Running is one of the most popular sports all around the world. No matter if you have a look in America, Europe or Asia, everywhere you see runners rushing through the streets. As running on hard ground like asphalt can cause painful injuries to your joints, many sporty guys can’t get to their full potential. On a personal note, I was never been a great runner. In fact in my youth I was playing volleyball and a lot tennis (this mainly on hard court), so my knees are quite f…ed up. As my partner is a serious runner, I wanted to start also, which ended up in a lot of knee pain. So I was looking into some low-impact options and stumbled over the Bionic Runner. Not a bike, not an elliptical trainer…more a mix of both of them, to use in the great outdoors. Have a feeling of running without affecting the joints. The Bionic Runner came to life through a Kickstarter campaign in 2014. Let’s have a deeper look into the product, the story behind it and what happened after the campaign.
The low impact Bionic Runner
The Bionic Runner was an invention of Steve Cranitch, an Australian guy who has a huge passion for running. As he was struggling with main issues of running, impact fatigue and over extension, he came up with an idea to make a bike-like product, which imitates running to perfection. So runners, who have issues with their joints, could have an effective and tough training session with the Bionic Runner. This device was and is the only product, which gives the runner the actual feeling of running without the injury risks. You can simply cruise through the city or parks, driving on asphalt without having the impact on the joints. The Kickstarter community was really excited about the Bionic Runner and although it was asking for around 800 USD, nearly 300 people backed the project. Estimated delivery should have been March 2015, the project was delayed by around 3 months. The backers who received their Bionic Runner have been very happy and so the success story started.
Success after the crowdfunding campaign
When the campaign was over, Steve Cranitch opened up his website run4.com where people were able to purchase the Bionic Runner. It did not take long and a 2nd Generation model was released which included some changes suggested from backers. As run4.com is an Australian company, the worldwide success was difficult to achieve due to high shipping and custom fees. That’s why there have been different distribution centers in America and Europe to guarantee a successful start and a hassle free shopping experience. Potential buyers could even grab a great discount when purchasing the Bionic Runner by offering some reviews and also be available for potential buyers to test the product before buying. As the Bionic Runner is not available in any shops, in my opinion this was a genius idea and marketing strategy. You could find a lot of text reviews on the run4 website, but on Youtube is not so much to find, at least compared the only competing products of the ElliptiGo range. Those vehicles are similar but not targeting runners in a way the Bionic Runner does.
The downward spiral – Product recall
After some success, there has been an incident which might have put a stop to the whole project. In 2016 has been a recall of the pedals used in the 2nd Generation Bionic Runner. Customers who bought the Bionic Runner were provided with a free replacement of the pedals as there have been incidents when the pedals were simply cracking off the Bionic Runner while in use, resulting in some bad injuries. I do not have any specific information on this, I have only found this information through my Google research when I got interested in the product. It seemed though that Run4 was able to handle this negative situation in a good way, as you can’t really find a lot of negative feedback on the whole story. So this should not have caused too much of a bad reputation, in fact it seemed due to this story, more people got aware of the product itself and caused therefore some traffic and potential new customers to the company.
Run4 and the Bionic Runner had a very active Facebook page, also the Twitter account had regular posts about news, runners training suggestions and nutrition info. They even published a free running magazine which was available for download as pdf-file. Everything seemed to grow and becoming a long time success story, the happy ending which started in a crowdfunding campaign.
The brand seems to be dead
In time of writing this article everything had turned upside down. As I got very interested in the Bionic Runner, I had to find out that the shop on run4.com is empty, no products are available and also no information on when or if they will be available again.
The very active Facebook page had it lasts post in December 2017, also the Twitter account showed the last life sign on December with a Youtube video about the 4 unique features of the Bionic Runner. So basically a promotion why it is an awesome product to have, but no sign of setting the brand to die. In the middle of March 2018 I have contacted the company run4 through the contact form on their website, also wrote them a message on Facebook. As of today I have not received ANY response of them at all. My Facebook message was not even read. It appears that the company is not operating anymore. With some research I have also found a Facebook group called “Bionic Runners” in which the creator Steve Cranitch is one the two admins. I have asked to join the group as the group is a closed one, so no content is visible if you are not a member there. As of today I can not find that group with my Facebook account anymore, so I assume my request to join was denied and I got blocked or whatever.
Will there be a comeback?
It would be sad to see this amazing product vanish into empty space as I believe, the Bionic Runner could have been a great opportunity for runners who are having issues with injuries or their joints in general. The idea of putting a low-impact concept on the high-impact sport of running is genius as running is and will be still one the favorite sports of all for a lot of people. There are not many other options available beside the ElliptiGo bikes, which are higher priced than the Bionic Runner was. Personally I am hoping that in the near future run4 will show some signs of life and will come back to market, maybe with a different model.
If you have any knowledge what happened to Steve Cranitch and his company run4.com, please leave a comment and bring some light into this dark end of the story. It would be really great to see him and the Bionic Runner rise up again.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful spring time.