2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter – Unboxed, Weighed & First Impressions

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Bicycle

The 2012 Charge Mixer just arrived for review, and it looks to be a serious all-weather commuter. The Shimano Alfine 11 speed internal geared hub on the rear gives a clean chain line, and (from what I’ve heard) requires less maintenance than other gear systems. With paint-matched sparkly fenders, fat tires, hydraulic disc brakes, and a glittery black Tange Prestige steel frame, I’m interested how this bike will hold up in the daily mash.

The London-esque weather arrived along with the UK-designed bike, which is good and bad. The weather granted me wet roads and muddy gravel for some initial impressions. It seems to handle the elements well. The Mixer’s been on a 25-miler, a 10-miler, and a few shorter rides during its first days.

Hit ‘more’ for specs, pics, initial impressions, and weight…

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Weight

I am testing the Large in Glitter Black. Charge offers sizes X-Small, Small, Medium, and Large. This one is the monster. It weighs in at 29.03 lb (13.2kg). In all honesty, the bike is a bit on the weighty side. I would not want to carry it down a large set of stairs every day for a short commute. The Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub weighs in at ~1600g alone.

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Shimano Alfine 11 Speed

The specs of the gears in this little box are featured below. The sprocket is 20t. So far, no problems with shifting. The ratio handles steep inclines, flats, and declines with ease, though I haven’t packed a lot of weight on it. I stay between 8 and 10 most of the time and shift to 11 for declines.

Gear Ratio Total Difference 409%
Gear Ratio 1 0.527
Gear Ratio 2 0.681
Gear Ratio 3 0.770
Gear Ratio 4 0.878
Gear Ratio 5 0.995
Gear Ratio 6 1.134
Gear Ratio 7 1.292
Gear Ratio 8 1.462
Gear Ratio 9 1.667
Gear Ratio 10 1.888
Gear Ratio 11 2.153

 

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Front Disc 2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Rear Disc

Shimano M445 Disc Brakes, front and rear. The cable that looks like it could interfere with the chain (right) was fixed after the pictures were taken. It is now aligned parallel to the chain. At the time, the Alfine hub that the cable is attached to was misaligned.

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Fork Brake Line

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Bottom Bracket

The frame has vertical dropouts in combination with the Alfine hub so chain tension is adjusted with eccentric BB. KMC X9 chain width is 6.6mm.

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Rear

Notice the handsome sparkly black finish, the GB (made designed in Great Britain) sticker, and the rack mounts.  There are two bottle-cage mounts on frame as well. That ugly black thing wrapped around the top tube is my addition – a combo of electrical tape and bar tape to protect the frame against rusty bike racks and street signs.

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Shifter Grip

Here we have the Charge lock-on grips and the Shimano 11sp shifter with push-pull capability. Features a 31.8mm stem and flat bars.

2012 Charge Mixer Urban Commuter Cranks

FSA Vero 175mm crankset to match FSA headset. The pedals are my own. I replaced stock flats with a clipless system. Made in Taiwan sticker slightly overlays the ‘r’ in ‘Mixer’. The weight sacrifice of the Tange Prestige steel frame should promise a smooth ride.

Specs and First Impressions:

The 2012 Charge Mixer comes in one color, Glittery Black. Performance Bike offers it in America for $1,299.99 (at a claimed discount).

Frame: Tange Prestige, Seamless, Double butted cro-mo
Fork: Charge Whisk, Tange Prestige cro-mo
Brakes: Shimano M445
Levers: Shimano M445
Headset: FSA TH-875
Stem: Shield, 31.8mm
Handle bars: Shield Urban flattie
Pedals: Wellgo Alloy trekking
BB: Truvativ GXP outboard
Rims: Alex XD-Lite, Double wall, 32H
Grips: Charge Griddle lock-on
Tires: Charge Coaster, 700x32c
Saddle: Charge Spoon
Seatpost: Shield, 2 bolt
Seat Clamp: Shield, bolt type
Shift Levers: Shimano Alfine 11/s trigger
Crankset: FSA Vero Single
Cassette: Shimano 20t Cog
Front Hub: Shimano Deore, HB-595
Rear Hub: Shimano Alfine 11/s internal

