Friday, June 15, 2007
Charge Stove: first impression review
Edit: I posted a follow up to this review a few weeks later.
Since my lovely Trek 1000 got nicked by some TEA LEAF SCUM in Mile End a few months ago, I have been on the hunt for a new bike to use to commute to work. I do still already have two bikes, but a heavy full-suspension bike is a bit overkill for the Barcelona seafront, and let's face it, a BMX really isn't the most practical of tools for commuting. All of which gave me a handy excuse to try out a bike I've had my eyes on for a while, the Charge Stove.
Charge are a newish British bike company and the Stove is their bottom-of-the-range 'Pub' bike. It's a rather bizarre label, and it means that da kidz over at the comic's forums get very confused. To paraphrase a typical young know-it-all's opinion "the Stove is not a jump bike or a street bike. It's a pub bike. Can't you tell that by looking at it?"
Well, I'd class a 'pub' bike as one that's as-near-to-free-as-possible, and impossible-to-be-nicked (rather like a Barcelona Bicing - they really are great). And while the Stove fits neither of the above criteria, I'll just run us through a list of what I'd expect to see in your average jump/street riding bike, and we can see how many boxes the Charge ticks:
- Heavy chromoly frame with gussets in all the right places. Check.
- Heavy chromoly forks with oversized dropouts. Check.
- Heavy chromoly 3-piece cranks. Check.
- Heavy wide rims supporting heavy fat tyres, built on heavy 10mm axle hubs. Check.
- Single speed, with heavy BMX chain linking heavy chainring and heavy freewheel. Check.
Now I don't know about you, but I see a theme developing here, wouldn't you agree? Okay okay, so the geometry's all wrong for an out and out jump bike - the top tube is rather high and seat tube a little too straight; but it's certainly not going to fall apart on you in a hurry. And, in fairness, the little squirts at the comic forums do have some sort of a point - because it isn't designed to be and out-and-out jump/street bike. That frame geometry enables you to raise the saddle to a respectable commuting height, which makes it the perfect commuting-while-being-able-to-stop-by-the-skate-park-on-the-way-home bike, or the Cwbatsbtsp. Doesn't roll off the tongue in the same way as 'pub bike' bike, I'll give them that. The only shame is the confusion such branding causes for da kidz. Ah well.
So how does it ride? Well a full analysis of its ability to commute to work along the Barcelona sea front, periodically stopping to play on interesting street furniture, will follow forth-with. For now my experience is limited to riding from Kings Cross to Cricklewood (oh yeah, I'm in London til next Wednesday, by the way, for work), and going out for a little play this evening. However, I can confirm that it's really rather good fun. It commutes perfectly adequately, yet with the saddle slammed down it hops very easily and rides really smooth, basically like a 26" BMX. Good fun, and I'm very pleased I bought it.