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Priority Continuum Onyx - Review

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Priority Continuum Onyx - Review

Old 02-06-20, 02:50 PM
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PDXCarless
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Priority Continuum Onyx - Review

There don't seem to be a lot of these around so I thought I would contribute a review and add to it over time as the "new" wears off. I've had this bike for less than a week and have put about 50 miles on it. I'll try to come back to this after intervals and add comments pertaining to maintenance. Maybe other Continuum owners will contribute advice along the way. Speaking of maintenance, my primary motivation to buy this bike is the hope of having the most reliable and lowest-maintenance commuter/city bike possible. I commute year-round in anything but ice and won't be touring, trail-riding or racing it. Weight is far down my priority list.

When I started shopping around, my priority list included hydraulic disc brakes, internal hub transmission, dynamo lighting, bullet-proof tires and the ability to carry a heavy laptop, multiple locks, clothes, lunch and a 175 lb human. I didn't know belt drives or CVT shifting existed on a bike until well into my online research.

The only way to get this bike is to directly order it through the Priority website. I've never bought a bike without a test drive so this gave me pause. All the reviews of the company and the process are glowing and there's a return policy. There's a chat app on their site which took my phone # and I communicated with a rep over text for quite a few nit-picky questions. I always received a response withing 10 minutes. You can have it shipped to your home for $30 but you'll have to assemble it yourself. There's a video on youtube showing that this isn't that difficult to do. However, having never had a belt drive, I opted to go with their other option of paying $100 to have it shipped to a mobile bike mechanic, Velofix, and delivered to my door fully assembled. I'm glad I went this route as it turned out my local Velofix mechanic lives about a mile from me and has assembled plenty of this exact model. This has also gotten me in contact with a nearby mechanic, and super nice guy, that has loads of experience with belt drives and this eccentric Nuvinci hub. I ordered on a Friday and the bike was delivered on Saturday (8 days later).

On to the bike....

My previous commuter was a Specialized Crossroads hybrid from 2001 or so. It has grip shifters and a typical 3 x 8 derailleur setup. Despite the Nuvinci having grip shifters, it has taken me several days to really get used to "shifting", if you can call it that. On the Specialized, you would roll the grip backwards to shift down and forwards to shift up. It's the opposite on the Nuvinci. Down = downhill, up = uphill. The cables can be reversed, but I decided to stick with it and get used to it, which I mostly have. Also, reversing the cables would mean the little visual indicator of a guy going up a hill would not make sense, not that I ever take my eyes off the road to look at indicators.

It's also taken me a while to get used how far to "jump". On the first day, I thought I had gotten a much slower bike. Now, on the fourth day of commuting, I am positive that I just wasn't shifting efficiently. Small adjustments are more effective than the large and inaccurate adjustments I was making. Now, the only time I make a big jump is when I shift all the way down while at a dead stop. This ability to start from any "gear" is a big deal to me as my commute through the Portland city core involves many, many complete stops and near-stop cautious moments. When at a complete stop, you don't have access to the full range. Once I start pedaling, I can shift a little bit lower. However, the range I'm able to access is already lower than I what need to easily get started. In summary, my feel for the intervals has improved over a few days and my commute hasn't gained or lost any minutes when compared to my previous bike. I've read about the Nuvinci being inefficient but my commute time doesn't reflect that. If it's less efficient, maybe I'm burning more calories which would register as a plus.

Now, the most immediate and dramatic different between this bike and any other bike I've ridden.......silence. No shifting sounds, no missed or skipping gears, no sound at all. Of course, the belt drive is also silent. Once, I thought I heard noise on my quiet early morning start but it was a another bike coming up behind me. I can hear the usual soft free-wheel click when walking the bike, but I haven't noticed it while coasting. If this hub holds up over time, I reckon I'm done experiencing gears skipping or chains slipping. The sum of the silence and the CVT "shifting" results in a very smooth experience.

The only thing that I can say bad about this transmission is that you may never feel the "boost" of jumping to a higher gear at just the right moment. It's much like what you might miss when driving an automatic transmission in a car.

This is my first set of hydraulic disc brakes so my review of them isn't worth much. They work well and are silent. No issues.

The tires are "WTB Slick". Priority's site describes the tire as "puncture resistant" but neither the WTB site nor Amazon mention that. Therefore, I have to assume they won't hold up compared to the Schwalbe Marathons or equivalent that I have on my other bikes. They are noticeably softer and probably grip the road better. They seem like quality tires to me but If I get a puncture, I'm upgrading to bullet-proof.

The dynamo hub powers the head and tail light. They seem bright enough to be visible to others which is all I needed and expected. I have a very strong light mounted to my helmet to illuminate the road in front of me. The lights stay on for a while after the bike is parked/stopped. There's a micro-usb connection on the rear of the headlight protected by a rubber flap. I wrote Priority about this as and they replied that it should be used to charge a power supply when the headlight is switched to off. The power supply can then be used to charge a phone. Apparently, the unsteady power source means that charging a phone directly from the dynamo can make the phone frequently switch in and out of charging mode and actually drain it's battery. Fair enough. As it currently costs less than 1$ per year to charge an iPhone every night, and I charge at my office as well, I can't see this being much benefit unless I want to take the bike on a long tour and charge a power brick along the way.

