Ridden and Reviewed: Charge Cooker Maxi Fat Bike

I’m not much of a mountain biker. Mostly, I get my kicks—such as they are—on the road. I dabble every now and again, but nothing serious. That is until the dreaded Polar Vortex (I, II, or III– I can’t remember which now) pummeled our North Carolina office with a couple of inches (gasp!) of snow, taking road cycling off the table. I was getting all ready to not ride a bike at all and go lift, when instead I was given a chance to test ride the Charge Cooker Maxi fat bike on a snowy trail ride. I scrounged around for some ill-fitting clothing, geared up and headed out. I admit I looked at the bike dubiously, but within minutes of getting on, I was sold.

Snow biking puts a new spin on old trails, and is a great way to spice up your riding routine.
Big fat bike, big fat fun.

About The Bike: The Charge Cooker Maxi is a fat bike with a steel frame and fork. The bike is designed to accommodate massive, 26X4” tires that mount on 26” x 80mm wide Wienmann rims. This gives you the feel of riding a full suspension bike without all the mechanical moving parts. The bike is a beast that can pretty much roll over anything, and is great for snow, sand, loose dirt, or just generally finding your inner-gnar on the trail. It’s equipped with a SRAM X5 2×10 drivetrain (with an FSA Comet crank).

Rear brake arch has plenty of clearance
Rear brake arch has plenty of clearance, and rack braze-ons make it ideal for bike camping or other off-road touring

Unboxing and Set Up: My Charge Cooker Maxi was already set up as a demo bike, but it should be generally straight forward, since it’s basically a conventional full-rigid mountain bike (with massive tires), so you don’t have to worry about setting suspension sag or fork rebound. The only thing to be aware of is pumping up the tires— they’re so big that even getting to the ultra-low volume of 8-10 PSI can take you several minutes.

I added a set of Forte Platform pedals, bringing the weight to about: 36.6 lbs.

The Ride:  Taking the bike out on the trails in the snow was just pure fun. At first I was a little nervous riding the bike over the snow and compacted ice, but all my worry turned out to be for naught. The bike handled the snow, ice, and buried trail hazards with ease. The feel of the bike is less like riding a mountain bike and more like driving an Abrams tank, sans cannon. It didn’t so much roll over the snow as churn through it, and I rarely felt like I lost traction (actually, the only time I did was when I tried to take an icy corner too tight). I truly felt like I could roll over just about anything—which proved to be the case. Because the tires are so huge, and have such a low volume, the bike can handle rough trail like a full suspension bike—making tackling rocks, logs and trail bumps feel easy and comfortable, but the full rigid frame and fork gave a feel of pedaling efficiency you sometimes don’t get from a full-squish bike.

The bike just kind of rolls over anything
The bike just kind of rolls over anything

The bike isn’t the lightest thing in the world, particularly if you’re used to a featherweight XC rig, but to lament it’s weight is to kind of miss the point. The fat bike isn’t about winning races, it’s about going anywhere you’ve ever wanted to go on a bike. Even with all that heft, it’s still maneuverable and light enough that I was able to chase down some of that ever-elusive Fat Bike Air at one point. Handling was pretty easy, and didn’t feel nearly as sluggish as I had expected. The bike easily got up to speed, and carried momentum nicely into turns. The mechanical disc brakes provide great all-weather stopping power that easily scrubbed speed and provided well-modulated stopping power when I needed it.

The gearing on the bike is also nice and low, so you can spin at a high cadence, but still generate plenty of torque and power to tackle almost anything in your path. One small niggle I did have was fit. Because of the geometry modifications that had to be made to the chainstays to accommodate the massive rear tire, I found the q-factor on the cranks to be a little too wide for me, however that was fixed by simply switching from clipless pedals to a pair of platforms. This actually turned out to be preferable anyway, since I was able to wear hiking boots instead which were A) warmer, and B) easier to get off the bike and go check out stuff off the trail.

Tackling the snow and ice was easy-- and a blast
Tackling the snow and ice was easy– and a blast

The bike also incorporates rack mounts, which make it almost ideal for bikepacking or really getting out and exploring the back country. With no suspension to worry about, the Cooker Maxi would be a nice and dependable rig for some serious trail trips. I love touring and s24o (sub-24 hour overnight) bike camping, so I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of taking the fat bike out and exploring the mountains of western North Carolina this summer.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a fun, versatile, go-anywhere bike, the Charge Cooker Maxi is definitely for you. No matter what conditions or terrain, I have no doubts that this bike could handle them with ease. The Cooker Maxi takes the best aspects of a full-suspension and a hardtail and mixes them together—but with more utility. If you’re not worried about racing, but just want a pure adventure machine then this is the bike for you.

The adventures on this bike have just begun
The adventures on this bike have just begun

7 thoughts on “Ridden and Reviewed: Charge Cooker Maxi Fat Bike

    1. Incredible bike! You can ride year round and enjoy every season and all sorts of trail conditions from snow, mud, sand, and dirt. Solid, quality build from Charge Bikes!

      1. Yeah, we thought so too Robert. We’re pretty excited to see where else this bikes takes us over the next year. Thanks for commenting, and make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to win one of these bikes over on our Facebook page.

  1. Just bought this bike. I’ve ridden it in snow, sand, mud, gravel and wood chips. It goes way better than my full suspension 29er. There’s a section of creek bed I ride through that is so much easier on the fat bike. Those huge tires with 10 psi of air roll over loose rocks with ease. My 29er gets tossed to and fro with it’s “skinny” tires. Oddly enough, the steering is very touchy compared to the 29er even though the 29er has a steeper head angle. (70 deg. for the fat bike, 72.15 for the 29er) Because of the touchy steering, I find it much more of a challenge to ride the fat bike fast down singletrack. Not having any suspension doesn’t help either.

    There’s a sandy hill that I used to have a helluva time with on my 26 inch bike. I got a 29er and noticed a huge difference. Now I have this fat bike and it climbs even better, even though it’s probably 15 pounds heavier.

    The first thing I did with this bike is to put Slime in the tires because there’s lots of goat head stickers where I ride. Surprise no. 1: Fat tires take 4 times as much Slime as a normal bicycle tire. Surprise no. 2: It takes about 150 strokes on your average bike pump to get these bad boys up to 20 psi.

    I rode the first few days with 20 psi in the tires.Then I switched to 10 psi. What a difference. Ride is more cushy. Better traction. It seems to handle better at high speeds. The tires don’t bounce as much when you hit bumps. They suck ’em up, about like a full suspension bike with 1.5 inches of travel.

    I have been wanting a fat bike ever since the first time I saw one. Now that I own one, I’m kicking myself for not getting one sooner. If you like to ride in places where most mountain bikers don’t (Sand, Gravel, Mud, Snow, Wood Chips, Horse Poop) then this bike’s for you.

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