Brief Priority Classic Plus bike review

I’ve been riding a Priority Classic Plus bike and it’s been great, especially for the money. The most important part of the Classic Plus is the belt drive, which replaces the typical chain used to transfer power from pedaling to wheel with a carbon fiber belt. I can’t remember where I first heard about the company, but it may have been from “How Priority Bicycles Made a ‘Maintenance Free’ Bike For Under $400.” Priority’s bikes are meant for urban riders and they naturally compete with inexpensive single-speed bikes like those from State.

There isn’t much to write about because the bike is fun to ride, light (the frame is made of aluminum), and quiet. The largest frame size may still be a bit small for me, but I’m out on the right side of the bell curve distribution for height so that may not be too surprising. The front stem and seat post are highly adjustable, so I didn’t need to add a stem extender. I ordered a rack, which dramatically improves cargo capacity. Now I’m looking at panniers, which may prove to be a cost that’s sizable compared to the overall bike.

The bike retails for $469, but by the time I got add-ons, tax, and assembly, it was a little over $600. The next-least-expensive carbon-fiber drive bike I’ve seen is over $1,000, so the the Classic Plus is still a substantial improvement. At $469, it’s also in the same price ballpark as many hybrid city bikes. For a belt-driven bike, that’s impressive.

The Classic Plus is not a single-speed model and if this bike were made as a single-speed I’d have picked it. While I don’t know this for sure, I’d guess that the three-speed version adds minimal weight and cost, so choosing it may make more sense for the company and for riders.

There is no chainguard, or rather belt guard, and that may be a problem in lousy weather; I’ll report back on whether this actually matters. My last bike had one, but I don’t know if it needed one or if it the guard was only there for psychological prophylactic purposes. Still, not even offering the option to buy one is a strange oversight, given their ubiquity on city bikes.

It’s hard to understand why belt-driven bikes are more fun to ride without riding one, so I’ll suggest finding a bike shop and trying. You’ll likely notice that peddling feels smoother. Over time, chains also tend to work themselves out of whack and become noisy; belts should remain very quiet for the life of the belt. Maintenance time and costs should also be lower. Belt-drive bikes are supposedly more popular in Europe, where more people commute via bike.

Priority also makes a bike called the Continuum Onyx, which comes with a wider gearing range, disc brakes, fenders, a built-in light that recharges from peddling (a very cool feature) and possibly some other stuff I missed. Fully configured it would likely still be about $500 more than the bike I have, and the cheaper one will be less painful to lose via theft, if theft happens.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Classic Plus become the go-to, default urban bike. It’s got a lot of advantages and few disadvantages compared to chain-driven models. I don’t know how the company managed to get belt-drive bikes down to such a low price, but I’m glad it did.

 

Links: Grad school season, Ikea’s bike, inside Nike, global warming, and more!

* We’re getting towards grad school season, so if you know anyone considering that error make sure they read, “What you should know BEFORE you start grad school / PhD programs in English Literature: The economic, financial, and opportunity costs.”

* The residency match encourages doctors to be passive. My essay on “the underrated perils of medical school” is by far the most-read thing I’ve ever written.

* “Can the Ikea bike turn Americans into bike commuters?” One hopes! I ride a Novara Gotham and would be reluctant to ride a city bike without a belt drive if I could avoid doing so. Belt-driven bikes require almost no maintenance and are extremely quiet. If you ride in cities and haven’t ridden one, ride one.

* Inside Nike. Until recently I didn’t appreciate how much effort goes into shoes. Also: “Outlier wants to make your life easier.” I have Outlier Slim Dungarees and they are excellent.

* “Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find,” maybe the most important link in this batch. Also: “ Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory.’”

* “How did Donald Trump—a thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator—hijack the religious right?” A question I’ve thought about.

* “Why Americans have come to worship their own ignorance.” I would only question the phrase “come to.”

* The Curious State of Apple Product Pricing.

Links: The madness of social justice warrior culture, batteries, bikes, being cheap, and more!

* “Safe from ‘safe spaces:’ On the rare good sense of a college administrator” has an innocuous title but is a magnificent piece. Only the necessity of writing it is distressing.

* How Battery-Powered Rides Could Transform Your Commute.

* “Germany To Give €1 Billion Electric Car Subsidy.” Shit.

* The Cheap Ticket Into the ‘Elite’ Class

* “Why U.S. Infrastructure Costs So Much,” which are “are among the world’s highest.”

* “Employers Struggle to Find Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test.” Perhaps the solution is overly radical, but employers could judge employees by their work, rather than their recreational hobbies? I’ve never been drug tested on the job.

* “Get Out of Jail, Now Pay Up: Your Fines Are Waiting: Eliminating monetary penalties that accompany conviction may help ex-convicts get on their feet.” Sample: “The story of my research—the story that must be told—is that our 21st century criminal justice system stains people’s lives forever.”

* “The American economy’s big problem: we don’t have enough companies like Tesla.” There are returns to workers and consumers when small companies become large ones; one problem Europe has is that going from startup to huge is very hard. Europe has lots of tiny companies and a bunch of behemoths, but very few that go from the one to the other.

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* “Forty Percent of the Buildings in Manhattan Could Not Be Built Today,” which helps explain why NYC, like LA, Seattle, and many other places are so expensive today: It’s illegal to build the housing that people want to live in.

* “Nail-Biting Livestreams of New York City Bike Commutes: Intrepid cyclists are taking to the streets with GoPros to show the uninitiated an all-too-real slice of their experience.” I just bought a GoPro for this purpose! Though I didn’t realize that I’d need to buy a battery and MicroSD card for it too, so I don’t yet have it set up. This is my most recent bike post.

