Jumping up from a 16″ to a 20″ bike is a big step. Of all the things a parent needs to consider, in addition to price, weight, geometry, and gain ratio, gears are now an option. For mountain-bike-riding kids or those riding on long road rides, gears are essential, but for the average neighborhood rider, are gears really necessary? Geared bikes add an additional level of complexity to riding for kids as well as for parents trying to maintain the bike. Single-speed bikes, however, can restrict the length and variety of terrain a child can go on.
All Smiles on the Priority Start 20
The Priority Start 20″ is the perfect in-between solution, offering the simplicity and easy maintenance of a single-speed but with the gearing options of a traditional geared bike. With just three-gears housed in an innovative, internally-geared hub, the Priority Start 20 has gears, but without the traditional bulky and finicky derailleur or frustrating tuning requirements. (Think talk-to-text vs. T9 texting. The same end result, but so much easier and more streamlined!) Combined with a lightweight frame and grease-free belt drive, the Start 20 is the perfect “Goldilocks” bike for the average everyday rider – not too basic, not too complex, but just right.
Priority Start 20
|Easy-to-use 3-speed internally-geared hub||Foam handlebar grips could use improvement|
|Grease-free and essentially maintenance-free belt drive|
|Lightweight and durable frame|
|Comfortable, upright geometry|
Performance and Size
Love at first ride, our 6-year-old tester was pure smiles and was eager to keep riding. From cruising around the neighborhood to keeping up with his older siblings on longer rides, the Start 20″ was quick and responsive and easily held its own. With a lightweight frame weighing only 19.6 lb., the Start didn’t hold back our average-sized 6-year-old tester from cruising up hills or leaning through turns. For more ambitious mountain bike rides, the Start wouldn’t be our first choice, but for the vast majority of rides that 5 to 8-year-olds go on, the Start 20 is an ideal choice.
The Fun and Responsive Priority Start 20
Perfectly sized for our tester in size 5 clothes, the Start 20 is small enough to provide a comfortable transition from a 16″ bike, while being large enough to provide plenty of room for growth. With a seat height range of 22″ to 28.5″, the Start is smaller than most 20″ bikes on the market and has significantly higher quality components and a better overall design than bikes found in big box stores.
Smooth, sleek, and certifiably cool, the Start 20 comes with a belt versus a chain. With no need for grease, the belt is clean to the touch and won’t leave you finding surprise grease stains on your child’s pants and hands, or on your own fingers! It’s also highly unlikely that a belt drive will ever fall off, minimizing the potential for the drama of mid-ride chain problems. For added safety, the Start also comes with a chainguard to prevent clothing from potentially getting caught in the belt.
The Start’s Grease-free Belt Drive
With an internal hub in which the gears shift through movements of the belt, the Start 20 is derailleur-free! Why does this matter? Instead of a derailleur moving a chain up and down a cassette, the Start’s hub smoothly changes the gearing of the bike inside an enclosed rear hub. With no external moving parts, the gearing system on the Start requires very little maintenance and also provides much smoother gear changes. Derailleurs are perhaps the most delicate part of a bike, and with the way kids throw their bikes around, are the most likely to get damaged and cause serious problems on a kid’s bike. This, of course, is not an issue with the Priority 20 because it doesn’t have a derailleur!
An additional advantage of an internally-geared hub over a derailleur is that the bike doesn’t have to be moving to shift gears. If only we had a dollar for every time we’ve shouted, “Don’t shift gears if you’re not moving!!” On a traditionally geared bike with a cassette and a derailleur, shifting while the bike is standing still can cause the chain to jump up and down as it shifts roughly while the chain settles into place. Over time, this can cause the entire shifting system to become less responsive and in need of expert tuning. And of course, kids do this all the time! Just one more reason the internally-geared hub really is a big win for kids’ bikes.
Priority Start’s Internally-geared Hub vs. Traditional Bulky Derailleurs
Shifters and Brakes Levers
1, 2 or 3. With the simple twist of the shifter, our tester was easily able to change the gears on the Start. No debating between which of the 7 gears are the best for the ride, the Start makes it easy – 1 for downhill or extra speed, 2 for regular riding, and 3 for hills or slow and easy cruising.
Properly sized for young riders, the Start’s dual brake levers require minimal effort to activate and can easily be adjusted to bring the brake lever closer to the grip of small hands for easy-reach. While the brake levers aren’t as high-end as those found on Islabikes or Prevelo, the performance did not disappoint.
Easy-to-Use Shifters and Brake Levers
Designed for comfort and ease-of-use, the Priority Start 20 has a comfortable upright position that is ideal for the average young rider. Not too upright to prevent kids from being able to shift their weight around, and not too aggressive to tire kids out on longer rides, the Start provides a comfortable, fun ride. Compared to the single-speed Guardian, which is also designed for the average child rider, the Priority has a similar geometry. Compared to the Pello Rover, which is designed for light trail riding, the Priority is more upright.
Priority Start’s Comfortable Upright Geometry
Not skimping on the seemingly minor details, the Start offers a comfortable padded saddle on rails for front-to-back adjustability. For easy seat height adjustments, the Start also has a quick release seat post clamp.
Featuring v-pull front and rear brakes and no coaster brake, the Start’s brakes are responsive and came properly adjusted right out of the box.
Padded Saddle and Responsive V-Brakes
Uniquely built with three gears in an internally-geared hub and a belt drive, there are few very, if any, widely produced 20″ bikes that compare to the Start. While we anticipate many more internally-geared kids’ bikes in the future, few, if any of them, will be paired with a belt drive.
Not too simple, not too complex, the Start is the perfect 20″ bike for young riders ready for adventure, but not quite ready for the complexity of 7-speeds and a finicky derailleur. Easy-to-use and a joy to ride, the Start 20 is a standout choice for ambitious neighborhood riders aged 5 to 8.