Kickstarter: Priority Cycles Launches Sub $400 Maintenance Free Commuters

Priority Bicycles

In recent years, many cities in the US have made great strides towards making roads more cycling friendly. In many of our neighboring cities, we’ve seen new green ways, bicycle bridges, public bike share programs, and other features, which have helped vastly increase the number of commuters pedaling to work.

Now a new company called Priority Cycles is attempting to encourage more people to commute by introducing a bike built specifically for their needs. Paired down to the very essentials, the bikes seeks to entice first time buyers with its low cost and ease of maintenance. 

Priority Hero

The step through model is available in an XS/S & S/M sizes, which accommodates riders 4’8″-5’10.” The Diamond frame is available in a S/M & M/L, which fits anyone from 4’10″ to 6’3.”

Rather than offer a myriad of colors and options, Priority settled on two models – a step through and traditional diamond frame.

The frame is constructed from aluminum in order to keep weight down and prevent rusting. Combined with an upright seating position, well padded dual foam saddle, and cushy grips, it offers a comfortable ride that’s light enough to carry up stairs, and will stand up to the elements.

W's Priority Bicycle

The tires are listed as “puncture resistant” and have tough sidewalls to help reduce the chance of flats. And to help deter thieves, Priority used bolts throughout rather than quick releases.

Belt_cs

Many commuter oriented models have seven or more gears, but the company found that the spread was either not enough, or way too narrow for most riders. They chose instead to utilize an internally geared 3 speed Shimano hub. The hub uses a belt system for propulsion – which will never require lubrication, won’t rust, and is ultra quiet.

In addition to derailleurs, brakes are another item that need occasional adjustment, so Priority eliminated them. To slow down, you’ll have to channel your inner kid and pedal backwards.

Right now the bikes are available to backers on Kickstarter starting at $349. This price includes everything you need to assemble the bike, plus a quality floor pump, kickstand, and water bottle cage.

On the first day the project received 6x the original $30,000 funding goal, but you can continue to back the project until Aug 14. The expected delivery date is December (just in time for Christmas), but due to the immense popularity of the project, we wouldn’t be surprised if some orders took longer to fulfill.

Back the project here.

 

Comments

wheelz - 07/16/14 - 8:10am

I like the idea and obviously they guy behind this has given this a lot of thought. Here are a few questions:
1) I looks like you’ve gone for a ‘cruiser’ type design where the saddle is low and far back? Seems that this will cause a lot of knee pain and ineffeciency for anybody doing real commuting.
2) We all know that massively padded stool-type saddles are only comfortable for very short distance.
3) What do you intend the average trip length to be? I’ve bike-commuted for years and in many different US cities and have always had around a 15 mile commute each way. This bike would not be idea for anything over a mile or two IMHO.

Road Rash - 07/16/14 - 8:13am

A commuter? No fenders,no lights, no racks…really?

Gunnstein - 07/16/14 - 8:24am

“Commuter bike” without fenders and a rack. Sigh… Got to appreciate the price for a belt bike though.

“Many commuter oriented models have seven or more gears, but the company found that the spread was either not enough, or way to narrow for most riders. They chose instead to utilize an internally geared 3 speed Shimano hub.”

Huh? 7 gears is not enough, so they offer even less?

“In addition to derailleurs, brakes are another item that need occasional adjustment, so Priority eliminated them.”

Great. Instead of speccing a virtually maintenance free front drum brake (should be an option at least), they make the front brakeless, so that you’re left with only some 20% of possible braking power.

3 gears is fine for flat cities, but no front brake is a serious security risk. And illegal in several countries. Buyer beware.

Pete - 07/16/14 - 8:34am

No front brake on a bike designed for inexperienced riders? Ummm… Hope no one needs to stop going down a hill. They might want to get out of mostly flat Manhattan for some test rides.

Steve - 07/16/14 - 8:57am

I’m in agreement with those who’ve expressed wonder at why this bike seems to have no options for racks and fenders. I don’t see any mounting points on there, unless the weird bracket-looking thing on the seat stay serves some purpose to that end. I also agree that the upright posture, combined with the lack of front brake and more than three gears, results in this bike being rather impractical for riding (especially regularly commuting) in any hilly areas, such as the city in which I live.

