Issue 98 of Singletrack, out this week, has a feature about this new ‘Plus Size Revolution’ that appears to be coming our way – with bikes that feature 2.8in-3.25in tyres. There are pros and cons and evangelists and detractors on the topic. Some companies have launched a toe-dipping model or two, but not Charge. Charge Bikes’ Cooker Midi range is entirely 27+ wheeled and will be out in September.
See our lively debate on the topic on the Singletrack Forum, here.
We’ve been talking to Ash from Charge, who’s been riding Plus tyres for a year now before launching this range and quizzing him with all the questions you’d want to quiz a bike designer. No, these bikes aren’t Boost 148, because that instantly adds complexity and price – the Cookers start at £699 for the singlespeed version. Why spec the WTB Trailblazer at 2.8in instead of a ‘true’ 3in tyre? Well, having tested everything from 2.8 up to 3.25, Charge felt that the Trailblazer gave more of the ride and steering of a ‘normal’ mountain bike without the cartoon looks and self-steering feel of a true fat bike (which Charge makes anyway).
The Cooker Midi is specced with Charge’s own 40mm internal rim, which is 5mm narrower than the WTB Scraper rim, to save weight and to keep the tyre from being overly squared off. There’s SRAM 1x gearing on all bikes bar the singlespeed as Charge reckons this is how mountain bikers run their bikes these days (and Ash admitted they’d not even thought of fitting a front mech)
As is contemporary, the head angles are slackened off slightly over last year’s 29ers, the front centre is slightly longer and the stems, slightly (10mm) shorter. With the WTB 27+ tyres being around 14mm shorter than 29ers, this isn’t a direct port of the 29er frame into a 27+. The chainstays have been shortened and the BB height adjusted to take into account the shorter tyre too.
With prices from £700 up to £3,000 there’s certainly plenty of choice for the chubby-curious rider and as bikes will be on sale in shops from September, they’ll be one of the first companies to have a full range of bikes for people to try and buy.