Review: 'Maintenance-free' Priority Bicycles drop the chain

Priority Bicycles drop the chain for a ‘maintenance-free’ ride


Priority makes owning a bike simple.
Priority makes owning a bike simple.
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Best List: Priority Bicycles Classic Diamond frame bike

When it comes to bicycles I am profoundly inept. Riding is fine. Just don’t ask me to fix it when it breaks.

My assembly and maintenance skills are so bad, the last time I reviewed a bike I put a critical piece on the wrong side and didn’t realize my error for weeks until someone finally pointed it out in pics.

So when the folks at Priority Bicycles told me they have a bike that pretty much never ever needs repairs, I couldn’t wait to saddle up and see how well it rides.

What sets Priority Bicycles’ Classic Diamond frame bike apart from the other commuters is its simplified design, which tosses out parts that need fixing the most. Metal chains, cable brakes and regular tires that pop every time you roll through a rough patch are gone in favor of higher-quality parts usually found on pricier setups.

No one likes having to put a greasy chain back on a bike in the middle of a ride, so Priority’s uses a belt-drive system. It won’t rust or stretch over time like a metal chain and lasts 10 times longer. Plus, it doesn’t have to be lubed up regularly, making for a smoother ride.

The Cycle Drive system used by Priority Bicycles is something of a rarity in the U.S. (even though cyclists in Europe have really taken to it). It features a Shimano three-speed internal hub that’s super-easy to shift, and won’t eat your pants if they get too close to the hub.

Riding with a belt drive isn’t any different than with a chain, but having a coaster brake rather than cable brakes does take some getting used to. Coaster brakes work just like the bike you had when you were a little kid. Pedal backward and the coaster brake pushes the braking shoes inside the hub outward, so the wheel stops spinning and you come to a stop.

I found it a bit odd at first slamming my feet backward instead of squeezing on a brake to stop. My reaction time is way slower, and seeing how there’s no front brake at all, you have to ease into your stops. You can buy it with an optional front hand brake though.

After a few rides through the city, I felt pretty comfortable with it, and I’m glad I’ll never bother with loose tension cables and brake pads.

Other design improvements offered by Priority include puncture-resistant tires. They still need to be inflated, but the bike ships with a pump. Everything is super-easy to assemble out of the box and comes with all the tools you need. Screw the pedals on, put the handlebar in place, mount your seat post, and you’re ready to go.

Overall the bike makes a great commuter for short trips if you live in the city. It only weighs 25 pounds. It’s not a speed demon, but it looks great and comes in options for both men and women. And it’s cheap.

If you never want to be bothered with bike repairs again, this is your ride.

Price: $429

Buy from: Priority Bicycles

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