With the number of high-end boutique bike brands and ever increasing retail prices, it’s easy to forget that cycling is supposed to be accessible and fun. You don’t need the latest carbon fiber technology or aerodynamics to have fun cycling around town or longer distances. If there is one bike that proves that, it’s the Priority Ace which combines Priority Bicycle’s expertise in low maintenance Gates Carbon Belt drive with a nimble aluminium single-speed frame. Priority offers two variations of the Ace – the more casual $599 Ace of Clubs and the performance oriented $899 Ace of Spades (seen in this review). The Ace of Spades offers a number of upgrades and modern components including a carbon fiber fork, carbon fiber seat post, threadless stem, and sealed hub wheelset.
The Priority Bicycles Ace of Spades combines a low-maintenance Gates Carbon Belt drive system with a highly accessible price point that is fun to ride.
In either trim level, the Priority Ace is one of the most affordable Gates Carbon Belt drive equipped single speed bikes on the market. The belt drive system not only eliminates the need for constant chain cleaning and greasing but it also doesn’t rust or leave grease marks on clothing making it perfect for commuting or wet weather use. Another unique feature to the Ace of Spades is the flip-flop hub which can be used with the freehub style 20t CDX rear cog – which allows you to coast without pedaling – or flipped around to use a fixed-gear cog that’s available separately.
|Retail Price||$899 ($599 for Ace of Clubs)|
|Rating||Design: A- |
|Claimed Weight (in lb)||22 (size XL)|
|Likes||+ Smooth Gates Carbon Drive|
+ Affordable and low maintenance design
+ Modern and high quality components such as dual pivot brakes and thread-less stem
|Dislikes||– Limited color selection|
– Narrow saddle may not be ideal for most riders
|Where to Buy (US)||Priority Bikes|
The Priority Ace of Spades comes well packed in a large recyclable Priority Bicycles branded cardboard box. The motto “Happiness in Motion” is also printed on the bike box which captures the essence of cycling. Once you’ve opened up the box you’ll find:
- Priority Ace of Spades bike with protective coverings
- Assembly tools (wrench and allen keys)
- Instruction manual
Priority has utilizes a liberal amount of foam padding and plastic separators to ensure the bike stays safe during transportation. Our bike didn’t have even a single scratch despite the size of the box and how rough boxes are treated by shipping companies.
Although the warnings and labels on the Priority box may indicate that specialized tools are needed to put the bike together, in actuality it is pretty straightforward. The simple single-speed design of the Ace means there isn’t that much to put together. Out of the box, the bike comes nearly fully assembled from the factory except for the handlebars, front brake, front wheel, and seat post. The first step is to attach the handlebar to the stem using the provided tools by removing the stem plate and positioning the handlebar on it. The front and rear brake cables are already attached to the levers and just need to be routed properly when installing the handlebars.
Next you’ll need to attach the front brake to the fork with the provided allen key and wrench. After that, the front wheel can be attached to the fork using the provided wrench. The wheelset doesn’t use quick release levers which are common on road bikes and has a bolt on design instead. Finally, the pedals and seat post can be attached using the provided tools. The pedals are clearly labeled for left/right use though which makes it easy to install correctly. We found that we spent more time removing all the protective wrappings than actually assembling the bike!
We’d highly recommend using a torque wrench to complete the bike assembly. Affordable wrenches offered by companies such as Pro Bike Tool have easy to use click-type ratchets that ensure you don’t over tighten any components. This is particularly useful for the seat post and handlebar which have low torque specs that are easy to exceed when tightening by hand. Additionally you may need a screwdriver for the installation which is not included. Also it’s a good idea to use blue loctite on the stem and seatpost bolts to prevent them from backing out or seizing up over time. Although you don’t need a shop to assemble the bike, we’d recommend carefully going over the bolts to ensure everything is torqued properly before riding.