Overall, I’m a little bit surprised at hearing someone who’s ostensibly been working in the cycling community for so many years claiming that there are no good-quality, simple-to-operate-and-maintain, reliable, entry-level bikes out there on the market. I could point to plenty of options, if only typically with chains instead of belts. Of course, I was also surprised to see how low the guy had his saddle height set until he made that comment about not being a very good cyclist…

In any case, I definitely appreciate what they’re trying to do as far as getting more people on bikes who might be otherwise intimidated by what, to them, may be an unfamiliar and confusing technology and/or lifestyle; however, I wouldn’t be marketing this as a commuter bike, given the reasons mentioned above. This seems like a good first step into the world of recreational or casual urban cycling more than anything else. For serious commuting, I wouldn’t recommend this bike.

Cloxxki - 07/16/14 - 9:03am

I see inexperienced riders suffering hard crashes DUE TO using the front brake. If you stay away from hills and don’t take risks, a rear is plenty.

Luiggi - 07/16/14 - 9:34am

@Steve, the “bracket-looking thing on the seat stay” is necessary in order to split the rear triangle and fit the belt driver. It’s a bolt-on fitting.

Shoprat - 07/16/14 - 9:37am

No bike is “maintenance free”. Even with a belt drive IGH, the shift cable will require adjust/replacement sometime. And those tires will still need air.

Tyler - 07/16/14 - 9:43am

In the photos of the actual bike (including the still at the start of the kickstarter video) you can see fender and rack mounting points. I suspect the ones on the white background might be mockups?

Gunnstein - 07/16/14 - 9:51am

@Cloxxki Because they don’t PRACTICE using the front brake, as everyone should do, for their own and everyone else’s safety. 20% braking power is NOT plenty. Even if your own riding is perfect, other people make mistakes that require you to stop quickly.

Mike - 07/16/14 - 10:22am

I don’t see this being “maintenance free”. Nothing more than a buzz word.

It may have a “mostly maintenance free” drive-train, being belt driven, but the rear hub still will need yearly preventative maintenance, they do not mention whether or not the front hub is cartridge bearing, and it is a threaded headset, so more likely not a cartridge bearing either, meaning if it is being used as a commuter, and in all weather scenarios, means it should be serviced (cleaned and greased) at least once a month.

In mechanics, there is no such thing as “maintenance free”. If it has a mechanical property, you still need to provide preventative maintenance at some point.

But as others have already mentioned, the properties of this bike does not really make it an ideal commuter for most cities. It would best be home in SW cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Albuquerque where it is flat and dry.

MikeC - 07/16/14 - 10:46am

Ditch the belt drive; add a stainless chain, lights, fenders, and a rack or front basket.

If you tell people “maintenance free” they will inevitably think they do not have to periodically add air to tires… although the “quality floor pump” is actually a real nice touch.

3sp hubs still need to be adjusted occasionally — just sayin’.

“Bolts throughout” for theft protection, but the actual bike pictured has a QR on seatpost clamp… *quibble*

If they can toss in a pump, kickstand, and water bottle cage, they can spring for a water bottle…

Aluminum for corrosion resistance… everyone uses aluminum, it’s the steel bolts and other hardware that rust.

But I like the style, hope they are successful. More choice is good and they are bound to appeal to many.

Clay - 07/16/14 - 11:18am

Maintenance free just means you don’t see the gears. I wore out a IGH 3 speed after about 2500 miles or so. I am sure it could have been repaired, but I tried and never got it right. Derailleurs are easier to maintain as they are much simpler. While something was worn or broken with my 3 speed, the replacement 1X10 drivetrain has gone further and needed less maintenance.

Eric Murphy - 07/16/14 - 11:29am

So I can buy a lightly-used bike
-modify rear triangle to fit the belt
-change rear hub to IGH
-change front hub to drum brake for less maintenance

There you go! I can have this kinda bike less than 400.

This is too easy job, they need to work much more than this.

dickl - 07/16/14 - 11:39am

Most bike trips are under 2 miles. This bike looks great for that.

Peter - 07/16/14 - 11:51am

While the bike doesn’t come WITH fenders or a rack, it definitely has mounts for them. It’s hard to see the eyelets in the small photo here, but on their website, they are clearer. Also, the bolts on the seat stays are pretty obvious on a black bike. At 2:31 there’s a closeup of the dropouts in which two eyelets can be seen.

I’m also nervous about the internal coaster brake, but this bike isn’t targeted toward me. Sure, an IGH might wear after 2500 miles as Clay’s did, but there are plenty of people who are going to be on this kind of bike who will take 5-7 years to ride 2500 miles.

