SUNringlé's Charger wheelset has been a staple in their range since about 2008 and the brand continues to make updates to improve them. This latest iteration features their new SRX straight-pull hub and a stiff, aluminum tubeless-ready rim profile. Charger wheels come with all the trimmings needed to run either a 15 or 20-millimeter front hub; a QRx135 or 12x142 rear hub; a regular Shimano or XD driver; tubeless rim tape is installed, and valves and sealant are included. The wheels are targeted at riders looking for a durable all-mountain wheelset who are all about "cleaning the line versus pinning it against the clock."
Charger Expert AL Details
• Size: 27.5" (29" option available)
• Intended use: all-mountain
• Internal width: 23.6mm
• Rim material: aluminum
• 28 double-butted spokes
• All trimmings for tubeless
• All adapters included
• Weight: 1,775g (3.9 lbs)
• MSRP: $549.99 USD
• Contact: SUNringle
Charger wheels come with rim strips fitted, and with the supplied tubeless valves installed, they weigh in at 1,775 grams—a reasonable weight in this price range. Speaking of which, retail on these wheels is on the more affordable side of the scale, at only $549.99 USD. There's also a 29-inch option, and both sizes are available for either 12x142-millimeter or Boost-width hubs. The SRX hubs run on large cartridge bearings and swapping out the included adapters (on the non-Boost versions) is simple and takes only a couple of minutes.Construction
The Charger wheels use SUNringlé Helix TR275L rims, which feature a hooked bead profile and are equipped with eyelets, which will no doubt put some riders at ease. Internal width on these rims is on the narrower side, coming in at 23.5 millimeters. That narrower width was immediately apparent once 2.3-inch tires were mounted and, more importantly, when on the trail. Lacing up the wheels are 28 straight-pull Wheelsmith spokes, which is part of the SUNringlé family.
The hubs are SUN's SRX and house large, sealed cartridge bearings. The large bearings are claimed to increase bearing life while also reducing weight. The three-pawl driver is of the tried and true variety, which features an average level of engagement, with 30 teeth on the drive ring. Performance
Mounting tires on the Charger Expert AL wheels was straightforward, especially with the supplied sealant and valves, and already taped rim. The Michelin Wild Rock R2s were my tire of choice, and they went on without fuss—tight enough to air up, but not so loose to suggest burping issues. Mounting an XD driver was also required, which was a very simple process.
As I mentioned previously, the rims feature an internal rim width of 23.5 millimeters and while that would have been fairly standard only a short time ago, most options in the AM category are now wider. The narrower width was noticeable in the profile of the tires, which I usually ride mounted on rims in the 27 to 30-millimeter range. On the trail, I found traction wasn't quite what I was used to expecting from my 2.3-inch Michelin's and had to use a little more effort in order to keep the bike on line.
The wheels were great in a number of riding scenarios but tended to lack some of the liveliness I was accustomed to. (I had been riding a set of custom wheels, built up using Easton's ARC rims.) That shortage of zest gave me the sense that the Charger wheels weighed more than the scale claimed, and I felt they required extra rider input to lift the bike out of holes and undulations in the terrain. It was also quite apparent when exiting corners, with the wheels granting less acceleration than I was accustomed to. That is compared to custom-built wheels, however, and when the Chargers are compared to similarly priced wheels, the experience is really quite good (not to mention having all the parts in the box included to set up your bike).
After a few rides the wheels required a true, which is common for most wheelsets, and while truing straight-pull spokes can be tricky, I didn't experience the same issues with these. Once done, things remained tight and in place throughout the rest of the test. The rims themselves are very solid and durable, and there was never an issue with flat spots, something that's pretty common in my experience with alloy rims. The hubs also ran really smooth on their large, sealed bearings and rolled on effortlessly, with little drag to speak of. Issues
Toward the very end of testing, while on a road trip in the Kootenays and (unfortunately for me) at a time when I had decided to ride the Seven Summits in full, I experienced what began as a minor but strange feeling when applying force to the pedals. Having pretty well ridden my legs off during the course of the week, I initially put the subtle feeling down to fatigue, but after two more episodes, it became obvious that there was a problem. Eventually, about three-quarters of the way up the Seven Summits climb, while rounding a steep switchback, my foot spun freely through the pedal stroke with no transfer of energy to the rear wheel.
The freehub had gone and I was left having to skate and hike my way to the top of the trail. Once home, the driver was removed, revealing no major issues to the naked eye. Closer inspection revealed that the engagement ring had broken free from the inside of the hub and was spinning freely.
I reached out to SUNringlé about the experience and was pleased to hear that, not only would they cover it, but reportedly, they had not experienced that scenario since early testing:"While we have seen the problem that occurred on your wheelset, it’s the first and only one that’s taken place 'in the wild.' Two Hayes test riders had this happen. The issue has been identified and corrected. Here in the US, Hayes Performance systems and SUNringlé stand behind all our product found by the factory to be defective in materials and/or workmanship within one year (two in European Union countries). If this problem were to occur on any other SUNringlé wheelsets, our Hayes global customer service team would replace this wheel, regardless of the time elapsed."
- Eric Schutt, SUNringlé Included parts, in addition to the Shimano driver and rim strips that come already on the wheel.Pinkbike's Take
|The Charger Expert AL is a true working man's wheelset that offers a lot for little. Their weight is reasonable, their adaptability out of the box is unmatched at this price, and they kick on with little fuss. The issue I had with the hub seems to be an anomaly, and Sun firmly stands behind their product, stating that they are prepared to fix an issue of this nature, even outside of their warranty period. I think that says a lot about their confidence in the Charger's durability. - AJ Barlas|