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The Rufus Stone by Rune Bikes: Classic ATB

Rune Bicycles is a new brand on the ATB scene from Fordingbridge, England. Rune’s first bike is a classic-feeling ATB called the Rufus Stone. We spoke with Rune’s founder Ashley Charles about his vision for the bike, how ATBs may very well be BMXs for adults and more. Read it.

The Rufus Stone by Rune Bikes: Classic ATB

Earlier this summer, a new brand called Rune began to appear in my feeds. The branding caught my attention with its earthy, subdued color palette and uncomplicated graphics. I was immediately intrigued but lacked information about what, why, or who Rune was until I started seeing their first bike. The bike dubbed the Rufus Stone immediately struck me as a stunning piece of steel, exuding a modern yet classic vibe reminiscent of brands like Crust and Velo Orange. What really stood out for me was its geometry; it featured a flat top bar reminiscent of bikes from 70s catalogs but with contemporary features, such as ample clearance for chunky 650b tires. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this classic feel extended throughout the bike, evident in details like the 1” quill stem and bar-end friction shifters. It was clear that someone had put in significant effort to create this bike, and I was eager to find out who was behind it.

I got in touch with the Rune team who ended up being Ashley Charles from Fordingbridge, England. Ashley and I bounced a few emails back and forth about the bike and about who he was as a person and rider. It blew my mind when I discovered that Ashley came from a BMX background and ran a successful business creating BMX components and parts. One idea that has been stuck in my head for the past couple years is that ATBs are simply BMXs for adults—and here might be proof of that idea. If someone like Ashley could come from BMX manufacturing to build a beautiful ATB like the Rufus Stone, there just had to be a connection.

As usual, my intro is bleeding into the content of our spotlight Q&A, so I will shut up now and turn it over to Ashley to explain this beautiful and fun looking machine.

What is the Rufus Stone inspired by?

The Rufus Stone is inspired by a need for something that wasn’t available in the UK. It comes from a passion for bike design and wanting something tailored to exactly how I’d like a bike to ride and look.

The name "Rufus Stone" comes from a local landmark here in the New Forest. I wanted a theme for each frame name and not name each frame as they came along. I looked at the local areas that my friends and I ride. It took a while to land on something that sounded good and that fit with the name and feel of the brand. There are a lot of landmarks around the New Forest that have cool names, and after some digging I found a handful of good ones. Rufus Stone just happened to be my favorite so I picked that for the first frame.

Who's it for and how was it made?

The Rufus Stone is for anyone that appreciates fine details and aesthetics. The frame and fork are fully decked out with all the mounting points for touring. The fork has a mid mount braze-on and also has a low rider mount. The frame has two braze-on mounts, high and mid seat stay and both the frame and fork have mounts for fenders. The bike can be used as a commuter, touring bike, or just weekend ripper.

The bikes are manufactured in Taiwan. They are made from 4130 chromoly with a partly lugged construction. I designed the geo around a 57 frame that I ride and then designed the other sizes from that. We wanted something that could be used for multiple different types of riding so everything is kind of “middle ground”. It's mid trail so good loaded but not sluggish unloaded. The back end is 440 which is nice and stable but not too long. I personally like the look of a horizontal top tube which actually has a slight 2/3% slant to it. When the bike is built up it looks flat. Our frames have a tall stand over so that you can have a level seat and handlebars without your stem sticking out over the forks a stupid amount. Again, it comes back to being real picky about what I ride which then makes it pretty easy to design.

That 1” threaded headtube...

I would say the headtube is mainly for the aesthetics—something that is extremely important to us. Let's face it, if you put a 1” quill stem next to a 1 ⅛” stem there is no comparison as to which looks better. There are also some technical advantages, like good flex for ride quality and being able to adjust your bar height easily.

Max tire clearance?

The frame is designed specifically around 650b wheel size and will take up to a 2.3” tyre with a fender. I like the idea of a 29er that could handle more of a rugged landscape but that would need to be a different model.

What is Relic?

Relic is a small BMX parts brand that I started in 2015. We have a line of parts that were all designed by us from scratch. It has grown to include a rad team of well respected dudes. Relic has given me the experience dealing with and understanding manufacturing in Taiwan. I understand the full process from design, samples, lead times and all the other factors that come with manufacturing overseas.

Are ATBs just BMXs with drops?

That’s an interesting perspective. I do get the same sense of freedom from riding both bikes in a similar way but then also in a very different way—if that makes sense, ha. What I do find comparative is how the bike looks and feels. You want to feel connected to the bike in a very personal way and that is something that comes through very strongly from BMX. It’s why I am very particular about the Rufus Stone and how it rides. As an added side note and why this question is a good one, I have had multiple friends that come from a BMX background but don’t ride gravel at all say that my personal Rufus Stone looks like a BMX to them.

Are friction shifters the future?

For my future, yes. I have only been running friction for about 1 ½ years and love it. I compare it to driving a car, with a stick shift you pay more attention than you would in an automatic. It’s the same on a bike with friction and index—with friction you are more in tune with the bike. You have to pay attention more to the terrain and what gear you are in. Also, it’s so much quicker to set up.

Will Rune be releasing more models?

We will be doing more models in the future for sure. We have some ideas but nothing concrete yet. Anything that Rune does will have the same aesthetic and fine details that we have started out with and a large focus on our specific branding

How do we get a Rufus Stone?

The frame and fork sets will be available early 2024. We will have updates closer to and a pre order available later this year. You can sign up to our newsletter on the website or follow us on Instagram to keep updated and follow along on Rune’s journey.

Thanks, Ashley.

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