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The Priority Current ebike is my new benchmark for smoothness and power

todayApril 27, 2021 4

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The more I test ebikes, the more I realize how much it matters to me that the ride a normal bike. Not because I’m an avid cyclist — I hadn’t ridden a normal bike in years before I started testing ebikes — but because a smooth, responsive ride is just more engaging.

Unfortunately, some of my favorite bikes in this regard also tend to be weaker on power delivery. I usually don’t mind a motor with less power, but sometimes I do miss the extra oomph.

The Priority Current is one of the few ebikes that can deliver on both fronts. Priority has built up a reputation for minimizing maintenance on its ‘acoustic’ bikes, and the Current follows that trend with a series of sensible design choices. It’s one of the most well-rounded, natural-feeling ebikes I’ve tested that also has oodles of power, and it goes a long way to justify its $3,299 price tag.

Yes, that’s a bit on the pricier side, but more than reasonable against comparably spec’d 28mph ebikes — although the price is a bit harder to swallow when I remember the bike launched at $2,699. Still, here’s what you’re getting for that price:

  • A 500-watt mid-drive motor rated at a massive 140 NM of torque
  • Torque-sensing pedal assist (5 levels)
  • 28mph max speed (Class 3) though it ships limited to 20mph
  • Gates carbon belt drive
  • Removable 500 Wh battery rated for 30-60 miles of range
  • Hydraulic disk brakes
  • E-bike-specific Shimano Nexus 5 internal gear hub
  • An adjustable stem
  • A large LCD display with USB port for charging devices
  • Nice fenders
  • integrated bright headlight and tail lights
  • A mid-step frame in three sizes
  • Cushy 650B tires
  • 54 Lb weight

Those are solid specs, and though I’m sure there’ll be comments on how *insert ebike here* has more watts and a bigger battery, it’s simply rare to find a Gates belt drive with a 28mph mid-drive motor under $3,500. In any case, reviewing so many ebikes has made it clear basic specs rarely tell the full story. You can’t know how a motor’s power curve is tuned from a spec sheet for example, nor how effective a bike’s pedal assist sensor is. Meanwhile a bike’s geometry, gearing, and component choices all factor into the ride in often unpredictable ways.

Taking all this into account, there’s one word that comes to mind above all when riding the Priority Current:

Smooth. Oh so smooth.

The Current is ebike equivalent of silk pajamas — if those pajamas gave you Hulk legs. Unlike the majority of ebikes I’ve tested, there is virtually no jerkiness to the ride and almost no delay between moving the pedal and the assist kicking in. Whether you’re in assist level one or five, the torque sensor, mid-drive, and acceleration curve make for a super-natural ride. You know the motor is putting in the work because you can fly up inclines while the motor makes a light hum, but it is among the subtlest pedal assist systems I’ve ridden, at least among those with this much torque.

I love it. I had some initial reservations about the ride quality of the motor, which isn’t one from one of the ‘fancy’ mid-drive companies like Bosch, Shimano, Yamaha, or Brose (it is Priority branded and tuned by the company, but appears to be some variant of the Wuxi Truckrun motor). Any worries disappeared after riding it; the Current’s motor is as smooth as any that I have tested — especially for one which puts out so much torque and reaches 28 mph. Bikes from the ‘big 4’ can be very fast and powerful too, but you’ll usually have to pay more once you get into 28 mph class.

Granted, this kind of tuning isn’t for everyone. Some people like having an ebike that launches like a rocket, and this probably isn’t the best bike if you don’t want to actively use the gears. If you’re starting on a hill from a dead stop, for example, the bike won’t just catapult you to the top in gear 5. Priority actually provides an alternative firmware that provides a bit more torque from a stop for those who live in hillier regions — and I do prefer it to the default tuning slightly — but even then, the acceleration curve is smoother than most.