Where better to bring into the light the all-new Cooker hardtail than on a windswept and wet Isle of Arran*
*It was sunny and scenic but that doesn’t sound quite as, well, Scottish…
For those folks lucky enough to have been a part of the first Grinduro event, it might have been easy to overlook the significance of the bikes arrayed around the Fabric (Charge’s sister parts and accessory company) exhibition booth.
Sitting without fanfare were the next generation of Somerset based Charge Bikes British-centric collection.
Whilst this in itself is hardly noteworthy (most brands have their new 2018 bikes ready to go around now), what was newsworthy is the new direction Charge is taking with its Cooker hardtail.
Back to the future?
For the past couple of years Charge, like many others has dutifully followed the market trends. Adorning the Cooker with an aluminium makeover and also pushing the Cooker deep into 27.5 Plus territory. But although well received, they didn’t quite ring true with a company that based its origins and reputation on reliable steel frames.
Under the helmsmanship of new product manager Logan Argent, Charge decided to take a massive inward look at what made the Cooker such a popular bike when it was first introduced.
And of course this came back to two important aspects; dependable steel frames and fast rolling 29er wheels. So it’s both surprising and refreshing to see a company hold its hands up and effectively take step backwards to breath new life into its MTB range.
So for 2018 steel frames and 29er wheels are back on the menu.
We grabbed some time with Logan to talk us through the new direction:
Why the return to steel and 29er?
“We have moved back to steel because this is what people know us for and what we know. Plus the ride quality you get from steel outweighs that of most alloy hardtails.
“We also decided to move back to 29er wheels as we feel 27+ has stalled somewhat in the market place. Plus I personally have never been a huge fan (the 27+ bikes were created before I became the Product Manager).
“This is my first full year as PM, so I wanted to do what I felt was right for the bike and the brand. The resurgence in 29ers is happening (it never went away if you ask me), people know how it rides and trust the grip/feel they have been getting for years from a 29er. So the All New Cooker had to be a 29er in my eyes.
“This is the perfect wheel size for a lot of people riding blue/red lines at trail centres or just their local trails.”
What has been your process in the development of the new frames?
“We started from scratch! I spent a lot of time looking at what was out there, what we had done before in 29” and pretty much started with a blank piece of paper. There is a tick list of features you need in a frame to be ‘on trend’ of course; 148 BOOST, tapered headtube, dropper routing, big tyre clearance, tick!”
“We have also begun working with Tange (steel tubing manufacturer) again. They helped us push the skinny Charge bikes forward, so we have faith in them and their tubing. Weight is key on a steel bike.
“People know there will be a weight penalty when then buy steel but understand the benefits. We are working tirelessly with Tange to spec tubing to keep weight low and ride quality high. This work is still ongoing; by the time consumers buy a Cooker we would have been through 2-3 sample frames and 4-5 if not more drawings and tubing specs.”
Could you give us a brief overview of how the new range is going to look?
“So, the new bikes will still be called Cooker, this is our MTB name for our bikes (we also have Plug for dropbar and Grater for urban). Spec wise, we are currently looking at 3 maybe 4 models, starting from a 0 level single speed/rigid bike, moving up through the Cooker 1 and Cooker 2 with SRAM groupsets, RockShox forks, WTB rims & tyres.
“Geometry is completely different from last year’s bikes also, head angle is slackened out to 67.5°, with the recommended 120mm fork, short 435mm chainstays, and longer top tubes. Again everything on trend in the world of hardtails.”
Where do you see these bikes excelling?
“Trail centres, local trails, you name it, basically typical mountain biking! This is a bike perfect for the fast, flowy blue and red runs. With the slacker head angle and longer travel this opens them up to more aggressive riding, but it’s definitely not ‘just’ a hardcore hardtail. It’s something anyone can ride anywhere and do so with a smile on their face!”
When can we expect the bikes to be ready and available?
“We are hoping to get samples out to MBR in October/November for review and then fully in with retailers by January/February. Just as the British weather gets good!”
Any prices yet?
“Pricing is still TBC. We are still making changes to the frames so until this is finished pricing may change slightly. But as a ballpark, we are looking at an opening price of a Cooker 0 around £1000 going up to £1700-1800 for Cooker 2.”
Keep a weathered eye on Charge Bike’s website for any more information as it comes.