Removing anything likely to get ruined by winter has always been a great way to build an all-weather bike. Charge has helpfully got rid of everything already, leaving its Stove ‘pub bike’ ideal for short blasts on hibernating trails, or just rolling down to your local without worrying about attracting light-fingered attention.
The Charge is essentially a 26in wheel version of a 24in ‘Cruiser’ BMX and it handles in a similarly hectic and highly manoeuvrable way. The 50mm stem and fat legged forks make for super fast zero deviation steering that snaps in and out of traction very quickly, making it nervy for novices but capable of crazy quick direction changes in the right hands. Those hands are going to need to be pretty tough though, as the fat fork and braced bar put every ping and punch from the trail straight through your palms.
Generous length main tubes mean the general ride experience is bearable rather than unremittingly punishing, though. It’ll hurt if you hammer through stuff regardless, but ridden smoothly you won’t be too much of a wreck, even after a couple of hours.
Considering the ‘unbreakable’ kit, we were really surprised by the relatively low weight of the bike too, which meant the Stove charged up hills and leapt out of corners when we stamped on the big steel cranks. Long stretch meant it was a happy prolonged pedaller too, albeit at the expense of snap manoeuvrability if you’re jumping or jiving it down the local ramp farm or urban grind.
On the subject of grinding, bolted hubs mean fitting pegs is easy, either for park bench/rail punishment or giving ‘backies’ down to the brewhouse. They also reduce the risk of anyone running off with the wheels, should you leave it locked up while you lubricate yourself. The rear hub is also double sided, so you can pick two freewheel ratios and flip when you need too.
Production bikes will have changes from what we tested. The three- piece steel crankset will be replaced with a single ring Truvativ Ruktion unit, which should save a ton of weight. The BMX theme continues through an Atomlab block stem and tall braced steel bars, flanged mushroom grips and reinforced Charge ‘Stool’ seat. They all fit nicely into the overall character of the bike and are all built to last, however many times they hit the ground.
The Stove is basically a BMX that’s big enough to ride properly but still burly and agile enough to do silly stuff on. It comes complete with an equally sturdy ‘do what you want, we won’t break’ kit selection that’s just an open invitation to have as much fun as your nerve and bone density allows. We’d certainly be surprised if your rides down the pub on it didn’t become serious (and more frequent) sessions in themselves.