Just in Exclusive! Charge Grinder

… Like a Plug but with mudguards which for some reason makes it unaccountably prettier

by Tony Farrelly   March 16, 2009  

Charge Plug Grinder riding 2

We first saw the Plug Grinder last September at Eurobike and we've been trying to get our hands on one ever since. Ahead of its UK release our wish has been granted, in fact ahead of the shipment landing this is the only Plug Grinder in the UK… and possibly the world.

That deficiency is about to be rectified but in the meantime we've got the chance tro try out the final prototype. Changes on the final bike will be minimal – and they're all concentrated on the back end: that rear guard will be a tad longer so that the end of it lines up horizontally with the rear hub and the chainstay bridge is going to move a few millimetres to give a snugger fit for the rear mudguard.

So, what do you get for your money? Well… it's a Charge Plug with mudguards and a one colour paintjob – a very natty olive green. And yet, and yet, there is something about this bike that turns heads… even a bloke in a Maserati swivelled his head to get an eyeful as we wheeled it in to road.cc towers. Designery types who've been exposed to it have pronounced it “the best looking bike ever” so that's that demographic sewn up. And if we're being honest it was it's sheer damn prettiness with that hint of practicality that made us want to ride it in the first place (more on what it rides like soon).

In the meantime, let's just gaze all misty-eyed at it.

Okay! That's enough mistiness! Now for some facts. First off, it isn't quite correct to say that this is a standard Plug with mudguards, the seat and chainstays are 5mm longer to take the rear mudguard and the geometry has been sublty tweaked to accommodate that without sacrificing that Plug ride quality.









As ever the frame is made from Tange chromoly steel and built with the big-boned track derived geometry that Charge have made their trademark. The fork is a straight-legged Tange steel affair. 

Gearing is a Sugino Messenger 42T chainring pulling a16T cog using a half-link chain on unbranded hubs and rims shod with some lovely Continental Sport Contact rubber.

As you'd expect the rear hub is off the flip flop variety giving you the choice of fixed or free singlespeeding – we'll be giving it a go on both. It came set up as a singlespeed.

Tektro R365 brakes matched up to Tektro 'cross levers take care of stopping duties – very effectively so far.

The cockpit is made up of Charge branded riser bar and stem with some very comfy unbranded grips – the texture, if not the shape put us in mind of the Ergons.

And then there are those mudguards – the Grinder's crowning glory – painted the same colour as the rest of the frame, and like the rest of it made from steel too they feature a pleasingly curved profile so that they shouldn't fire water out sideways soaking your riding companions as some flatter profiled mudguards are prone to do.

Other nices touches: the screw on cable guides for the rear brake – which in theory at least give you the option of running fixed and whipping the rear brake off while maintaining a clean line uncluttered by, er, cable guides. Why you'd want to do that is another question.

We'll be riding this baby around the streets of Bath, and the hills, so watch out for a full report soon. More Charge Grinder pics

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

can I have a go please?

Flo K

posted by Flo K [178 posts]
16th March 2009 - 21:58

1 Like

nice bike, but for a commuter-oriented bike like this i would've expected some sort of chainguard in addition to the fenders.

posted by jorge [7 posts]
17th March 2009 - 2:05

1 Like

oh, also, for a bike at this price point i would expect the tange tubing to be at least tange prestige, not just the plain tange with no heat treatment.

posted by jorge [7 posts]
17th March 2009 - 2:11

1 Like

Chainguards? Expensive tubing? You don't pay for quality or practicality here, you pay for cool. Which apparently this is.

posted by jackthedog [4 posts]
17th March 2009 - 11:14

1 Like

Is there anything wrong with "cool" people seem to like it?

"Cool" bikes are what people want to ride – my guess is that a lot of those Plugs and whatever that have been sold in the last couple of years are being ridden by people who didn't have a bike before and didn't consder riding one until they saw a cool one… I don't have a problem with that.

As to the chainguard? Surely just an extra thing to rattle, most of the people interested in buying one of these aren't going to be bothered about having one (even if it is for their own good) and it's not as if the chain needs any extra protection.

Tange Vs Tange Prestige - well the Plug is made from plain guage Tange and sells for £500, I'm guessing the Grinder isn't going to be much more – it would be if it was made from Prestige.

Okay, there'd  be more ping in the ride and it would drop maybe a pound of the overall weight tops,… and less people would buy it, which would make it even more cool I suppose.


Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
17th March 2009 - 13:09

1 Like

1. I never said anything about 'cool'. I'm all for cool. I'm also all for more people riding bikes, be they Grinders or Flying Pigeons.

2. Chainguards don't need to rattle. Mine doesn't rattle. Mine also performs the laudably practical function of protecting my long pants when I commute to and from work. I could care less about protecting the chain. There are many innovative, lightweight, unobtrusive chainguard designs available these days, all of which the Grinder could use. Personally, I believe one should wear specially-designed pants for fixed gear riding, or else tie a strap (and preferably a reflective one) around one's pants just above the ankle. Elsewhere, the rolling up of long pants by adults riding a bicycle brings them embarrassingly close to their long-distant childhood, in my opinion.

3. There are bikes available with Tange Prestige, or equivalent tubing from Tange competitors, at or around the Grinder's price point. Hence, from a consumer perspective, I'd expect better tubing from the Grinder.

All of the above said, I think the Grinder is an amazingly good-looking bike. It made me take notice just as much as it made you. However, as a more commuter-friendly version of the standard Plug, it could use some improvements. It could also use a somewhat lower price, given the low grade tubing.

Perhaps the Grinder will find millions of cool people willing to buy it for its cool looks, and they'll all look very cool riding their cool identical bikes around the cool parts of town, never having any uncool second thoughts about the amount of cool cash they spent to look so cool, despite the not-so-cool global economic recession and despite the cool bike alternatives with better tubing around the same pricepoint.

As for me, I'll just have to be the party spoiler, always looking for the best value-for-money possible in a bike and tying myself to the mast, like Ulysses, in order to resist the Grinder's seductive siren song.

However, you can be sure I'll join the cool, carefree herds and turn my head each and every time one of the millions of cool, amazingly beautiful Grinders passes me by, reminding me about the timeless, tempting power of beauty to make us happy, and to make us spend more money than we ought to.

Whatever my personal reservations, chapeau to Charge for designing one of the best-looking bikes I've seen recently!

posted by jorge [7 posts]
17th March 2009 - 15:44

1 Like

We're all for nice riding bikes and we'd certainly be up for riding something similar to the Plug in Tange Prestige especially if it costs the same money. Tell us what it is?


Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
17th March 2009 - 16:21

1 Like

For a Tange Prestige-tubed frame that can be relatively affordably built into a singlespeed/commuter, check out SOMA's 'Rush' frame.

posted by jorge [7 posts]
19th March 2009 - 20:26

1 Like

Relatively affordable if you live in the US - but if you live in the UK you also have to get it shipped over  - the frame and fork come to about £300 on their own. Plus if you live in the UK you'd have to build the rest of it up over here or else be liable for tax when you imported it.

The other problem is that Soma don't ship overseas although fair dos somebody from the UK could buy one in a US online shop that does.

In the UK at £500 a Charge Plug counts as a relatively cheap bike. I'd be very, very surprised if you could get a new bike made from Tange Prestige for that money in this country - particularly now that the pound has tanked against the dollar and the euro.

If you're in the US Jorge you've definitely got one on us there


Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
19th March 2009 - 22:26

1 Like

Me thinks this is all a case of wanting the best cake in the shop for half the price.
Charge already make a Tange Prestige Frame.
Albeit the Duster mtb,they sell that for roughly £350.
We dont live in America.
So we will always pay a little bit more for our goods.
Unless we support british brands like Charge,which will filter more money back in to our own economy.
I think their range is one of the best & already own a Plug Racer & i have never seen anyone with one the same.
When they bring out the Grinder which i beleive will sell for nearer £550(Depending on exchange rate.!!).
I dont think you could build one for less.
There is after all a £170ish wheel set on the bike.
Maybe that is the next competition build the same bike,
with Tange Prestige for the same price.
Must include a bell & mudguards...


bicycleworld's picture

posted by bicycleworld [26 posts]
20th March 2009 - 15:46

1 Like

If you have Masi distribution in the UK, check out their 'Speciale Sprint' frame. Reynolds 631 tubing (bonus: unlike Tange, Reynolds happens to be British!). Could be built into a nice singlespeed w/o too much money.

posted by jorge [7 posts]
20th March 2009 - 22:53

1 Like

I've just filled my pants! Surprise

el.dudino's picture

posted by el.dudino [75 posts]
27th March 2009 - 23:28

1 Like