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Monday, September 26, 2022

RoadTrailRide: Priority Bicycles Current eBike Review

Article by John Tribbiia

Priority Current eBike Review ($3299 as tested with Shimano Hub)

Introduction

If you haven’t experienced the eBike world, I’m convinced you are missing out. Two years ago, my wife and I sold our second car with the intent that all of our second car needs would instead rely on our Cargo eBike. It’s the minivan of bikes where school drop-off/pick-up, work commutes, quick trips to the store, and the like, are the norm. In large part thanks to our flexible schedules, I can only count a few times where a second car would have been useful those past two years. 

With a non-Cargo eBike, like the Priority Current eBike, you get a practical, quick and easy to handle, low maintenance bike that is ideal for short or longer trips. The Current boasts a Gates belt drive, automatic front and rear lights, precise and smooth hydraulic disc brakes, fenders, grip shift gearing, and a 500W torque-sensing motor that provides more than enough power and superb acceleration off the line. 

In short, if you’re wanting to drive less, ride more, and experience a low maintenance bike that is comfortable, check out the Current and read more below for additional details about this reasonably priced and performant eBike.

Pros

  • Torque sensing motor is great for acceleration at stop signs/lights or passing other commuters

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

  • Relaxed frame geometry that enables riders to get on and off easily

  • Easy assembly

  • Easy adjustment to Class 3 motor from Class 1 to get more power and speed

  • Durability and versatility help justify the $3,000+ price tag


Cons

  • Lower battery range relative to the amount I actually want to ride it!

  • Battery is cumbersome to take on/off

  • Saddle is wide and gets uncomfortable for longer range commutes

  • $3,000 + price point can be a hard pill to swallow if you aren’t all-in


First Impressions

Like the Priority Continuum Onyx I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, the Current arrives packed in a bike box. Out of the box, the bike is basically 90% assembled. I received a sleek glossy white colorway frame. The rear fender is already installed along with an integrated rear light. The bike also comes equipped with a sturdy kickstand and  an adjustable stem that is easily adjusted up or down for more comfortable positioning. 

As with the Priority Continuum Onyx, the Current is set up with an internal rear hub belt drive with the eBike featuring the mid drive motor in the bottom bracket. This means the bike is pedal assist and does not come with a throttle. Priority makes it super easy with video assembly and operating instructions. It is super straightforward to build and it won’t take longer than 30 minutes if you are someone who is comfortable assembling furniture or other simple builds with instructions. 

With every bike Priority sends you with all of the needed tools to build. 

It is important to call-out that Priority recommends a certified bike technician should check your assembly, especially if bike assembly is not something with which you are not very comfortable.

Once the bike was built, I took the Current for a ride around the neighborhood. I started the pedal assist in Class 1 setting, meaning the maximum speed it can assist to is 20 mph (32 km/h). The mid-drive motor delivers smooth pedal assistance and really starts to kick in when you put in a few hard pedal strokes.

I’ve ridden a few other eBikes such as the Specialized Turbo Vado, and the Current feels and rides as good or better than similarly priced and higher priced eBikes. The rigid frame and lack of front suspension gives the bike a peppy feel, especially going up hills. The most noticeable thing about the Current is how quiet it is while pedaling thanks to the belt drive. This model came with Shimano eBike specific internally geared rear hub with grip shifting, which isn’t as quiet as the Enviolo CVT grip shifting I reviewed on the Continuum Onyx, but the belt drive stays very quiet throughout the shifting with a click from one level to the next. 

It’s worth noting, the Shimano hub provides a comparatively lighter setup compared to the CVT. In addition, most of the ride the only thing you hear is the gentle hum of the motor. There are 5 levels of pedal assist and a setting for no pedal assist. Levels 1 and 2 provide a subtle support of your pedaling. Levels 3 and 4 feel like you are getting additional propulsion in your pedal stroke. With Level 5, this assistance makes your pedaling power exponentially increase and top speed is easy to achieve.

Shimano Rear Hub with carbon belt is durable, low maintenance, and shifts smoothly.

500w mid-drive torque sensing motor with class leading 140NM of max torque

Ride

I've been riding the Current on commutes to/from work, neighborhood tours, and even a couple of longer recreational rides. I have ridden in rain with wet streets, dry pavement, and hard gravel paths. The belt drive, torque sensing motor, and hydraulic brakes are the highlights for me. 


As I mentioned above, the Current ships in Class 1 mode with a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). If local laws allow and you want to go faster, you can adjust the motor mode to a Class 3, which is a max speed of 28 mph (45 km/h).

The bike I tested has an eBike specific Shimano Inter-5 internal hub. I found that it is geared appropriately for flat speed and hill climbing, no matter the level of assistance from the motor. With 140 NM of torque, the Priority Current can handle the steepest of hills. Thankfully, steep hills are abundant where I live and I was able to tackle 15% grades while maintaining 20+ mph speed. Compared to the Bosch eBike motor on my Yuba Spicy Curry Cargo eBike, the Current’s  500W mid-drive torque sensing motor has over twice as much torque. With this kind of power, it’s possible to get to full speed in level 1 or 2 with constant pedaling, but when you switch to level 4 or 5 attaining full speed is easy and quick with an assist this strong. 

