Charge Blender Mid review£629.00

Dual personality dirt jumper & four-cross racer

BikeRadar score4/5

Charge developed the Blender for four-cross and dual racing but its natural agility makes it an enthusiastic all-round dirt bike for smooth riders and speed fiends. And the new Mid model is ready to hit the gate from the get-go.

The Blender Mid is an excellent dual slalom or four-cross bike that’s still great fun to jump and just mess around on. The quality steel frame adds smoothness and flow when you need it most. A full chain guide, close ratio block, and quality tyre race spec back up the frame’s potential to the full.

The slack geometry takes some learning at first and we’re a bit worried that  the light wheels might not cope with too many heavy landings.

Ride & handling: fast & muscular for four-cross & dual

Chain guide, race block and slack speed friendly angles even with a 100mm fork it’s immediately obvious that the Charge is designed first and foremost as a four-cross and dual slalom race bike.

With fast accelerating wheels, semi slick rear and the lowest  weight on test, it rips away from start gates or out of berms with real urgency and the slack angles feel better the faster you push it.

The slim steel frame puts a muscular spring behind your efforts, while skimming off the sharpest hits. While it sounds stupid, having great brakes means you’re less likely to use them too, all of which creates a bike that loves to push the speed limit wherever possible.

The handling does occasionally catch you out by flopping around at slower speeds and it tripped up a few times until we got used to it on run ins and run outs.

But once you know what to expect, the Charge is a really friendly, easy-to-air dirt bike. It doesn’t move around quite as easily as the DMR Drone Reptoid and Identiti 666S Comp but it’s definitely more balanced than the Kona Shred, encouraging our novices and letting our top riders really strut their stuff.

While the handling can bite occasionally we said thanko to the Sanko steel frame numerous times for forgiving our thumping overshoot landings without fracturing us or itself. 

The short, single size seat tube means average sized riders will be lucky to get the seat to ‘proper’ pedalling height, but it’s better than a BMX.

In fact if you don’t mind feeling a bit crushed on climbs, the Charge will even mix up cross-country antics on short blasts.

Its rolling stability translates surprisingly well to slopestyle and short course downhill environments, although you’ll want more fork to reveal its potential here.

Frame: classy & nicely detailed

With its simple slim steel tubes and clever wraparound graphics pack, the Blender is a really classy looking bike.

Japanese Sanko double-butted chromoly steel means the beauty is more than skin deep, producing a frame that’s noticeably pliable when landings don’t go as planned.

Long throat gusset, machined head tubes and custom cast thick plate dropouts keep everything connected on bad air days.

Neat indents on the chainstays mean plenty of tyre room despite the short back end, while gear cables and brake hose are tucked neatly under the top tube.

Although vertical dropouts mean a chain tensioner will be needed to go singlespeed, it’s one of the few bikes of this type to sport an international standard chain guard mount (ISCG) on the bottom bracket, which will please racers.

If you really want to outsprint and outpimp everyone else, a titanium Blender is also available for £999.

Equipment: race-ready gear

One look at the Blender tells you it’s designed as a race-ready package.

The Truvativ chainguide makes full use of the ISCG frame mount to keep your chain locked down and you get a road style close ratio block on the back to avoid big jumps when you’re spinning to win.

The Charge benefits from the consistent, firm feel of hydraulic disc brakes rather than cables.

Relatively light Ditch Witch rims aren’t the toughest around, but they survived the Wrecking Crew OK.

They certainly accelerate well and their width fattens up the classic Kenda race tyre combo nicely.

Quick release axles mean quick wheel changes between heats if you puncture, although they’re ultimately not as secure as bolted wheels for jump work.

Truvativ’s Hussefelt cranks on a dedicated Howitzer heavy duty bottom bracket are a proven solid footing for gate efforts, big drops or heavy landings.

Matching bar and stem create a chunky cockpit while the Snafu grips and Charge saddle feel good.

The 08 model will come with a sturdy but heavier Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 3 fork and a SRAM rear mech to match the shifters.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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