Bionicon Is On The Move - Eurobike 2011

Sep 1, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
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.

Alva 160 rear der

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

Reed side

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.

Rocker action

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 side

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

Fork details

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

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.

Alva frame details

(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.





68 Comments

  • + 29
 IME (which isn't great), they go downhill like an all-mountain bike with very poor suspension performance, and go uphill like a very heavy, poorly fitting and poorly set-up trail bike. It's like having the worst of both worlds.


But maybe these new one are a lot better. Question is, have you EVER seen one out on the trail (not a demo, or test rider)? Does ANYONE actually buy this stuff, with their own money?
  • + 12
 Yes they are actually quite popular over here. I see them regularly and I do think their bikes work and do what they are made for. Though I personally dont really like they philosophy - I prefer simple bikes and simple suspension. Liteville FTW Wink
  • + 5
 sketchy ass spec, wouldn't exactly take it freeriding
  • + 19
 No offence but it looks like a Jamis with RST.
  • + 9
 very innovative company but it seems all the frames ( to me at least ) look the same, and they're just butt ugly (once again, to me) but hey progress ir progress right?
  • + 8
 in my opinion the bionicon should not exist
  • + 4
 ugly bike..
  • + 2
 why do they run such big forks for an all mountain bike? i thought the point was to have less weight going uphill
  • + 4
 Their bikes are pretty "special" Smile I've ridden one last year at a DH test ride, they said you can minimize the travel of the fork to ride up, lol, never uphill with a dh bike Razz I've got headache cause of the bad suspension over the roots Frown It was such a FAIL! These bikes are ugly and ride like s...!
  • + 6
 They are so dam ugly, i think they have gone with the philosophy of "you cant polish a turd but at least you can roll it in glitter"
  • + 5
 I didn't think my little rant would be quite so popular!
Everyone has to admit though, it's great to see a company try something genuinely new and innovative. The principle is sound, it's just the execution that lets the Bionicon down. Cannondale/Scott seem to be onto something good with their Peter Denk designed bikes. Just wait til Trek get their boffins involved in variable geometry, and maybe it really will become the bike we all want it to be.
  • - 2
 if your going to spend money on a bike dont spend it on this there crap and are a disgrace to mountain biking
  • + 1
 not ttrue i have seen one @ the megavalanche,. he did pretty good i think.. lack of skills i think.. but he made it down in one piece,.,
  • + 18
 chain guide = genius.
  • + 2
 yeah, its soo simple but soo effective, great work on their part! i just hope people start buying these bikes more so they can stay in business, to be honest i'm not sure how they r doing, could be fine, but at things get more expensive, people will start to look for 2 bikes in one, this is where its at, and you don't have to replace the most expensive parts on the bike (fork, shock ,cranks, etc..) like you do with the new corsair concept, of one bike fits all...
  • + 1
 yeah, soon as i saw that picture, i started wondering if i had a cable tie spot there, you could make something very easily like it that would work.
  • + 1
 motocross technology
  • + 1
 yeah it aint exactly new.. just not seen very often Wink
  • + 16
 butt ugly
  • + 12
 why don't they have singlecrown forks yet? it would look much better!! Wink
  • + 18
 Agreed! Bionicon have a lot of taste, unfortunately most of it is bad.
  • + 9
 With a name like Bionicon, are you really that surprised.
  • + 3
 Wow, that Reed is pretty sweet! With that 40mm of travel on the back, and a 40mm dual crown fork, imagine the size of drops you could hit!!
  • + 3
 I have an Alva 180 coil, so far I like it. The fork is definitely a few years behind the big brands on ride quality and has no compression adjustments. I bought mine as a frame and built it up with all the parts off of my Trek Scratch 9. I put on a reverb post, 2.5 Maxxis exo DHF tires and it scales in at 34.5 lbs. Rear triangle has just a touch of flex when you pull on the wheel by hand but is much stiffer than my Intense SS was. On the down hills, its plush and planted the 65 degree head tube angle is slack enough to take on anything here in colorado. I have raced it in MSC decently in cat 2. Its handled big drops 10' to nearly flat with no problems at all. Climbing is where its worth it, its still a big bike and I spend a lot of time in the granny ring but the body position is where its at. I can climb a lot longer on it than any other big bike I have had because of the angle changes. It gets your body into an upright comfortable position so your not hunched forward trying to keep weight on a raked out front end. Its not the best descender and not the best climber but it mixes both better than any bike I have ever owned though, and where I live there are a lot of big climbs to get to the good descents.
  • + 3
 The statement "only successful adjustable geometry chassis" is not accurate. I believe Scott has had a number of adjustable geo bikes as well as the others mentioned. And they are way better looking.

