Long Term Test: 2012 Charge Mixer With Shimano Alfine 11-Speed Internal Gearing
The past few months, we’ve been tossing 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 twines these attributes into an affordable, durable ride.
Packed in the 2012 Charge Mixer is the Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal hub, the bike’s showstopper. It creates clean lines and a virtually maintenance-free system. It’s built to take the elements with a
mechanical hydraulic disc brake and fender combo to handle rainy days. In fair weather, a sparkly black paint job creates a subtly brilliant shimmer.
I don’t use cars, so the Charge received a hearty test. I’ve been riding on expeditions anywhere within the city ranging from massive grocery hauls to miscellaneous errands to picnics to joy rides in the night. On longer journeys of 20 miles or more, the Mixer can hold its own against road bikes with a couple bottle mounts for water haulage.
With aggressive handling and looks, surprising for a commuter, the Tange Prestige steel frame and Alex XD Light double wall rims dampened bumpy roads from point A to point B with some occasional Cs, Ds, and Xs thrown in for good measure. Click ‘more’ to read the full review…
The Mixer fits itself in Charge’s line between the road bike and the fixie/singlespeed group. It has the functionality and gearing of a road bike with the simplicity and style of the SS. Any loss that “hybrid” or “commuter” would imply is made up for with the tech-heavy rear hub. The 11 speed Alfine provides a 400% gearing ratio, and a rapidfire shifter allows for shifting two gears at a time, even while stopped. As great as shifting while stopped can be, it’s a nasty habit and got me into trouble switching back to standard road bikes.
Sold in XS, S, M, and L for $1,300 in the USA from Performance, I tested the largest. When they advertise large, they mean LARGE. I didn’t get custom-fitted for this one and lucked out on pure inseam.
This is my second flat bar commuter, my first being a total failure of a bicycle – I won’t mention any brand names. So, for a few years I was turned off to the concept of flat bar commuters. When this came in, I gave ‘em a second chance, if only for the awesomeness of the Alfine hub.
In my initial impressions, I critiqued the weight of the 29lb commuter. After having it for a while and mashing around town, the weight critique seems superfluous now. After all, this thing isn’t a racing bike and shouldn’t be treated like one. The Charge Mixer is a functional commuter that can haul through town, rain or shine. As far as braking goes, the
mechanical hydraulic Shimano M445 disc did not disappoint. With braking power in all conditions, I prefer them to other brakes for commuting. They’ve landed me in no scary situations.
Regarding tech and mechanics, the Mixer is simple. The features included provide pure functionality without the owner needing any geeky know-how to make it roll.
The Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub has been simple from the start. After getting the hub properly seated and all parts latched in, which Performance Bike was super helpful with, there have been no serious issues. This is good, because I’d hate to fix the hub on the go. The only maintenance necessary is an occasional change of oil. Located on the hub itself, an oil slot allows old oil to be sucked out and replaced with new oil whenever necessary.
A broad spectrum of gearing is provided, 400% compared to the Shimano 8 speed internal at 320%. Taking it to the mountains, I found gears 1-4 helpful for rough climbs. But besides mountain travel, I rarely used those. In a fairly flat city, I found that I kept it generally between 6-11, 6-7 being my sissy-boy bailout gears and 8-11 my crush-it-all-day gears.
The Mixer frame has the exact geometry of Charge’s Plug and Plug Prestige Fixie/SS bikes, so expect handling similar to fixie frames, with a bit of added weight on the rear. I kept all components stock except for pedals and an optional dark-tinted chain guard. The leather saddle, of all components, struck me as surprisingly comfortable. Sold aftermarket as the Charge Spoon, the pressure relief channel was a plus and comfortable enough that I didn’t need to throw on cycling shorts each time I rode.
With appeal ranging from fashionistas to internal-gearing tech fans, the 2012 Charge Mixer holds strong on all fronts. It glides smooth through city streets in all conditions and looks great doing it. Whether riding to the coffee shop or to work, or to that organic grocery store 10 miles away, the Mixer has the ingredients to get there.
- 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