Kilometres of gravel rail trail on a refreshing weekend excursion in Simcoe County awaited. Our Rondo Ruut and Hvrt bikes were loaded up. Tires pumped, snacks packed and water bottles filled. As we rolled out of the parking lot for a 160-km overnight trip on the Simcoe County Loop Trail for two days of bikepacking, we had the bikes for the job beneath us. The Rondo machines were capable and ready for nearly any type of riding we fancied. With a few simple adjustments, each bike could be turned from road bike into endurance bike with bags, and then over to gravel race rig for gnarly conditions.

For our rail trail bikepacking trip, we opted for two setups that really show the versatility of these Rondos. One bike had 650b Industry Nine wheels with fast-rolling tires, while the other had 33-mm-wide tires on 700c wheels. I rode the Ruut with 700c with the geometry set at “hi” position using the TwinTip Fork. My colleague and ride companion, Daniel Walker, rode the Hvrt with 650b in the “lo” position. We both enjoyed the respective qualities these setups offered.

While the alloy Ruut has racks and fender mounts making it ready for a variety of riding from the start, we both chose to attach PRO frame bags for this particular trip. Loaded with tightly packed essentials, a change of clothes and our credit cards, we were quickly realizing how easy a bikepacking trip could be with the right setup.

Many wheel choices

The best way to get versatility out of your bike is being able to change radically the wheels and tires you can ride . Comfort on a bikepacking trip is essential. While racers appreciate stiffness, when you are riding with a packed bike, you are really looking for a setup that will reduce vibrations and make the trip as easy on your body as possible. Proper wheel and tire selection are important to achieving these ride characteristics. Being able to accommodate 650b wheels with 2.1” tires on a bike that can also be outfitted with 700c and 40-mm tires immediately makes the bike a bit of a Swiss Army knife.

Want to ride mud? Throw on some knobby cyclocross tires. Riding mostly paved roads? Maybe a 28-mm road tire will do or a slick tire for a 650b wheelset. On a bikepacking trip such as this, high-volume tires are definitely preferable. We could run our tires at lower pressures for increased comfort, while they also provided a lot of traction on the gravel trails that were sometimes a tad rough or uneven.

TwinTip Fork

While tires and wheels can change certain characteristics of a bike, the geometry plays a huge role on how a frame handles different terrain. Rondo has developed a creative solution to make it possible to alter the geometry with a simple adjustment on the bikes’ forks. The TwinTip Fork allows the axle to be shifted at the front of the bike, essentially allowing there to be two distinctive geometries.

The “lo” position results in a slightly higher stack and generally slacker angles that are ideal for riding rough technical terrain. For endurance riding and touring, this setting is a good option as it gives the rider a more stable position from which to control the bike.

Setting the bike up in the “hi” position gives it a steeper head angle for a more aggressive position that’s well-suited for road and riding at higher speeds. A more aggressive geometry allows you to get your body positioned more aerodynamically on the bike.

Tripping on Rondos bikes

Throughout two days, we enjoyed tranquil tree-covered crushed-gravel trails that passed through forested areas, marshes, fields and cottage country. We sampled the local delicacies at fuel-up stops, had a lovely visit at the Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons historical site and even hit the course of the Pan American cyclocross championships in Midland. Packed up, the bikes were smooth and confident on the trail.

Upon returning home, Dan’s bike wasn’t stored away until the next trip. Instead, a few days after riding the Simcoe County Loop Trail, I swapped out the 650b wheels on his Hvrt for a 700c wheelset with 28-mm tires. Just like that, I had the bike to drop my friends on my local Tuesday night hammerfest ride.

Dan’s gear

Daniel Walker rode the Rondo Hvrt with 650b wheels and PRO bags. Photo: Matt Stetson

Bike: Rondo Hvrt CF2, size 56
Wheels: Industry Nine Ultralite 235 TRA 650b
Bags: PRO Discover seatpost bag, PRO Discover frame bag
Helmet: Bollé Furo MIPS
Sunglasses: Bollé Shifter with Phantom lens

Philippe’s gear

Philippe Tremblay rode the Rondo Ruut with 700c wheels. Photo: Matt Stetson

Bike: Rondo Ruut AL, 54 cm
Wheels: Industry Nine Ultralite 240C CX
Bags: PRO Discover seatpost bag, PRO Discover handlebar bag
Helmet: Bollé Furo MIPS
Sunglasses: Bollé Shifter with Phantom lens