Bionicon Urban Road review£620.00

Distinctive city bike

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One of our team described Bionicon’s Urban Road as a “fun pub bike”. He was right in that the Urban is a good pub bike, but there’s more to it than that; it’s certainly fun, but it’s not just a machine you take down your local for a few jars.

It’s tough, stripped down and basic, about as minimalist as it’s possible to get and still have gears. And while singlespeed and fixed bikes are massively popular in cities these days, most people still want gears.

The Urban has nine of them, which are changed by a flick of the SRAM bar-end shifter. It’s a simple setup, but changing gear in this position does take a bit of getting used to.

The bars are a pared-down time trial affair and, combined with the short top tube and ultra-short stem, make for a very upright riding position. The end result is an aggressive-handling bike that you can throw through traffic with ease.

The Urban’s frame and forks are both chromoly, with neat welds throughout, and the paint job is an understated matt green that Bionicon call olive. The frame and forks are made in Taiwan, with the bike assembled in Germany, closer to Bionicon’s European markets.

Like the rest of the Urban Road, the 700C wheels go for strength over glamour, built from Shimano Parallax hubs, Alex rims and Schwalbe’s Kojak tyres.

If you’re not familiar with the latter, they’re a light(ish) pair of bald slicks – hence the Seventies detective’s name – with Schwalbe’s RaceGuard protection belt that grip road surfaces well.

Throw that all together and you get a wheelset well suited to tough urban use – the 700C wheels ride better over poor surfaces than smaller diameter ones and the tyres’ 35mm width takes the sting out of bumps.

The Urban doesn’t come with mudguards, but there’s plenty of clearance between the tyres and frame for them, and there are mounting bolts, as there are for a rear rack, so you can easily carry kit. However, given the frame’s tight geometry, you could well suffer toeclip overlap if you did fit mudguards.

In spite of its apparent minimalism, the Urban offers quite a lot. All in all, this is yet another interpretation of what a good city-specific bike could look like.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 52
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK
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