Steamboat Springs, CO has dubbed itself “BikeTown, USA”. Living in Steamboat (we typically drop the Springs in conversation), means that many people have a bike for just about every occasion, owning usually 2 or 3 options: road, mountain, townie or cruiser, downhill, enduro, or cyclocross bike. Before receiving my Priority Bicycle, I was behind in the times and was using my husbands’ old mountain bike that he received as a gift when he was in his early teens!
Priority Bicycles: Newcomers to the Bike Industry
Priority Bicycles started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 with the aim of producing a bike, “that was visually appealing but not overly technical, lightweight, comfortable, easy to ride, easy to maintain, hard to steal, and affordable.” Their first bike, the Classic Diamond Frame, is the bike I received for testing purposes and I use the quotes because honestly, that is the best way to sum up my experience with my new Priority Bicycle Classic Diamond Frame. From taking it out of the box, putting it together, going on my first ride, it really has been a joy and hassle free!
***The Priority Classic Diamond Frame is quite a mouthful, for the ease of reading and writing, I’ll refer to the bike as the Priority Classic from here on out.
The Priority Classic arrived at the perfect time for me this summer. I had recently suffered a wicked hamstring injury and was out of commission for running. Therefore, I have ridden the bike EVERYWHERE I go, making this the best test period possible. I ride the bike to and from work, to the grocery store, up and down a massive hill to our local pool to swim laps (more on that hill later!), to happy hour, and even to the most bike friendly wedding. I have ridden the bike everyday since receiving it some 30 days ago and love it each time I sit on the saddle.
For more information about the Priority Story, click here.
The Set Up: Putting the Priority Classic Together
The Priority Classic arrived on my doorstep in one large box. I didn’t see the UPS guy or gal dropping it off, but I am sure it took some wrestling to get it sitting nicely at my door. The bike came padded and wrapped with paper, plastic and zip-ties holding the bike tightly together for protection during its’ trip halfway across the country. I was able to lift the bike out of the box by myself after a little pulling and placing the box on its’ side. The photo below shows the bike parts laid out after removal from the box. My new Priority Classic arrived without a scratch on it.
While I have never put together a bike, I have put together plenty of items from Ikea. The instructions provided by Priority Bicycle are way easier to follow than the little Ikea cartoons, I promise. There is a great “how to” video on the Priority Bicycle website to assist you through the process step by step. Priority Bicycles includes the only 2 tools that you will need to get the job done, a wrench and 5mm/4mm allen wrench. The video is 5 minutes long and approximately 5 steps major steps:
- Turning the fork and mounting the front wheel. The rear wheel comes ready to go.
- Installing the handlebars and adjusting the handlebar angle. I ordered a front hand brake and it came already attached at the front wheel and along the upgraded Commuter handlebar as well. Getting the brake and gear cabling straightened out is what added some time to my set up.
- Insert seatpost and adjust seat height, and angle, if warranted.
- Attach flat pedals
- Pump up the bike tires with the included floor pump
It took about 25 minutes to put the bike together and I had my laptop handy to hit pause on the video while I did the step that the presenter (CEO) had just gone over. You could also use your cell phone with YouTube pulled up. Adding the bike cage is a separate set of instructions but takes about 1 minute to do. I added a rear rack a few weeks after I received the bike and once again, the Priority Bicycles website had everything I needed to know.
As you can see, I set the bike up in a dress and didn’t get an ounce of dirt or grease on me thanks to the belt drive. I then had my husband double check my work to ensure all of the nuts, bolts, and screws were tightened and good to go. After a month of regular use, I have checked the nuts and bolts to ensure they have remained tight, and so far so good.
Priority Classic Features
Two Frame Options
The Priority Classic is composed of a lightweight-rustproof aluminum frame and weighs in at 25 lbs. Living in a smaller community means that I have a garage, but if I lived in the city I would have no problem carrying this bike up a flight or two of stairs. When you add accessories, you do add some weight so keep that in mind. The Priority Classic Diamond Frame is available in two sizes, S/M for riders 5’2″ to 5’7″ and M/L for riders 5’8″ to 6’3″. I am just under 5’9″ and tested out the M/L and feel that the fit is perfect and maintains a comfortable upright riding position. The handle bar height/angle and seat heigh are a cinch to adjust.
Priority Bicycles offers the Classic Step Through Frame with a lower top tube height to accommodate a wider range of riders. The Step-Through Frame comes in XS/S for riders 4’8″ to 5’3″ and S/M for riders 5’4″ to 5’10”. The Step-Through Frame is available in matte black and gloss white.
Internal Hub and Belt Drive
Living in a mountain town means that their are lots of ups and downs to deal with. At first, I was very worried that the lack of gear choices on the Priority Classic, which comes equipped with Shimano Nexus three speed internal hub that shifts quietly and quickly from gear to gear. After a few weeks of everyday riding, the lack of gear choices is no longer so daunting and makes going uphill thoughtless as I know I will be in the lowest gear.
