Next to flat tires, chains are by far the most annoying part of a kids bike. From falling off (after you just put it back on), to covering your child’s leg and/or pants in grease, the chain is a necessary evil. Or is it? Over the past few years, belt-driven bikes have slowly been entering the bike market. Much like the belts often used on motorcycles, belt drives are chain-free, grease-free, rarely come off and are essentially maintenance free. A perfect solution to kids bike, a new bike company, Priority Bicycles is taking the lead in bringing belt-driven bikes to the kids market. The brainchild of a dad with years of experience in the bike industry, Priority Bicycles made ease, quality and performance their priority. Perfecting simple and basic, they officially hit the market this year in part due to an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign and have since released three kids bikes.
*The Priority F/W is now $249
With their previous release of their 12″ and 16″, their new Start F/W is their first bike for advanced riders. With a belt drive, 16″ self-sealed tires and dual hand brakes (no coaster), the Start F/W (freewheel), packs a lot of punch into it’s $269 price tag. With a U-shaped handlebar, a threadless headset and no coaster brakes, the Start F/W is perfectly suited for kids with an inseam of 17″ to 22″, but our testers as old as 11, who were certainly too big for the bike, loved riding the bike anyway. Weighing in at 17 lb. the Start F/W is additionally lighter than most bikes in price range.
The princess of the party, its hard to take your eyes off the Start’s belt drive. Smooth in function and quiet in operation, our testers would ironically stop pedaling and look down to make sure the bike was still working since it wasn’t making any noise. Upon doing so, however, the rear freewheel hub would begin to hum, quickly reminding them they are in fact moving and they would happily keep on riding.
With higher-end components, the Start is built to please. With easy-reach brake levers, a threadless headset, a railed saddle and with removable color coded stickers on the cranks and pedals for easy assembly (link to video instructions), the Start was clearly thought out from top to bottom. The charcoal gray paint with metallic flakes additionally adds an extra set of wonder to the Start F/W.
While more advances riders can generally balance a heavier bike, lighter is generally always better with kids bike. At just over 17 lb., the Start isn’t the lightest on the market, but for it’s price, it is certainly one of the best.
While newer to the market, the Start isn’t the first kids bike to have a belt. The Early Rider Belter was developed several years ago and although it is lighter than the Start, it has essentially the same geometry and seat height, but with a much more expensive price tag. Compared to the Next Rocket (Walmart), the Start is vastly different as it has lower handlebars and a much longer wheelbase.
When done correctly, an upright geometry is beneficial for beginning riders, but for more advanced riders, a more aggressive position allows for greater handling and increased maneuverability. Still in 4T clothes, our four-year-old testers was slightly too small for the Start, but loved the smooth ride it offered and happily rode it regardless. Our five-year-old tester, who normally rides a big-box store 20″ bike (which is too big for him), and therefore took every chance he could get to ride the Start. In fact, he often jumped on the bike as soon as our four-year-old tester was done without even giving us the chance to raise the seat for him (which is why it is to low in the picture below).
The gearing of the Priority is also larger than other bikes in its price range. The Priority Start F/W has a 36/18 while the Cleary Hedgehog has a 25/16. The larger gear ratio of the Priority allows riders to ride faster on flat surfaces, but will be more challenging to ride uphills.
A smooth, fun ride for kids and maintenance free for mom and dad, the Priority Start F/W is a great buy for kids in at size 5T pants and up. An aggressive ride, the Start is best for eager balance bike graduates or for kids outgrowing their 12″ bikes.
Where to Purchase
Priority Bikes are only available at PriorityBicycles.com.
FTC Disclosure: All opinions given are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. No monetary compensation was provided for this review, but a demo bike was provided by Priority Bicycles to facilitate this review. Two Wheeling Tots is an affiliate of Priority Bicycles, but are also an affiliate of Amazon, REI, Target and Walmart and therefore have no financial gain to recommend one bike over another.