Designed to be a fast paced ride, suitable for commuting and general mooching about, the Hob 3 is a three-speed version of Charge's singlespeed Hob, both built for women - although Charge reckon they sell a few to men as urban runabouts.
Some complain about the seemingly sexist name, but in fairness to Charge, ALL their bikes are named after kitchen gadgets and appliances, so unless it's sexist to name a unisex or bloke's bike after a cheese grater, or a mixer, it's just a fun and daft name.
The Hob is an undeniably attractive looking bike, based on a traditional mixte style frame in a fetching shade of metallic purple, with nice silver toned mudguards and swept back bars. It's finished off with white grips and a white women's specific Ladle saddle. The overall look is an interesting mix of sporty and laid back, and that's pretty much what the ride character of the bike is as well.
Equipped with a three-speed Sturmey Archer hub gear, and a sporty ride position it's intended to be quite quick. Out and about, it is surprisingly spry, given its fairly laid back and traditional looks. The gears are big as standard, meaning it's fundamentally best suited to flatter terrain or those who like a challenge. Even the lowest gear approaches mid point on most set-ups, making hills interesting. The bike was impressively responsive though, with nice direct power transfer and once I managed to get up to top gear, it really flew. I did find I spent the majority of my time riding in the middle gear though, even on just undulating roads.
Riding position was comfortable, and less upright than the appearance would originally suggest. The mixte frame and swept back bars made for a fairly sporty feeling position. On the flat, this gave a good chance of exploiting the power and speed of the Hob 3. Uphill, the big gears and the swept back bars made climbing tricky but not unduly so, with some weaving at the front end.
On descents, however, despite the frame and general position being fine, the bars did result in a slightly less than sure footed feel. Going downhill fast I found the front of the bike distinctly unwieldy, making signaling less than confident. Gear changes, while reasonably smooth, were sufficiently robust to affect handling as well, given the twitchy handling, making it somewhat alarming in traffic - not ideal for an urban orientated bike. Although I did find the bars awkward the root of the problem may well lie in the geometry of the front triangle
Stopping is not a problem though should you need to do so in a hurry the caliper brakes were effective and gave no trouble at all. The mudguards are a nice addition, but did start to rattle before very long. A simple nut tightening job was required.
I found the Ladle saddle comfortable, but that's always a very personal thing anyway. The grips, although aesthetically pleasing, were some of the least comfortable I've ridden with, offering very little in the way of cushioning. The bike is fully rack compatible, offering good usefulness for errands and the like. One other thing to consider, I was fortunate enough not to be visited by the puncture gods during the test period, if I had been though getting the rear wheel out might have proved a bit of a faff, in fact I'm not sure the mudguard wouldn't have had to come off too.
For the price, the Hob 3 is not at all bad value, versatile and with plenty of usefulness as well as being fast enough for sporty feeling rides when you fancy. The grips could do with an upgrade, and the bar and possibly stem are things I'd probably change to tweak the slightly jittery handling. That said, I found the Hob 3 genuinely fun and enjoyable to ride, to the point where it was my 'go to ' bike while testing, even allowing for hillier terrain than it was really best suited to.
Fun, attractive and pleasantly sporty. Let down slightly by a twitchy front end and uncomfortable grips.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Charge Hob 3
Size tested: Smal
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame- Charge Steel, Cr-Mo D/T & C/S
Fork- Charge Whisk- steel
3 Speed Sturmey Archer Hub Gear
Crankset- Shield Track 40t
Bottom Bracket- FSA sealed
Pedals- Wellgo Alloy Trekking
Shifters- Sturmey Archer Thumbie
Casette- Sturmey Archer 16t
Rims- Shield 700c, double wall, 32h
Tyres- Charge Coaster
Front Hub- Charge Shield SB
Rear Hub- Sturmey Archer SRF 3
Brakes- Promax RC480, Long Reach
Bar- Charge Hob
Stem- Shield, 5 degree, 31.8mm
Grips- Charge Plunger
Headset- FSA TH-882
Saddle- Charge Ladle
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Aimed at women looking for a 3-speed nimble bike that looks good
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely finished, although fork looks and feels lower quality than frame.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Steel frame and fork, well suited to the more traditional mixte style frame.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Mixte style traditionally shaped frame, allowing for a step-through design whilst giving speed and performance usually only associated with a more obviously sporty looking bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Very accessible in terms of height and reach. No problems at all.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike was very comfortable indeed to ride, apart from the grips.
Ride quality was responsive, with good power transfer and a surprising turn of speed, let down slightly by an overly twitchy front end.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The bike felt just right for stiffness. No problems with flex anywhere, even when climbing with an overhigh gear!
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, felt very efficient for a non-road bike.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Steering was over lively, allowing for road wobble and also problems signalling
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Great in a straight line and at speed, but quite twitchy at slow speeds, on descents and did not respond well to gear changes.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Grips were amongst the most uncomfortable I have ridden with. Could easily be upgraded to great effect.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
No changes required. Frame was pleasingly stiff.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Pedals as supplied didn't really allow the rider to exploit the power transfer or potential speed of the bike. A simple swap to clipless made a huge difference.
Very good, given the geometry and style
Surprisingly quick off the mark!
Not bad at all, considering the geometry and what it's intended for.
Some wobble in steering, especally when changing gear
Not particularly confidence inspiring at slow speeds
Kept a good line with no trouble but lively front end made any sort of indication a challenge
Not bad on a climb, but gearing very high for more than a short climb.
Wheels and tyres
No problems at all
Nice balance of speed and comfort
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Tread on tyres was good for most road conditions and even tackled flat gravel type trails and paths with no real problems
Gear shifting was fine, but required quite a push, which coupled with the twitchy steering was a bit of a problem
Grips very uncomfortable, with very little cushioning
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Brakes and levers were absolutely fine.
Gear shift was easy to use but didn't pair well with the twitchy steering as it required quite a push.
Bar grips were very firm, which didn't work well with the weight applied to the hands by the riding position.
Little problem for smaller riders
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Very much
Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely, especially if I lived somewhere a bit flatter.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, particularly one in a flatter, rural or less urban location
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
A very sprightly and fun bike to ride. Practical yet engaging and looks good too.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,