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Bionic Runner – Crowdfunding – Success – Failure(?!?)

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.

Joe

 

 

 

 

64 Comments

  1. As of May 2018 Facebook page is still very active with users. On 21st February 2018 Steve Cranitch posted this:

    “Dear Brunners,
    We have closed the business and are no longer trading as of today.
    Why
    We have just discovered that we had again been cheated by a Chinese supplier. We had a similar thing happen after the Kickstarter campaign and we paid for new moulds and took the previous supplier to court – we won and were awarded compensation, but they simply took it to a higher Chinese court and it is still ongoing 2.5 years later.
    We are no longer able to manufacture, so we have taken the extremely tough decision and closed the company. We are devastated.
    Carol and I have personally funded the company for the past 7 years, and have never drawn a wage or taken a cent from the company. We have had ongoing problems with Chinese suppliers and have been cheated out of an enormous amount of money over the past 3 years.”

    • Hi Ian,

      Thank you so much for you comment and for some clarity what is going on with the Bionic Runner. Steve Cranitch maybe should have posted this not only on his private Facebook page but also in the Run4 company facebook page because there is not activity since December 2017. Also the Run4 Website itself is still up and running with no indication that business stopped, just that no products are available. Maybe not all hope is lost and the Bionic Runner will have a comeback. In my opinion it is awesome and would have liked two for me and my partner…oh well, thats life…seems I am too late.
      Thank you again for your time reading my post and leaving the comment!
      All the best!!!
      Joe

      • Hi Joe,
        I bought a predator model around July this year on a whim and have only ridden it around my block once. They told me it was the last one they had in Australia as they were closing down. It’s been in my garage this whole time and I’ll be happy to give it a new home. I’m in Melbourne, so let me now if interested.
        Thanks
        Phil

        • Hi Phil,
          Thank you for taking the time to read my article and your comment. As I am not based in Australia, it is basically impossible to get my hands on your Predator. But maybe some of the readers will be interested and get in touch with you.
          Why is it just in your garage instead of riding with you through Melbourne?
          Have a happy new year!
          Joe

        • Hi there, I would love to buy your model. Have been looking for a second hand model online with no luck.

          Please let me know how you would like to proceed going forward. I can have my Australian forwarding address ship it to me in sunny South -Africa

          • Hi Marie
            I have a 4 Runner
            that I am not using .
            It is basically brand new as I overcame the injury very quickly and was back running .
            I am in Brisbane.
            Regards

          • Hi Jon.
            I had my Bionic Runner in Perth stolen a month ago. I am sadly in the market for a replacement. If you still have yours (i see your post was only a week ago)
            , let me know and we can try and sort something out. Here’as hoping!
            rfreitag@stmarys.wa.edu.au
            rob

      • Hi Joe, I´m a spanish BR lover from 2016 and I share not any standbike today is comparable to our BR. Very sad/bad notice not to be continued on market but very good notice that most of BR owners are interested on his continuity. I hope people like Jesse Javens may give new impulse for the desired comeback.
        On my opinion i found three mistakes that may be avoided so:
        1.- Manufacturing: Recognized Quality Standards.
        2.- Architecture: No folding model/ yes one piece model frame.
        3.- Supply: Just to ride, direct on site sales. No assemble/join equipment to ensure structural/assemble security.
        Yes, I now we meant 500-100$ more but I think this is the way. People demand security and warranty.
        Hi folks.

  2. Run4 did their best to take care of those of us who purchased Gen2 or Predator models as they prepared to shut down. In February they sent out an email allowing people to buy replacement rollers. The rollers were about the only custom part that was subject to wear. I bought a set to ensure that I would be able to enjoy my Predator for many years. I hope they can find new financing and come back to market.

