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Priority e-Classic Plus e-bike review: clean, quiet, and elegant

Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike left profile shot parked on crushed stone in front of a stone wall with a red converted barn in the background.
Priority e-Classic Plus e-bike review: clean, quiet, and elegant
MSRP $1,699.00
“The e-Classic Plus matches the founder's vision: an e-bike that's easy to maintain and ride and will last for years.”
  • Beautiful fit and finish
  • Gates belt drive is clean and long-lasting
  • Easy-to-shift Shimano Nexus gears
  • Light weight makes it easy to carry
  • Extremely powerful disc brakes
  • Easy to pedal without power
  • Respectable 60 mile range
  • Costs more than many e-bikes
  • Not a fast e-bike
  • No standard mirror
Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike left profile shot parked on grass by the side of a pond with trees in the background.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

The Priority e-Classic Plus is the electrified version of a highly evolved conventional bicycle. It is quiet, easy to ride, and built for low maintenance and durability. If bicycles were an art form, the e-Classic Plus would be a masterpiece of elemental design. If you want a motorcycle-like e-bike, it’s not your ride,. But if you’re looking for a stylish electric bicycle to help you enjoy the ride longer, the e-Classic Plus is an excellent choice.

Priority e-Classic Plus: realizing the founder’s vision

Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike left profile shot parked on crushed stone in front of a stone wall with a red converted barn in the background.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

Priority Bicycles is a New York City-based company that designs high-quality, low-maintenance bikes for everyday use. When I reviewed Priority’s e-Coast cruiser e-bike in 2023, I was impressed by the build quality and referred to its “quiet beauty.” However, the e-Coast e-bike is heavier, faster, and more expensive than the e-Classic Plus.

Priority launched its first bike, the Priority Classic, via Kickstarter in 2014. The later, upgraded Classic Plus model added a Gates carbon drive belt and a Shimano Nexus internally geared hub. The electrified version, the e-Classic Plus, is based on the upgraded bicycle, but adds a battery, an electric motor, and much more.

Carrying a 49-pound e-bike is a lot easier than a bike that is 15 to 25 pounds heavier.

Priority Bicycles now sells a wide range of conventional bicycles and e-bikes for various purposes, but the e-Classic Plus is the e-bike closest to the founder’s original vision of making an e-bike that’s easy to maintain, fun and easy to ride on a daily basis, and has quality components that will look good and last for a long time.

Priority e-Classic Plus: the numbers matter less

Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

The most common questions about e-bikes involve top speed, range, and cost. The top speed of the e-Classic Plus is 20 miles per hour, the maximum range is 60 miles, and the price is $1,699. For several reasons, I’ll explain that at least two of those questions aren’t the best filters for understanding this e-bike. Those numbers make sense if you’re the right rider for the e-Classic Plus. Here’s why:

  • Top speed: The e-Classic Plus is a Class 1 e-bike with a 20 mph maximum power-assisted speed. There’s no throttle, so you access power by pedaling, with three levels of pedal assistance. This is the same setup that has made e-bike usage incredibly successful in Europe. It’s simple to use – just pedal.
  • Range: You’re most likely to have power assistance for 60 miles with a fully charged battery when you pedal in electric power assistance in Level 1, which uses the least amount of battery power. The range is affected by rider and cargo weight, speed, incline, air temperature, and more, but if you only use the power assistance when you really need it and ride at a moderate speed, you could get close to that figure. Riding at faster speeds in pedal assistant Level 1 or Level 3 cuts the range. Priority says the lowest range an average rider should expect is 20 miles. Riding a lightweight bicycle in the city and most towns at 20 mph for 20 miles would probably be more than most riders need.
  • Price: The e-Classic Plus is a high-quality machine. The Gates carbon belt drive, the internally geared Shimano hub and shifter, and even the oversized Tektro hydraulic brakes with 180mm rotors are significant pluses. Looking closely at the components, you’ll see bright stainless steel, finely finished painted surfaces, and many thoughtful, well-executed details. You can find good-quality e-bikes for $1,000 or less, but they will not be as nice. The appeal is similar to that of a fine-quality watch.

The e-Classic Plus has a 36-volt, 250-watt front hub motor and a 36V 10.4Ah rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a maximum total power storage of 374 kilowatt-hours. Most e-bikes I review have 500W or 750W continuous power rear hub motors and batteries with 500 KWh storage or more.

