With so many beach cruisers on the market, what makes the Priority Coast float above the rest? Apart from its overall exceptional design and build, the Coast is the most low-maintenance and rust-proof beach cruiser that we’ve seen.
From its Carbon Gates belt drive that replaces a traditional bike chain, to its internally geared hub that replaces a traditional bike derailleur, the Priority Coast kicks tradition to the curb in favor of simple innovations that will make a world of difference in your casual bike life.
Read our full review below to understand how Priority’s innovations will make your riding experience simpler, and taking care of your bike a breeze – even in salty sea towns.
Priority Coast Beach Cruiser Overview
MSRP: $599+ (depending on gearing options)
BEST FOR: Casual cruising, especially in coastal environments
SIZES: Diamond frame (5’5 – 6’5), Step-thru (5’0 – 5’11)
WEIGHT: 26 lb. (with kickstand and pedals)
GEARS: Four options – Single speed, 3 speed, 7 speed, Enviolo continuous speed
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
BRAKES: Rear coaster brake, front hand brake
- Belt drive (instead of a bike chain) is grease-free, won’t rust, and is very very unlikely to fall off
- Super low maintenance overall
- The frame, fork, and as many components as possible are aluminum alloy (instead of steel), to prevent rusting
- For geared models, the internally geared hub keeps the shifting mechanism enclosed and safe, unlike a traditional derailleur
- Tires and cushioned, springed saddle provide a smooth ride
- Very lightweight
- Gorgeous paint job with matching fenders, also comes with touch-up paint
- Available in two frame options and several colors
- Front hand brake lever is harder to pull than expected
Priority Coast Review – Results of our Test Rides
For this review, we tested the step-thru Priority Coast with 3 speeds. The single speed and 7-speed Coast are very similar, so we will cover all three of those models in this review.
We will not go into specifics on the most expensive Priority Coast option, which has Enviolo continuous speed shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. From our research, both the Enviolo gearing and the upgraded braking system would certainly make for a phenomenal riding experience, but we have not been able to test it for ourselves.
Why Choose a Priority Coast?
Buying a beach cruiser says a lot about your personal bike lifestyle. They’re easy, they’re breezy, and they feature that unique beachy styling that so many bike riders love. The Priority Coast checks all of those boxes.
The swept back handlebars keep your back upright, and the padded saddle absorbs bumps in the road for an uber comfortable ride. Easy. The gearing is kept low so pedaling doesn’t require too much effort and your ride is actually relaxing. Breezy. And the swooped frame with matte paint and matching fenders? Adorably beachy… even if you’re nowhere near a beach!
After the initial oohs and aahs of first sight delight were over, every one of our test riders who hopped on the Coast raved about how comfortable, easy, and cruise-worthy the Coast was to ride.
But in addition to rocking all of the traditional beach cruiser comfort and features, the Priority Coast has extra features that make it an exceptional choice.
(1) Low Maintenance
(3) Exceptional overall quality
Low Maintenance Features
Bikes are generally simple machines, but they do require effort to maintain in great working order. All Priority bikes are designed to simplify the parts of the bike that are commonly problematic. Instead of a bike chain, they feature a belt drive. For geared models, instead of a derailleur, they feature an internally geared hub. And for even greater simplicity, the Coast models feature a super dependable coaster brake.
There are several benefits to the Priority Coast’s Gates carbon belt drive:
(1) Made from carbon fiber threads, the belt drive can’t rust like traditional steel bike chains can (more on that below)
(2) Bike chains should be cleaned and lubed regularly to keep them rolling smoothly. Not necessary with a belt drive!
(3) Since belt drives don’t have grease, if you touch one, your hands or pants (or skirts!) won’t get black and greasy.
(4) Bike chains can fall off, and be tricky to get back on. A belt drive is very unlikely to fall off!
(5) A Carbon Gates belt drive is more durable than a bike chain and will last longer.
Internally Geared Hub
If you’re considering a 3 or 7-speed Priority Coast, the bike will look like it’s a single speed to the untrained eye. That’s because its gearing mechanism is hidden inside a small rear hub. Here you can see the Coast’s 3-speed hub compared to a much more common 7-speed derailleur.
Traditional bike derailleurs are notoriously finicky. Especially on cheaper bikes, they aren’t always tuned properly and shifting up and down can feel quite clunky. They can easily get damaged by knocking it against a curb or rock, or setting your bike down on top of the derailluer.
