Last updated: October 9th, 2023
Between the original Classic Plus and the sportier, blacked-out Classic Plus Gotham Edition, Priority cornered the market on affordable belt-drive bikes.
(And, including their Brilliant brand, they hold three spots in my popular guide to the top belt-drive bikes!)
But with similar specs and identical prices, it’s a tough choice between these two near-zero-maintenance bikes. Moreover, few of us have the opportunity to try either one beforehand.
So, I dove deep into specs, then compared others’ reviews with my own test ride to help point you in the right direction.
In brief: original Classic Plus vs. Gotham Edition
Classic Plus: comfort over modest distances
Priority Bicycle's original Classic Plus is comfy, stylish, and as reliable as it gets. If speed isn't your top priority (no pun intended), then start here.
The original Priority Classic Plus rewards more leisurely riders. The exquisitely comfortable, upright posture makes it easy (and fun!) to observe your surroundings. On the flip side, hills and headwinds are more of a grind. It’s ideal for casual cruising, local errands, and laid-back commutes.
Classic Plus Gotham Edition: a quicker, livelier rider
Priority's Classic Plus Gotham Edition is the most cost-effective belt-drive hybrid around. Snappier than the original Classic Plus, it rides similarly to proven hybrids like the Trek FX, albeit with slightly higher (read: more comfortable) handlebars.
The Classic Plus Gotham Edition is perfect for urban commuters, and rewarding for fitness riders. It uses a typical hybrid bike posture that leans forward modestly. It’s more powerful and aerodynamic, so hills and headwinds are less of a grind.
To be clear, the original is not a sluggish beach cruiser. The Gotham is not a hunched-over wannabe racer. They’re practical bikes that cater to slightly different preferences.
What, you ask, would be my personal choice? The original Classic Plus, but only narrowly.
In my book, it’s the right blend of low-key comfort with just enough agility to enjoy riding in town.
My test ride confirmed that it’s not a quick bike (no upright bike is), but it’s still much lighter and livelier than true Dutch bikes.
The main difference: cockpit parts
The frames are virtually identical, but different cockpit parts create different posture.
The original Classic Plus uses swept-back bars to keep you comfortably upright.
Their short reach encourages relaxed posture, and a neutral wrist minimizes strain and pressure. This is my personal preference for commuting and urban riding.
The Gotham Edition uses hybrid-style riser bars to increase control and aerodynamics.
Their straighter shape pulls you forward and boosts leverage, which you’ll appreciate when it’s time to sprint or to weave through traffic and obstacles. This is my choice for more athletic riding when I want to sprint, corner aggressively, hop potholes, or venture beyond the pavement.
The more upright you sit, the more weight your sit bones bear.
So, relaxed bikes like the original Classic Plus use a wider saddle for support. This particular saddle also uses springs to take the edge off bumps rather than transmitting their full force right up your spine.
Conversely, sportier bikes like the Classic Plus Gotham Edition use a medium-width saddle to allow freer leg movement in a forward lean. It also ditches the springs and heavier padding, which are superfluous when your spine is tilted forward.
These are all right for stock saddles, but stock saddles aren’t great in general. Genuinely good ones are personal and often pricey.
If you’ll ride more than a few miles every day, invest in a Brooks B67 (for upright bikes) or B17 (for hybrid/touring/all-around use). They don’t come cheap, but the way they dampen vibrations and mold to your bone structure is worth every penny.
The Classic Plus original and Gotham Edition feel different in the saddle but share several commonalities.
Sizing is identical (and simple). Your options are:
Riders from under 5′ to over 6’6″ should be able to find a fit. As for fine-tuning, the classic quill stem makes bar height adjustment a piece of cake.
Consider the Gotham Edition if you’re on the upper end of the height range. Although frame sizes are the same, the Gotham’s riser bars create a longer horizontal reach. Very tall folks might feel cramped behind the original’s swept-back handlebars—especially those who ride more athletically or aggressively.
Drivetrain configuration is also identical.
Both models share:
- A 3-speed Shimano Nexus internally-geared hub and twist shifter.
- 186% gear range, which is plenty for mild to rolling terrain.
- A name-brand Gates Carbon Drive belt that minimizes maintenance and weather damage. (Props to Priority for sticking with the industry leader, not cutting costs with an obscure belt!)
Wheels & tires
The original and the Gotham Edition use 36-spoke double-wall rims. That’s a high spoke count—similar to what you’d see on a loaded touring bike—so they’re up for the bumps and potholes that city riding entails.
Would fatter tires be nice? Yes, probably. A bit more cushion and dampening is always welcome. But from the perspective of a manufacturer trying to keep everyone happy and make fender installation easy, 35 mm is the right choice.
Aluminum tubing and neutral geometry keep both frames light and snappy (as urban bikes go).
Claimed weight is about 26 lbs for each. I haven’t weighed either, but that felt about right during my test-ride on the original Classic Plus. You can expect 30-35 lbs with fenders, racks, and so forth.
That’s a good 5 lbs heftier than the lightest carbon-fiber hybrids. But it’s also a fraction of the price, and won’t leave you feeling bad after the inevitable knocks against a public bike rack.
The original and Gotham editions both use V-brakes that provide ample stopping power. They’re simple, reliable, light, low-maintenance, and (in my experience) better than entry-level discs when properly adjusted.
Speaking of which: take the time to fine-tune the brakes’ cable tension, springs, and pad position. If they still don’t feel right, any bike shop can quickly and cheaply dial them in.
In rainier climates, disc brakes are more helpful but still not necessary around town. Unless you anticipate serious mud or extremely steep hills, well adjusted V-brakes have power to spare!
Older versions of the original Classic Plus—including ones you might find at Costco or in some pictures on their website—have a front dual-pivot brake and a rear coaster brake. I dislike that combination. In fact, it’s the main reason I didn’t buy a Classic Plus immediately after trying it a few years ago.
Fortunately, they’ve updated it to dual V-brakes as described above. If you care, then it’s worth confirming with Priority before you order.
Is the Classic Plus or Gotham Edition right for you?
Priority Bicycles’ Classic Plus comes in two well-thought-out variations.
Their parts—most notably the signature Gates belt drive—are virtually identical. Their riding posture is the only meaningful difference, and it’s solely a question of personal preference.
The original Classic Plus is the more traditional, upright, and relaxed of the two. Pick it if you’d give up a bit of efficiency in exchange for an extra-comfortable position from which to enjoy your surroundings.
The Classic Plus Gotham Edition matches the slight forward lean of a typical hybrid bike. Pick it if you expect steeper hills, higher mileage, or simply enjoy a brisker pace.
Obviously, these aren’t envy-inducing cutting-edge machines for mountain bikers, tourers, weekend road warriors, or high-mileage all-weather commuters.
Priority does cover those bases, too, just at higher price points.
For the rest of us, either variation of the Classic Plus makes it supremely easy and cost-effective just to hop on and go.
And that’s what the two-wheeled life is all about.