How One Company Managed a Stylish
"Maintenance Free" Bike for Under $400
More and more these days, guys are on their bikes—commuting to work in the city, running errands or simply riding for exercise and stress-relief. But when it comes to buying a bike, there's usually a compromise involved. If you're not looking to shell out a lot of cash, you usually end up with a clunky, heavy bike from a big box store that doesn't last as long as it should. Or you could get a lightweight road bike from a proper cycle shop and end up paying through the nose for high-end features you won't really use.
An early prototype sketch
Priority Bicycles is a new company trying to bridge that gap with their lightweight "maintenance free" commuter bike. Made with quality components, the three-speed model is half the price of similar rigs. There's obviously a desire for such a bike. The brand had an epic launch this past summer on Kickstarter. "We were initially hoping for $30,000 in backing during our 30 day campaign," says founder Dave Weiner. "But we reached the goal in under two-and-a-half hours, and in 30 days reached over $550,000."
The bikes themselves were designed to get you around efficiently and comfortably. While most models today have either way too many gears or are a single speed, Priority chose a simple three-gear system. Unlike conventional steel frames, Priority crafts theirs from lightweight aluminum, making it easy to carry the bike up and down stairs. Plus, aluminum is rust-proof. Which brings us to the company's "maintenance free" claim. Of course, no bike could ever be fully free of all maintenance, but Priority has done all they can to eliminate much of it. Weiner's past as a bike mechanic helped him pinpoint the issues that needed to be addressed.
Internal hub three-gear system
First up, they did away with the often troublesome and greasy chains, opting instead for a durable belt drive that's usually only found on expensive, high-end performance bikes. Hand brakes often need fixing or adjusting at least, so Priority eliminated them as well. Their three-speed internal geared hub has a foot brake, which they say can go "thousands of miles" and many years without ever requiring service. Even the most frequent fixes—flat tires and bent wheels—have been addressed with puncture-resistant tires and double-wall rims.
So how does this high quality bike come at such a low cost to you? Weiner's industry connections allow his team to buy from the same manufacturers as all of the other major bicycle companies, but Priority wins by eschewing a storefront and selling directly to consumers. "By keeping our overhead low and removing a step in the supply-chain, you're effectively getting an $800 bike for under $400."