a Cross Country Rider
from Parker, Co.
Date Reviewed: August 28, 2008
Strengths: Insanely plush 8" of travel that never bottoms out, even with me being 220#'s. Instant adjustment of bike geometry that goes way beyond just messing with your front shock or locking out the back. The difference in climbing is amazing, and when descending, the dh position is very slack and confidence inspiring. The bike is very very nimble.
Weaknesses: Not a huge fan of the factory tires on Colorado hardpack.
I wanted to give a meaningful review of this bike, so I waited a full 6 months of hard riding to let everyone know this bike is the absolute BOMB. After 5-600 miles of nothing but singletrack riding on many of the best trails in Utah and Colorado, this bike is battle tested and proven its worth over and over.
Previous to buying this bike I rode an Ellseworth Dare and my long travel bike. I loved that bike, and even at 40+ #'s I pedaled it up and down XC trails routinely. The Ironwood has and extra inch of travel up front vs the Dare and still climbs WAY WAY better. I was so used to climbing steeps with my entire body infront of the seat to keep the front end down on my super T, that the first time I climb the same hills on the Ironwood I couldnt believe that I could actually sit in the seat and pedal up very steep stuff with ease. I was a bit skeptical on the shocks because they were not my normal brand (marz), but I can say with confidence the suspension is flat out amazing on this bike. I never thought I would be MORE confident running through rocky terrain on a bike than my Dare, but the suspension on this bike really eats up the medium hits at high speed very very well.
I think some of the reviewers that have only demoed the bike, and people that see the concept on paper or youtube may not fully understand the way the shocks work to change the geometry of the bike. The rear shock does not just adjust as normal shocks do, but the top of the stanchion actually extends and collapses depending on how you want the geometry of the bike. NO OTHER shock does this, and the difference between the riding positions at the extreme ends is flat out crazy.
To give you an idea of the capabilities of this bike, in full stock form I have ridden this in more than half of the Winter park XC race series races, including a 3rd place finish in my class (Clydesdale). This is on a 37# 8+8 inch bike people - and a full XC course people are riding hard tails on! I have taken the same bike off some pretty big drops and very technical terrain in Utah and Colorado and the suspension has been flawless.
So this is my review after being a true owner and rider of this bike for 6 solid months.
Weaknesses I mentioned are the Big Betty Tires, which on hardpack do not corner well. I replaced the back with a Kenda Nevegal and traction was considerably better. I have worn out the chainrings and the bottom bracket and recabled since ownership, Otherwise no problems.
If you are looking for a do it all bike Bionicon has won me over, if you get a chance I highly recommend you try one out.
Strengths: Versatile. Travel adjust works as advertised.
Weaknesses: Not a great descender, suspension isn't all that great (rear shock, single pivot design and the fork), you're lugging around 35-37lbs of bike still, the travel adjustment goes all the way down too easily and is too hard to return all the way up on this bike (I much prefer the ETA action of my 7" travel fork that "boings" the bike back up after just flipping the lever).
I wasn't really impressed with this bike. I thought my turner 6pack did everything better than this bike, at the same weight, with coil shocks on both ends. The Ironwood may have had more travel, but it wasn't quality travel so it didn't really compare. My turner also seemed to corner much better and not break-loose in the turns, or was at least more predictable. The high-pivot single-pivot design of the ironwood makes the suspension less than totally active and the extending chainline as the suspension cycles causes the suspension to react very harsh in rock-gardens when you try to pedal. Couple those characteristics with an air-shock and you get fairly lackluster suspension. The front shock is also fairly lackluster in terms of performance compared to other quality stuff like a fox 36, RS totem/domain and my Marz 66. The climbing feature is kind of nice, but then again I can use the ETA on my marzocchi fork and get the same lowered front end...on virtually any bike.
If this bike was a better descender, or had better suspension, I might mark it a little higher, but as it stands it's a real confused bike. It's not necessarily that it's a "jack of all trades and master of none", it's that there are other bikes that can do everything this can and still do it all better.
The other bionicon bikes have a lot more going for them, because they are lightweight XC/AM type bikes, and most bikes in that class have air-shocks already, but if this bike is going to compete with other bikes in the 6-8" travel area that are equipped with travel-adjustable forks and rear shocks like the DHX 5.0, cane creek DB, marzocchi rocco, and so on, it really needs to step up.
Similar Products Used: 06 stumpy (climbing) 06 scott nitrous (downhill)
Bike Setup: bone stock
a Weekend Warrior
from San Diego, CA
Date Reviewed: June 12, 2007
Strengths: This is the lightest 8" travel bike I have ever thrown a leg over. Adjustable geometry is pretty cool! I dished out some abuse on this bike and it took it all in stride. Very confidence inspiring!
Weaknesses: I didn't find any real weakness. One thing I noted was that if the geometry is adjusted to "maximum steepness" the bike gets very "heavy" to pedal. After the ride the very knowledgable Bionicon representative informed me that a simple tap of the button would have raked out the geometry slightly and all would be good again! The bike might benefit from a maxle or bolt-on rear hub for some added stiffness in the rear.
This bike was a dream to blast downhill on. Very confidence inspiring! The suspension worked flawlessly, very plush and forgiving when pushed hard. Both the fork and the rear shock felt very smooth and didn't exhibit any sticktion. The adjustable geometry was entirely new to me and would probably take longer to really utilize to it's maximum potential, but the effect of increasing the HT angle for differing terrains was significant! I aimed this bike at every boulder on the trail, jumped every jump I could find, and even pushed the suspension to it's max with a 4 foot drop to flat. I highly reccommend this bike for anyone that pedals up to earn their turns!
