy to use. The modulation of the Ultegra set up is top-notch and really controllable, allowing you to adapt to the conditions without fear of locking the front wheel up.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - lever.jpg

To be fair, that's never happened to me with any braking system, but the Ultegra levers let you know exactly what is going on.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - rear disc brake.jpg

The saddle, being integrated, is Rondo's own, as is the stem. It's quite short for a frame of this size at 90mm – I'd normally be using a 110mm – but at least it keeps the steering lively.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - drop bar and lever.jpg

 

The Easton EC70 Aero handlebar is a nice touch, as it is very comfortable. The flared top sections give you a wide platform to rest on when climbing, and their shallow drop allows easy access without you needing to be overly flexible.

 

Fabric's ALMS CF is a top end saddle, and I got on with it very well indeed.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - saddle.jpg

Wheels and tyres

As I mentioned earlier, the wheels are a collaboration between Rondo and Hunt. They follow a common theme of ultra-wide rims (optimised for 28mm tyres thanks to a bulbous 34.5mm outer width), while Hunt did a huge amount of aero testing.

> road.cc Road Bike of the Year 2020/21

This wheelset has Rondo-branded hubs and lack the aero spokes of the full Hunt wheelset, but they are minor details – you're still getting all the benefits of that aero rim.

2021 Rondo HVRT CF 1 - fork detail.jpg

Trueness and stiffness wasn't an issue throughout testing, and they remained reliable even after some very wintery rides. They are tubeless ready, too, but Rondo doesn't supply tubeless tape or valves.

Tyres are Continental Grand Prix 5000s in a 25mm width. They are absolutely excellent for speed and grip, plus – judging by how the non-tubeless GP5000 Transparent versions are coping on my winter bike – they're durable too.

Value

The HVRT CF1 is priced at £5,399 which I think is a little steep for the finishing kit here. Don't get me wrong – you're getting a quality set of wheels, great tyres and bonuses like the carbon handlebar and saddle too. But the CF1 is £900 more expensive than the BMC Teammachine SLR Two at £4,500.

That gets and alloy handlebar and wheels, but comes with an Ultegra Di2 groupset.

If you want an aero bike with top-level finishing kit and a very comfortable ride, the Orro Venturi STC has to be recommended. The £4,599.99 build I tested consisted of a full SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset, full carbon cockpit and deep section Fulcrum Wind 40 DB wheels.

I'm using these two as comparisons to the CF1 from a road race bike point of view, but they obviously don't offer the same tyre clearances. If you want to be able to fit bigger rubber, then a good suggestion would be the Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E. It comes with 700c x 32mm tyres as standard (and you can still fit guards), and will take a maximum of 35mm for width.

The model I tested came with an Ultegra groupset and a lower grade of finishing kit than found on the Rondo. It is just £3,500 though, which leaves plenty over for a decent set of wheels.

> 71 of the best road bike and gravel bike wheels — reduce bike weight or get aero gains with new hoops

71 of the best road bike and gravel bike wheels — reduce bike weight or get aero gains with new hoops

Ah, but they don't come with variable geometry though.....

True, that is Rondo's trump card. But to be honest, while it is noticeable when you switch between settings, it would never be a deal breaker for me when it comes to the money.

Overall

I had a lot of fun on the HVRT CF1. It is a real blast to ride on the road, feeling like a proper performance bike – it responds so well to a decent bout of effort.

In its HI setting the handling is spot on for high speed corners or tricky descents, and the LO setting softens things off a touch for longer rides – but it's not enough of a bonus, for me, to overlook the price.