My first few rides on the Mixer were enjoyable in some ways, but less enjoyable in others. The weight of the bike doesn’t seem to affect the ride. It doesn’t feel heavy or burdensome. In town, the handling is responsive, with the feel of a track bike built for free-wheel commuting. There is an amount of toe overlap on the front tire due, in part, to the fender. I got used to the overlap fast and it hasn’t caused any problems. The Alfine hub allows me to shift gears while sitting at stoplights, which is a fun feature. Fenders keep the rain away and the tires handle curb-hops and the pot-hole-drops well.

Although around town it is great, the 25-miler revealed a minor problem with the Mixer. While the bike as a whole handled well on all terrains (grass, dirt, mud, gravel, asphalt), the bars eventually became annoying. Riding the flat bars for any period of time after 20 miles hurt my wrists. It would be easy to compensate had I let go of the bars occasionally or put my hands in the center. Unfortunately, some terrains, especially rough terrains that this bike can handle, don’t allow for that. Despite this flaw, the Mixer glows on commutes of 10 miles or less around town. The fenders, 700x32c tires, disc brakes, and Alfine hub should get me to my destination in all weather conditions. Aside from the ruggedness of this bike, the Mixer has some serious style. The glittery paint and clean drive-train get an A+. These features seem to be an aesthetic hit among the hip-kids while the Alfine hub is a plus to mechanical folks.

These were my initial impressions based on a three day weekend with the Mixer. I’ll see how it holds up over time with a long-term test, riding in all weather conditions, changing tires, crashing, jumping, hauling weight (my measley 160lbs of 6’1″ body ain’t gonna cut it). I’m curious as to the perseverance of the Alfine hub with daily commuter use. Check back in a month or two!

Comments

Schooner - 02/22/12 - 11:26am

Glad to see the chain width is 6.6mm.

Vodalous - 02/22/12 - 12:17pm

You have to be kidding me, “. It weighs in at 29.03 lb (13.2kg). In all honesty, the bike is a bit on the weighty side.”

You must just ride road bikes or something. Think of this as a good upper body workout (Crosstraining) !

Doug B - 02/22/12 - 1:00pm

Get some Ergon grips for the bars, they would look good as well as really help out for the flat bar issue..

Strawberry Sram - 02/22/12 - 1:26pm

NOT made in the UK.

Those frames are welded in Taiwan at WCF and complete bikes assembled @ Southern Cross Bicycles

Editz - 02/22/12 - 1:29pm

Reminds me somewhat of the now discontinued Breezer Finesse.

mg - 02/22/12 - 2:56pm

I’ve been riding an eight speed version as an everyday commuter for a year and a half now (75+ miles/week). It rides well, is low maintenance and is great in adverse weather conditions.

The issue I found with the heft of the bike isn’t the overall weight, it’s the rear biased weight distribution. With such a heavy rear end, certain potholes/jolts seem to get exaggerated at the rear triangle. Not a deal breaker, and as the review mentioned, the overall ride is very nice, it’s just something that your back will not be happy with on occasion.

Besides the FSA headset only lasting 4 months and swapping out the handlebar for something more comfortable, the stock components are solid.

The Alfine hub requires very little maintenance, shifts smoothly and makes this one of the quieter bikes I’ve ever ridden. However, the hub and horizontal drop out combination make rear wheel removal a bit more involved and time consuming than other bikes.

dgaddis - 02/22/12 - 2:57pm

@Vodalous – I ride mtn bikes and still think 29lbs for a roadie is heavy. I’ve ridden sub 26lbs steel hardtail 29ers. There’s no reason this thing should weigh 29lbs.

mkrs - 02/22/12 - 4:43pm

This thing is UNBELIEVABLY heavy!