Once a derailleur is damaged, you may not be able to shift at all. Depending on how badly damaged a derailleur is, fixing one can get pricey, or may not even be possible without replacing it entirely.
With an internally geared hub, all of the gearing mechanisms are encased safely inside a robust metal housing. Protected from damage and dirt, you don’t need to worry about your gears getting damaged or wonky!
Important Note: When shifting gears on a bike with an internally geared hub, like the Coast, you must stop pedaling in order to shift gears. While coasting, you twist the grip shift to the desired gear, and then begin pedaling again. Additionally, the hub does make a light clicking noise when you’re pedaling.
This does take some getting used to, but the benefits of losing the derailleur in favor of a hub outweigh the slight inconvenience in our opinion.
Coaster brakes are very common on beach cruiser bikes. They keep costs down, and require very little maintenance. However, there can be a safety issue with coaster brakes on traditional bikes.
If your bike chain falls off, you can’t back pedal to engage the coaster brake. That’s just one more advantage of the Coast’s belt drive. Because the belt drive is very very unlikely to ever fall off, the coaster brake is even more dependable than on a traditional beach cruiser.
The Priority Coast is aptly named for the environment in which it thrives! Unlike standard beach cruisers that will quickly rust in the salty sea air, the Coast was meticulously designed with specific parts to combat rust and corrosion.
Carbon Belt Drive
We’ve already mentioned the belt drive, but it’s worth mentioning again to drive home how game changing it is – especially in coastal areas where bikes and rust are a common (annoying) combo.
Most bikes have chains, not belt drives. And those chains are most often steel. And salty sea air loves to make steel rust. Bike chains should be lubed on the regular to keep them moving smoothly (and prevent rust), and even more often in beachy climates.
Can you ride a bike with a rusty chain? Sure. But it certainly won’t be the smoothest ride, and it certainly doesn’t look pretty. Can you get rid of the rust on a chain? Also sure, but with a belt drive you don’t have to worry about it!
Aluminum frame, fork, and other components
While the Priority Coast isn’t entirely free of steel, it’s pretty close. Most beach cruisers have steel frames and forks, which means the entire bike could rust over time if you’re not being meticulous about caring for it. (Steel is cheaper than high-quality aluminum alloys that won’t rust.)
The Priority Coast’s frame and fork are both high-quality aluminum alloy. Other aluminum parts include the seat post, rims, stem, and handlebars.
If you live in an extremely rust-prone area (South Florida we see you), and are concerned about keeping your bike spotless and shiny, you could treat stainless steel spokes and other small hardwear with a rust inhibitor. However, rust in these areas of the bike wouldn’t affect its performance.
So could you just spray a cheaper beach cruiser with a rust inhibitor and get similar rust-fighting benefits to the Coast? We haven’t personally done that, but have read about others who have…but do you really want to worry about that? One of the primary reasons you buy a Priority bicycle is because they’ve taken as much work out of owning and maintaining a bike as possible!
A primary reason you pay more for any bike is its high-quality frame and components, which you’ve just read a lot about. As you’ll continue to read about for the rest of the review, Priority bikes are carefully designed and specced with materials and components that are solid and durable.
You should anticipate the Coast to retain its quality and smooth ride over many years of frequent use, while cheaper beach cruisers by popular brands like Schwinn and Huffy aren’t designed to retain that level of ride quality over time.
Gearing and Shifting Options
How many gears do you need? Great question! So glad you asked! 🙂 The Priority Coast is available with four different gearing options. The more gears, the more moolah. So if you only want to pay for what you really need, which is the best option? That is entirely dependent on your riding style.
If you want the ultimate in simplicity, the absolute lowest maintenance, and the very most rust-resistance, the single speed Priority Coast may be the way to go.
The gain ratio (gearing) of the single speed is 4.1. This is a relatively low gear that will allow for relaxed cruising and get you up mild hills. Before you decide on a single speed, you need to consider the elevation you’ll be encountering and how fast you want to ride.
Because you can’t change gears to get more oomph out of each pedal stroke on the straightaways, the single speed is best for casual cruising, not quickly commuting. And because you can’t change gears to make it easier to get up hills, the single speed is also best for riding in flat areas, and occasionally a mild hill or two.
