Braving Manhattan Traffic on the Priority Bicycles Continuum
Ever stood on your pedals to cross a busy intersection only to realize you were in too high a gear and in danger of getting run over by traffic coming up behind? Because you couldn't move? Because you were geared too high?
Those days are gone.
It's Tuesday, October 11. I'm in Manhattan on business, and am honored to make a short walk from my company's offices in SoHo to Priority Bicycles HQ in Tribeca. It's not the walk. It's the loan of a Priority Continuum. What an honor to be allowed an extended ride on a yet-to-be-released bicycle from my favorite brand. I'll be taking it uptown to meet an author for lunch.
I've months of experience behind me riding the Priority Eight. Today I'm eager to see what the Continuum brings to the party. In my backpack are a helmet, a stem, some orange headset spacers, and a couple hex wrenches. I arrive at Priority Bicycles' office, pick up the bike, change out the stem for a slightly shorter one, and head out the door. What a great day it is to be on the bike!
Nuvinci's Nfinity hub provides continuously variable mechanical advantage when pedaling the bike. No longer do you shift in the sense of changing from one gear to the next. Just dial in whatever ratio feels ideal for the road conditions of the moment. And—best of all—you can shift on the move and while standing with your full weight on the pedals.
Inside Nuvinci's hub are two rings enclosing a set of balls having their axes tilted back and forth to adjust the drive ratio. Watch this video on Nuvinci's site to see how those parts work their magic. Probably it's due to the use of balls instead of gears, but Nuvinci's Nfinity hub makes the Priority Continuum into the smoothest internally-geared-hub bicycle I've ever had the pleasure to pedal.
And what of that Manhattan traffic? I am unaccustomed to the density of traffic and the road and bike-lane systems. I make several blunders that are frankly embarrassing to admit. Yet no one honks at me. Drivers are polite and considerate while compensating for my mistakes. Speed differentials and closing speeds are low. Never once do I feel in any danger.
Note: Major props to Manhattan drivers that day for their patience.
My ride takes me up the Hudson River Greenway to 20th. I'm having so much fun, I overshoot 20th and find myself past the Chelsea Piers. Retreating back toward 20th, I make my way East to 5th Avenue where I meet my author near Civic Hall. He gets to the see the bike, and I get to experience a pretty amazing Cuban restaurant. Lunch is good!
The Priority Continuum is good too. What a fun bike. The Nuvinci hub is a joy to pedal on. It's such a smooth feeling to turn the pedal cranks. As well, the belt drive makes the bike practical for business. I am, after all, dressed professionally in good slacks and a sport coat, dress shirt, the whole bit, wearing clothes suitable for the office and yet I'm able to commute to lunch by bicycle.
My return is more adventurous than my ride out. I take 5th heading downtown for a block, jog over to ride 9th until it ends, jog over again to the Greenway, overshoot my target once gain, find myself at One World Trade Center, and navigate with Apple Maps back to Priority Bicycles headquarters at 174 Hudson, where I return the bike and walk back to my SoHo offices.