Speedy - 02/22/12 - 7:12pm

@ Edtiz – the Breezer Finesse is not discontinued. it’st just back up on the website yet (last I saw). It will be available for 2012 still.

Vodalous - 02/22/12 - 9:07pm

You people have to be kidding me! 30 lbs for an alfine, full fenders, discs, and a chromoly frame? My ss steel Dj bike is 27 lbs. 29 is a good solid commuter. You want it to be solid and be able to tote weight, etc… I appreciate one commenters insight onto it being rear heavy.

The other complaint about flat bars? Really? Did you never go mtn biking? Back in my day…

harro - 02/22/12 - 10:21pm

Make this with a belt drive and I’d be all over it

Robin - 02/23/12 - 2:07am

A bike definitely does not have to weigh 30lbs to be “solid and able to tote weight….” Like it or not the reality is that for people who have to carry thing, weight could very well be a consideration. To make the entry into commuting by bike easier and more appealing to people not currently commuting by bike, it’s necessary and smart to consider things like weight and how people not living on the first or second floor are going to get their bike up to their apartment or loft. A lot of potential bike commuters couldn’t care less about getting a good upper body workout, especially if they’re also toting groceries with the bike.

Rward325 - 02/23/12 - 11:04am

Interesting bike to say the least. I just bought another bike in this class weighing in at 27 pounds and thought that was heavy to start with. Once I add Fenders and Panniers it will easily match the weight of this bike.

Editz - 02/24/12 - 3:45pm

@ Speedy – I was basing that off of your site’s long-term Finesse review. I see it has been updated.

Jradz - 03/08/12 - 4:26pm

Bar swap is an option but I read somewhere that someone simply flipped the neck over so it was more up-right and comfortable.. just a thought.. I’m really thinking about getting this bike .. looks cool and has everything I’m looking for in an around-towner and to the office bike

Oli - 04/27/12 - 3:02am

I’ve been commuting with the Mixer 8 2010 for a couple of years and have to say weight is definitely not a problem. I’m 82kg (90kg when I bought it) and normal pack weight is around 5kg, maybe 8kg if I’m studying over an average 12km (up to 25km on training days).
One thing you can be sure of if you ride a road bike, it helps it ALOT. You just get used to the hills plain and simple.

Hub related: Shimano are onto something here. 2 years and well over 3000km on the hub is still ticking over nicely. I get a funny sound in 4th like it’s not fully engaged but it’s never popped out when loaded so I don’t have issue with it. Note it’s not really a straight comparison though, I believe the 11 is in an oil bath as opposed to the grease bath of the 8 but I’m not sure how that affects it.
My only gripe with the hub though (may only apply to the 8) is that as you get fitter, gears 1-4 are so narrow that they border on useless. Luckily the Alfine offers options for an 18T cog so you can rid yourself of it and push even harder :)

Maintenance: No issues with removing the back wheel and components to clean / change wheel. Just do it a couple of times and you get used to it. Sucks that you have to carry a pedal wrench to cover for a flat though. Everything else, rear brake pads are due for a replacement soon, maybe a wheel true is due but it really is maintenance free.

Hope it is all relevant but overall, it’s all I could’ve asked for in a commuter and it has become a training bike because of the weight. I just wish the 2010 version came with fenders :(

[...] this beauty around the office, a Charge Mixer (sized large) weighed with full techs and specs here. Based in the UK, Charge Bikes caters to an audience geared toward functionality and fashion, and [...]

Mike - 08/22/12 - 8:12am

I also own the 2010 version for nearly a year now. I love the bike, the weight has never been an issue for me, it’s surprisingly quick and weaves in traffic really nicely. Being a steel frame it doesn’t feel stiff which is great with all the pot holes on my run to and from work. I love that I can change gears without moving. A week ago one of the Wellgo pedals snapped off, so I’ve replaced them with Shimano Flat/SPD pedals. The brakes have been excellent in the crappy weather we get in Dublin, Ireland.

I’ve definitely fallen in love with this bike, it makes the commute to work really enjoyable.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.