Sports

Bionic Runner offers a low-impact take on traditional running

Bionic Runner offers a low-imp...
It may look like it's made for cycling without sitting down, but the Bionic Runner is designed more for running without receiving impact injuries
It may look like it's made for cycling without sitting down, but the Bionic Runner is designed more for running without receiving impact injuries
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It may look like it's made for cycling without sitting down, but the Bionic Runner is designed more for running without receiving impact injuries
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It may look like it's made for cycling without sitting down, but the Bionic Runner is designed more for running without receiving impact injuries
It's intended to guide the user through a mid-foot running gait
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It's intended to guide the user through a mid-foot running gait
The device itself has a folding aluminum frame for transport in the back of a car, along with features such as dual mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Strumey Archer rear hub transmission
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The device itself has a folding aluminum frame for transport in the back of a car, along with features such as dual mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Strumey Archer rear hub transmission
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Running may be a great source of exercise, but it isn't exactly a low-impact workout – in fact, many runners are injured by the repeating jarring of their feet against the ground. That's why Australian startup Run4 developed the Bionic Runner. It looks like a seatless bicycle and is designed to replicate the motion of running, but without the "hard landing" at the bottom of every stride.

When first seeing the Bionic Runner, many people may think that it's more or less the same thing as the ElliptiGO – which is essentially a two-wheeled elliptical trainer. According to Run4 co-founder Dr. Henry Thomas, however, there's a key difference between the two.

"We discovered that running was a four stage process of leap, recovery, impact and drive," he says. "The existing cross trainers were all elliptical in nature or step machines. None captured the motion a runner's leg makes when they move."

As a result, the Bionic Runner was designed to guide users through a mid-foot running gait, allowing them to engage the same muscles that they would when running on the ground – while also protecting their joints from over-exertion. Additionally, it provides a bit of lift at the "toe-off" of every stride, plus users are able to increase or decrease resistance by shifting it into higher or lower gears.

The device itself has a folding aluminum frame for transport in the back of a car, along with features such as dual mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Strumey Archer rear hub transmission
The device itself has a folding aluminum frame for transport in the back of a car, along with features such as dual mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Strumey Archer rear hub transmission

The device itself has a folding aluminum frame for transport in the back of a car, along with features such as dual mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Strumey Archer rear hub transmission. It weighs 18 kg (39.7 lb).

Thomas and co-founder Steve Cranitch are now raising production funds for the Bionic Runner, on Kickstarter. A pledge of AUD$890 (about US$745) will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The planned regular price is AUD$1,490 ($1,250).

You can see it in action, in the pitch video below.

Sources: Run4, Kickstarter

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5 comments
Mel Tisdale
Seeing as it is designed to work the same muscle group as used when running, I imagine an exercise bike version would enable runners to keep up their training regime when conditions, such as fog, ice and snow etc. make running on roads and pavements too dangerous.
faceless minion
Nice looking alternative to running. Two caveats - 1. Your hip flexors get very little exercise. The "pedals" are lifting your legs. When running, you provide all of the effort to lift your legs. 2. When running, your stride length increases as you increase your speed. This device has only one stride length. That said, it would seem that if injuries are a problem, this device would help.
Stewart Mitchell
low impact is over rated
Bazyl
@faceless minion Caveat 1 - Version 2 will come with the ability to use clipless pedals so you can use the whole revolution similar to cycling - push (forward), step (down), pull (back), lift (up). Caveat 2 - Version 2 will come with longer rails (that extend past the handlebar/head tube) allowing for greater range of movement and stride length.
My question - will it be legal/allowed to ride on the pavement or only on the road?
unklmurray
I was born broken.....I can walk and run but not very far....If I walk 1 mile or run 1/2 mile ......I'm laid up for 2-3 days but I car ride my Bicycle for up to 75-100 miles a day The bicycle gives me "Fluid motion" walking / running just gives me jarring pain!! I really like this product!!