High performance racing bicycle technology and technique
Bikes & Frames - Priority Continuum Onyx
Saturday, April 28th, 2018

 

Priority Continuum Onyx

 

Josh Ross

 

A review of the Priority Continuum Onyx.

 

Sometimes, I need a bike that doesn’t require twenty minutes of changing into spandex. I want to drive less, I want to take a bike to the store more,. And I want to have something I can lock up with a good lock. Also it’s far from practical to ride with my boy while clipped in on a bike with more carbon than a Ferrari. So I need a solution for that challenge as well. Could the Priority Continuum Onyx be the answer?

 

The Priority Continuum Onyx

The Priority Continuum Onyx

 

I’m not alone in these needs. In fact, the challenges I’m looking to solve are some of the biggest segments of the overall bike market; and the Priority Continuum Onyx knocks it out of the park. Priority offer a great looking bike, with thoughtful features, at a great price.

 

Although you’ll find lots of bikes in this segment, the Priority Continuum Onyx includes a range of features not quite matched by anyone else; even if you are willing to pay more. Hydraulic disc brakes have actually become pretty common for a bike like this, but it’s nice to see that they are included here. A somewhat less common inclusion, although not unheard of, are the front and rear fenders. Of course there are tons of third party options for fenders, but it’s nice to not have to think about it and equally nice is having all the pieces on the bike match, and fit, exceptionally well.

 

Lights and mudguards come fitted as standard

Lights and mudguards come fitted as standard

 

As I keep running through the feature list, we are starting to get into the nearly unheard of features this bike includes. There are integrated front and rear lights, but instead of being battery-powered, they are powered by the rotation of the front hub. This allows the lights to be affixed to the bike in a way that means you don’t have to worry about them being stolen. So no need to remove them every time you park the bike. It also means never needing to charge them or having to remember them after you’ve brought them in for charging.

 

They are bright, they won’t dim as the battery gets low, and you never need to think about them. In fact, they really speak to the nature of the Priority Continuum Onyx as a whole. They are thoughtfully considered and work seamlessly to provide a better experience.

 

The NuVinci continuously variable rear hub

The NuVinci continuously variable rear hub

 

The real standout feature on this bike is the rear hub. Out back is where you will find a NuVinci continuously variable rear hub connected to a Gates carbon belt. Belt drive bikes are a joy to ride on their own. Not only are there no worries about grease on your pants, but you also never realise how loud even a well maintained bike chain is until you experience the near silence of a belt drive. It makes talking to my boy when I’m riding with him a substantially easier proposition.

 

Belt drives are less rare than the NuVinci rear hub, though. The NuVinci offers continuously variable gearing in a range similar to a standard eight speed bike but without the distinct gears. It’s hard to really grasp how much this changes the riding experience. When you ride a bike with distinct gears, as with almost all other bikes, the gearing really influences the way you ride in a range of situations you actually don’t consciously think about much.

 

A Gates belt drive offers hassle free operation

A Gates belt drive offers hassle free operation

 

How many times have you felt the need to shift, but since you were about to stop, you figured you’d just push a bit harder for a few minutes? Or perhaps you’ve come to a stop and realise you forgot to shift to an easy enough gear to get started up the hill you are stopped on. With the NuVinci rear hub you can shift at anytime and in whatever increment you want. There is no gear to clunk the chain into, so if you want to just make it a tiny bit harder, or easier, you can.

 

You also don’t need to worry about movement in the rear wheel, or torque on it, when you shift. If you stop at a light and realise you need to shift before starting again, go ahead and do it. As soon as you start pedalling, the bike will be in the correct “gear.” If you suddenly find yourself in the wrong gearing on a steep hill, you can smoothly shift without needing to worry about the chain slamming into the next gear because you are standing on the pedals trying to go up a hill.

 

The dynamo hub means you'll always have lights

The dynamo hub means you’ll always have lights

 

After just a few minutes riding the Priority Continuum Onyx, I found myself keeping my hand on the shifter and gently adjusting it almost constantly. Combine the quiet drivetrain with the easy shifting and the lights and fenders you don’t have to think about, and you have what might be the greatest city bike you could imagine.

 

The Priority Continuum Onyx has transformed a good segment of my riding by being something I can jump on in any clothes and take all over the city without all the thought I have to put into my race bikes. I didn’t even talk much about some of the more common features, but it has a good quality, and comfortable, saddle. It has a riding position that’s aggressive enough to compete in this segment, but still upright enough to feel comfortable with jeans and a slow pace.

 

Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on the Comtinuum

Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on the Comtinuum

 

There are a good smattering of reflective touches and a decent set of 32mm tires are included as well. The matte finish right where a bike lock would typically sit, as well as the directions and tools required to assemble the bike when new are all nice finishing touches as well.

 

The Priority Continuum Onyx is not alone in its market segment. There are a fair number of competitors. There is the Breezer Beltway 11+, a flat bar belt drive bike with integrated lights and included fenders, which carries an MSRP of $1799. Another option is the Trek Lync 5 which also has a belt drive, flat bars, integrated lights, included fenders and again a higher MSRP at $1469.

 

The Nuvinci controllers will allow you to shift any time, even if you aren't pedalling

The Nuvinci controllers will allow you to shift any time, even if you aren’t pedalling

 

Using a slightly different playbook Kona offers the Dr Drew. The Dr Drew is not a belt drive and has no integrated lights, but it does match the Priority Continuum Onyx on price with an MSRP of $999, even though it’s offering less. Aside from the handful of bikes that come really close to the features of the Priority Continuum Onyx, there are also other bikes with less features for less money but with a similar mission statement.

 

Look out over the field of options and what you’ll find is that you either pay more for similar products – although no one really matches quite the same formula – or you can find products with fewer features for less money. The Priority Continuum Onyx costs $999 and comes with all of the features that make a great riding experience such as a CVT rear hub, integrated lights and fenders, flat bars, and hydraulic disc brakes.

 

The front light uses three Cree LEDs

The front light uses three Cree LEDs

 

You could find something at a local shop, but it’ll likely cost quite a bit more for similar features. You can also save a few hundred dollars and get something in a similar silhouette but with more conventional features. Bottom line, the Priority Continuum Onyx is a killer deal on a fantastic, and thoroughly well thought out, bike.

 

Priority Bicycles

 



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