Three gears, instead of just one, opens up your enjoyable riding experience to more varied elevations and speeds.
The three speeds of the Priority Coast have gain ratios of 3.0, 4.1, and 5.5. A gain ratio is a number that indicates how easy it is to pedal in a specific gear. The lower the gain ratio number, the easier it is to pedal in that gear. The higher the number, the harder it is to pedal, but you’ll go much farther with each pedal stroke.
The lowest gear on the Coast (3.0) is essentially your climbing gear, the middle gear (4.1, the same as the single speed model) is your casual cruising gear, and the highest gear (5.5) is for when going downhill or to gain more speed on long flat sections.
Based on our testing, the 3 speed certainly makes going up or down hill more enjoyable. If your neighborhood has mild hills, this $80 upgrade is worth it ($679).
The middle gear (4.1) is the same casual cruising feel as the single speed. Super fun and relaxed, but limited in top speeds. The highest gear (5.5) certainly could be used to go fast on flat roads, but does require enough effort that you would potentially be breaking a sweat and no longer be casually cruising.
If you love the idea (and price) of a 3-speed but think you might want slightly higher gearing, the Priority Classic Gotham ($599) is a commuter/hybrid bike with three gears that are each geared slightly higher than the Coast’s corresponding three gears. We’ve used this bike for years, and it’s great for riders who are more concerned with getting to a destination than enjoying the scenery.
In our test rides comparing the 3-speed Coast and the Classic Gotham, our test riders stated that they would prefer the Gotham for longer rides.
7-Speed for More Versatility
With seven speeds to choose from and a much wider range of gears (2.6 to 6.3 gain ratio), the 7-speed is our bike of choice for riders in hilly areas as well as for riders who want the look of a beach cruiser but want to be able to gain and maintain speed, rather than stick to casually cruising around.
One big advantage of more speeds is that you have more options to find your personal cruising gear. For our more casual riders on the Priority Coast, the 4.1 gain ratio found on both the single and 3-speed was perfect for relaxed rides.
But for our more athletic riders, 4.1 was a bit too low to feel like they were moving along at a decent speed. While we didn’t test the 7-speed, based on the gearing of each of its 7 gears, it would allow stronger riders more flexibility to find a gear that better suits their riding style and strength.
At $759, the 7-speed isn’t cheap, but does offer a wider range of gears than our favorite budget 7-speed beach Cruiser, the Retrospec Chatham. That bike’s gain ratio range is 3.1 – 6.1, compared to the Coast’s 2.6 – 6.3. The Chatham also has a derailleur that was finicky right out of the box, while the Coast features the low-maintenance hub drive.
Coaster Brakes and Front Hand Brake
The Priority Coast single, 3, and 7 speed bikes all have a rear coaster (back pedal) brake and front hand brake. (The high-end Enviolo model has hydraulic disc brakes which offer superior stopping power in all weather conditions.)
A coaster brake is super low maintenance and requires no set-up out of the box. While it’s harder to finesse your braking speed with a rear coaster brake (vs. high-quality dual hand brakes that can stop both the front and rear wheel at the same time), many riders love the simplicity of a coaster brake.
While the coaster brake slows down and stops the rear wheel, the Coast’s handbrake slows down the front wheel. On the Coast, this hand brake is supplementary to the coaster brake and designed for slowing down or coasting to a stop, but not for stopping quickly.
The coaster brake can be relied on for pretty quick stopping on its own, but for the fastest stopping of all, you should use the rear coaster brake and front hand brake at the same time.
Compared to other hand brakes we’ve used (like on the Priority Classic Plus Gotham), the Coast’s hand brake lever is significantly harder to pull tight against the wheel rim. The brake arms and pads also required a bit of adjustment before they worked properly. But also remember that you don’t actually need that hand brake to stop the bike.
What size rider fits on a Priority Coast?
The Priority Coast is available in two different frame designs which also correspond to different sizes.
The step-thru frame is recommended for riders 5’0 – 5’11, while the diamond frame is recommended for riders 5’5 – 6’5.
We tested the Coast step-thru with four different riders ranging in height from 5’0 – 5’10, and all riders found the Coast to be a comfy and natural fit. Here you can see how our riders at opposite ends of the sizing spectrum fit on the Coast.