Steve - 07/16/14 - 12:15pm

Neat idea. Agree that there are others that are similar in this price range. For “Maintenance free” I love my single speed with bb7′s. The only time I mess with it is to change it from MTB, to commuter, to CX, to road. That’s by choice. Before I built it, I dabbled with a a coaster brake. I wanted no cables. But the wheel kept moving on me when I braked hard. I ended up settling on the bb7′s because of their ease of setup and maintenance, and also I have a brake if I were to loose to the chain.

I haven’t run a belt, but they look interesting. The biggest thing I think they offer is “grease free” pant legs.

James S - 07/16/14 - 12:21pm

What’s most interesting about this bike is that it is completely not interesting. There are plenty of entry level bikes like this already. But the thing I really dislike is how this type of bike is aimed directly at new riders’ fear and insecurity rather than asking them to take a step forward and learn how to ride a bike and do basic maintenance. A real commuter bike with a 3×9 drive train, disc brakes, fender, rack, generator hub lights, and normal saddle would do the job much better than this thing ever could. It would be safer, faster, more comfortable, more practical, and the maintenance would be trivial compared to a car or motorcycle. Otherwise, if the hypothetical new rider insists on being ignorant and lazy, they can just get a single speed beach cruiser with a coaster brake and be done with it.

Desertpinstripe - 07/16/14 - 12:24pm

I know a lot of fair weather, low milage riders for whom this would be a great introductory bike. Priority clearly found a niche that feels underserved based on the success of their Kickstarter campaign.

Ryan - 07/16/14 - 12:25pm

My $99 Wal Mart singlespeed has gotten me to and from work for 3 years with just two chain replacements, new brake pads, and 3 flat tires. 2500 miles and still going strong.

Chris - 07/16/14 - 3:52pm

A lot of people here clearly don’t get it but that’s fine since anyone reading this likely isn’t the target audience.

“3 speeds are not enough” – Ever seen how many people tool around European cities on just one gear?

“The upright position isn’t efficient/is hard on knees” – This bike isn’t mean for rides of that distance. There’s nothing in your seating position that is going to hurt you on a 1-2 mile ride. Also, again, look at all those people in Europe riding bolt upright. I don’t seem them being hobbled from riding this way.

“No fenders” – No sh*t. Do you realize a pretty large chunk of the US population live in places where it doesn’t rain very often? Yeah, here in Seattle fenders are a must-have but that’s not true in places like Phoenix, Austin, etc. You’re also missing the point that on days when it does rain most people will drive, not ride.

“No rack” – Again, look at the target audience. Your casual commuter is going to to carry a laptop bag and not much else. If you’re riding less than 3 miles you’ll don’t really need a rack/bags or a basket.

These bikes are clearly not intended to be replacements for cars nor are they intended for rides of any real distance. For a lot of people all they need is a bike to ride to the grocery store (rarely more than a mile), around their neighborhood with their kids or maybe to work if it’s less than 5 miles. For fair weather riding of this sort this bike is on target. Also keep in mind that while many of don’t consider a $400 to be very expensive to most people it is.

George - 07/16/14 - 7:31pm

The commenters seem to be confusing tour bike for commuter bike. Regardless, I would’ve gone with an SRAM 2-speed Automatix hub and include a handlebar mounted polypropylene basket.

Nooge - 07/16/14 - 9:47pm

@Chris you contradict yourself… You say no need for racks then say people will use it to go to grocery store, which is a prime reason for having a rack. In any case it has the mounts.

Swerveon - 07/17/14 - 1:05pm

@Chris – Thank you.

Alejandro - 07/17/14 - 4:13pm

@James S — You’re insane. I won’t take the time to call you out on everything, but just tell you that I am a new rider — and this bike caters to everything I am looking for. I have no clue what a “3×9 drive train, disc brakes, generator hub lights (!!!!!!) are….all I know is that the bike looks awesome, fits my particular needs, and is in a really solid price point. (deleted)

Tom - 12/04/14 - 12:17am

OMG. Bicycle people are the snarkiest gear heads on the planet.

I commuted on a new high-end road bike for a couple of years and several thousand miles. Moved, now I don’t, but I live within a mile or two of anything I need, and having been intrigued by the city bikes in Paris, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. ME. If it isn’t right for you, just say so. You don’t have to pick it apart.

People are just the worst.

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