Charge’s Plug range looks amazing, from the entry Plug 0 right up to this top-of-the-range titanium number. And, in our experience, if a bike looks the part, it often rides superbly, too. That said, there’s a big leap in the price from the Plug 4 to the 5, which is primarily due to the swap from steel to titanium.
Much is written in print and online about the metal’s character and lively feel, and it rings true here. The ride is similar to a really good steel bike; it’s like a coiled spring is nestling beneath you and ready to fire in the direction it’s pointed. That ti foundation is complemented by the brilliant Fabric saddle and bar tape.
Yes, the complete bike weighs a relatively hefty 10.22kg for our large sample, but despite that and its 42mm Maxxis tyres it’s certainly no slouch, weaving its way in and out of traffic with effortless speed.
Fabric’s brilliant bar tapeJonny Ashelford
Charge Plug 5 ride impression
While the tyres and frame work together for comfort over cobbles and the like, that’s not to the detriment of efficiency. No noticeable flex is evident at the BB area or through the chainstays, even under heavy pedalling loads.
Beyond the stunning visuals, you also notice the lack of a front mech and the huge cassette trying to hide out the back. A trickle down from SRAM’s mountain and CX bike groupsets, the Rival1 set-up is ideal for the Plug.
A 10-42t range combined with a 40t front gives you all the gears you could ever need, unless you insist on riding excessively steep hills all day. Shifting is crisp and accurate, and with the narrow, wide chainring up front, it’s secure enough for when you want to take it off road.
And that’s what makes this bike fun to ride — it has the potential for riding the road (while jumping the speed bumps) to your local spot, and then scaring yourself (in a good way) on the trails as you try to learn how to descend on drops with reduced grip, before easily riding home again. In fact, so versatile is the Plug 5 and so much fun that many of our traditional road commutes ended up on cross-terrain.
Charge Plug 5 early verdict
A versatile bike that’ll happily have you doubling your commute
Charge Plug 5 pricing and availability
£2,500 / US$4,000. Australian pricing not available.