Now to the bad stuff: Not much. After adding heavy panniers, the included kickstand is risky. I've caught the bike falling several times. It's not that the kickstand is low quality, it just isn't a double-kickstand. I'll be adding one of those soon.

Last edited by PDXCarless; 05-15-20 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 05-10-20, 06:58 PM
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patriarchz
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Iím a couple months in on my Onyx, and Iím pretty happy with it. Iím also an every day commuter (about 15 miles round trip to work each day), and this bike seemed like a tank, so I went for it. I have a 20 year old Univega mountain bike that Iíve been using as a commuter for the last 8. Itís done itís job, but it also requires a lot of maintenance. Since my bike is basically my car, I want to reduce the amount of downtime for repairs. I need my bike- driving is for suckers.

I love the way it looks, itís smooth and quiet, and itís built well. I did upgrade to the double kickstand, but for some reason this bike still wants to topple over if it has a pannier or a bike trailer on it. Not sure what the deal is with that. I also donít like the grip shifters. Iíve never used them before, so maybe Iíll get used to them, but as of now- not a fan.

Iím gonna upgrade my tires as well. Iíve ridden marathon Plus for the past 7 years and Iíve never had one flat, but Iím gonna try some Continental Contact Plus this time since Marathon Plus doesnít come in the size I want. (Apparently the biggest tire this bike will accommodate with the fenders on is 709x42. The Marathon Plus is either much smaller or much bigger.). I think the smaller tires that come standard on the Onyx have made my ride a little less comfortable and Iím noticing soreness in my hands and wrists. Itís not the bike, itís my old 44 year old body, but I think going back to bigger tires will help.

But overall I love this bike and the customer service is amazing. Every time I email them I get a response within hours. Theyíre great.
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Old 05-11-20, 08:19 AM
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PDXCarless
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Please update this thread when you get your new tires. I started another thread about upgrading the Onyx to Marathons and how I was worried about the clearance under the rear fender that has a taillight power cord running under it, which reduces the available space. I still haven't upgraded as the WTB tires are holding up just fine. However, I'm working from home every day now with the pandemic and am putting far less miles on my Onyx than I was when I wrote the review.

Re-reading my review, I'd update one thing. The dynamo-powered headlight is more powerful than I described. I rode a few times at night without my helmet light and the dynamo light was bright enough to illuminate the road in front of me so I could avoid pot-holes.

I figure I put about 500 miles on it before we locked down and then maybe another 100 after. It's a quality bike. No regrets.
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Old 05-14-20, 08:47 AM
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Pugs2xLove
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After purchasing my Cannondale Quick 1, I discovered this bike online and am very interested in it. Unfortunately, I've already gone through my bike budget this year so will have to wait until next year to buy the Continuum. I had been commuting to work sparingly last year after moving to the current house and now that the weather is getting warmer, I will do my best to ride more going forward. My commute is roughly 14 miles each way to and from work (road/trail) and my town is working on connecting the local streets to the nearby trail which takes me directly to my workplace so hopefully, it will be full sidewalks and trail in the future without having to dodge vehicles on the roads. That project is due to start this Summer and hopefully will be completed by Fall. Being in Iowa, there are rolling hills which I am working on conquering so can you both tell me how this bike handles hills? What about bad weather? Don't know about snow or ice but I will definitely commute in rainy conditions as long as it's not pouring outside. Also, how much does this bike weigh? Just some questions I have. The Micro USB connection is a plus for me since I listen to music on my commute and the bike lights mean less charging for me every night. Love my Cannondale since it's a light and quick bike but I do want something that is low maintenance and less replaceable parts and the Continuum fits the bill.
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Old 05-15-20, 08:21 AM
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I would say this bike is all about reliability and low-maintenance, not speed or performance. A dyanmo hub in front and a heavy internal gear hub in the rear pretty much tells you what this bike is and what it isn't. I found that the NuVinci hub felt strange, maybe a little "mushy" until I got used to it. Now, I think I shift more efficiently than I do on my derailleur bikes. It's my first Nuvinci, my first dynamo hub and my first belt drive. That's too many new factors to compare it to my other usual bikes (an older Specialized hybrid and a Brompton foldy)

I do have some long gradual inclines and one or two fairly steep hills that I hit on my usual commute. The continuum does feel a little heavy to me, but my bike is usually fully loaded with two bucket panniers, a heavy front basket and a heavy Abus u-lock. I take the attitude that if I'll just get stronger and in better shape to make the hill easier, as opposed to getting a lightweight bike.

My DIY panniers are light but add wind-resistance:
https://www.bikeforums.net/commuting...-panniers.html

And my DIY front rack is a bit heavier than the usual rack....a sacrifice made for art.:
https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...sket-rack.html

Before I added all this, I lifted it and didn't find it felt particularly heavy.

Last edited by PDXCarless; 05-15-20 at 08:25 AM.
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