5’0 and 5’10 Riders on the Coast
Adjusting the Fit – Saddle and Handlebars
To get the best fit for each rider, the saddle can be raised or lowered. The Coast features a quick-release seat post collar which makes spur of the moment adjustments quick and easy. The saddle can also move forward or backwards along the black rails you see below, as a further way to fine-tune the fit.
The stem of the bike can also be raised or lowered to fine tune the fit based on the height of the rider.
Priority Start Components Round-up
Wheels and Tires
The Priority Coast’s tan tires match the vegan leather saddle and hand grips, which collectively pop as the cherry on top for a truly classic beach cruiser.
At 2.125, they are wider and more cushioning than a thinner tire you’ll usually see on a commuter bike like the Priority Classic Plus Gotham. For additional reference, the popular Electra Townie’s tires are 2.0″ wide.
Railed and Cushioned Saddle
The Coast’s saddle certainly adds some cushioning to your ride. The saddle is nicely padded (while still being supportive), and features alloy springs underneath to absorb some of the brunt of bumpy roads.
We put the Coast in a head to head test against the cheaper Retrospec Chatham (both the single speed and the 7-speed Plus model). While the Priority and Restrospec bikes felt similarly smooth over small sidewalk cracks, when going over larger rough patches in the road, the Coast felt noticeably less bumpy.
Double Leg Kick Stand
A sturdy double leg kickstand keeps your Coast upright, with the front tire lifted slightly off the ground. Compared to a standard kick stand that leans your bike to one side, the Coast’s double kick stand is much more stable and your bike is much less likely to fall over.
A small detail, for sure, but the Coast’s pedals are a high-quality aluminum alloy. They add a little frosting to the overall chic vibe of the bike. And because they are also textured, they help grip flip flops or wet feet for those of you doing true beach cruising.
Assembly Simple, But May Need a Bike Shop
The Coast’s low-maintenance qualities keep it simple for assembly as well. If you’re generally handy, you can likely assemble the Coast without the help of a bike shop – in less than 20 minutes.
The two parts that were the most time consuming were the saddle and the front brake. Attaching a railed saddle to a seat post can be tricky. But just put your patience pants on an you’ll be fine.
We did need to make several adjustments to the front brake before it worked properly. Luckily, the assembly video for the coast explains exactly how to do it.
Taking Kids Along for the Ride – Okay, But Better Options
If you intend to take your child along for the ride in a bike trailer or child bike seat, you absolutely can, and we’ll explain how below. That said, with a coaster brake as the bike’s primary stopping mechanism, the Coast isn’t Priority’s best option for rides with the kids.
We highly recommend a bike with high-quality dual handbrakes and no coaster brake, like the Priority Classic Plus Gotham. We have used this bike with our own kids and always felt safe and were able to stop quickly.
Rear Child Bike Seat with the Priority Coast
Priority sells the Burley Dash rack mounted bike seat and corresponding rack right on their website. You can add it to your order!
We tried mounting a rear frame-mount seat to the step-thru Coast and couldn’t get it to work. The shape of the Coast’s frame, saddle and the springs underneath the saddle may interfere with the child bike seat. Depending on the seat you’re trying to use, it could potentially work, but a rear-rack version is a more sure bet.
Front Child Bike Seat
The Priority Coast has a threaded headset that makes it very easy to mount a front child bike seat, like the Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini. Because of the Coast’s swept back handlebars, it’s important that you get a seat that mounts to the bike’s stem and moves with the handlebars. If a front mounted seat is stationary when you turn the handlebars (like the Weeride Kangaroo), the swooping bars could hit the seat or your child.
Bike Trailer with the Priority Coast
To attach a bike trailer hitch coupler to the Coast’s rear axle, you’ll need a hitch adapter.
Priority Coast Beach Cruiser Bottom Line
Whether you live near the coast or in the middle of the country, the Priority Coast is an exceptional quality beach cruiser that’s super easy to maintain for reliable performance for many years.
If you do live near the ocean, the Coast’s rust-fighting qualities are a bike-saver. For any casual rider, but especially those on the coast, the Priority Coast should be at the top of your beach cruiser shopping list.
For a look at other adult bikes we love, check out our 10 Best Bikes for Women page. If you’ve had any interest in an e-bike, be sure to read our review on the electric version of the Coast, the e-Coast.