Given its attractiveness you’d be forgiven for falling for the Charge Hob 3 on looks alone, which is why on my first test run I was desperately hoping the Hob 3 would live up to my expectations.
Two months down the line I am pleased to say that this bike certainly did, but bear in mind that my expectations took into account that this is a straight up urban run-around designed to see you well nipping about the city.
With its standout hot purple finish, teamed with bright white grips and saddle, the Charge Hob 3’s looks are one undeniable draw to this bike. Its appearance is helped along further by the mixte style frame, swept back handlebars and shortlink chain, all of which help to produce a sleek and edgy looking bike. Pulling up at traffic lights has never been so rewarding, even the men can’t seem to help but throw admiring glances my way.
As you'd expect in London, my 30-minute commute is free of any nemesis climbs. I've never had to push the Charge Hob 3 too hard up a steep hill. There is one short unavoidable burst of a hill that I encounter everyday, but the Hob 3 seems to stand up to it pretty well so don't be put off by what some may consider to be its limited three gears. That said, it’s not a bike designed to be charging up the likes of Mont Ventoux. Unless you're looking for a challenge, it's far more at home chilling out in the city. With its sweeping handlebars and resulting upright position, stand up peddling is pretty redundant, but it sure makes the Hob 3 handy at nipping through commuter traffic.
The Mixte style frame gives the bike a solid feel, while offering the bonus of being practical for girls with a penchant for skirts. The ‘Ladle’ saddle, hailed as Charge's 'best inexpensive saddle', is my new favourite. Not only is it affordable but I can also vouch for its comfort on both long and short rides. The fact that I haven't given the saddle a second's thought speaks volumes; from past experience I know that I'd definitely have an opinion about a saddle even if it was just the teeniest bit uncomfortable.
The matte shortlink chain adds a nice edgy touch to an already impressive looking bike. I’ve heard a few mumblings that Charge should have added on a chain guard, but as I’m yet to have any issues getting caught up in it, I’m of the opinion why would you cover something up that looks so good?
While there’s not much cushioning, I found the Charge Plunger grips to be comfortable enough and my hands are still pleasantly callus free, a nice change from some of my previous grips. White does have its downfalls though - when the grips started to resemble more of a grey hue I self-consciously began to question just how dirty my hands could be (I've since opted to blame the smog heavy city)! Fortunately though grips are cheap and easily replaceable, so if pristine white grips are what you're into, then it's easily done.
Practicality hasn’t been overlooked, with the Hob 3 coming complete with front and rear mudguards as well as fittings for a rack. While the full length rear mudguard was a pleasure to behold whilst splashing through wintry puddles, it wasn't long before I started to notice a rather irritating rattle in my wake. It turned out I'd lost one of the mudguard screws, so I headed to my local bike shop for a quick fix. This is when it dawned on me that when Sturmey Archer gears are involved there's no such thing as a ‘quick fix’. Punctures are an inevitable occurrence on urban roads and when the inevitable does happen, I can foresee that this is when the full-length mudguard, Sturmey Archer gears and bolt on wheels may become a slight draw back. So don't go expecting a quick inner tube change.
On the plus, the three-speed Sturmey Archer gears prove to be pretty handy when you're riding about town stop starting at tedious traffic lights. Unlike standard gears, you don't have to meticulously plan your gear changes, allowing you to change gear even when you’re parked up, something that would normally leave you grinding along with baited breath, praying that your chain doesn’t pop off.
The Charge Hob 3 is an ideal city run around with enough speed in it to be fun and nippy, with the added bonus of looking pretty damn fine. While it’s not one for clambering up hills, the Hob 3 more than does the job for a city commuter or urban moocher.
- Looks great
- Potential faffing should you get a puncture
- Mud guard prone to loosening
Weight: 11,500 grams
Price: 569.99 (single speed version 499.99)
More information: Charge Hob 3
UK supplier: Charge
What Charge says about the Hob 3
The Hob 3 is our multi speed version of the Hob.
Built around a Mixte style frame, it has a comfortable upright riding position and its swept back handle bars makes a safe and nimble feeling bike. Charge’s multi-award winning ladies’ Ladle saddle and custom full length mudguards make it an instant classic.