HoHoHo (Charge Grater 3)

… aka (n+1)-1.

Early X-mas came to my house and I splashed some money on new commuter. After searching for some time I wanted to try bicycle with gears in hub. Basically I hope that mucky ride won’t affect bicycle with hidden gears and disk brakes are more logical choice for British weather. About year ago I tried on LBS Genesis Day one with Alfine 11. Priced quite nicely about 70% of original price (around £900 for almost new- someone returned the bike after week of use), which was still quite steep for me. Since then I’ve been searching to do it cheaper, and I had the idea of buying everything separately and using cyclocross frame put a new commuter together slightly cheaper. Started calculating and I discovered that I’ll probably end up with same price. So the cheapest option, was to find a complete bike, tune it to my needs and sell remaining bits and pieces on ebay. Some time ago I’ve discovered Charge Grater 3. From research on Internet I could tell that’s what I needed. Just swap handlebars and job done. Decided splashed some cash (£649) and here we are. Two weeks later shiny and new bike in my living room. I know pictures are rubbish but on Charge web page better can be found.

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Before more of bike porn, some pros and cons (as I see them).

Pros: nice frame – full set of threads for mudguards (front and rear) as well for rack (rear only), theoretically upgradable to standard CX bicycle as on the back drive side fitting for rear wheel looks like ready for derailleur hanger (in fact the alloy socket looks like hanger just cut with saw ;-)). The frame got eccentric BB, looks like is perfect tourer choice. In case of braking rear mech single speed can be made on the side of the road.

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Wheels looks solid. WTB rims with Shimano hubs (will see)

Cheap and cheerful hydraulic Shimano brakes, from the bottom of the scale (equivalent of Alivio group), but looks pretty solid in terms of stopping the bike. Rotors completly different story.

Quite nice looking mudguards, fiddly though to set it up correctly.

All hardware from Charge got ascetic look which I think are quite nice.

Cons:

Rotors are rubbish, full stop.

Apparently I’ve got “anti-rust” chain, but the feeling of that chain when turning crank backwards is terrible. Will see after first 100-200k if that will disappear.

I can’t tell anything about Kenda tyres, but remember not funny experience with (same series – Kwick) couple of years ago. They were tifferent size (25-700) but left bad taste in mouth. Anywho spoiled by Schwalbe Marathon’s, swapped straight away to them.

So the bike porn as promised:

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Tyres changed, rack mounted. Time for swap to road handlebars.

To make it happened I had to search for Versa road levers suitable for Shimano Alfine 8. Found them off ebay in good price. I wanted cx levers as well, as bike will be used mainly to commute to work. For handlebars I found ITM as weapon of choice because of short reach (70mm) and shallow drop (125mm) so really not changing position too much riding with hands on flats or on hoods.

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To convert to road levers callipers need to be swapped. That was almost no-brainier and I went for mechanical Avid BB7 (be aware that exists two different versions MTB and Road-different cable pull). The reputation is proven by lots of reviews on Internet.

Problems (and solutions). The build itself went smooth with two minor problems.

First. Cable routing. Looks like minor detail but wrongly done can affect shifting and braking. Quite a bit of fiddling with cables different options considered and I came with solution to cross the brake and gear cable underneath downtube. Doesn’t look sleek but will do better IMHO that sharp bent rear brake cable.

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Second problem was rotors. I hoped I’ll be able to leave original Shimano rotors and use them with BB7’s, but decided after test ride they must go. For remaining rotors I’m pretty sure I can find better use ;-). Will report any issues with newly purchased Shimano Ice-Tec XT RT81 rotors (£22.5 per one). That was biggest bump I didn’t expect.

For sale after whole operations: Charge handlebars with grips, Shimano brakes and Alfine 8 shifter. So all in all should cover at least 60% of transformation expenses.

Some links to useful stuff I found (you might find) during build.

Keep the rolling.

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13 thoughts on “HoHoHo (Charge Grater 3)

  1. I’m considering this bike as well. Please tell me how do you find the gears: are they working fine for you? Do you feel they’re adjusted for easy riding (or hills) or rather for a sportier riding? I’ve got the same Shimano Alfine 8 gears with a 38 teeth cranckset, on Schwalbe Big Apple 26×2 tires. I felt the need to upgrade to a 43 teeth cranckset (I’m riding mainly on flats) and I’m curious if I’ll have to do the same thing on the grater.

