Bionicon’s concept of a bike whose geometry can be changed dramatically to suit the terrain as you’re riding along has been around for a while. The latest Edison, however, is the first to actually deliver on the firm’s promises.
Frame and equipment: innovation meets tried-and-trusted
A range of issues with the previous SR Suntour triple crown fork and unique Magura rear shock meant Bionicon’s concept always lacked long term reliability and consistent control. That’s compounded by the fact that neither can be changed to something else without the Edison losing it’s shape shifter powers.
Thankfully a shift to X-Fusion for both fork and (soon) rear shock has made a real difference to performance – and hopefully reliability will follow suit.
While the Edison EVO’s linked suspension is the big news, the Edison frame is a decent mountain-ready chassis with an ISCG-05 chainguide mount and neat 142x12mm axle system. Cables are routed externally, except for the dropper post.
Bionicon’s geometry change system means a lot of cables, even with a 1x11 transmission
It comes in 180mm (7.1in) and 160mm (6.3in) travel versions, with a choice of 650b or 26in wheels and two spec levels, plus a raw finish option too.
The SRAM X01 transmission is ideal for trail and enduro work and production bikes will get SRAM Guide RSC brakes instead of the Avid Trails of our sample. The semi-polished DT Swiss Spline Two wheels are light and tight, and the Maxxis grip-and-slip rubber combo is spot on, while the Answer cockpit is on point and the KS seatpost is a reliable favourite.
The X-Fusion Metric HLR fork is an impressive unit
The Metric HLR fork up front is a heavy duty 180mm max travel 36mm legged unit that can properly take a beating while remaining impressively smooth and sensitive over small bumps to boost traction. Happily the fork-to-shock transfer plumbing that lets the Edison shape shift hasn’t obviously affected it.
Initial smoothness, damping control or spring rate are all still consistently good. Combined with the broad rimmed DT Spline Two wheel and benchmark Maxxis High Roller II tyre up front, this means you can properly attack the trail.
Ride and handling: ready for attack
The 780mm wide Answer bar gives a huge amount of leverage for bullying the bike into turns or holding it on line through random rocks and ruts. In its slackest setting the head angle is a downhill-standard 65 degrees and while the BB is relatively high (and doesn’t alter with geometry changes) the KS Lev Integra dropper post lets you get low to lock the bike into turns.
The back end is OK if not outstanding. The unique oversize air reservoir equipped Magura shock is – like the conventional Magura shocks we tried on 2014 Focus bikes – very linear in feel.
This means the Edison squats a long way through its travel with little provocation and there’s not much support in corners compared with a Fox or Rock Shox damper. There’s noticeable flex from the rear end if you start twisting the knife into corners or other sideways loading situations.
The specially adapted Magura shock proved a bit linear
Even with a wallowy mid stroke though, 180mm of travel (it stays the same whatever the geometry setting) still sucks up a lot of trail trauma without losing speed or control. Essentially, if you’re happy with putting the control emphasis on the front and letting the rear end follow through then it’s OK.
Bionicon also told us that X-Fusion has been developing an Edison-specific version of its solidly supportive O2 shock, which will be the default option by the time you read this.
While there’s currently some compromise in rear suspension quality, the SRAM X01 build package is well priced and there’s a cheaper X9 2x10 ‘spec 1’ version. If you’re happy waiting 12 weeks then Bionicon’s Payless program rewards pre-orders with a 10 percent discount.
As well as the 180mm travel bike here, Bionicon also offers a 160mm bike with the same (but reduced range) shape shifting ability and a conventional fixed 160mm travel bike with Rock Shox Pike and Monarch Plus shock. On previous versions we’d have immediately recommended dumping the unique plumbing and shock for this conventional setup but, as we’ve said, this is the most balanced Bionicon shape shifter yet.
The Edison linkage even has a neat, natural pedal boosting feature now. The flatter angle in the steeper geometry settings (it always keeps 180mm travel at the rear) creates a mechanical platform effect that minimises pedal bob under power.
Hate slack, squishy super long travel bikes on climbs? Love them on descents? Try an Edison
Add those relatively light wheels and semi slick Maxxis Ardent out back and it picks up speed pretty well for a 14kg-plus bike.
The ability to drop the fork height by 80mm and create much steeper head and seat angles also works really well for some climbing situations. It’s particularly useful for whipping round the uphill switchbacks that infest most trail centres and are normally a nightmare to negotiate on slack, long ‘enduro’ style bikes.
However we have to mention the weird ‘pedalling downwards into the hill’ mind trick that dropping fork travel can have on any bike. In terms of actual physical efficiency nothing changes apart from the angle between you and the bottom bracket though so the morale sapping effect soon goes with regular riding.
The linked fork and shock set up and re-balancing routines that you’ll inevitably need to use to get the bike back into shape after accidentally pressing the plunger at the wrong moment also become much more intuitive over time. After initially either riding it slammed or super slack we found ourselves using more subtle geometry adjustments as we rode it more too.
Even from the first ride it got us up and round stuff easier than a similarly slack bike and if you’re into the shape shifting idea there’s no other bike that can match it in terms of range of geometry change.
Bionicon ships worldwide – check evo.bionicon.com for further details.