Charge Bikes diversify in 2011
While we were busy shooting some shouty new Cannondales at the recent Cycling Sports Group dealer launch in Poole, we couldn't help being drawn to the Charge Bikes also on show.
The brand has recently been acquired by CSG to fortify a beefy portfolio already containing GT, Mongoose and Cannondale, who were also busily preparing for the forthcoming Eurobike expo in Germany.
Despite being market leaders in the urban singlespeed movement, Charge do seem to have their feet on the ground. CW's Simon Smythe reviewed both the Plug and Juicer models over the last year ungrudgingly had to concede that these bikes are good value, and, especially the Juicer, well worth thinking about for all-round commuting and training duties.
Both those models continue for 2011 but with added permutations including a women's Mixte frame option called Hob and a Plug with a Gates drive belt.
Which is all good but what we thought you'd really like is a blinging no-holds-barred titanium cyclo-cross bike. As well as a couple of handsome and reasonably-priced cyclo-cross models that you really could race as well as providing practical every day duty.
The full-on mud-plugger is called Freezer and with Tange Ultimate Ti tubing and a £1,699 price tag for the frame and fork, it won't be for everyone but in this show stopper guise built up with SRAM Red components and Hope hoops, it was doing its job very admirably of diverting attention from the prima donna Cannondale SuperX.
The Charge Freezer Titanium. All the bells and whistles for a price so shocking that Charge are keeping quiet until Eurobike but the frame and fork is £1,699
Rather more in tune with the everyday need to get to work, we rather liked the two cyclo-cross-themed Filters which are essentially beefed-up versions of the Juicer that Simon liked so much.
Like the Juicer, there are 'Hi' and 'Mid' versions of Filter at £1,200 and £800 respectively but two details we liked cost nothing; the cables routed along the top of the top tube 'cross-style make a bike easy to lift about for day-to-day practical use. And the white painted rear of the Mid's mudguard, apparently inspired by a visit to Amsterdam, is a nice retro touch which is also impeccably sensible.
Charge Juicer Mid for £800 carries the DNA of a mud-plugger but with sensible attributes for commuting. Note the back mudguard with its white-painted rear.
Stop us if we're getting carried away here but Charge were also showing a new variant of their £800 Mixer straight-bar urban bike with the new Shimano 11-speed Alfine hub for £1,230. This is the first production bike to break cover so far with this new internally-geared option and we think it's going to be a sensation.
An ideal commuting bike? Plenty of customers and other manufacturers seem to think so with the Shimano Alfine 8 rear hub gears already a firm favourite. The Charge Mixer Alfine 11 is the first of the 11-speeds for £1,230.