Name of product
Charge Plug Racer 2010 model
Where bought and price
Wiggle. About AUD $770.
How it is used
I bought the bike as a Christmas whim and for fun. I use it mostly for riding with my good woman on our regular Tuesday night M7 spins. Also for quick runs to the shops, and after today's ride, I think also for short training rides of up to an hour around the local area.
Single speed 42/16. Steel frame and forks, drop bars (track style). House-brand wheels, Kenda tyres (which I replaced). Flat pedals which I also replaced. Charge saddle.
+ It looks cool if you like that kind of thing.
+ The feel of steel combined with the fixed gear. It's slow to wind up compared to my much lighter carbon road bike, but it has a magnificent, serene momentum. The fixed gear augments the material, so on an uninterrupted stretch, you can get into quite a groove. And this doesn't mean it's slow. I took a bit of mischievous pleasure in chasing and then tailing someone who swished past me on a roadie the other day. The bike will very happily go up to the speed where the cadence gets ridiculous, and when you get it to the speed you like, it's quite simple to just keep gliding along.
+ The beautiful simplicity of single speed riding. Get on and go. It adds to the zen rhythm I was referring to in the previous point. I deliberately don't attach lights, saddle bag or any extras at all. I've put pretty tough tyres on and other than that, if I get a flat or a mechanical I'll fix them with my mobile phone .
+ The flip/flop hub. I've used it both fixed and freewheeling. I think I'll mostly keep it fixed now, even thought it does demand more alertness.
+ Riding in the drops is terrific. They are very shallow but I think that's appropriate for a bike that's really designed for fun. You can get easily into a somewhat aero position and I find it's very comfortable to just while away the time without needing to move to the tops except if braking.
+ The quality of the frame is generally pretty good.
+ I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get a bike from overseas. The exchange rate and a Wiggle special made it a real bargain, and it arrived safe and sound with no fuss and only a few short steps from being rideable. A nice way to buy if you know what you want.
- The tops of the bars. The sweep of the bars means there is very little flat space on the tops, especially with the brake levers in place. Just as well it's so nice riding in the drops.
- It's fairly solid, by modern standards, for a stripped down bike. The weight is about 10.5kgs. How important this is will depend on what it's used for. I use it for rides up to about 25ks or so, and not if there are serious hills, so the weight is not a problem. In fact it probably contributes to the planted and enjoyable road feel.
- The supplied tyres were lifeless and slow. I swapped them for some Specialized Armadillos I had in the shed. Even they are not exactly thoroughbreds, but they made an immediate and very noticeable improvement. With some good 23mms, the bike would be even livelier, I'm sure.
- Flat pedals are ok for tooling around but not much else. I ordered some good retro road pedals and toe clips with the bike, thinking they'd be better. Maybe they were, but all I could really think of while using them was that it was reminding me why no-one who wants to get moving uses toe clips any more! So I put some spare SPD SLs on and I think I'll leave it at that.
- The brakes are ok for the type of use I'm putting it to. For hard riding (which is probably not the intended use of this bike) better brakes could be a good idea.
This bike makes a nice change for shorter rides and the fixed gear can be good training.
I'd recommend it for someone who has a clear idea why they want it.