Sunday, September 11, 2022

RoadTrailRide: Priority Continuum Onyx Bike Review: Smooth, Quiet, Practical, & Budget Friendly Commuter

Article by John Tribbia

Priority Continuum Onyx ($1299)

Introduction

Despite the fact that I’ve been riding bikes and commuting for countless years, to this day I still end up with a greasy chainring mark on my leg or end up staining my long pants if I’m commuting. But, what if I told you there’s a practical bike that is low hassle, easy to take on short or long trips for a commute or to get some exercise, feels comfortable the moment you take it for a spin, isn’t a cruiser, and is not a greasy mess? 

There seem to be a lot of bikes in this category that can cover most of those, but the Priority Continuum Onyx is unmatched when you consider its features and price point. Out of the box, the Continuum is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, front and rear fenders, front and rear lights that derive power from a Dynamo hub instead of batteries, a solid aluminum frame, and the star of the show - a continuously variable rear hub with a Gates carbon belt.

 If you’re wanting to drive less, ride more, and experience a low maintenance bike that is comfortable, check out the Continuum Onyx and read more below for additional details about this affordable and performant option.

Pros

  • Ideal for year-round use with fully-sealed and weatherproof Enviolo rear hub drivetrain and Gates carbon belt. 

  • Easy maintenance: no chain to clean or lubricate, no derailleurs to adjust. 

  • Smooth CVT shifting and suitable 380% gearing range for flat and hills

  • Easy assembly

  • $1,299 budget friendly and well equipped


Cons

  • Puncture-Resistant WTB Tires (700x32) are a great tire for road riding, but I switched them out for 700x35 wider tires to be able to ride on gravel

  • Heavy and especially at the rear due to the weight of rear hub and wheels.

First Impressions

The Priority Continuum Onyx arrives packed in a bike box. 

It is wrapped and packaged safely, so that there are no scratches or damage during transport and there were none with my sample While it might be intimidating at first to receive an unassembled bike, it comes partially built with most of it in one piece except the front tire, handlebars, seat post, pedals, and fenders needing installment. Priority makes it super easy with video instruction. If you’re comfortable assembling IKEA furniture, then you should have no problems putting this bike together. In fact, it only took me about 15-20 minutes after watching the video. 

Moreover, Priority sends you with all of the needed tools to build the bike. 

It is worth noting that Priority recommends that a certified bike technician should check your assembly, especially if bike mechanics are not a comfortable area of knowledge for you.

The bike is 90% assembling and there are only a handful of tools necessary to complete the build. 

After assembling and adjusting to fit, I took the bike for a spin around the neighborhood. The most noticeable thing about the Continuum Onyx is how quiet it is while pedaling and shifting. The belt drive, rear hub, and CVT grip shifting don’t have gear steps like a traditional drivetrain, so there is no “clang” or “crank” when shifting. I have never experienced CVT shifting and I’m a big fan already! By twisting the grip shifter you move up or down the resistance spectrum and can adjust to the ideal setting rather than finding a gear and having to adjust your effort to match.

Sealed Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Rear Hub with carbon belt is durable, low maintenance, and shifts smoothly.


Another view of the sealed hub drivetrain

Ride

I've been riding the Continuum on commutes to/from work, neighborhood tours, and even a couple of longer recreational rides. For me, the highlights are the shifter and brakes. 


The Enviolo hub is game changing. I realized after a few rides that I now change resistance much more often than I would change gear on a traditional drivetrain because I try to optimize my pedaling resistance to the terrain. It’s so cool to be able to change gears even when you’re not pedaling or moving. The ride is smooth and quiet, in large part due to the shifting and gear system. In addition, the gearing - noted to be equivalent to an 8 speed - is low enough to get me up steeper hills and the high is great for flatter and faster terrain. 


Since there is no gear ratio, the indicator on the shifter is represented by a rider on a hill and low means uphill while high means flat. 


The Priority Continuum Onyx is fun to ride! It is smooth, nimble, and relatively fast off the line if you need it to be. At 30+ pounds it is a heavier ride, and since most of the weight is in the rear I experienced a pinch flat in the rear tire on my first longer ride after hitting a pothole too hard. Nonetheless, the extra weight is advantageous too as it provides stability and compliance on the road and gravel paths. 


I ended up changing to wider tires (Schwalbe Marathon Plus Das 700x35) to give more cushion, protection, and stability on loose gravel. The frame and fork are aluminum, so the added tire width also dampens the road a little more than the 32s. 


