Charge Cooker 29ers - First look

New four-bike line-up for 2012

Charge's Nick Larsen once swore he'd never make a 29er, so it's a bit of a surprise to see four big-wheelers in the British company's 2012 line-up. "I'm kicking myself for saying 29ers were sh*t and we weren't going to do them," he told What Mountain Bike magazine. "I'm disappointed I wasn't more open-minded as now I love riding them."

The new Cooker bikes are competitively priced and have been designed from the ground up, with geometry that's designed to make them feel as similar as possible to Charge's 26in-wheeled bikes. A steep 71° head angle sharpens up the steering and gives a more sprightly feel, while long chainstays (459mm) and top tube (596mm, effective) add stability.

Topping the range is the titanium-framed Cooker Ti, with a projected frame weight of 3.5lb. Pricing of this model is still to be determined. Medium and large frames are designed around a 100mm-travel fork, while the small sizes use an 80mm fork. The other three bikes are made from Tange Infinity steel, which adds about 2lb to the frame weight but brings the price below £1,000.

Steel Cookers have 73.5° seat angles but the Ti version's is 1° slacker. Use of a straight rather than curved tube increases front mech choice

The priciest steel model, the Cooker Hi, comes in at £999 with a RockShox fork and SRAM X5 components. A step below that is the £799 Cooker Mid, with a more basic Suntour suspension fork. The Cooker Rigid is just that, and looks like it could make a great winter hack bike/commuter. Sadly, it won't be available in the UK for 2012.

So what caused the turnaround at Charge HQ? "If our US customers are saying they're not going to buy 26ers then my stubborn pig-headedness had to be put aside to see if we should do it," said Larsen, adding that at first, he had to force himself to ride the 29er test mules.

However, after a couple of rides, that all changed. "[Then] we were into them and really loving them," said Larsen. "I rode my Ti Charge Duster 26er and realised how much better the 29er was in most situations. I was a sceptic then but now I'm not. In pretty much any situation now, I'd choose a 29er."

You can see the specs of the Cooker Mid and Hi below; details of the other models haven't been finalised. For more on the new bikes, check out issue 124 of What Mountain Bike magazine (Summer 2011), on sale now. To subscribe, click here. They have one on its way to test, so look out for a review later this summer. Production bikes and frames should be available by October. See www.chargebikes.com for more info.

Charge Cooker Hi

  • Frame: Tange Infinity (seamless, double-butted chromoly)
  • Fork: Rockshox XC-28 29in
  • Crankset: SRAM X5 GXP, 10-speed, 38/24T
  • Bottom bracket: Truvativ GXP outboard
  • Pedals: Wellgo M-21 Alloy
  • Front derailleur: SRAM X5
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM X5 long cage
  • Shifters: SRAM X5, 10-speed
  • Cassette: SRAM PG 1030, 11-36T
  • Chain: YBN S10
  • Rims: Alex SX-44, 29in, double wall, 32H
  • Rear hub: SRAM MTH-406, 32H
  • Front hub: SRAM MTH-406, 32H
  • Tyres: Kenda Karma 2.1in, 29in, skinwall
  • Spokes: 14g stainless, brass nipples
  • Brakes: Avid Elixir 1, 160mm rotors
  • Handlebar: Shield 9'r MTB, double-butted, 700mm
  • Stem: Shield MTB, 5 degree, 31.8mm
  • Grips: Charge Griddle lock-on
  • Headset: FSA TH-875
  • Saddle: Charge Spoon
  • Seatpost: Shield, two-bolt

Charge Cooker Mid

  • Frame: Tange Infinity (seamless, double-butted chromoly)
  • Fork: Suntour XCR-LO 29in, 100mm travel, alloy steerer
  • Crankset: Suntour XCR T414, 44/32/22T
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano UN-26
  • Pedals: Wellgo M-21 Alloy
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Alivio
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Alivio long cage
  • Shifters: Shimano Alivio, nine-speed
  • Cassette: Shimano HG-30, 11-34T
  • Chain: YBN S9C
  • Rims: Alex SX-44, 29in, double wall, 32H
  • Rear hub: Formula DC22-LW
  • Front hub: Formula DC20-LW
  • Tyres: Kenda Karma 2.1in, 29in, skinwall
  • Spokes: 14g stainless, brass nipples
  • Brakes: Tektro Draco Pro, 160mm rotors
  • Handlebar: Shield 9'r MTB, double-butted, 700mm
  • Stem: Shield MTB, 5 degree, 31.8mm
  • Grips: Charge Griddle lock-on
  • Headset: FSA TH-875
  • Saddle: Charge Spoon
  • Seatpost: Shield, two-bolt

Charge Cooker Rigid

  • Frame: Tange Infinity (seamless, double-butted chromoly)
  • Fork: Tange Infinity rigid 29er
  • Crankset: Suntour XCT-V2 T302, 42/32/22T
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano UN-26
  • Pedals: Wellgo M-21 Alloy
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Altus
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Altus long cage
  • Shifters: Shimano Altus, eight-speed
  • Cassette: Shimano HG-31, 11-34T
  • Chain: YBN S8C
  • Rims: Alex SX-44, 29in, double wall, 32H
  • Rear hub: Formula DC22-LW
  • Front hub: Formula DC20-LW
  • Tyres: Kenda Karma 2.1in, 29in, skinwall
  • Spokes: 14g stainless, brass nipples
  • Brakes: Tektro Novela cable disc, Pro-Max XL-91 levers
  • Handlebar: Shield 9'r MTB, 700mm
  • Stem: Shield MTB, 5 degree, 31.8mm
  • Grips: Charge Griddle lock-on
  • Headset: FSA TH-875
  • Saddle: Charge Spoon
  • Seatpost: Shield, two-bolt

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