The GoPro is much smaller than I imagined, and the pictures include a small Rhodia notebook for scale.

Links: Leases, cars, bikes, energy, the nurse-doctor essay, and Game of Thrones

* If you lease a car today, Tesla will allegedly have an autonomous car by the time that lease expires.

* How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car.

* “Anatomy of Wonder: When I revisited Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism, I expected to find formidable scholarship. I didn’t expect to find a literary experience.” Joseph Campbell remains excellent too. him and Frye are both critics who can’t effectively exist in contemporary universities.

* An incredible comment from someone who read “Why you should become a nurse or physicians assistant instead of a doctor: the underrated perils of medical school.”

* NASA: “Coal and Gas are Far More Harmful than Nuclear Power.”

* Game of Thrones: A Girardian Reading, a much weirder and more interesting piece than you may think. On a sentence-by-sentence level Game of the Thrones is incredibly uneven, as I wrote in 2011.

* “The Arabic gang-rape ‘Taharrush’ phenomenon which sees women surrounded by groups of men in crowds and sexually assaulted… and has now spread to Europe.” Perhaps this is a troll, considering the source. Still, let’s assume for a moment it isn’t: I don’t see “Taharrush” happening in the U.S.: big cities like New York, Chicago, and L.A. have too many cops. Smaller cities have too many armed citizens. In Phoenix, Austin, or Houston one or two guys with pistols would end “Taharrush.” See also “The Islamophobic Case for Open Borders” for many rarely heard views.

* Why clean energy is now expanding even when fossil fuels are cheap.

* More details on the Vanhawks Valour smartbike.

* Taking Apprenticeships Seriously: The need for alternate paths.

Links: SpaceX lands, where blogging matters, intellectual life, the friendship affair, and more!

* The biggest news of the day, week, and perhaps year: “SpaceX Successfully Lands Rocket After Launch of Satellites Into Orbit.” See also “Reusability: The Key to Making Human Life Multi-Planetary,” from SpaceX itself.

* A place where blogging really matters and bloggers die for their writing. Those of you who doubt the importance of writing, read on! I’ve read it argued that when everything ie permitted nothing matters and that when nothing is permitted everything matters, but I’ve never fully bought that.

* “I Rode the Smart Bike of the Future, and It’s Actually Pretty Smart,” on Vanhawks; see also my last essay on bikes.

* Print books are rising again? I still think publishers need to treat print books more as art objects and less as commodities.

* “Roger Scruton: ‘These left thinkers have destroyed the intellectual life,’” interesting throughout but also overstated; intellectual life has just shifted, away from humanists and to social scientists.

* NYU does the right thing, to my surprise.

* “I’m Having a Friendship Affair,” which is longer and weirder than the title suggests.

* Star Wars and decadence. I didn’t see the movie and find its success depressing, in part for the reasons Douthat states.

* “Seattle shows San Francisco and New York how to fix the housing crisis;” the article verges on the obvious but I’m posting it anyway.

Links: Electric cars, the booming erotic toy industry, academic freedom’s worst enemies, iMacs get love, and more

* In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly.

* “The Race to Build the Perfect Couples’ Sex Toy,” conceivably NSFW but there are no photos or drawings of humans. I found it interesting throughout.

* “Cinemas must ‘drastically improve’ or lose audiences, says Christopher Nolan.” He’s wrong about the “real film” issue: he should be more worried at the shocking level of dilapidation at movie theaters, and the worse level of food available.

* “Professors teach students how to stifle academic freedom, U.K. scholar argues in new book,” and students are oddly eager to do whatever authority figures tell them to do.

* “Inside the lab: Why Apple still sweats the details on iMac,” a fascinating story; Apple also updated iMacs on October 13. I use a 5K iMac, and it’s an amazing machine. If you order one, make sure you get the Fusion drive upgrade. The 21.5″ models are now reasonably affordable.

* What a city designed only for bikes would look like.

* How Harvard fights unions; it is entertaining to me how university people, who are probably the most theoretically pro-union group in the U.S., can’t or won’t allow unions in their institutions, or actively fight against them.

* “The Porn Business Isn’t Anything Like You Think It Is,” which is safe-for-work.

* “Why ‘game’ and ‘pickup’ are popular in the Anglo-sphere” (otherwise titled “The Male Hunger For Endless Shallow Relationships Is A Symptom Of A Fundamentally Broken Society”); speculative. See also “The appeal of ‘pickup’ or ‘game’ or ‘The Redpill’ is a failure of education and socialization.”

Links: TPP, solar, tenure, Dan Wang on Peter Thiel, cycling, building, and more

* Failure of the Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Could Hurt U.S. Influence in Asia. And hurt both Americans and Asians. (But wait: TPP may pass!)

* What comes after tenure? See also my discussions here and here.

* “Why the Saudis Are Going Solar:” A headline I never imagined reading. See also Solar Power to the People.

* “CA Labor Commission Has Just Killed Uber, Though It May Take Years to Bleed Out;” note particularly: “the government is making it nearly impossible to employ low-skilled labor.” That is essentially what’s happened in much of Europe.

* “Peter Thiel and thinking for yourself.”

* How Copenhagen Became A Cycling Paradise By Considering The Full Cost Of Cars.

* “On the problem of normative sociology,” which is vastly more interesting than the title suggests.

* “All the Language in the World Won’t Make a Bookshelf Exist;” see also the memoir Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.

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