Why does Priority use relatively low-power electrical components? They are powerful enough to do the job, with an extra bonus: low weight. Large electric motors and batteries account for a hefty portion of the average e-bike’s 65 to 75 pounds. The e-Classic Plus is fast enough and has enough range for the intended user, and the e-bike weighs just 49 pounds. So, what at first may seem like a limitation becomes a win because moving or carrying a 49-pound e-bike is a lot easier than a bike that is 15 to 25 pounds heavier.

Priority e-Classic Plus: handling and comfort

The e-Classic Plus is best for people who like to ride bicycles and want an extra boost for long inclines so they can ride further when tired. There is no front or rear suspension, and the 700c by 38mm tires don’t have the sidewall flex of fat tires to soften the ride. It’s not a woods e-bike, an e-mountain bike, or an all-terrain adventure bike.

This bike is best suited for riding on roads, paths, and sidewalks, where you don’t need the extra bulk and weight of front suspension forks, rear shocks, and massive fat tires. The standard seat is as plush as it is attractive, although Priority sells an optional wider seat for riders who want broader support.

Riding the e-Classic Plus on the streets in our town was a pleasure.

The Gates carbon drive belt has several rider advantages. It’s quieter and cleaner than steel bicycle chains. It doesn’t need grease or adjustment, so no maintenance is required. The Shimano 3-speed internally geared hub is quieter than a regular external derailleur, and the enclosed gears won’t kick off a chain or belt. The Shimano gear shifter on the right side of the handlebar twists easily to change gears.

The e-Classic Plus display on the left side of the handlebar has three buttons for power on/off, changing pedal assist levels, turning the headlight and combination taillight/brake light on or off, and engaging walk mode.

The e-bike also includes fenders with mudguards and a convenient center stand, which is more stable than a kickstand. Priority does not include a mirror, which I think is a must-have for town or city riding, or turn signals, which are nice to have but not as important as a mirror. Priority sells an optional mirror on its accessories page.

Priority e-Classic Plus: riding impressions

Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike at the base of a steep driveway for torque test.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

I’m not much of a bicycle rider, but I enjoyed riding the e-Classic Plus with the power turned off. Anyone who regularly rides bicycles may find they don’t even turn on the power until they need the lights or begin to get tired. Those are the folks who’ll likely see 60 miles or more per charge.

Riding the e-Classic Plus on the streets in our town was a pleasure. I never felt that the lack of front or rear suspension was an issue. The Tektro hydraulic brakes with 180mm disc rotors stopped quickly and surely. Many much heavier e-bikes make do with harder-to-use mechanical brakes and smaller rotors.

I reached the 20 mph top speed once on a moderate decline, but when pedaling on level ground in Level 3 with the Shinamo in third gear, the bike maintained 18 mph easily, but wouldn’t go faster. I suspect that speed will be fine for Priority’s intended customers.

When I rode the e-Classic Plus on grass and in a crushed stone parking lot, it felt OK, but not great. The tires have a bit of give in the tread for various surfaces, but this is a road bike.

I was pleased and frankly surprised that it had sufficient torque to go up our relatively steep, long driveway from a standing stop. I usually test e-bikes using the throttle alone, but since the e-Classic Plus is a pedal assist-only bike, I pedaled from a standing stop. The first rotation was a bit tough, but the power assistance responded, and before I was halfway up the driveway, the motor was doing the work.

Priority e-Classic Plus: options and accessories

Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike comfortably plush saddle.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

As mentioned above, Priority sells accessories and upgrades for the e-Classic Plus. In addition to a replacement seat — which most people won’t need — and a handlebar-mounted mirror that I recommend, you’ll find an assortment of accessory racks, bags, and locks. Accessories add weight, so I’d recommend keeping them to a minimum, other than a mirror.

Our take

Priority Bicycles e-Classic Plus e-bike right profile parked on crushed stone in front of a stone wall with a red converted barn in the background.
Bruce Brown / Digital Trends

I highly recommend the classy Priority e-Classic Plus e-bike for riders who are willing to pay a bit more for high-quality components that work well and look great. Sure, there are cheaper e-bikes, but if you aren’t looking only at cost, two other higher-than-average-quality bikes to consider are the $1,699 Velotric T1 and the $1,199 Aventon Soltera.2.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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