I’ve been working on a bike equation lately, toying with variables in my head as I zoom along single track trails, or cruise around my town’s winding little streets. It’s something like this: fun = capability - complication x value, or f = (v)c - o. As you increase capability but remove complication and expense, the fun increases. If you increase complication and expense, capability goes up, but the fun number goes down. Call it a way to make a subjective experience slightly more objective. Basically, what I’ve realized over the years, is I have more fun with a bike if it’s simple, inexpensive, but still has a respectable level of capability, relative to what I want to ride. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for high-end, über-capable trail bikes brimming with technology—those are great too. But simple, pure fun? Gimme something uncomplicated and basic.
That’s the Sauce by Priority Bikes. I’ve been riding one a ton for the last six months or so. Around town, on little adventures, even swooping around flowy, non-technical singletrack. I’ve bolted on one of Old Man Mountain’s terrific racks over the rear wheel, and attached a couple bike bags from North St., and it’s replaced my big, heavy e-cargo bike as a grocery getter. I throw a Yepp kid seat on the back, and my toddler squeals with excitement. It’s a do-anything rig that looks cool and is fun to ride.
It costs $799.
What you get is a simple aluminum frame modeled after an old-school klunker. Most interestingly, you also get a single speed Gates belt drive. This is kinda Priority’s thing. Most, if not all, of their bikes feature a belt drive. This is my first belt drive bike and I hope it’s not my last. It’s buttery smooth, doesn’t get squeaky if it’s wet, and requires no lubrication.
The single speed helps tremendously with the simple fun. You get on, you pedal. I haven’t had a single speed in about 15 years and I forgot how much clawing back that tiny amount of brain space you’d normally devote to shifting helps with a feeling of freedom. It also keeps the weight way, way down. I’d guess this bike weighs around 22 pounds or so? Formally weighing it would seem to defeat the purpose of the simplicity.
The bike ships with semi-knobby Goodyear tires on its 27.5” wheels. It’s also fitted with hydraulic disc brakes, by a brand I’ve never heard of called Hudson, but they work just fine. The tires are grippy enough to handle dirt and gravel, but I wouldn’t go bombing an enduro trail on it. It’s even routed for a dropper post if you think trails will be a big part of your experience on this thing. And, if that’s the case, you can even throw a suspension fork on there — it’s made to handle a fork with up to 100mm of travel.
Now, I’m sure things like the hubs and the bottom bracket are not exactly top shelf quality, especially if you’re used to dropping $5k on bikes. But they’ve served me just fine and I have no intention of upgrading anything on this bike. It’s well thought out and a joy to ride.
Seriously - I’ve ridden it more than anything else in my fleet since it arrived. The closest bike I have to this one is a Hudski Doggler, a flat bar gravel bike that’s far more capable but that also costs $2k. These two bikes have something in common though - they’re like the bikes of my youth. No suspension, ready for anything, comfortable to ride just about anywhere.
I wish there were a whole lot more options like this out there. Fun, do-it-all machines that bring back the simple freedom of bikes, and at a price that most anyone can afford.
Words by Justin Housman
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