Best known outside of Europe for their freestyle adapted fixed-gear bicycles, U.K.-based Charge Bikes makes impeccably crafted bikes that are aesthetically and technically superior to most other bikes on the market. Contrary to what the hype may imply, Charge is actually deeply rooted in XC and dirt jump mountain biking, and have since been rapidly tackling the cyclocross scene with a range of impressive rides backed by some of the sport's best athletes. Previously only sold in the U.K. and Japan, Charge has officially opened distribution in the United States, with bikes launching online and in shops over the following weeks.
New for their 2012 line is the Scissor, a beefed-up replacement of the Plug Freestyler, the bike that earned the brand a cult fixie following over the past five years. The only 29er freestyle fixed-gear on the market available as a complete bike—rather than being sold as a stand alone frameset—this tank was designed with input by fixed gear innovators Tom Lamarche and Ted James to withstand levels of abuse that would otherwise leave a bike in pieces. Using a more forgiving geometry with a longer and lower top tube, Tange Infinity seamless steel-butted tubing and custom laser-cut dropouts, the Scissor is described by Charge as "indestructible, simple and clean."
After slimming down their fixed-gear line in an effort to broaden brand identity beyond the universal fixie scene, Charge has been pushing their latest achievements in cyclocross design. This is most evident with the line's crown jewel, the titanium Freezer. This lightweight beast is sold exclusively as a frameset to serve as the backbone for the ultimate cross build. Highlights include a custom-machined headtube for an integrated headset and wishbone seatstays to help absorb canti-brake flex and add mud clearance.
With slightly more relaxed geometry to keep things comfortable and accommodate fenders and racks, the Filter Apex is a slightly tamer version of the Freezer. Currently the only cyclocross ready bike on the market that uses disk brakes, the Filter is a force to be reckoned with both on the course and on the streets. For performance it's outfitted with SRAM Apex components and for strength it's built with the finest Tange Prestige steel tubing.
The full line of Charge Bikes for 2012 includes titanium mountain bikes, beautiful urban commuters and a comprehensive range of parts from wheelsets to handlebars to grips. It will all be available to North America through Performance Bicycles in the next six weeks, with the Scissor and Filter Apex selling for $650 and $1350, respectively. Official prices for the Freezer are pending. Find a store near you or head over to Charge Bikes online for more information.