Needless to say, I also traded out the Wellgo pedals with some clipless pedals so that I could take the bike on longer adventures and, at 8 miles one-way, my commute isn’t a quick cruise. 


What I love most about this bike is its versatility - it feels good over longer distances, is convenient for quick jaunts around the block, and is prepared for the adverse weather conditions with the carbon belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes that are easy to squeeze with cold hands or with mittens on, and a comfortable positioning that can span upright and leisurely to streamline and competitive.


​​Carbon belt drive generates plenty of torque for steep hills given the gearing ratio on the drivetrain.

Fit

The Continuum comes in three sizes - Small, Medium, and Large - and the top tube is angled for a more compact fit. I’m 5’6” and have a short torso thanks to my scoliosis. I comfortably fit well in the Small and find the reach to be just fine. I am upright just enough and feel like I could lengthen the reach a little without much discomfort. All that is to say is the Continuum is a compact bike that fits smaller reached people like myself quite well. Not to mention, it is important to make adjustments to the horizontal seat position and (if needed) stem length to ensure your body is over the pedals for power and speed. 


Specs

Frame

Ultralight 6061 T6 Aluminum

Fork

Ultralight 6061 T6 Aluminum

Rear Hub

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Rear Hub

Drive Train

Rust-Free Gates Carbon Belt Drive

Brakes

Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Lights

Dynamo Front and Rear Powered Lighting

Fenders

Durable Composite Color Matched Fenders

Paint

360 visibility with reflective decals and reflective highlight strip on tire sidewall

Cables

Internal gear routing

Tires

Puncture-Resistant WTB Tires (700x32)

Reflectors

Front, Rear, Pedals, Wheels

Shifter

Enviolo Trekking (c8)

Rims

Double wall alloy, 36H

360 visibility with reflective decals and reflective highlight strip on tire sidewall is great for being seen during dark night or morning riding.

Conclusions and Rating

The Priority Continuum Onyx is a perfect bike for anyone who is interested in a low maintenance, easy to operate, smooth shifting, and an ideal point A to point B or fitness bike. 


Versatility is the name of the game here and I found this bike was a great option for cruising on road, bike path, and crushed gravel paths. I would say it is best suited for bike paths and the road though. 


The Continuum’s shifting and drivetrain are the quietest and smoothest I’ve ever used. The 380% gearing range is enough for most hills. 


Moreover, the appeal of low-maintenance with the sealed rear hub and the belt drive is top of the list for any commuter or cyclist who prefers quick transitions. The drivetrain cogs and belt are probably going to wear out and need replacement, but those have much longer lifespans than the traditional chain and derailleur drivetrains. Notwithstanding, they don’t risk damage with bumps to rocks, walls, or other obstacles. 


At $1,299, the Continuum is budget friendly and has a great return on investment because it comes equipped with durable quality components including, but not limited to, hydraulic disc brakes, Gates carbon belt drivetrain with a CVT rear hub. 


Ride - 9/10 (quick, stable, and fun!)

Fit - 9/10 (three size options and would be hard if you were in between sizes)

Specs - 8.5/10 (low maintenance, smooth shifting, and bomb proof components)

Fun Factor (out of 5) - 🙌 🙌 🙌 🙌 

Overall Score: 8.8 / 10

Tester Profile

John Tribbia is a regular technical reviewer for running-oriented product testing website RoadTrailRun with a large readership domestically and internationally. He has other writing about NAAWK Sunscreen, Thule Jogging Strollers, Atlas Snowshoe Running, and Yuba Cargo E-Bike (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV). 


He dabbled in bike racing both mountain and road as a junior Cat 5 and eventually upgraded to Expert on the mountain bike. After his brief stint of cycling racing and once in college, John crossed over to running and found success as a sponsored mountain/trail runner by placing atop the podium in domestic and international races. But he always kept his bikes nearby for cross training while injured, supplemental training, and commuting. Given that cross-over experience as well as 6+ years of working at University Bikes in Boulder, CO and over 20 years of competitive running, he loves the opportunity to test the latest and greatest in both sports. 


Priority Continuum Onyx is available at Priority Bicycles HERE

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would guess most RTR readers are here for the SHOE reviews, in ENGLISH, given that until recently that described all posts on the site. I would strongly prefer if you could keep other stuff - other languages, non-running products - to a different page, or enable us to click a button to "hide" these from the page.

Anonymous said...

We plan on a separate site soon but will also say many of our contributors and readers also cycle.