Bionicon is on the move, with a redesigned four-bar rear suspension and an all-new long-travel fork and shock. The German bike maker also introduced the all-new 140-milimeter Reed and two all-mountain/freeride bikes: the Alva 160 and the Alva 180. The 180-millimeter-travel model employ a hybrid coil-spring/air spring system in the fork and is the first Bionicon to sport a coil-over shock.
Small improvements, like through-axles in all the new frames and forks, are welcome upgrades from Bionicon. The 2012 lineup looks sharp.
For those unfamiliar with the Bionicon, it is the only successful adjustable-geometry dual-suspension chassis. With a push of a handlebar-mounted air-valve and a little bit of a weight shift, the Bionicon changes from a supple long-travel descender with a super slack head angle, to an upright climber with a relatively steep head angle and a firm-pedaling rear suspension. The rider can alter the frame geometry anywhere in between the bike’s 6-degree range of adjustment. The concept may sound far fetched, but Bionicon was founded by level-headed designers who latched upon the concept of owning one bike that could enable them to ride the whole mountain – up and down, as steeply as any trail might be – and then evolved the design until it became a reliable back-country traveler.Reed 140
The Reed is Bionicon's mid-travel trailbike, revised with more pedal-friendly adjustable suspension geometry, a lighter weight frame and a much improved dual-crown fork.Reed 140 details:
-Air-sprung/air-damped dual-crown fork, adjustable from 40 to 150mm travel
-X-fusion O2 RLX air-sprung shock
-40mm rear-wheel travel
-Four-bar linkage suspension
-Ball bearing swingarm pivot, roller bearing linkage and dropout pivots.
-SRAM X.9 drivetrain
-12/142 through axle (rear), 15 QR front axle.
The Reed is the trailbike version of Bionicon’s new lineup. With an even, 140-millimeters of fork stroke and rear-wheel travel, the air-sprung Reed can swallow a lot of pounding without chattering your teeth out. The addition of an FSR-style rear dropout makes the Reed a true four-bar rear suspension. The top-mounted shock allows for lighter weight tubing and reconfigured rocker-link geometry gives the Reed a firm-pedaling initial falling rate that quickly returns to a slight rising rate as the shock compresses through its stroke. Fully retracting the suspension swings the Reed’s rocker into firm pedaling mode.
With the Bionicon chassis set to descend (left), the rocker link drives the shock from a more vertical angle, which creates a minimal rate change for smoother suspension action. With the suspension set in the XC position (right), the rocker link is visibly angled back, which creates a falling rate -- and firm pedaling during the first part of the shock stroke.Alva 160
Sporting Bionicon’s latest frame, the four-bar suspended, 160-millimeter-travel dual-suspesion all-mountain chassis has a special Generation 2 fork that uses a hybrid spring in the left slider. The last 80-millimeters of fork stroke compresses the internal air chamber In the left slider, whilc the first part of the fork’s travel is suspended by a supple coil spring. Bionicon’s Alva 160 frame was tuned to be ultra rigid in torsion with wide-stance rocker link, roller bearings on the smaller pivots and generous-sized ball bearings in the main swingarm pivot locations. With its dual-crown fork and generous suspension travel, the Alva 160 surprised us with a SRAM X.0 triple crankset. Bionicon says that, the effectiveness of the Alva 160’s adjustable climbing geometry makes the 3 x 10 ultra low gearing quite useful in the trailbike role. Alva 160 Details:
-Generation 2 Alva Hybrid air/coil sprung dual-crown fork (80mm to 160mm travel)
-Low-profile four-bar rear suspension (160mm travel)
-X-Fusion 02 RLX air shock
-SRAM X.0 components
-Wide-range 3 x 10 gearing
-Roller bearings at suspension and rocker pivots, ball bearings at swingarm junction.
-Adjustable geometry and fork travel optimized for plush descending
-Optional dropper seatpost
Bionicon Fork details: (Clockwise) Two screws in the back of the sliders allow Bionicon owners to pump oil into the fork seal areas. This is a much better solution than packing grease into the seals. The 160 fork uses a 15-mm through axle, while the 180mm fork shown here is dedicated to a 20-millimeter through-axle system. The left side of the for k crown houses the air valve to pressurize the fork and frame geometry controls. A handlebar-mounted button allows instant geometry and fork-travel changes.Alva 180 Air and Alva Coil
Bionicon’s big news is literally the 180-millimeter-travel Alva 180. The 180 comes in a lightweight completely air-srung version and a park and all-mountain ready coil-sprung model. The Alva 180 Air has an X-Fusion 02 RLX air damper with an air-sprung dual-crown fork to enhance its lightweight build that includes a carbon-armed SRAM X.0 crankset and transmission, as well as lightweight DT Swiss wheels and Schwalbe tires. Alva 180 Coil Details:
-Generation 2 Alva hybrid air/coil-sprung dual-crown fork.
-Low-profile, four-bar rear suspension (180 to 100mm travel)
-X-Fusion Vector shock
-Two-by Truvativ Stylo crankset
-Integrated two-chainring chain guide.
-Ball bearing swingarm pivot with roller bearings at dropout and linkage pivots.
-Adjustable geometry and fork travel optimized for descending.
-Optional dropper seatpost
The Alva 180 Coil is the sweet looking one, with an X-Fusion coil/over Vector RC shock and a 180-millimeter-travel Alva hybrid air/coil-spring dual-crown fork. The variable geometry afforded by the pneumatic piston fixed to the end of the coil/over shock is easier to understand. The drivetrain is mostly SRAM X.9, with a double chainring setup. Bionicon developed its own chain guide – a guide tube hinged to a machined aluminum piece that is fixed to the chainstay. Easy and lightweight, the guide is an elegant alternative to the boomerang style we see most often.
(Clockwise) To raise and lower the chassis, Bionicon's pneumatic piston changes the eye-to-eye length of the Alva's coil-over shock without affecting its stroke. The switch to a Horst-Link type dropout arrangement turns the Gen-2 Bionicon suspension into a true four-bar system. An innovative, hinged tunnel guides the chain while allowing it to switch unhindered between the Alva 180 Coil's twin-chainring crankset.Bionicon has stepped up their game for 2012. Check out the world's best variable geometry trail and all-mountain bikes, and give us your feedback on this innovative system.