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Priority Continuum Onyx vs. conventional hybrid bike

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Priority Continuum Onyx vs. conventional hybrid bike

Old 05-08-22, 03:44 PM
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anitje
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Priority Continuum Onyx vs. conventional hybrid bike

I'm looking for a bike to ride for transportation, fun and exercise in western MA, and sometimes on shopping trips as well (I use panniers).
I mostly ride on bike trails but also sometimes on roads that can be rather hilly. I ride almost daily.
My rides tend to usually be in the 10-30 mi. range though I do ride farther on occasion.
Back and butt comfort are considerations given my age- they limit my riding distance more than fatigue.

The Priority bike and the Marin Fairfax are two top Wirecutter recommendations, with a big price difference (Fairfax 2 would cost me $720, no tax...Onyx would cost me $1300 plus tax.)
The Onyx is an intriguing piece of engineering, and very appealing due to lack of maintenance (something I am quite lazy about), and it gets nothing but raves from all reviewers. Owners seem to universally love it, and say that it compares favorably with much pricier bikes. But it is considerably heavier, and is marketed as a "commuter" bike, rather than a conventional hybrid/fitness bike (which is what I am used to riding- Trek FX2 at least 10 yres. old- but my Trek is now permanently living in my winter home in FL).

So I wonder....

what is the difference between a "hybrid/fitness" bike and a high quality "commuter" bike? And does the Onyx perform both functions well?

And I also wonder from Priority Onyx owners:
- How well would this bike serve my purpose? And how would my riding experience compare with a "good" dedicated hybrid in the $750 range?
- How well does the bike perform in hills (compared with a decent hybrid)?
- How does it compare in comfort and riding efficiency with a decent hybrid?
- What is your experience in general with the bike? Should I spend the extra money if I can afford it, over a good hybrid?

I'm 6' tall, weight in the high 150s, so I would prob. get a 21" frame.

(I also own an e-bike ).

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-09-22, 04:30 AM
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First of all, terminology is just marketing speak. A commuter bike has practical mounts for racks, while the geometry is more upright and stable. The bike manufacturers want you to have different bikes for different purposes. Any bike can be a "fitness" bike, since fitness is just aerobic/anaerobic training, and that's workload and heart rate. I ride for fitness and transport, and only use my drop bar road bike in group ride, and even then only when the groups which are so fast that aerodynamics come into play in keeping up with the group.
I do about 160-200 miles a week on my belt bike, for commute, fitness, errands etc. With a conventional chain drive train, I'd be servicing once every 1-1.5 weeks, which for me includes waxing the chain etc, which takes a minimum of 2 hours overall. All I do with my hub gates bikes is hit it with a medium pressure spray, brush and rinse. If it's heavily soiled, then I use a simple cleaner. All done in under 20 mins.

That's just the maintenance and ride. Your biggest issue will probably be the gearing and fit of the bike, considering you say you have a hilly ride around you. The Enviolo is a CVT, so as you shift, the change is progressive and smooth, unlike a gear change which tiered jumps in resistance. Moreover, unlike the rickety chain drivetrains, the belt drive is quieter! The limited 380% range means you either give up a little at the top or bottom end, depending on your ride, with the ability to change sprockets helps with choosing the range you want. The 380% range is the biggest limiting factor in the Enviolo system, but for most people, it's not important cos they don't need the top speed of a road bike.
Weight shouldn't matter much unless you have to carry your bike in buildings, cars or want to scurry up hills in the shortest time possible (which is antithetic to the purposes of commuting and even fitness). I would look at your ride data. If you don't constantly go pass 23mph, or hit 5% inclines much, the Enviolo system should suffice, and there is room for slight adjustment with sprockets. The low maintenance will pay back the premium in price in a few years from, the lubricants, chains etc. Good luck.
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Old 05-09-22, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
First of all, terminology is just marketing speak. A commuter bike has practical mounts for racks, while the geometry is more upright and stable. The bike manufacturers want you to have different bikes for different purposes. Any bike can be a "fitness" bike, since fitness is just aerobic/anaerobic training, and that's workload and heart rate. I ride for fitness and transport, and only use my drop bar road bike in group ride, and even then only when the groups which are so fast that aerodynamics come into play in keeping up with the group.
I do about 160-200 miles a week on my belt bike, for commute, fitness, errands etc. With a conventional chain drive train, I'd be servicing once every 1-1.5 weeks, which for me includes waxing the chain etc, which takes a minimum of 2 hours overall. All I do with my hub gates bikes is hit it with a medium pressure spray, brush and rinse. If it's heavily soiled, then I use a simple cleaner. All done in under 20 mins.

