Just in: Charge Plug 5

Do-it-all road bike with hydraulic disc brakes and classy steel frame for £1,599

by David Arthur   November 1, 2013  

Charge has updated its entire line of bikes for 2014 with a simplified Grater, Cooker and Plug line-up. This here is the top of the line Plug 5, and the big news is the use of SRAM’s Hydro R hydraulic disc brakes. Throw a smart black Tange Prestige frame with rack and mudguard mounts and a SRAM Rival-based groupset into the mix, and it’s looking good for the £1,599 asking price.

This new Plug is the spiritual successor to the Filter Hi we reviewed early last year. Despite the name change, the Plug in essence has the same frame, a double butted Tange Prestige tubeset with the skinny tubes giving a pleasing, if traditional, aesthetic.

There are the same top tube mounted gear cables giving it cyclo-cross potential, and there are rack and mudguard mounts. It’s the ideal do-it-all road bike, happy on the daily commute or laden up for some light summer touring, and sans-mudguards would even be perfectly capable of a sportive or two. Stick some mudguards on it and it's got winter training bike written all over it.

By mounting the rear brake caliper inside the frame, attached to the chainstay, fitting ‘guards and a rack will be a doddle, without the interference of externally mounted caliper. The brake hose is routed along the down tube and chainstay. It’s still early days for disc brakes on road bikes, and one of the splits we’re seeing is the location of the rear brake caliper. Some, like on the Genesis Equilibrium Disc, opt for a seatstay mount, but this can cause conflict when fitting mudguards and racks. The Charge approach neatly sidesteps the issue and assures complete compatibility.

Along with the non-series SRAM HRD 700 brakes, with essentially the same shape hoods as SRAM Red, Charge has built the bike with a SRAM drivetrain. Rival derailleurs, a SRAM S350 50/34 compact chainset and 11-28 cassette look after the shifting duties.

Rotors are 160mm, SRAM recommending this larger size while Shimano goes with smaller 140mm size rotors.

There’s a pleasing lack of noisy logos on the Plug 5, a Charge trait, and that is also carried over into the wheelset, with discrete all-black Alex ATD-490 double wall rims. They’re laced to SRAM Via GT hubs and wrapped up in 28mm Kenda Kwick Roller Tendril tyres. Their puncture resistant casing will be appreciated for winter riding. Even with this large tyres there is bags of space between the frame, so clearance isn’t an issue.

The handlebars, stem and seatpost are Charge’s own label Shield Lite parts, with a compact shaped bar and 31.8mm seatpost, topped off with one of the new Scoop saddles.

And the weight? That’s 10.55kg (23.25lb). The main, and very obvious comparison we can draw on is the recently arrived Genesis Equilibrium Disc.  Both use steel frames, disc brakes and offer all-round versatility. And both are British designed. The Genesis is a £100 cheaper but comes with mechanical Hayes disc brakes compared to the hydraulic brakes on the Charge,  and is a shade heavier at 10.85kg (23.92lb). There’s not much in it granted, but the proof will be in the ride. So watch this space for a review of the Plug soon.

More at www.chargebikes.com

10 user comments

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I want one.
Trying to tell myself that a couple of pounds doesn't matter and I bet some decent tyres would help.
Hurry up with that review.
Also how about some really technical comparisons between the tubing and something like 531.

posted by mattsccm [248 posts]
1st November 2013 - 12:52

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I spent some time looking at how different this was to the Salsa Vaya (which I have). I came to the conclusion that in terms of angles, wheelbase length etc. there wasn't much to choose, and sheathed my credit card.

It would be interesting to get a feel in the review for whether this "really" a winter roadbike, or really a tourer/commuter.

posted by BigDummy [284 posts]
1st November 2013 - 13:37

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Just the one boring colour?

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [121 posts]
1st November 2013 - 14:33

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Ive just got one and love it. Very well thought out bike and rides amazing. I have swapped out the tyres for some that are a little less draggy, and also found the bar tape a bit on the thin side so have changed that. Otherwise I cant say a bad thing about it. A very capable bike, and personally if you think the black is "boring" there are plenty of other cheesy race inspired bikes out there for you to choose from.

posted by midschool [21 posts]
1st November 2013 - 18:24

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Very nice!

Would love a sportier version that was made in Britain (but want to keep the steel frame and hydraulic disk brakes).

posted by Dave42W [32 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 9:43

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If it's from Charge and it's not the return of the Blender, I don't want to know.

posted by Ham-planet [89 posts]
6th November 2013 - 2:55

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discs are probably necessary to stop something that heavy. But jokes aside I love seeing discs coming to lower price bikes. It is the start of something wonderful

posted by jarredscycling [445 posts]
6th November 2013 - 17:04

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just the bike I've waiting for! CX with Hydro Disc brakes.

Are there similar bikes in the market?

posted by Moafaq [1 posts]
7th November 2013 - 19:05

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Just so you know these test bikes don't just get ridden on sunny days, they have to work for a living come rain or shine, light or dark Wink

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posted by stuke [309 posts]
10th November 2013 - 18:59

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Are mudguards banned from sportives?

Silly

posted by euanlindsay [77 posts]
11th November 2013 - 13:10

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