Similar Products Used: There is no other bike like this one for adjustable geometry. I have ridden a 6" AM bike with a 36 Talas that sort accomplishes a similar task, and own an 8" DH bike that is much heavier.
Bike Setup: full 08 spec. x9 triggers, formula brakes, dt swiss wheelset, carbon bar...
a Weekend Warrior
from Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date Reviewed: April 24, 2007
Strengths: see below
Weaknesses: see below
The Ironwood is Bionicon's offering to the freeride market. As member of the bicycle industry in Vancouver, British Columbia, I have never seen a bike that truly embodies the freeride monicher, as completely, as the Bionicon Ironwood. The size large weighs in at 36lbs, and is by far the lightest and most nimble 8' travel bike I have had the pleasure of piloting. In addition to being super-light, the front fork is adjustable from 4â€ to 8â€ through a super-simple handlebar mounted button, that allows for on-the-fly suspension adjustment. The adjustment allows for a change in head angle and overall geometry.
The spec on the bike is ridiculous and is clearly laid out by people that ride. From the choice of a full SRAM X-9 drivetain/shifter combo, to the formula oro brakes which offer some of the nicest levers and overall feel of any levers on the market, and finally the choice of DT Swiss hubs on Supra DH rims with Schwalbe Big Betty Tires. The wheels felt incredibly light, while the tires offered good traction with a low rolling resistance. This, coupled with overall lightness of the frame, made for an awesome ride. The carbon handlebar was sexy and unique (relatively flat with a gentle sweep), and together with the adjustable Bionicon stem system, offers a very versatile cockpit.
Bionicon Bikes use air shock technology. Air shocks are lighter than traditional shocks because they lack springs and are fully air adjustable (air level can be adjusted externally). Bionicons all use triple crown forks with a big forward rake. This allows for an increased turning radius versus a conventional triple-crown fork. Therefore, you get the stiffness benefits of a triple crown with an excellent full 90 degree turning radius. The Rear shock is also an air shock and is connected to the air reservoir for the fork. The Air reservoir for the for is moves accordingly with the height of the front fork and adjusts the overall geometry of the bike. Hypothetically, you would drop the front fork to 4' for climbing and then up to 8' for descents.
In practice, I noticed that the bikes handling and overall feel was not very good with the fork locked down all the way to 4'. I found the head angle to be too steep at this position. This is a common problem with all full suspension bikes equipped with forks that lock down to lowest level of travel (I.E. Marzocchi z1 FR SL, and various other high end all-mountain forks). Aside from when the fork was locked down, the individual unique range of geometry offered between 4.5' (locked down) up to the full 8' travel was amazing. The overall smoothness of the suspension systems fork and rear shock coupled with the adjustable geometry soon began to overshadow the Ironwoods amazingly slim 36lb weight. It didn't take me long to realize that I was on a truly exceptional bike.
As an owner of 8 bikes (5 full suspension), it was honestly a little disheartening to know that there was one bike that could simulate over 50% of my current fleet. Although the price tag on the bike is high, I can assure you that owning one bike that can replace three is a sound financial proposition. I put the bike through it's paces under nice conditions on the North Shore and under absolutely ugly conditions at SFU. Some meatier tires would be a prerequisite for winter riding but the Schwalbe Big Bettys will be awesome for dry. The Bikes frame is made of 7000 series aluminum versus the more traditional 6000 series aluminum, which coupled with the air shock technology allows for such a light bike. The bike uses a proven single pivot design and features a fully rebuildable rear swing-arm. This design bodes well for long durability and low maintenance. As much as I can't stop gushing about this bike, my pessimistic nature has a couple of issues concerning the Ironwood and bionicon in general. Although, the Bionicons are the lightest full suspension bikes on the market; traditionally, that does not equate well for longevity. The only true test of the frames will be time, and the only way to quelm that concern would be to offer a substantial warranty on the frames.
To match industry leaders, I would suggest a minimum 3-year warranty on Ironwood and Supershuttle and minimum 5 year warranty (preferably lifetime on Frame) on all models beneath the Supershuttle. With respect to the air suspension system, more adjustability is required (Rebound, Compression, lock-out, etc...) and a dedicated local maintenance center is required. If the serviceability of the rear shock is limited, that would be extremely detrimental to sales within Canada. Aside from that, a stiffer brake arch on the front fork would be nice, I found it to be a little flexy in the rough stuff. Ultimately, the ironwood is a modern next generation, full suspension machine. The current trend in full suspension bikes is to create more utilitarian, do everything bikes and Bionicon bikes are a prime example of a company that builds bikes that you can ride both up and down the mountain And for me that's what it's all about, a bike that does everything. If you love to ride and "shuttling" isn't in your vocabulary, then the Bionicon line of bikes are tailor made for you.
Strengths: the ironwood is the best huck/trail/climber i have ever ridden!!!!the one i rode weighed in at 38 pounds and climbed as well as it goes down..the frame is stout and stiff..the fork worked perfect...i am NOT nice to my bikes and this one can take anything you can throw at it...i hane done some BIG i mean BIG!! drops on it and rode it on a cross country ride smooth as buddah!!!!
if you ride in a place where the terrain demands alot of travel, this is the bike for you...i used to own 3 bikes for 3 types of riding , but since i got on the ironwood i only need one bike... this is truly an all mountain do it all bike!!! i hear bionicon has some smaller travel model bikes too and cant wait to see them!!!!! if you want only one bike that will do it all check out bionicons bikes..im stoked!!!!