The first Scottish Grinduro event was the ideal location for Charge Bikes to show off some updates to its long standing drop-barred model, the Plug.
A history lesson
The Plug had humble origins as an about-town fixie. Charge somehow managed to perfectly time its launch to ride the early fashion wave as other manufacturers played catch up for years. It wasn’t easy though. When Head Honcho, Nick Larson showed the bike to his sales team, they were aghast. How the hell would they sell this oddity. They needn’t have worried. Container loads were selling as soon as they landed and suddenly Charge were at the forefront of a new craze.
Times move on, though, and so did the Plug. While there has always been a singlespeed version available, geared versions were produced, clearance for ‘cross introduced and recently a move from steel to aluminium. What always remained though was the commitment to making the Plug a bike that was as loved by newcomers to cycling as it was to experienced riders.
A new start
In its recent aluminium form, the Plug seemed to maybe lose a bit of what has set it apart from the sea of mid-range bikes. Charge recognised this, so for its 2018 iteration, we have an all new frameset and a return to steel. Manufactured by Tange (a name that is maybe not as well known as, say Reynolds, but will already have those of us who rode mountain bikes in the 90s going all misty-eyed), the skinny tubing has been specially developed with Charge. It is unusual to see such a slender looking bike, particularly outside of the realms of handmade custom builds. That’s not to say that the bike is old fashioned though. With clearance for up to 42c tyres, it features a bolt-thru rear end, tapered headtube (with external cups to keep the headtube in proportion to the 1 inch and 1 1/8th inch top and downtubes) and geometry that neatly balances ‘cross nimbleness and road stability. The bottom bracket will be BSA – thank the Lord! Tidy frame bosses allow the easy addition of racks and guards; from commuting to gravel adventures to the occasional CX race, the Plug should happily turn its wheels to the all.
- Steel frame with Tange Champion tubeset
- Titanium frameset only in the offing
- Carbon fork
- BSA bottom bracket
- Bolt-thru axles front and rear
- 700x42c max clearance, can be run with 650b
- External tapered headtube
The two paint finishes we saw looked pretty damn hot as well. Metallic oranges (Irn Bru anyone?) and greens set off the slinky looking frame to a tee. These pre-production models still needed a couple of tweaks before Charge will be happy to unleash them on the masses. A little more tyre clearance at the rear, small details. Build kit options and price points are still being decided, but expect to see a few levels of spec (sadly, it’s unlikely that they’ll come with the spanky Zipp wheels) as well as an EBB singlespeed option. At least one of the options are likely to include the suspension seatpost seen here. Apparently it offers a firm seated pedalling platform, but takes just a little more sting out of the trail. We’ll look forward to finding out.
In a refreshingly logical approach from Charge, the 2018 Plug will be available in… early 2018! We’ll get a test version in as soon as possible and take it through its paces.
Want to know more about Grinduro and the Isle of Arran? Check out Tom’s write up.
Tom’s trip was paid for by Charge Bikes/Fabric