That's just the maintenance and ride. Your biggest issue will probably be the gearing and fit of the bike, considering you say you have a hilly ride around you. The Enviolo is a CVT, so as you shift, the change is progressive and smooth, unlike a gear change which tiered jumps in resistance. Moreover, unlike the rickety chain drivetrains, the belt drive is quieter! The limited 380% range means you either give up a little at the top or bottom end, depending on your ride, with the ability to change sprockets helps with choosing the range you want. The 380% range is the biggest limiting factor in the Enviolo system, but for most people, it's not important cos they don't need the top speed of a road bike.
Weight shouldn't matter much unless you have to carry your bike in buildings, cars or want to scurry up hills in the shortest time possible (which is antithetic to the purposes of commuting and even fitness). I would look at your ride data. If you don't constantly go pass 23mph, or hit 5% inclines much, the Enviolo system should suffice, and there is room for slight adjustment with sprockets. The low maintenance will pay back the premium in price in a few years from, the lubricants, chains etc. Good luck.

Wow, thanks! That was a great reply!!
Curious....do you own that same bike?
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Old 05-09-22, 10:28 AM
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5% grade does not seem like a lot.
Do you think it would take much more effort climbing hills with the Onyx than with my 10+ year old Trek FX2?

Thanks.
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Old 05-09-22, 02:35 PM
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I had an Enviolo system on a custom bike, so I'm familiar with the Gates/Hub system. As for comparing your FX2 and this bike's gear ratio, you will have to do the research online yourself. I have no idea what the specs of the FX2 are, especially from 2012.
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Old 05-10-22, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
I had an Enviolo system on a custom bike, so I'm familiar with the Gates/Hub system. As for comparing your FX2 and this bike's gear ratio, you will have to do the research online yourself. I have no idea what the specs of the FX2 are, especially from 2012.
Thanks.

I saw a post suggesting that a 2012 FX2 had a high gear ratio of 4:1 and a low gear ratio of 0.875:1. Thus the range would be 4/.875 = 457%.(if I am doing that correctly).
The range on the Onyx is reported as 380%, which seems quite a bit lower.
How would that translate in practical terms though? Would I have to work a lot harder to climb hills and go a lot slower on the flat parts with the Onyx, or would it likely not make a lot of difference?
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Old 05-10-22, 02:57 PM
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Years ago I had a Nissan Sentra. It was rock solid dependable, never caused me any trouble, and boring AF. Also I had a Mazda Protege. Finicky, something was always needing attention, but supremely fun to drive (for a sub-compact economy car).

The Priority is the Nissan, the Marin is the Mazda.
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Old 05-10-22, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Years ago I had a Nissan Sentra. It was rock solid dependable, never caused me any trouble, and boring AF. Also I had a Mazda Protege. Finicky, something was always needing attention, but supremely fun to drive (for a sub-compact economy car).

The Priority is the Nissan, the Marin is the Mazda.

Interesting analogy. Thinking maybe I would prefer the Marin. though I am lazy about maintenance. Is it any more finicky than, say, my Trek FX2?
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Old 05-10-22, 03:55 PM
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380% is way more than my 5 or 7 speed IGH at 243 %. I also do fine on the highway a 50 lb SA 3 speed at 186%.
Being an inefficient boat anchor CVT is another matter. But then if it craps out, it could be changed to anything 132 to 135 mm, including a Rohloff14.
All I have now is IGH on steel load bikes.
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Old 05-10-22, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by anitje View Post
Interesting analogy. Thinking maybe I would prefer the Marin. though I am lazy about maintenance. Is it any more finicky than, say, my Trek FX2?
Honestly more a fun analogy than perfect. The main difference maintenance-wise is drivetrain, which will be pretty much the same on the Marin and Trek. How much maintenance depends on your actual riding conditions. I live in the PNW, and before that lived in west Texas. Both are hard on chain drivetrains, in different ways.
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Old 05-10-22, 05:06 PM
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I have the Onyx, it isn't the best for hills like my commute so it gathers dust in my garage while I commute on a CX bike during the wet part of the year and road bike during the 3 consistently dry months. Agree that it's not particularly fun or exciting to ride. My front dynamo light also stopped working and I can't be bothered to fix it, although I made some attempts last year following Priority's recommendations, unsuccessfully.
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Old 05-11-22, 02:58 AM
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Originally Posted by anitje View Post
Thanks.