    • Thanks Rick for the info about replacement rollers. Would you happen to know if more rollers are still available? If so, could you post the link for those of us who didn’t receive the email?
      Thanks much,
      John

    • Hi Rob
      I have one for sale. Only used a handful of times and in great condition. If you are still interested let me know.
      Trish

      • Trish or any other Bionic owner! I’d love to purchase a bionic runner and have it shipped to the US. Please email mutantatoms@ yahoo .com (without the spaces) if you have one for sale!!
        Thanks!
        ELO

        • Bionic Runner Predator available, Portland, OR. 2 years old, replaced rollers and new ceramic Acer bearings in rollers. Well maintained and stored in dry garage. Has about 2500-3000 miles on it with 145lb rider. In view of the reported frame problems, you would obviously buy this at your own risk. It would be interesting to see if a clever bike shop or metal shop could reinforce the posterior strut of the bike. Let me know if you are interested. I have loved this bike and with two bad knees it has been my routine exercise.

  3. I got this today as Steve and Carol continue to look out for us:

    “Hi

    Please check your predator frame before every ride for potential cracks, and ensure that all bolts are securely tightened.

    We have had reports of a frame cracking along the green line below. This is through the main tube at the rear of the bike above where the gusset weld is.

    Please check your frame before you ride and check it before every ride for potential cracks. If you hear unusual noises stop and investigate where they are coming from. A crack can develop into a catastrophic failure of the frame and could seriously injury you.

    You can use a crack detection system like https://www.ebay.com/itm/Flawtek-Weld-Metal-Crack-Flaw-Detection-Complete-3-Part-Kit/141181661281?hash=item20df153061:g:Af8AAOSwkNZUfFk3 or ask your bicycle shop to check for you.”

    My heart goes out to Steve and Carol. This is a great idea. So sorry to read all of this. What do i do with my Predator? 🙁 is it safe to ride? I’m rather heavy and am really worried about this crack.

    Thanks for posting this Joe

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment and clarification. It is really sad how this whole story turned out. I really hope and wish that someday the Bionic Runner will be back on the market, maybe then without chinese scammers.

      Joe

  4. The mistake was having the productime manufactured in China. They steal everything they produce. Wouldn’t surprise me if a knock-off version of the BR shows up overseas.

    • Hey Michael,
      Thank you for reading and commenting! Nowadays most products are “Made in China”, some producers are honest and deliver great quality. Some are black sheeps and cheat and steal ideas. To be honest I am also curious if in the near future a knock-off will appear on Alibaba and other chinese websites.
      I am still hoping that the Bionic Runner will have a comeback by the original inventor. It looks really awesome and I wish I would have discovered it earlier.
      Joe

      • Does anyone know how to get the replacement pedals. It seems the website is not responsive and I have thoroughly surfed the web to see if they can be purchased but so far nothing.

        • Hi Roy,

          So sorry for the missing pedals!! Maybe you can try to contact Steve on Facebook?

          Good luck!

          Joe

  5. Howdy,
    I recently bought a bionic runner, new in the box from ebay, but it did not include pedals (nor instructions). I assume that these were packaged after the recall of the pedals and one was supposed to get the replacement. My question is if the replacement pedals are available anywhere. If not what would be a suitable pedal. I tried putting on standard bike pedals but it doesn’t quite work.

    • Maybe Elliptigo would sell you a pair of pedals they use on their SUB stand up bike?

      • Hi Jay,

        Thank you for your comments and I am so sorry that I did not see them earlier, but due to holidays I took also some time completely off the internet.
        I think your idea with the Elliptigo pedals could be a good solution, if they would fit the Bionic Runner…especially if they have the same thread. Anyone on need could contact them.
        Sorry again for not reacting quicker to your comments! They are much appreciated.
        Joe

  6. Hi, looking for replacement stirrups. I am considering fabricating a new set. Does anyone have a set for sale or have figured out a solution for the bikes sold with no stirrups.

    Also would be interested building a part replacement database for bearings, discs, wheels, etc. some sort of user friendly look-up or pet cross reference as people are coming up with clever solutions and modifications.

    • John, did you get any traction on your stirrups (L-bar to pedals) and the replacement database? I am interested in a project and may get one of these.