FIT & FINISH
Rather than competing with other affordable geared bikes such as the popular Decathlon RC520, Priority has focused on fun and low maintenance with the Ace bikes. From the upright geometry to the belt drive system, the Ace is about speed and maneuverability which makes it an ideal bike for commuters or even longer rides if the single-speed gearing works with the environment. To achieve the low price point, Priority doesn’t offer the bike in any color options aside from the black and the latest Pantone limited edition. White accents on the front fork and rear stays visually differentiate the Ace of Spades from the all-black Ace of Clubs version. Branding is limited to white Priority logos on the chain stay and top tube as well as a Priority logo on the headtube. As with the Decathlon RC520 we would have liked to see some more creative touches to set the bike off such as color accents to break up the bike visually.
While a majority of the components or finishing kit are unbranded, Priority has chosen modern and high-quality parts. Starting with the brakes, the Priority Ace features dual-pivot rim brakes on both the front and rear instead of cantilevered or V-style brakes found on other budget bikes. Although it isn’t a disc setup, the rim brake design is easy to adjust and maintain. They’re also easy to modulate from the handlebar brake levers and provide confidence. As a part of the Ace of Spades upgrades, the bike also has a carbon fiber fork and seat post which reduce the weight of the bike and provide damping. The fork even has mounts on each side that can be used with fenders or racks for extra versatility.
The wheels and seatpost use bolts instead of quick release levers which does make it more cumbersome to remove. However, commuters may prefer this feature as it makes the components more difficult to steal. As far as the main contact points, Priority has utilized a narrow standard saddle, flat pedals, and simple rubber grips. If you plan to customize the bike and improve fit, these three are the simple components that can be swapped out. We’d recommend dual sided pedals such as the Bontrager Commuter pedals which are a great way to utilize SPD clipless shoes for longer rides while retaining platform pedals. Swapping the narrow saddle to something like the Ergon SR which comes in different width options can greatly improve the fit for those with wider seat bone widths.
One of the best features of the bike is the Gates Carbon Belt system which replaces traditional chains with a reinforced belt. It’s paired with the Gates S300 crankset and 115t CDX belt. Unlike chains which require regular cleaning and replacement, the belt drive is low maintenance and weather resistant. Gearing on the Priority Ace of Spades is 55t / 20t for the crankset and rear cog respectively. We found the combination worked well on flat and rolling terrain allowing for higher speeds comfortably. As with any single-speed bike, the gear ratio is always a compromise so you won’t be able to climb steep hills as well as a geared bike and may need to plan your routes accordingly. Priority also features a flip-flop hub which means you can flip the rear wheel and install an optional fixed cog to convert the bike to fixed gear. This is a great feature that allows the Ace to adapt to a variety of cyclist’s preferences.
Designed to be an urban or commuter bike, the Priority Ace utilizes a narrow wheelbase and upright geometry. The fork and seat post have steeper angles compared to road or gravel bikes which pull the front and rear wheels closer together. As a result, the bike fit is more upright with nimble handling that instantly responds to input. Although we found the flat handlebar a bit wide, it provides great leverage and lets you easily maneuver the bike in tight spots. The combination of the aluminium frame, carbon fiber fork / seat post, and 700×28 tires also means the Priority Ace has a smooth ride more common in higher-priced bikes. Our only suggestion would be to swap the WTB Thickslick tires for something a bit more grippy and lighter such as Goodyear Eagle F1 tires if you don’t mind sacrificing some puncture resistance.
Overall we found the Priority Ace of Spades to be a fun and easy to maintain bike. The combination of the aluminium frame and Gates Carbon Belt drive system mean you’ll spend less time maintaining the bike and more time riding. We found the bike to be nimble and well built despite the budget friendly price. More performance orientated cyclists will also enjoy the carbon fiber seat post and fork the Ace of Spades features as it reduces the weight of the bike and improves ride quality. The flip-flop hub on the Ace also means the bike can function as a single-speed or fixed gear depending on your preference. As with any single speed or fixed gear bike, we’d recommend test riding similar gear ratios to ensure it works well with your environment. That said, if you’re looking for an affordable and fun bike that doesn’t require constant adjustments or maintenance it’s hard to beat the Priority Ace.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Priority Bicycles. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.