I saw a post suggesting that a 2012 FX2 had a high gear ratio of 4:1 and a low gear ratio of 0.875:1. Thus the range would be 4/.875 = 457%.(if I am doing that correctly).
The range on the Onyx is reported as 380%, which seems quite a bit lower.
How would that translate in practical terms though? Would I have to work a lot harder to climb hills and go a lot slower on the flat parts with the Onyx, or would it likely not make a lot of difference?
I think you're looking at it in the wrong way. The issue is what your riding habits are and what you want? A large range drivetrain allows a bunch of different riding needs and style, but there are compromises. My Pinion/Gates Ti custom bike fits most of my needs, except for fast group rides (where I have a drop bike for).
You said you want a commuter/fitness bike. Commuting means easy riding with decent speed and hill climbing ability. If you have steep hills, you can change the sprocket on the Enviolo drive train to suit the hill. The nice thing is with CVT is the gear shift is so progressive and smooth you never feel out of gear. FItness is resistance so you can keep your heart rate at a certain rate or work your legs are a certain load. Gearing is less relevant than resistance. However, if like me, you want to do 13 miles in under 45minutes for your commute, then top speed and not having to kill yourself to keep the pace up to get there on time, then you have to consider the top end of gearing.
Obviously, if you're looking for something lightweight you can toss around, that bike is not your choice.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
I think you're looking at it in the wrong way. The issue is what your riding habits are and what you want? A large range drivetrain allows a bunch of different riding needs and style, but there are compromises. My Pinion/Gates Ti custom bike fits most of my needs, except for fast group rides (where I have a drop bike for).
You said you want a commuter/fitness bike. Commuting means easy riding with decent speed and hill climbing ability. If you have steep hills, you can change the sprocket on the Enviolo drive train to suit the hill. The nice thing is with CVT is the gear shift is so progressive and smooth you never feel out of gear. FItness is resistance so you can keep your heart rate at a certain rate or work your legs are a certain load. Gearing is less relevant than resistance. However, if like me, you want to do 13 miles in under 45minutes for your commute, then top speed and not having to kill yourself to keep the pace up to get there on time, then you have to consider the top end of gearing.
Obviously, if you're looking for something lightweight you can toss around, that bike is not your choice.
Great answer. Thanks, Sardines.
I am checking out a used Onyx today, asking $850 with racks. From the comments above I am leaning more towards the Marin, but I am curious.
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Old 05-11-22, 06:50 AM
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I wouldn't even consider the CVT with 380% for a hilly area and commuting. that bike will either end up being so slow its terrible or you will walk up hills.
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Old 05-11-22, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I wouldn't even consider the CVT with 380% for a hilly area and commuting. that bike will either end up being so slow its terrible or you will walk up hills.
So it's the same as a lame 1x? Yup.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 05-14-22 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 05-16-22, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by anitje View Post
Great answer. Thanks, Sardines.
I am checking out a used Onyx today, asking $850 with racks. From the comments above I am leaning more towards the Marin, but I am curious.
So what did you decide on?
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Old 05-17-22, 05:51 PM
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OK, follow-up on this for those interested.
I bought a used Priority Continuum Onyx yesterday from a private seller for $745. I did about a 25 mile ride today, mostly pretty flat with a few intermittent
steep hills
My first impressions are mostly positive:
WHAT I LIKED:
1. The shifting was awesome....no clunking....always perfectly dialed in, even starting from a stop.
2. The ride was quiet. Completely.
3. The brakes were quiet and smooth.
4. The integrated lights are cool.
5. Maintenance-free.
6. Small thing, but cool kickstand and good rack.
7. I was able to pedal up the steep hills, including one that was quite long.
8. It is easy to put in the back of my Hyundai Tucson without removing a wheel.
DOWNSIDES:
1. It is definitely slower than my Trek FX 7.2 in high gear.
2. The gear range is narrower than on a typical hybrid bike, both on the low end and on the high end.
3. The saddle is OK, not great....same with the handlebar grips (both much better than the ones that came on my Trek when I bought it new years ago). That said, I have yet to find a saddle on any bike I like and always wind up swapping out the grips, so this is not a major critique. I had some mild wrist, ischial tuberosity and pubic rami discomfort, but I get that on my other bikes as well. I found myself constantly shifting riding position. I plan to replace the grips with Ergon GP5s (I have GP3s on another bike and think they are great). I will ride with the stock saddle for awhile and ultimately sort the saddle puzzle out. I should mention that at my age (plus my skinny butt), I have yet to find a saddle that is comfortable on longer bumpy rides....what limits my distance is not lack of endurance, rather body aches. I don't know if that can be solved or not.
4. I wanted to raise the handlebars (the seat is in the highest position and quite a bit higher than the bars)...I was told that to do so, I would have to swap out the cables (internally routed) for longer ones which is a moderately big deal on this kind of bike and would be fairly costly. I would have to do the same if I switched handlebars. I'm hoping the Ergon grips will give me more options.

For what I paid I am happy to own the bike. If I were to spend the amount that the bike costs new I would probably get something faster. Interesting that very few online reviews express that....the vast majority (in fact I think all I have read) think it is an incredible buy for the money. It is probably a really great bike in areas with flatter terrain. I will use it for exercise, shopping, tooling around town, etc....for those purposes it is great- I love that it is maintenance-free. When I want to go fast I will use my wife's e-bike.

Last edited by anitje; 05-17-22 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 05-20-22, 03:10 PM
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Maybe you bought a bike that's too small for you?
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