  7. Really sorry to hear that Run4 and Bionic Runner has gone defunct. I’ve enjoyed the Predator model since 3/2017 and have put about 2000 miles on it so far. I was concerned about the metal fatigue issue and had been attempting to contact Steve or Carol Cranitch over the past few months with no success. Local bike shops obviously know nothing about this product. Hopefully mine will not suffer the “catastrophic failure” they mentioned in the safety notice. That notice seems to have been the last note they posted by email before closing down.

  8. I would really like to make contact with Steve Cranitch I own a stainless steel and metal manufacturing business and believe I could help revive the Bionic runner. I do own one and love it, and after analyzing the frame and parts feel we could easily manufacture this to “USA” standards. I would be interested in helping or taking over the project and or company but have not found a way to contact him.

    • Hi Jesse,
      That sounds fantastic! Would be great to get the Bionic Runner back on the market. Maybe one of the readers is in contact with Steve Cranitch on Social Media and can point him to you? Unfortunately I have no contact details of him. Or maybe you can get in touch with him through the Kickstarter campaign page…if you write him there a message, he might get back to you!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Joe

  9. Hi Joe – thanks for the article. I too was looking to acquire the BR and sadly learned they were no longer.
    However, you might be very interested in a similar stand-up bike/runner – that I just learned about, and recently test rode. They are manufactured/assembled/built in Marin (home to the mountain bike). I found it to be an amazingly fun stand-up ‘bike’, a great work out, great to cross-train for running – and just top notch, overall. They just sold out for 2018, but expect more available by May, 2019 – I can’t wait to put an order in. I’m a current Elliptigo rider, and the Cyclete takes standup striding to a whole new level. They have a very active FB page as well. Good luck!
    http://www.cyclete.com/

  10. Hi Joe – thanks for the article. I too was looking to acquire the BR and sadly learned they were no longer.
    However, you might be very interested in a similar stand-up bike/runner – that I just learned about, and recently test rode. They are manufactured/assembled/built in Marin (home to the mountain bike). I found it to be an amazingly fun stand-up ‘bike’, a great work out, great to cross-train for running – and just top notch, overall. They just sold out for 2018, but expect more available by May, 2019 – I can’t wait to put an order in. I’m a current Elliptigo rider, and the Cyclete takes standup striding to a whole new level. They have a very active FB page as well. Good luck!
    Website is: Cyclete dot com

  11. Hi. Thanks for making this post. I had know idea the company had gone under and stumbled onto this site looking for the Run4 site. I have a bionic runner that I’d like to sell. I received replacement rollers for it soon after I bought. I can send pictures to whoever’s interested.

  12. Hi,

    My Gen2 suffered from the fatal crack in October 2017. Run4 delivered a new Predator as a replacement (I paid the difference) on January 2018. I loved the machine and rode it for a year, covering 2200 kms. Sadly enough, the frame broke again last Sunday (6 January). It seems to me there’s a serious design error, I have ordered an Elliptigo 11r as a replacement but I will really miss my Predator!

    • Hi Marco,
      Thank you for reading my blog post and your comment.
      I am really sorry, that you had bad luck with two Bionic Runners. It is sad to see that the Bionic Runner vanished completely off the market as it was such a unique product. As a small company like Run4, you really rely on your manufacturer and supplier. Issues can cause than a complete shut down. Seems to me, that is what happened here.
      Anyway hope you have fun with your Elliptigo. Purchased myself a second-hand Elliptigo Arc8, just waiting now for Spring/Summer to get going with it.

      Thanks again!

      Best regards,
      Joe

    • I have a predator with 45 minutes on it with replacement rollers still in the box. 1500$. Bill york PA.

  13. Hi Joe,
    This is Michael from China, I personally involved in the product production. I know exactly what happed in between Steven and the Chinese suppliers (not only one supplier). There are similar bikes are still in manufacturing in China so please contact me if you are interested in trying it out.

