Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018 - First Look

Aug 2, 2017
by David Arthur  
Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018

Two of the most stylish British bike brands, Charge Bikes and Fabric, owe their direction and success to the design-conscious and highly ambitious Nick Larsen, the founder and director of both a bike brand and growing saddle and accessories brand that have each carved their place in the UK market.

At the first UK edition of the Grinduro, an event formed by Giro that mixes gravel riding with enduro timed stages and ridden by competitors on everything from fat bikes to gravel and mountain bikes, the two brands unveiled their latest 2018 products. I was there to ride this unusual event, and to take a closer look at what you can expect to see from these two brands soon.

You can check out more about Charge Bikes from this industry insider article.

Charge Bikes - Steel Frames and 29" Wheels are Back

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
The picturesque Isle of Arran in Scotland provided a good backdrop for the new bikes

Charge launched back in 2005 and have enjoyed success over the years in different areas of the cycling market, most noticeably with the Plug, which tapped into the fixie scene before evolving into a more traditional drop bar road bike in recent years. Mountain biking has and always will be close to founder Nick’s heart, and the Cooker has been the mainstay mountain bike offering, a hardtail that has evolved and been refined over the years to keep up with industry trends.

The big news for the 2018 Cooker is the switch back to 29” wheels - the Cooker had previously been designed around big wheels before going down the 27.5” Plus path two years ago. Charge feels 29” wheels are right for the style of riding its hardtails are designed for, and that’s arguably old school cross-country, with a side order of fun. Add to that the fact that 29” wheels are back in fashion and 27.5” Plus growth has slowed somewhat and it could be good timing for the switch. The two smallest frame sizes get 27.5” wheels.

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
Charge has returned to steel and chosen Tange Champion tubing
Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
Tapered head tubes for stiffness and external cables for easy servicing

Charge showed us prototype frames, and while they’re still making a few refinements before they’re production ready, they provide a good indication of what the finalized bikes will look like. The brand switched to aluminum frames two years ago, but it’s back to steel tubing, a material that it feels is what Charge is best known for and this style of hardtail. There's still a massive appetite for dependable steel hardtails here in the UK. The new frame is made from skinny tubed Tange Champion No.3 steel and features a tapered head tube and Boost rear axle. The seat tube is designed to accept a 30.9mm dropper post with stealth routing, and a threaded external bottom bracket is a welcome sight. Cables are externally routed, which, while perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing as internally routed cables, does provide easy maintenance.

The geometry is slacker than last year’s bike and intended to give the Cooker all-round appeal. It’s designed around a 120mm fork with a 67.5-degree head angle, 640mm top tube on the size large and 435mm chainstays. Charge is still finalizing the production frames so we’ll have more geometry details and the size range nearer the time of the full launch.

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018

The company won’t be officially releasing the bikes until the start of 2018, which does mean a bit of a wait if you want to get your hands on one. That also means it hasn’t firmed up the final specs and prices yet, although we do know there will be three or four builds, with a rigid and singlespeed option alongside the SRAM 1x11 versions pictured on this page, with WTB tires and rims and RockShox forks. We'll have more details nearer the full range launch at the end of the year.

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
Built for fun, this is the all-new Cleaver

A resurrected name, the Cleaver has been reborn as a klunker/hack bike intended to put the fun back into cycling. It was developed off the back of Nick Larsen building a bike for the Hack Bike Derby, an invitational event that challenged frame builders to build a bike evocative of mountain biking’s early klunkers and race them down a hill in Somerset in the UK.

The Cleaver follows the design direction of that style of bike, with a steel frame built around 26” wheels with a twin-tube downtube and 800mm wide swept back handlebars, and just one gear and a coaster brake (a front brake will be sold with production bikes) and bear trap pedals - watch out shins!

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
Twin downtube just like my old Raleigh Grifter
Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
Wide and swept back bars for cruising fun

It’s a bike that you shouldn’t take too seriously, it’s intended to be fun whether that’s hooning around the woods pulling massive skids or bombing around town - it would be the ultimate pub bike for sure. And at £399 it’s not going to break the bank either. I can see a space in my garage for it already…



Fabric's 2018 Range Gets More Affordable

Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018

Launched by Nick Larsen a few years ago off the back of the success of the now iconic Spoon saddle, which first saw the light of day in 2007, Fabric is intended to house his ambition to create a separate accessories and components brand.

Fabric aren't just about pretty products, although smart design is obviously high on the agenda, but also about offering a functional advantage over other products currently on the market, and a large part of that comes down to seeking out suitable manufacturing partners That’s why they’ve worked with footwear manufacturers to develop the novel Cell saddle with pyramid air pockets, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus to create the ALM, a titanium printed leaf sprung saddle, rather than just relying on the traditional bike factories.


Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
The new Fabric Scoop Sport is the company's most affordable saddle

For 2018, Fabric has produced the new Scoop Sport, which at £29.99 is their most affordable saddle ever, and is intended to make owning a Scoop more accessible. It looks like a regular Scoop, with the same vacuum bonded upper and three-piece design, but it has a slightly different construction with a polypropylene base, instead of the nylon found on the more expensive Scoop saddles in order to keep the cost down.


Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
The Acubar is a precision pressure gauge and can be used on its own or plugged into a pump

Proper air pressure is critical for getting the best performance out of your tires and bike, and the new Acubar Pressure Gauge (£44.99) is Fabric’s solution. It’s a high precision gauge that is accurate up to 0.5psi and has a range of 0 to 40psi. It can be used with a regular pump or on its own to check pressure, with a dump valve to bleed out the pressure. According to Fabric, the use of high-quality steel springs and pushing their manufacturing partners to deliver the highest quality possible allowed them to achieve such a high level of accuracy.


Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
The new Sport Track Pump offers all the basics in a well-designed package

If you need a new track pump the Stratosphere Sport Track Pump (£30) uses lower grade materials, but at no expense to the high-quality appearance, to offer a more affordable version of the premium pumps it launched last year. It has a long hose with a thumb lever head and is rated up to 160psi.


Charge Bikes and Fabric 2018
New regular water bottles now available

Pinkbike's Paul Aston was impressed with Fabric’s novel Cageless Water Bottle two years ago, but for 2018 there’s now a regular water bottle called the Gripper (£9.99). With bottles making a comeback in certain corners of mountain biking these will have some appeal. Available in two sizes, 600 and 750ml, the bottles have a very squeezable plastic with a smart gripper finish around the top, to prevent slippage. The opening is wide enough to allow easy cleaning and the closable nozzle delivers a very generous flow of liquid.

More at www.fabric.cc


Photos ©Russell Burton


62 Comments

  • + 123
 Pinkbike can we please have some more hardcore HT reviews. There are still some of us who ride them.
  • + 18
 aye, just getting ready to take mine out, in the pissing rain, have it !!
  • + 10
 @pigman65: yes lad!!!!!!

Hardtails for the win!!!! And for the winter!!! Which includes August. I can't bring myself to ride a full sus these days, not enough fun & too much to go wrong! That green thing... mmmmmmmmm
  • + 39
 It's summer time right now, which means the hardtails tend to take a back seat to the full-squish machines, but we'll see what we can do when the rain and the slop returns this fall/winter.
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: Excellent, looking forward to that.
  • + 2
 @mikekazimer: noice! Very interested in some further details of these things as soon as you've got them, specs and costs most importantly... I have the I wants.
  • + 2
 Second that. Someone over there at PB review this:
nordestcycles.com/en
  • + 16
 @mikekazimer: Mike - Hardtails are for life, not just for Christmas.
  • + 2
 @cunning-linguist: hardtails are the source,end of!
  • + 1
 I'll 2nd that
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: definitely isn't summer in the southern hemisphere! Seeing more hardtails than ever out on the trails.
  • + 5
 Just sold my Carbon suspension bike, for a steel HT
  • + 2
 "external cables for easy servicing." Hahaha.
Now that I have pissed, these bikes look amazing and like @fartymarty asked, yes yes please more HT big mtn bike reviews. Or better yet, shootouts!
  • + 1
 Riding a Liteville H3. Such a fun machine!
  • + 1
 Sick bicycles ftw
  • + 1
 Ht +steel+good geometry for fun in mind= smile at each ride, even a boring trail can be enjoyable !

Affordable French hard tail frame, the "off" is tagged enduro, versatile gravel etc etc

www.sobre-bikes.fr
  • + 10
 that Klunker!!!!
  • + 4
 They should call it the "nutbuster" with the shape of that top tube. Sexy as hell, though.
  • + 7
 Love my fabric scoop radius pro saddle, but it soo frikin creaky. Annoys the hell out of me :-(
  • + 1
 Having the same trouble with mine. Shame!
  • + 1
 It certainly looks like a nice saddle. Lovely design. Tried one for 20 minutes on trainer... too soft, caused numbness.
  • + 2
 Mines less than a year old and creaky as all hell. Emailed the company, no response. I sure won't plan on giving them money in the future. Fabric can suck it!
  • + 7
 Yay a fricken hardtail. Praise the lord, hallelujah and all that.
  • + 2
 Nice. Cool to see some legit HT coverage here. Charge is a rad company. That Cleaver is sick.