Here’s a quick example: I ride up a hill that gains about 800 ft and takes me 4 minutes and 30 seconds to ascend. This is with me standing up, panting, and sometimes zig zagging up the connector path we call “Buzzkill Hill”. This sort of effort doesn’t bother me, but it is definitely not for everyone. Locals in town, no matter the bike they are riding, feel a bit accomplished when they make it up the hill. I think it is pretty safe to assume that many visitors to our town would much prefer to take this bike on the nice winding and FLAT river path, and the Priority Classic would also excel at this.
The Priority Classic features a belt drive instead of a greasy chain: this helps stay true to the Priority Bicycles ethos of saving on mess, maintenance, and providing longevity to your ride. When riding, I don’t notice the shifting and feel that the belt drive is strong enough to withstand my cranking on it with the hills.
Priority Classic Ride and Comfort
The Priority Classic features 700 cc tires that are puncture resistant. I pump these up once a week as I tend to do a bit more “off roading” and notice they do get low. Priority Bicycles recommends keeping them at 75 PSI. The tires provide a smooth enough ride and accommodate changing road conditions with adequate grip on the road or path.
When it comes to comfort, the Priority Classic really exceeded my expectations. The tan saddle features faux leather and looks cool while keeping your bottom cool. The tan color doesn’t get hot like a traditional black seat. The saddle is also cushy and features some springs to absorb and distribute bumps in the road. The grips are also faux leather to match the saddle and are easy to grip without making your palms sweaty.
Living in a town with a ski hill with approximately 2500 vertical drop means that there are many hills around town. The Priority Classic comes with coaster brakes, which is great in many ways: require less maintenance, no cables to ruin the aesthetic, and work well in a variety of conditions. Coaster brakes are what we grew up with as kids: pedal forward to go forward, pedal back to stop. It took a few rides to stop searching for a brake on the right side of my handlebars. The downfalls of coaster brakes is that they can cause skidding, may be awkward to start pedaling when at a stop, they can be prone to overheating and fading, they can fail with the breakage or derailment of a chain. Fortunately, the rubber drive train is very stable, but overtime this too could fail. I added a front brake to counter some of the cons associated with the coaster brakes and plan to have my brakes checked more regularly due to the nature of our mountainous terrain.
Priority Classic Accessories
Priority Bicycles has quite a few accessories that can be added to help customize your bike. In addition to the front brake and commuter bars, mentioned above, you can also add:
- front and rear fenders
- front basket
- rear rack to add panniers
- built in lights (front and rear)
- pedal straps
- surf rack (for the Priority Coast only)
- integrated seat-post lock
- set-your-own lock combination
- U-lock with mounting bracket
- Priority helmet
The Priority U-lock with mounting bracket has been a wonderful asset to have. I love the idea of not having to carry the lock on me or risk the chance of showing up somewhere without a lock and worry non-stop about whether my bike may get nabbed. The U-lock does add weight to your bike, but I didn’t really notice as the weight is at the body of the bike and not at the front/or rear. Putting the lock in place was super easy and so far the bracket has stayed in place after some bumpy “off road” adventures. Where the lock and mount sit does not interfere with my pedaling and I have yet to notice the lock when I’m in motion. Another bonus, they provide you with 3 keys!
I ordered the Priority Front Basket because I loved the look of the basket and how it kept the same style as the Priority Classic. The front basket measures 12″x9″x5.25″ and weighs about 4 lbs and 6 oz (according to the post office scale). The size of the basket is ideal, but the added weight in the front of the bike just didn’t work for the type of riding I have to do to get to my home, aka riding up hill and standing up to grit through a 800 ft elevation gain. For flat-landers, I think this basket is a great addition to help carry small items, such as a purse, picnic, or a side item to a local bbq. Customer Service over at Priority Bicycles recommends carrying no more than 10 lbs in the front basket for safety reason. It’s quite sturdy and attaches to the frame in two locations and stays put without much noise. I ended up returning the basket unfortunately, but get great use out of my rear rack instead.
Final Thoughts on the Priority Classic
Here’s the breakdown of the bike I tested featured in the photos:
- U Lock 29.99
- Commuter Bars 29.99
- Priority Rack 34.99
- Front Brake 29.99
- Classic Diamond Frame (free shipping) 429.99
Grad Total : $555
Pretty sweet set-up and ride if you ask me in terms of the price. One of the best parts of owning a Priority Bicycle is the customer service that you will receive. If you have a question or concern, simply send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve sent an email with questions to know more about my bike or prior to purchasing accessories, and I got a speedy email in 12 hours from the CMO himself. That’s a pretty great service in my book as they really know and care about the product and want you to enjoy it fully. And, if you aren’t completely satisfied, there is a 30 day money back guarantee.
I love my Priority Classic and look forward to using it for many years to come.
For more information on the Priority Classic and other offerings from Priority Bicycles, click here