Also, what is the point of on the fly if you have to stop to drop the seat post anyways? I would take an adjustable seat post over adjustable geo any day. At least that way you are keeping the flow.

I don't get the sales pitch. This bike is not going to be light enough to climb easily or strong enough to shred DH. It's not all about geometry, it's also about build. I'm confused about how this bike is "winning."

I want it to win, I just don't see it happening. And I agree with others. Dual-crown fork = ugly.

Bionocon You can do it, just listen to peoples opinions and continue to innovate!
  • + 2
 The statement "only successful adjustable geometry chassis" is quite accurate, as neither Scott nor Cannondale have any form of geometry adjustment. They may be able to change their rear travel or their spring rate and dampening, but geometry adjustment means changing the angles of the fork, the seatpost, the wheelbase.
The question here would be: Have you ever ridden a Bionicon bike? Do you know for a fact how much the geometry adjustment helps you or how much it doesn't work?
You can of course combine the seatpost and the geometry adjustment but you won't loose the flow because of the bionicon system. The button is right beside the grips, yo you can adjust your bike on the go, just by shifting your weight.

As for the dualcrown forks, they're actually lighter and stiffer than singlecrown. For example the 180mm fork weighs at around 2.3kg, with the adjustable travel cartridge, which to my knowledge is lighter than the Fox Talas 180.
  • + 2
 how many of you have actually ridden one of these bikes that have commented ?.. i ask because i had a trek fuel ex 9 with 130/110/90 front fork travel and as much as i liked this bike i had been on a few demo days of bionocon and yes i agree the look is not all that but the function and feel is great, i have the edison and i can get up more hills with this than any other bike i have ridden and down hill is effortless. i also upgraded the fronk forks with a rebound cartridge and this made a world of difference.

the other thing is you may not have realised but replacement parts for the forks are a lot cheaper than Fox or Rock shox, so when things wear the price to replace is a lot nicer on the wallet.

