Charge made its name in singlespeed and steel but has branched out since industry veteran Nick Larsen founded the company back in 2006. In 2016 it began making its Plug range of road bikes from aluminium, although it recently announced the Plug will return to steel in 2018 because, says Larsen, "that’s what people know the brand for."
Thankfully, we managed to nab one of the alu numbers before production ends. With the impending change, you’ll probably bag yourself an end-of-line bargain — if the Plug 3 performs, of course.
- Charge goes steel for 2018 Plug and Cooker
- Fabric launches funky new pumps, saddles, lights and more for 2018
Charge Plug 3 spec overview
- Frame: 6061 series butted aluminium
- Fork: Carbon straight blade
- Wheels: Tubeless-ready Alex DRAW 1.9P
- Transmission: 50x34t Shimano Tiagra
- Brakes: Promax DSK-300 cable disc
The Charge Plug 3 is firmly in the all-rounder camp, utilising sturdy 6061 butted alu tubes and enormous tyres. For those new to cycling, butted means the tube’s ends are slightly thicker to add strength where tubes meet.
The slightly sloping top tube and mildly relaxed geometry smacks of all-day riding, ensuring it’s equally at home tearing up commutes as it is on long Sunday sojourns.
It’s also equally at home off-road as on thanks to the 42mm Maxxis Roamer tyres. Adventure tyres start around the 30mm mark, so Charge has gone to town with these.
Still, they provide appreciated grip when heading over saturated parks or grizzly trails, albeit that extra weight and thickness adds a laboured feeling on tarmac. Those tyres absorb and chuck out road buzz well, though, heightened further by the carbon forks. They’re also tubeless ready for extra puncture-protection, albeit the sealant would add further rolling weight that’s not required.
There are mounts for mudguards and panniers to cover climatic and stowage demands, while 10-speed Shimano Tiagra proficiently handles groupset duties. The ‘50-34 upfront 11-32 outback’ combo also feels about right for a bike of this genre.
Charge rightly uses its own saddle, the Spoon, as it’s a damn comfy beast and that’s one of the key sells of the Plug 3 — it’s really rather comfortable. Unfortunately, it lacks the va va voom of many all-rounders. Let’s hope it returns with the 2018 steel version.
Comfortable all-rounder hamstrung by laboured feel.