The new Priority Coast offers a number of simple and solid design innovations that kept us asking the same question as we tested the bike for three months: Why hasn't anyone else done this? Made by an independent, New York–based company and launched through a Kickstarter campaign, it's a beach cruiser actually designed for the beach. Its durable design is still light enough for anyone to hoist over their shoulder to climb a few stairs. It's powered by a belt drive that doesn't need grease and keeps the ride silky smooth, and includes a frame that won't rust and components that don't corrode. Finally, a better beach cruiser is here.
For years we suffered through the heavy, rust-caked steel frames and dirty, sandy chains that would always fall off. We put up with the slow, creaky wheels, rusted bearings, and all the other issues a life on the beach reaped upon our cruisers. We endured because there's something about the comfortable ride a cruiser like this offers that no other bike can match. Maybe it's the single speed, plush seats, and upright posture; the classic curved styling and one-handed rides while carrying a cold beer or a surfboard; coasting along at the unhurried pace of the golden hour on the local boardwalk. Even when we're nowhere near the beach, our trusty cruiser can transport us there within a couple of pedal strokes.
Named after the beach, the fact is, no beach cruiser was actually built or designed to stand up to the beach and take its daily abuse, until now. "The beach presents multiple challenges for a bicycle," says Priority Bike's co-founder, David Weiner. "The salt and sand do a number on components, and traditional cruisers are all built with steel. The beach turns them into rust buckets, making the bikes extremely rickety and prone to breakdown after a very short period of time."
Taking advantage of Priority's grease-free Gates Carbon belt drive instead of using a common bicycle chain, the Coast's frame and fork are made out of 100 percent lightweight aluminum with stainless steel components that keep the entire bike free of rust. All the bike's bearings are sealed, from the bottom bracket to the headset and pedals, so no sand, salt, or dirt can make its way in and muck things up. The result is a surprisingly lightweight cruiser, beautifully smooth to ride and takes absolutely no maintenance. For three months we worked hard to make something go wrong or brake on the Priority Coast. We dumped it carelessly on the sand, rode pedal deep in seawater during low tide, left it out in the rain and hot sun, forgot to rinse it off, banged through mud puddles and over sharp rocks down dirt roads. Not only does the thing still look brand new, it also still rides like the first day we took it out for a spin. Meanwhile our other beach cruiser, new at the same time, is totally rusted, squeaks horribly, and the chain just fell off again.
Priorty's Kickstarter campaign launches Tuesday, March 15. [prioritybicycles.com]