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.
Charge cooker ti:Charge
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.