and for how many of these bikes are around i've seen five in my area on group rides, i guess it all depends where you ride and who you see..
  • + 3
 Pity they ride awful up hill and have virtually no low speed compression, rode one of these on a demo day decended fantastically but rode uphill and on flat terrain like a dog.
  • + 2
 yeah i really like their dedicated concept of pedal up like an AM bike, shred down like a real DH bike
  • + 2
 I've ridden a huge selection of bikes, including a golden willow, Alva 160 & 180, reed & super shuttle, the Alva 160 is a great bike, the closest other bike to it I have ridden is the Scott Genius lt, which although has much adjustment, has a handlebar full of switches & adjustment, & is 2-1/2 times the price, although the Bionicons forks are their own, they are made in the same factory as Fox! A colleague of mine just came second on an Alva 180 air..... It was a XC race! With good spec it can weigh in at 27lb, these bikes are fantastic compromises, everyone I have ridden with compromises!
  • + 3
 waayyyy too much going on, sometimes the simplicity adds to the riding experience, these bikes look like they have too many knick-knacks associated with it
  • + 1
 I've ridden a huge selection of bikes, including a golden willow, Alva 160 & 180, reed & super shuttle, the Alva 160 is a great bike, the closest other bike to it I have ridden is the Scott Genius lt, which although has much adjustment, has a handlebar full of switches & adjustment, & is 2-1/2 times the price, although the Bionicons forks are their own, they are made in the same factory as Fox! A colleague of mine just came second on an Alva 180 air..... It was a XC race! With good spec it can weigh in at 27lb, these bikes are fantastic compromises, everyone I have ridden with compromises!
  • + 1
 I test rode last years Alva 180 model. Its a nice idea and didnt look as ugly in real life but I must admit it did feel a little bit "Argos". It rode uphill really well for a 180 bike but its downhill performance was very poor. I played with the settings on the shocks again and again but couldn't get any feel sensitive at all. The rebound was dreadfully slow and the shocks were sluggish at best. Fortunately I didnt pay for the test ride (not the best praise you can give a bike). Perhaps the addition of a coil will have solved these problems. I hope they are better this year. God forbid anyone who bought one last year.
  • + 4
 I guess they didn't get the memo that dual crowns are dead for anything but DH.
  • + 4
 Duel crown makes them look like an Argos bike.... Cool concept, poor execution.
  • + 2
 if you want a bike that goes up and down hill well get a GT Sanction with an adjustable travel fork. they ride like XC bikes uphill and freeride bikes downhill but they actually use normal suspension thats not ugly
  • + 1
 GT suspension that's not ugly?! I gotta see this to believe it!
  • + 1
 GT 's may be a bit ugly But they sure ride well I've got two, An old Hard tail Tempest, and an almost as old i Drive 2.0, Love em' both !!
  • + 0
 GT's aren't pretty but they ride better than they look. at least they are better looking than those Bionicons
  • + 1
 I agree with one of the commeters about how many people who are bad-mouthing this bike and company actually rode one. I have been riding Supershuttle for past 3 years. I have ridden, demo, rented, and own number of full suspension/AM bikes, and this is one of the most fun bikes I have ridden. It is successful geometry changer, because you can go from 66 deg to 72 deg on the fly, with little effort. At 66 deg, and with its shock, I have no trouble descending most things. I love it. Going uphill, the stiff angle helps you to be comfortable, saves energy, and it climbs very well. I don't know about their four bar design, but with the single pivot desing in Supershuttle, there is absolutely no perceptible bobbing. You just have get use to changing geometry and also you don't want to go all the way to 72 deg angle, as it is too much. It is successful beacuse it can change 6 degress, on the fly, easily. Jeckyl and Genius Lt, change the amount of travel, on the fly, but there is actually little geometry change, as you ride, unless you get off the bike and tinker with the linkage setting.
Only things that I have been wishing were thru-axle, and possibly little less weight. I am glad to see they have put in thru-axle in the latest models.
  • + 1
 I've test ridden the Golden Willow & the Supershuttle many times. Yes, the adjustment does take getting used to the sagging, but once your used to it, its worth it. I have yet to test their 2012 models so I can't attest to the rigidness on the up hill. So hopefully that has improved. The on the fly adjustment makes sense especially for single track. The dual crown fork does what it's supposed to. It's burly, smooth & plush, almost too easy, especially for the really technical lines.
If you're a strong rider weight shouldn't be a problem. As for the design, form follows function, I think its slick. The best part is you can test 'em for free. So no buyers remorse.
  • + 2
 Nice, 2 green/yellow neon bikes on the home page. Upcoming trend right there yay!
  • + 2
 I have a buddy that rides one and loves it. He let me ride it and it was ok, but Ill keep my 2 bikes.
  • + 1
 I think it looks hot, I'd love to test ride. Nothin wrong with trying to pack in new technology and see where things add up. It's like the opposite of Kona.
  • + 1
 Ugly as hell....... but I do like the oil port concept for lubing the stanchions
  • + 2
 They would be way nicer bikes if they had single crown forks.
  • + 1
 c'mon that fork really? dual crown, own brand? any serious rider is surely put off by this
  • + 1
 Hmm, rather a sweeping statement as IIRC Specialised SWorks top end Epic and Spumpjumper FSR used to have in house developed forks and shocks (admitedly with a lot of input from FOX) and branded them under the Specialized moniker.

What I don't get in this article though is this rather sweeping statement-
"For those unfamiliar with the Bionicon, it is the only successful adjustable-geometry dual-suspension chassis"
It's clearly not the only successful adjustable geometry full sus chassis as whoever has written this (bearing in mind it could be a press release) has forgotten Kona's Magic Link and Cannondale's Jekyll and Claymore platforms which both have adjustable geometry.
  • + 1
 I agree. +1
  • + 2
 Dislike...dual crowns and some sort of shock cups.... :S
  • + 1
 mmmm i think, looks like a mexican benotto bikes, just ready to go for the brackfast early in the morning
  • + 2
 exotic
  • + 1
 These bikes make Rocky Mountain look good.
  • + 1
 My eyes are bleeding! Such horrible bikes!
  • + 2
 UUGGLLYY
  • + 1
 whats with the weird head angle???
  • + 1
 No offence but that black fork looks like sh*t
  • + 2
 40mm's of travel?
  • + 1
 Haha, I saw that too. It is a typo though, should be 140,
  • + 1
 Haha I know, i was just kidding.
  • + 1
 that cockpit looks like something from sci-fi movie. And a dual crown?...
  • + 0
 wow!!! so UGLY. would have been an amazing bike 15 years ago :-)
  • + 1
 what is that fork ?
  • + 1
 come on bionicon
  • + 1
 these r some ugly bikes
  • + 1
 Worst bike EVER!
  • - 2
 these bikes look like abortions that survived the rusty coat hanger and are now living like elephant boy. totally heinous.....quit your day job!
  • - 1
 that is so awsome!!!!!

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