Charge Plug Ti Part 1: A new start

The new arrival

Since the demise of my Bish Bash Bosh, I looked at getting it repaired however it was uneconomical to do so, thus I decided to instead put that money towards a new frame.  This time I wanted something with a bit more tire clearance and more durability.  However I still wanted something lightweight along with these qualities, this ruled out steel and carbon fibre.  I was very keen on the Mason Bokeh which had the clearance for up to 2.0" x 650b tyres or 40mm x 700c, this was an Dedecciai triple butted tubeset with thru-axles.  This was near ideal but the steep £1,150 for the frameset seemed a bit too much.

However browsing online I did stumble upon a 2016 Charge Plug Ti frameset for a few hundred less than this, after doing some research I found that someone had fit 57mm x 650b Schwalbe Big One tyres on one which piqued my curiousity.  I figured for the price I didn't have too much to lose, and this would be my first titanium frame.  It supposedly has the holy trinity of strength, durability and lightweight.



My goal was to fit 2.0" x 650b tyres into this frame, however I wasn't sure if the Ti version had the same tire clearance as the aluminium I had seen with the Schwalbe Big Ones.  I figured I didn't have too much to lose, as I could order it, measure the clearance and return it if worse came to worse.  The box arrived at work and I took it out, the gap between the chainstays measured at 54mm which wouldn't be enough to run 2.0" tyres, I was slightly disappointed but decided to take it home anyway that weekend and have a think about it.  When I took it out of it's packaging I was blown away by how good it looked, it really was a sight for sore eyes... This thing was really beautiful in the flesh and I made the choice to build it up, there was no turning back now!



The frame came in at 1,632g and the fork at 754g which was a little heavier than I expected but not too bad.  The head tube is a bit old fashioned in that it is a straight 1-1/8", most bikes now have tapered steerers, this is probably also why the fork has an alloy steerer too as it is uncommon to see a full carbon steerer in a straight 1-1/8" disc brake fork.  The other little peculiarities with the frame are that it has no provision for a front derailleur, no cable stops or anything.  Not such a big deal but it also lacked the thru-axles that many gravel bikes have these days, instead it just has traditional quick release dropouts on both ends.




Checking the clearance, it just clears a 47mm wide WTB Wolverine and a 47mm wide Maxxis Beaver 2.0" between the chainstays with about 3-4mm each side.  This really is a bit borderline as it may not be enough to allow for out of roundness and wheel deflection.  Still this is significantly more than the Bish Bash Bosh, 45mm tyres should fit in comfortably with 5mm each side.


Oddly when I tried to install my brake caliper I couldn't thread the lower bolt in.  Sure enough the fork's lower post mount was not threaded at all, very odd and this must have passed the quality control.  In all honesty the fork seems not as nicely finished as the frame, the crown junction with the steerer looks a little unfinished.


Rather than return the frame and fork to get it tapped I just did it myself, all done in about 5mins.  I installed the rest of my old Campagnolo Athena Carbon groupset and the wheels I built for the Bish Bash Bosh on it, to get the front derailleur to work I had to run a full cable housing run to it, as well as use a clamp on cable stop on the seat tube to get it to work.  Everything went on pretty well, strangely it was kinda nice to go back to a metal bike, all the plentiful fittings on the bike were very solid.

Back to the South Downs

The first ride I decided to take it on was along the South Downs Way where I had my last ride of the Bish Bash Bosh, I was back to face the demon mud that devoured my drivetrain and frame! Thankfully the mud this time was not so plentiful and it was a lot drier.  The first impression I got of the bike was that the steering felt pretty different to the Bish Bash Bosh, steering didn't feel as stiff, probably due to the quick release front end vs the thru-axle however it felt just as stable.  The ride felt a bit more compliant and more lively, it seems hard to quantify and it may be just a placebo effect but it feels more springy than carbon but not any less stiff as far as I can tell.  


I could also tell that the general fit of the bike was different, it wasn't until a bit later that I realised this frame was a whole size bigger than the Bish Bash Bosh!  The geometry otherwise was generally very similar except this has a 55cm top tube compared to the 53.5cm top tube of the Bish Bash Bosh.  Due to the longer top tube this bike has much less toe overlap and a more relaxed seat angle.  It was my own mistake when I ordered the frameset that I got the effective top tube and actual top tube numbers mixed up.  However having ridden it I think I actually prefer it this way.  Later on I fitted a slightly shorter 80mm stem and this had the effect of shortening the reach but livening up the steering, now it felt perfect.

Stay tuned for more.


0 comments:

Post a Comment