I have the dubious distinction of being an essential worker, due to being an IT person. Anyway, once work allowed essential workers back on site in April, I started cycling to avoid public transit. The bike is an 8-year old steel-frame Windsor Kensington from BikesDirect.com: 8-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear hub, set up for “utility” cycling around town. I upgraded the brakes to Tektro R559 with FL750 levers, to retain a vintage-ish look; along with it, the brake cables were upgraded to Jagwyre Road Elite Sealed. That was a huge improvement: no more sponginess, and I could actually stop in the rain (with the normal precautions). I also upgraded the shifter cable to Jagwyre Road Elite Sealed: see this old post. And upgraded the rack, too, since the original one worked loose, and I wasn't too satisfied with its sturdiness. Not to mention the Pletscher Twin center kickstand, which was one of the first changes I made.
Anyway, my commute is only 4 miles. But I was still noticing the bike was pretty heavy. Fortunately, I can store it on the ground floor, currently, so I don’t have to schlep it up two floors to my apartment. And there were other minor annoyances, like a cheap steel chainring which rusted (it had been painted), some unexplained rattling in the Nexus hub (which did resolve itself after a couple of weeks of normal riding).
More importantly, I had an idea of my ideal commuter bike. But pricing the parts put it way over my budget, not to mention my skill set in building a bike. Pre-built ones were also pretty pricy. I wanted an internal gear hub (without needing a massive gear range), belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes, and maybe a dynamo hub wheel.
Finally, after some months of cursory browsing, I found the Priority Continuum Onyx. It checked all the boxes, plus it added an aluminum frame, and a Nuvinci Enviolo (manual) continuously variable internal “gear” hub. Reviews from regular bike commuters on YouTube and in Reddit were favorable: these were people who put many more miles per day on their bikes, and rode in much rougher weather than I would. All those factors fell in place at the right time, and I bought one. I paid the nice people at Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles to assemble it for me.
The first thing I switched out was the seat/saddle: put in a Fabric Cell Radius Elite.
I took it for a 6-mile ride, and it’s pretty nice. Light compared to the old bike. Larger gear range: much faster on the high end. No sticking on the low end, which is an issue on my Shimano Nexus. Brakes are decent: honestly they did not feel much better than the Tektro rim brakes on my old bike. I expect they will be much better in wet weather. The ones on the Priority are low-end Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. It felt pretty nimble, and lively. The belt drive was very quiet. The Nuvinci continuously variable hub was nice: shift while stopped, find the “in-between gear ratios”.
Of course, I have some gripes: the flat-straight handlebars are pretty uncomfortable for me. I find myself pitched further forward than I like, and the grips don’t sit in my palms well: my hands were tingling even after the 20-minute ride. The grips are not very comfortable, either: they are pretty hard, and just felt like two hard slightly tacky cylinders in my hands.
The Fabric Cell saddle was kind of disappointing: it was a lot harsher than I expected, despite the reviews I read or watched. (I think those were comparing against normal road racing saddles.) I’ll give it some more time, and maybe re-adjust the positioning.
Future upgrades: I definitely need a rear rack. Topeak make the same rack I have on my old bike, but which accomodates disc brakes. I use the bike for shopping errands, and picking up or dropping off packages. Definitely need more comfortable handlebars, something with a bit of a sweep back. Almost definitely more comfortable grips. Maybe a QuadLock mount for my phone.