Priority Bicycles: Belt Drive Wear

A little more than a year ago, I got an itch to start biking to work. In the past, I had walked the 3.5 miles to the office and back, but that required a larger time commitment and planning. What captured my imagination was the idea of a well-equipped commuter bicycle, complete with a rack and and pannier bags so I could carry my laptop and gear easily without ending up with a sweaty back.

Two Wheels

After plenty of research online, I was leaning towards a Breezer Uptown 8 when I discovered Priority Bicycles. The allure of a maintenance-free bike, and especially the Gates Carbon belt drive had me hooked. On a whim, I purchased a Priority Classic online and had it delivered to my house. Setup was actually quite easy, and I purchased a nice rack and a laptop pannier from Arkel (potentially the best purchase of the entire deal). I ended up riding to work almost every possible day last summer, into the fall, and quite a bit in winter. The bike literally required no maintenance except the occasional pumping up the tires with air.

Marketing photo of the Priority Classic. I exchanged the cruiser handlebars for standard straight ones.
Marketing photo of the Priority Classic. I exchanged the cruiser handlebars for standard straight ones.

Signs of Trouble

Earlier this spring, I noticed that my bike had a broken spoke or two in the back wheel so I took it to a local bike shop to get those repaired and get a tune-up. The bike came back as good as new, or even better. Not only were the wheels trued and tensioned, but the bike was cleaner and shifting better, and the belt was tensioned appropriately. However, a few months later I noticed that the belt had started to “walk off” the back wheel a bit. Surprised, I managed to push it back in place and didn’t notice anything further. Another broken spoke in the back wheel landed me in the shop again, and then shortly afterwards I started to notice the belt moving on the back cog.

Example of the belt moving off the cog, away from the hub of the wheel.
Example of the belt moving off the cog, away from the hub of the wheel.

Customer Support To The Rescue

This time, I didn’t take it back into the bike shop, since I was worried about having to pay another bike shop fee only to have some alignment problem again. I contacted Priority, and their support was fantastic. I sent them some pictures of the belt and cog, and they diagnosed it as wear on the rear cog and the belt. Apparently, the original rear cog is made from a plastic or nylon, and it had worn down where the belt was. In the picture below, you can see how far the cog had worn down compared to the original teeth:

That "notch" on the outside isn't by design - it's the original shape of the teeth. The inside is worn down!
That “notch” on the outside isn’t by design – it’s the original shape of the teeth. The inside is worn down!

Replacement Parts

Priority recommended that I purchase a new gear and belt from them at a discount, and I received both parts last week and dropped my bike off at the shop for the installation. On Thursday night, I picked it up, good as new… or so I thought. I’m now getting a strange rubbing noise only when I pedal, so I think there’s an alignment issue. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to get it to the shop over the weekend due to a long installation at work. However, I’m hoping to drop it by and get this problem resolved soon – hopefully a quick fix.

Next Chapter In The Story

All told, my experience with the Priority Classic has been really good. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a no-fuss solid bike for scooting around town. I checked Strava last week and found out that I’ve ridden the bike more than 1000 miles since I purchased it! Maintenance has been low, and the yearly checkup really helped keep things going. However, during this belt-drive saga, I realized that I was in the market for an upgrade… so I picked up a Priority Continuum Onyx while I was ordering the new cog and belt. I expect to sell my Classic once I get the belt issue worked out. More about the new bike next time…