Charge’s Blender High falls somewhere between jump bike and 4X racing machine. It has the same spec as a World Cup 4X ride, but mixes things up with a steel frame that will please any dirt jumper. What attracted us to the Blender is its minimalist look, spiced up with classy components such as the Charge grips and saddle.
Ride & handling: Uber-cool all-rounder that's at home on trails and 4X tracks
The Blender really spoke to our test riders who came from a downhill/4X racing and trail riding background thanks to its slack head angle, strong frame and 4X spec. When we rode up to the start of the dirt jump line we found ourselves sprinting, manual pumping and styling it up before we’d even hit anything.
Part of the test was done at a set of jumps we’ve never ridden before, but such was the confidence that the Blender inspired, we decided to hit the main line without really having a good look at it. Round the switchback berms and through the pump bumps, we were able to pick up speed effortlessly, enough to send us over the first double.
The Blender has a natural race feel so we squashed the rest of the line and made it through to the end first go. It felt comfortable straight away so going for big air wasn’t a problem.
Feeling compelled to ride all the lines at the jump spot, we started hitting really rough lips that had been smashed up by the locals with no problems at all. It wasn’t even hard to dodge a roller that had been left in the bottom of a transition – although it goes to show you should always check the line first!
The bike felt like it wanted to be chucked around, so we had lots of fun pulling huge whips and tabletops. The Blender excelled at whatever was put in front of it, making it a serious dirt jump bike that insists on going faster and bigger, meaning it’s very hard to put down.
Frame: Top-quality steel chassis blends minimalist looks with maximum strength
Whether you’re super-smooth or loose as a goose, you need to know your frame isn’t going to let you down. The Blender is made from top-quality Japanese Sanko chromoly steel, with a reinforced head tube and ISCG chain device mount, so you know you’re safe.
The Blender’s main feature is the slack head angle, which comes from 4X but translates convincingly into dirt jumping. Because it's a dirt jump-specific frame, there are no cable stops for a front mech. Vertical dropouts make switching to singlespeed possible.
Nice touches include the seatpost slot facing forward so the frame doesn’t fill with water in the rain. There’s also loads of clearance on the rear triangle if you want to fit wider tyres.
Equipment: Amazing spec, including great own-brand kit and RockShox fork
What sets the Blender High apart is its spec. We’ve already mentioned the own-brand grips and saddle, and they are sweet.
At the front of the Blender there’s a RockShox Argyle 409 Motion Control 100mm (3.9in) fork, with external rebound, which stands up well through rough berms and when you over-jump a section.
The through-axle adds stiffness and the short Truvativ stem gives extra control, as do the Kenda tyres. There’s a deeper tread tyre on the front and a semi-slick 4X-style speed tyre on the rear. This balance enables you to gain extra speed while pedalling and pumping through transitions, but never lose grip on the front end.
Hydraulic Avid Juicy 3 disc brakes make stopping effortless and consistent, something you can’t always say about cable operated brakes.
As you’d expect for a 4X-style jump-ready bike, the Blender has a single-ring chainguide transmission and a close ratio rear block. The Truvativ pedals are best suited to wide-footed riders, but their long pins mean your feet stick to them like glue.
On the downside, the Shimano chain snapped the first time we rode the bike, on the way up to a set of doubles – we got away with it, but it could have been nasty.