According to Priority, in a Class 1 setting, riders will get between 20 and 50 miles per battery charge. This can vary based on assistance level, weight of rider and gear, speed, elevation, temperature, tire pressure, head wind and terrain. During my 16 mile round trip commutes, I used the Class 3 setting and maintained 75% of the charge, so I would guess the range for Class 3 setting is 15 to 40 miles per charge.


The 10.4Ah battery is integrated into the bottom of the downtube and I found it difficult to remove and insert. I would have preferred the battery to be on the upper part of the downtube as opposed to the bottom. For those experiencing the same challenges, you can charge while the battery is still in the bike, since the insert is exposed with a rubber flap cover. 


The Priority Current makes riding or commuting super fun! Overall, the bike riding is smooth, quick and punchy, and really fast off the line if you need it to be with a strong pedal stroke on level 4 or 5 assist. At 40+ pounds it is a heavy bike, but not outside the normal range for an eBike. The powerful motor and strong assist is more than enough to counter the weight and I don’t notice it unless I’m on 0 level assist.  Still, the added weight is advantageous for giving stability and security when traveling at higher speeds.

The tires are plush Goodyear Transit Tour 27.5” tires and, at first, I was hoping there was a front shock instead of a rigid fork but the tires do an excellent job of muting the road bumps while remaining performant at speed. They do well in wet and dry conditions too. 


What I love most about this bike is that I crave riding it all of the time - it is fun and feels great over longer distances, it is super convenient for quick trips or neighborhood rides, and I find myself making excuses to take the bike everywhere. Moreover, like most of the Priority commuting bike fleet, the Current is prepared for adverse weather conditions with the carbon belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes that are easy to squeeze with cold hands or with mittens on, and it has fenders. 


Fit

The Current comes in three sizes - Small, Medium, and Large. The bike is built around a mid-step 6061 aluminum frame. The relaxed frame geometry is a nice feature, especially for those like me who have a shorter inseam. It helps with getting on and off the bike, especially in those potentially stressful moments while navigating traffic or stopping/starting on a hill. I’m 5’ 6” and feel extremely comfortable on the Small frame. The positioning is upright and can be modified with the adjustment of the stem.

I found the gel padded wider saddle is well cushioned and comfortable for casual cruising, but not as ergonomic when my pedaling cadence was faster on longer rides


Specs

Battery

A frame-integrated 500wh 48v battery - charges on and off the bike

Motor

500w mid-drive torque sensing motor with class leading 140NM of max torque

Range

20-50 miles based on pedal assist mode (Class 1)

Top Speed

Ships as a Class 1, 20 mph setting, but can increase to Class 3, 28 mph setting. (Please note local laws)

Belt Drive

Gates Carbon Drive CDX belt

Rear Hub

E-bike specific Shimano Inter-5 internal hub or enviolo Sportive

Brakes

Dual piston hydraulic disc brakes

Frame / Fork

Accessible & comfortable mid-step 6061 aluminum frame & fork

Fenders & Mounts

Composite fenders and braze ons for front and rear accessories

Display

Digital visual display with 5 modes,speedometer,and bicycle settings

Lights

Automatic front and rear lights

Seat

Gel Padded Comfort Saddle

Stem / Grips

Height adjustable stem with ergonomic support grips

Reflectors

Front, Back, Pedals, Wheels


Conclusions & Rating

At $3,299 for the Shimano shifting and $3,499 for the Enviolo CVT shifting, the Current is somewhat pricey in the middle to upper price range of eBikes. The greatest appeal of the Priority Current is its durability and the incredibly low maintenance it requires. Like the other fleet of Priority Bikes, the Current is a bike that can withstand harsh weather elements with long lasting and easy to maintain parts such as the Gates carbon belt drive, internal hub gears, dual-piston hydraulic disk brakes, fenders, and automatic lights.


The Current is versatile and is an excellent option for roads, bike paths, and crushed gravel paths. The wider tires make it stable and secure in wet or dry conditions. The bike has enough torque and pep in the motor to keep pace with stop and go traffic if you are riding in the city. And, if you are on the open road or path covering more distance, the 28 mph setting means quick transitions from point A to point B. I would add panniers, a back rack, and a more ergonomic saddle to help make this bike to replace your car. With the 500Wh battery plus an option to add an extra battery that mounts on top of a rear rack, this would make the Current a true contender for long travel with up to 100 mile battery range available on a full charge.


Ride - 9/10 (so….much….fun!)

Fit - 9/10 (three size options with some customizability; upright positioning may deter longer distance riders)

Specs - 8/10 (at the price point, it would be cool to have an integrated gPS in the display and a longer range battery)

Fun Factor (out of 5) - 🙌 🙌 🙌 🙌 🙌 

Overall Average: 8.67 / 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. 

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

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