    • Hi Michael,
      Thank you for your comment!
      I guess many readers would like to know what exactly happened. Maybe you could bring some more light in the whole story.
      Unfortunately the only real option beside the Bionic Runner are the bikes from Elliptigo as they are available worldwide.

      Best regards,
      Joe

      • My post was removed after 15 minutes re a predator for sale in York PA. Do I need to give you more info?

  14. Hi All,
    I love my BR. I am very saddened to hear the company has closed. Having dealt with the chinese……. they make it very difficult to say the least.
    To Steve & Carol – I feel so sorry for you. You should feel cheated.
    Kind regrds
    Kim (WA)

  15. I purchased a Predator in the winter of 2018 and rode it for about six months. The pedal snapped off while I was cycling at 10MPH. Because you are standing on the pedal this is more of an issue than if it were a bike and you were seated. I have an Eliptigo and a Bionic Runner. Both are good but the Bionic Runner was my preferred trainer. My girl friend, who is a marathon runner, would use the Eliptigo and I would use the Bionic Runner. I liked that I could work harder on the Bionic Runner and it was more like running. If I could fix the pedal and maybe reinforce the frame I would. Is there anyway to reinforce the frame – weight is not an issue as I use it for training not performance. Sorry that this company had problems. I spoke with the owners when I bought the bike and they seemed to be good people trying make a good product.

  16. I have barely used bionic runner for sale Lincoln NE. It was purchased 2 years ago. My shoulder doesn’t like it, sadly

    • I have a Predator in Santa Monica, CA. I bought it after tearing a meniscus. Got the knee scoped and I am back running. The only problem was a creak in the handlebars that I fixed with a tip from Steve. Since I am running again, I would be happy to sell it. It would probably only make sense for a buyer in So Cal to pick it up. rkissler@msn.com.

  17. I have one I don’t really want It is from the original kickstarter promotion and has has basically 5 mins on the road The condition of the tyres would be proof of that
    I am in Brisbane.

  18. Bionic Runner Predator available, Portland, OR. 2 years old, replaced rollers and new ceramic Acer bearings in rollers. Well maintained and stored in dry garage. Has about 2500-3000 miles on it with 145lb rider. In view of the reported frame problems, you would obviously buy this at your own risk. It would be interesting to see if a clever bike shop or metal shop could reinforce the posterior strut of the bike. Let me know if you are interested. I have loved this bike and with two bad knees and prostate problems, it has been my routine exercise. I’m planning on moving on to a Cyclete.

  19. Hi
    I have a Run4 Bionic Runner that is no longer used and was my late husbands if anyone is interested in it I live in Brisbane. It has the name Kenda on it.

    • Hi Sharon, is this still available? I am interested and located in Brisbane.

  20. Available in DC: Original Run4 Bionic Runner from original owner (June 2015) with handlebar modification (narrowed such that handlebar grips are a bit closer together). Rode less that 15 minutes total. Non-ortho health issue kep me from getting into it. Email me at IndigoSeaKat@gmail.com

    • Kathy,
      I am in Maryland and would be interested in your Bionic. I sent you an email. Thanks!

  21. Hello,
    Does anyone know where to find replacement rollers for the bionic runner? Thanks, David

  22. [REPOSTING] Available in DC: Original Run4 Bionic Runner (Original owner; June 2015) with handlebar modification (professionally narrowed such that handlebar grips are a bit closer together – crowd recommended hack). Rode less than 15 minutes total. Non-ortho health issue kept me from getting into it. Email me at IndigoSeaKat@gmail.com

  23. I hope the production will start again. It is an awesome product. We purchased two and I am using only one. The other one is in like new condition and comes with a few spare parts. Please feel free to email me at cycleman10000@gmail.com if you are interested.

  24. Please let me know if you are aware of how to contact Steve or Carol.

    • Hi Geof,
      Unfortunately I have no idea. Maybe one of the other readers do? Anyone??
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Joe

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