That pump though... why bother? It's just an off the shelf pump. You can pick that pump up at Target. Buy the blackburn AT4 if you need 160psi. It's a far better pump for not much more.
  • + 2
 I just finished up building my blackcat 29ER. Steel. Been out on 2 rides. I was hurting from a hard swim and general lack of sleep lately, but now I'm inspired. Going out tonight to ride. Highly recommended to get a custom built frame... Especially if you happen to be the exact sake dimensions as someone selling it used if you (like me) can't afford the 2K usd tag.
  • + 3
 I still don't get why they route cables under down tubes and bottom bracket where they help trap dirt? Even my pub bike, a 26 inch Giant XTC is better: brake and gear cables under top tub and down seat-stays.
  • + 3
 I don't get it either. It also adds extra bend to the rear mech cable.
  • + 1
 @teamtoad:
Not as much in this case with, but on my bike having two cables and a brake hose under there it gives the downtube great free stone protection.
Does get muddy though
  • + 2
 I have an old (2011?) steel cooker in 29. Covers the ground so easily and comfortably. A bike I use for getting outdoors and going further than I've gone before, with a smile on my face. That bike has a 445mm cs and an erection killing hta. Steel and 29 is the right combo for the cooker I would say. Good work charge.
  • + 4
 Aran is getting quite a bit of exposure today. That's where the chris akrigg video was filmed. It is a great weekend island.
  • + 5
 I meant it is a great wee island. Auto correct is right though it is great to visit for the weekend.
  • + 2
 @andydmorris: Yeah the Grinduro event looks to have really taken off there. Went to the Island after visiting the WC at Fort William, was awesome, a real shame I didn't take the bike!
  • + 2
 That pressure gauge seems like a nice design. Use it with any pump, and it only reads up to 40 psi. Just what the MTB needs, and no more. Tired of gauges that go to 160 psi.
  • + 1
 Nice bike, but run the dam cables on the top of the downtube and top of the chainstay, it's a mtn bike not a fricken road bike, it's a clean frame being a hardtail it's not that hard, seriously why can't they get this right!
  • + 3
 Where. Is. That. Big. Fat. Round. Saddle. What. Loose. And. Rat. Are. Riding. Pls. For. The. Love. Of. Cod.
  • + 3
 How abou insulated cage-less water bottles?
  • + 1
 They make 'em, but that large, open nozzle design hasn't changed, so it's still going to pack up w/ dirt. Reality is, the fabric cageless bottles are a road-centric design. Tried to learn to love mine, but got tired of dirt in my water & bottle launching off studs every time I hit something bigger than 4".
  • + 2
 at a guess i reckon they would be even more prone to ejection, i've given up with them ( lost 2 on rides, one had my multi tool taped to it, grr) and gone back to a regular dada cage
  • + 3
 Hardtails are for hardcox like mine
  • + 3
 Does a tapered head tube still need to be pointed out?
  • + 2
 got a leftover 2016 charge plug 3 gravel bike for half off on Jenson. I'm no roadie but the thing is sick. Big fan.
  • + 2
 I have a Charge Plug from Jenson last year, totally dig it! I am not a roadie, but when I have to ride pavement, that is my go to bike.
  • + 1
 Nobody talks frame weight anymore. Are we to assume that steel = real = heavy?
  • + 0
 True. I make purchase decisions based on weight. Esp with steel frames, heavy = crappy steel, no matter what.
  • + 1
 can't stand this "external cables for easy servicing" BS. it's not that hard to do it yourself.
  • + 1
 The Charge Spoon saddle used to retail for about £20, then they rebranded as Fabric and started charging £30. Why?
  • + 1
 Plus size is good for certain applications like hardtails as well.
  • + 1
 The new Cooker looks dope! Steel is certainly real.
  • + 1
 Steel 29ers were never gone..... -Signed my Nimble 9
  • + 1
 Wasn't it a gift er XL, that had top tube?
  • + 1
 Grifter
  • + 1
 bring back the blender
  • - 2
 27.5 plus is the future of Mtb
  • + 8
 no its not.
  • + 4
 hard no there buddy
  • + 2
 lol, denied
  • + 3
 Oops meant to say 27.5 plus ebikes @ledude:
  • + 2
 They make you a better rider.
  • + 1
 @passwordpinkbike: I think they make things easier for certain riders riding in specific terrain...if you can manage to ride them without punctures and sidewall tears...I gave plus an honest shake. At the lower pressures recommended for the benefits of traction, I would dent rims/burp air/tear sidewalls..

What I found work for me are 2.3/2.4 wide tires on internal width rims from 28-35mm....thas my sweetspot.
  • + 1
 @otto99: ebikes....don't get me started bruh

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