If dependability and efficiency in a city bike are priorities for you, then the Priority Eight belt-drive bike is certainly worth considering.
The upstart brand sells this 8-speed internal-hub, hydraulic-brake bike direct, which improves the price greatly over something you’d buy in a shop. (It's US$799 in the US, which is about £599.)
The Priority Eight highlights
- Hydraulic brakes
- Gates belt drive
- Virtually maintenance free (just pump the tires occasionally)
High performance, low maintenance
A few traditional brands have similar commuter bikes, but the Priority Eight is nearly half as much, while still delivering on quality components.
The Gates belt drive, for instance, is a tried-and-true solution that works perfectly for a bike that you don’t want to have to fuss with. There is no grease to get on your clothing, no metal chain to rust in the rain should you leave it outdoors, and no derailleurs to get bent at the bike rack or require maintenance.
Similarly, the Shimano Nexus 8-speed drivetrain is simple and dependable. A single twist-shift changer at your right hand keeps shifting easy. Unlike a derailleur bike, you can shift this when not pedaling, such as at a stoplight when you rolled up in a big gear but want to start off in a small gear. Very civilized.
The bike rolls quickly on seemingly flat-proof Continental tires, and the belt drive makes for a pleasantly quiet ride.
The Tektro hydraulic brakes deliver strong, dependable stopping, regardless of the weather.
In months of testing, I left this bike outside through the tail-end of Colorado’s winter, through a wet spring and on into a sun-baked summer. I did exactly zero maintenance on the bike, and it runs just as smoothly as the day I built it up from the box.
However, the dark paint on the handlebar and stem did eventually wash off in the rain. Priority said this was because I was testing a pre-production bike; current models don't have this issue, they said.
Speaking of building the bike up from the box, you can do it yourself or take it to a shop. The bike comes largely assembled. All you have to do is put on the pedals, handlebar, front wheel and fender/mudguard.
Beyond the quality drivetrain and braking, I appreciated the attention to detail: studs on the broad pedals ensure good grip no matter your footwear, Continental SportContact tires are fast but comfortable and secure, and full-coverage fenders smother the road spray.
While the stem/bar paint was a little disappointing, the functionality of the bike has proved stubbornly dependable. Aside from putting air in the tires periodically, I haven't had to do any maintenance with the bike: there is no chain to clean or lube, no derailleurs to tune, and the hydraulic brakes just work.
I used Lezyne’s ultra-bright Macro Drive front light and Bontrager’s Flare tail light on this bike. Integrated lights could be a nice touch, but I doubt they would be nearly as good as either one of these aftermarket options.
Priority also leaves racks and panniers up to the rider, with eyelets included in the frame and fork.