If you’re looking for a reasonably priced commuter bike that doesn’t require regular tuning or maintenance, you might want to check out Priority Bicycles. After riding a Continuum since this spring I can say the bike has served me well, requiring only a few minor adjustments to keep things running smoothly.
As Priority’s top of the line commuter model, the Continuum features a Gates belt drive system and Nuvinci’s Nfinity internally geared rear hub. The build spec follows Priority’s usual scheme of providing key necessities like fenders, rack mounts, and puncture-resistant tires with reflective striping.
Priority Bicycles belt-driven Continuum commuter setup
The Continuum arrived mostly assembled in the box. All I had to do was straighten and tighten the stem/bars, install the front fender, put on the front wheel, drop in the seat and post, wrench on the pedals, and pump up the tires.
Just for fun, I tried to build the bike with the basic tools Priority supplies. I was almost able to complete the assembly. But, oops! I broke both wrenches trying to tighten the pedals on! I’d suggest using a proper pedal wrench, and really checking the wheel nuts with something more substantial than the provided tools.
The rear wheel comes already bolted in with the drive belt pre-tensioned, so you can get riding right away and shouldn’t need to tension the belt for quite some time. Since the wheel is positioned in the dropouts via two slotted washers, you can remove and replace it without needing to reset the belt tension. The only other extra step to remove the wheel is disconnecting the shifter cables from the Nuvinci hub, which simply pop out by hand.
My first impression was that the Continuum’s aluminum frame and fork both look well built, and don’t give off a “budget” vibe. As for fit, I’m 5′ 9″ tall and the 19″ Continuum’s geometry worked well for me. When I compared it to my other commuter, the reach was almost identical but it definitely sits me in a more relaxed, more upright position versus my custom MTB conversion.
I find Priority is very thoughtful when it comes to their builds: the Continuum is fully equipped for daily commuting with fenders, front & rear rack attachments, bottle cage mounts on the top & down tubes, bolt-on wheels & seat, and 700x32c puncture-resistant tires.
The handlebar, stem and grips are pretty basic… Since the Continuum is Priority’s high-performance model, it wouldn’t hurt to see a name brand bar/stem, and the weather-resistant silicon grips weren’t the most comfortable on longer rides. As this bike is meant to get you around in all kinds of weather I applaud the inclusion of the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which haven’t needed any adjustment since day one. I found the Velo seat fairly comfortable, and am happy Priority provided metal platform pedals with traction pins.
Nuvinci geared hub
As an MTB rider it took a lot of getting used to the Nuvinci hub’s grip-shifted, non-indexed gear range. It took me a while to figure out how far to twist the grip to achieve the cadence I was looking for. I also found the gear indicator a bit comical, although it makes sense – just match the little rider and surface indicator to what you’re doing – riding flat ground (high gear) or climbing a hill (low gear).
I’d expect the hub’s 330% range (which is a tad wider than an 8-speed setup) should be ample for most commuters, offering low enough gears for grinding uphill and a tall enough top end to get moving fairly quickly. The only real disadvantage to the hub is its weight. The complete Continuum comes in at 30.29lb/13.74kg, and a lot of that heft is in the hub.
Long term review
As for issues, there isn’t much to report. After about three months I started noticing a slight click on every crank rotation. While the crank arms didn’t have any detectable play, Dave at Priority suggested wrenching the spindle bolts down really tight. I managed to get a bit more tension on each, and it resolved the click. I also noticed the shifter started slipping out of its highest gear, but it turns out this is an indication of cable stretch on the Nuvinci setup. Following Priority’s instructions, I simply gave the barrel adjusters a few twists and the gear slippage disappeared.
At one point I suspected there might be a minor problem with the rear hub, and again Priority was great about addressing the issue. After thorough investigation, we determined everything was A-OK. With web-based companies, you might have concerns about after-sales support, but Priority was awesome about responding quickly with any technical info I needed.
I’ve stated before that I think Priority offers good value. But I’d say with the Continuum that depends on how enamoured you are by the belt drive setup. If you’re sold on its advantages, $900 seems like a fair price for this bicycle. The belt drive is very smooth, virtually silent, has required zero maintenance so far. And it was really nice never worrying about greasing up my work pants. However, for a new rider who isn’t tech-savvy, it might be a hard sell next to a cheaper chain-driven bike.
All in all I’ve had a great time riding the Continuum. It’s a well-appointed commuter that has lived up to its low-maintenance claims. And the belt drive system gives it a unique but fully functional flair. Riders looking for a reliable, highly capable ready-to-ride city bike will likely find that balance in the Continuum.
*Editor’s Note: Priority Bicycles has since sold out of the original Continuum, but they’ve released an upgraded Onyx edition of the bike that retails for $999. They also supply more robust assembly tools with the new Onyx edition bikes!