Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

Charge made their name in sin­gle-speed and steel but have branched out since in­dus­try vet­eran Nick Larsen founded the com­pany back in 2006. In 2016 they be­gan mak­ing their Plug range of road bikes from alu­minium, al­though they’ve just 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 sale bar­gain – if the Plug 3 per­forms, of course.

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 use their 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. 7 Com­fort­able all-rounder ham­strung by laboured feel

BIKE SPECS 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 www.charge­

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