Verdict

An impressive race bike that delivers on speed and comfort, although I'm not sure how much TwinTip really adds

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Rondo HVRT CF1 2021

Size tested: 54

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Handlebar:

EASTON EC70 AERO 400MM(S), 420MM(M,L), 440MM(XL)

Grips:

VELO COMFORT TAPE

Stem:

RONDO 90MM(S), 90MM(M), 110MM(L), 110MM(XL)

Headset:

UPPER STACK: IS 42 / 28,6 LOWER STACK: IS 52 / 40 SHIS

Saddle:

FABRIC ALMS CF

Seatpost:

RONDO AERO carbon

Brakes:

Shimano Ultegra BR-R8070

Shifters:

Shimano Ultegra ST-R8020

Crankset:

Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000 52/36

Bottom bracket:

EVO 386 with HTII adapter

Deraileur front:

Shimano Ultegra FD R8000

Deraileur rear:

Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000

Cassette:

Shimano KCS7000 11-30T 11 SPEED

Chain:

Shimano HG701

Hubs:

RONDO X HUNT STRAIGHT PULL

Rims:

RONDO X HUNT CARBON LIMITLESS TUBELESS COMPATIBLE*

*tubeless tape, valve and sealant not included

Axles front:

100/12mm/thread 1.5

Axle rear:

142/12mm/thread 1.75

Tyres:

CONTINENTAL GRAND PRIX 700C X 25

Tyre Clearance:

700c x 30/650b x 47 (622-30, 584-47)

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Rondo says, "The HVRT CF1 is the first variable geometry road plus bike in the world. For the rider who is the pitbull of the peloton, this bike features new specifications and a more accessible price point. The HVRT CF1 has a lightweight EPS carbon frame and a mechanical Ultegra groupset. Equipped with Rondo X HUNT Unlimited wheelset, the fastest disc brake wheels on the market, with extra wide aero carbon rims for the ultimate aerodynamic performance, also compatible with 650b x 47mm tyres. A clear winner for the no-nonsense rider."

It is a proper race bike with a few extra tricks up its sleeve.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

There is a CF0 model above it that's dressed in Dura-Ace, and a CF2 version that is cheaper using a 105 groupset and different Hunt/Rondo wheels.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Very good overall quality, and I like the colour of the paint.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Frame: RUUT Aero DESIGN SUPERLIGHT CARBON

Fork: TWINTIP CARBON

Both are created using carbon fibre.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The main thing about the HVRT is that it has geometry you can change from reasonably aggressive to no quite so aggressive. I've mentioned the measurements for this size in the review, while Rondo has a full geometry table on their website.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Stack and reach figures are fairly typical, regardless of which way you have the front axle set.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

For a firmer bike comfort is decent.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

The CF1 has a very stiff frame, most notable around the bottom bracket and the front end.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

That stiffness/weight balance makes the CF1 feel efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? In HI position the steering is on the lively side of neutral. It gets more neutral when you change to LO position.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The CF1 isn't as lively as a full pro-level race bike. Its neutrality gives the rider confidence and a planted feel to the ride.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The Fabric saddle and Easton handlebar are comfortable contact points.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The Ultegra crankset is one of the stiffest out there.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The wheels have a great effect. The rims have proper aero qualities, which are very noticeable on the road.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

You can't go wrong with Ultegra if you want a mixture of great shifting/braking while also achieving durability and value for money.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

The rims really help the Rondo's performance levels. They aren't the lightest, but make up for it on the flat.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
5/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

Not the cheapest to replace when they wear out, but one of the best performers in terms of grip and rolling resistance.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

A good selection of quality components. I especially like the flat tops of the Easton bar, and the shallow drops will work for most riders.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Probably not, purely because I don't know how much I'd use the variable geometry

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The variable geometry puts the HVRT almost in its own category, but against other aero road bikes like the Orro Venturi STC, it is more expensive. Merida's Scultura Endurance may not come with a carbon handlebar or bling wheels, but if you were to add them it'd still come in cheaper than the Rondo too.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
4/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

I had a lot of fun just leaving the HVRT CF1 in HI mode and riding it like a race bike. It's very capable, and delivers well on the stiffness front. The TwinTip fork makes a small difference, but I don't know if it's hugely beneficial or just a bit niche... and that, plus the slightly steep price, brings the Rondo down to a 7 for me rather than a 'very good' 8.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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