    • Hi. At fist of all, I feel that Alfine, even the latest 8 speed hub, isn’t as smooth as you’ll expect. It’s got essential problem that indexing is made by shifter. Shifter is basically on the other side of the bike and is extremely sensible in terms of inner cable drag, quality of the shifter etc… Ok that was my morning moan ;-). In terms of gearing 38/20 is made for easy riding, I’d say hills rather than speed. I can tell you that with 40kmh on 8th gear (schwalbe 28-700) I need about 85rpm cadence. I’m fine with gearing on mine as is quite hilly everywhere around. You can try different size cog on the back (18T). This will be cheaper option. Don’t know about compatibility with Nexus, but you can go as low as 16T. Quick hint, measure cadence with current setup, make excel spreadsheet with different ratio and choose which is suitable for you (what is cadence you feeling comfortable). For example 38T/20T-40kmh/80rpm; with setup 38T/18T: 38/20=1.9, so for 38/18=2.11; 1.9/2.11*80=72rpm(for 40kmh) with 80rpm same setup will reach 2.11/1.9*80=44kmh (if my maths is right ;-)). Hope that’ll help.

      • That was a fast reply, thanks!
        I never bothered with math, nor with speed – although I’ve red about some online calculators. But with my older ratio, I’d quickly get in the 8th gear and had no room for improvement (and I don’t like fast cadencing, I’m kind of lazy commuter & leisure biking ..). With my new ration, the 8th is no longer needed for my typical pedaling, 7th is fine, and my hub behaves nicest in 5th, 6th, 7th anyway. 8th remains for valleys or speeding up. I’d never thought about changing cog, though – seemed too complicated – but I’ll take it into consideration.
        Thanks again!

      • Changing the cog is actually less complicated I think. The only problem is spring washer which might be a bit fiddly to put back again. Other than that is about 10 min procedure (plenty YT videos).

  2. What size is your bike? I’m looking to buy one, and having issues deciding between small and large. I’m 5’8″ and kinda fall in between sizes. I normally (road bike) ride a 53 or 54cm.

    • I think (need to double check it) it’s medium ~50cm. You can see that frame is a bit different than road bike. Bottom bracket is higher than in road bike. I think I used guide on Charge website when purchased. Hope that’ll help.

  3. Hi,
    Do you think upgrades on the 2K16 version of this Grater 3 will correct some of the “defects you fond” ? eg: rotors.
    Do you have an idea of the actual weight of this bike (full stock) ?
    I ride a 70’s steel frame converted into fixie-bike, and it weights less than 10kg. But my knees requires some change… (Getting older every day)
    Have a nice ride !

    • Hi. The 2016 model at first glance is the same (only difference is “turd” paintjob ;-)). Hmm, strictly speaking they are not “defects”. Is just a personal taste. The bike looks nice (hardware etc), so IMHO is a shame to use cheapest calipers and levers. Anyway the brakes will be still ok for most people as this is not downhill machine or MTB. I swapped brakes as I’ve changed levers to Versa road levers. The biggest “defect” still remains, which is Alfine hub (weight and occasionally gear skipping). So all in all in my case is compromise. I sacrificed weight and compatibility of standard drivetrain for “mudproofness” of Alfine solution (the bike is well used for commuting >10kkm/y). Ping me an email if you want any info or chat on skype if you like. Cheers

      • K,
        Still, with alfine, road handle-bar, changes and other changes, do you have an idea of your actual commuter’s weight ?
        XoXo

        🙂

      • Hi. Sorry about massive delay. So I managed to find my scale and hung the bike. So, the bike shows 11.4kg, but it’s got pedals (Sh XT), bottle cages, rear rack and swapped levers to Versa 8 sp. So I’d say is probably slightly more than 10.5kg. Hope that will help. Keep’em rolling.

      • Don’t worry with “massive” delay, I’m not in a hurry !
        OK, so if raw Grater 3 is 11.5kg, it looks like a good deal…
        I had in mind something a bit heavier… Like 13 kg…

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