Early Rider Belter Urban

Pedal Bike Review

While pricey, the Belter is as beautiful as it is functional and is worth every penny (if it's in your budget).

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $450

Recommendation: Not Recommended

Seat Height: 19" - 22"

Weight: 13.7 lb.

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Tire Size: 16"

Brakes: Dual Hand

Handlebar: Low

Gain Ratio: 4.15

Q Factor: 5.5"

Wheelbase: 680

Available Online: Yes

Review

UPDATE: While we still LOVE the Belter, a recent incident has caused us to lower our rating level from “Exceptional” to “Not Recommended”.  While riding the Belter, our 4yo tester got his pants stuck in the belt drive causing him to crash.  While he was not hurt, this would have easily been prevented by a chain guard which is NOT available on the Belter.  Chain guards are actually required in order to get CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Committee) certification on bikes designed for younger kids that fall within specific seat height ranges.  CPSC certification is not technically required by smaller bike manufacturers, but as our experience shows, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Lack of Chain Guard on Early Rider Belter

Overview

As beautiful as it is functional, the Early Rider Belter (now called Belter Urban) is a modern marvel of bicycle engineering in a pint-size package.  Designed for kids ages 3.5 to 6, the Belter is simply stunning.  From its hand-brushed and lacquered aluminum frame to its carbon belt drive, the Belter leaves kids begging for more while their parents simply stare in awe.   Fully loaded with 16″ air tires on aluminum rims, short-reach front and rear V-pull brakes (no coaster brake!) and a remarkable grease-free, maintenance-free belt drive, the Early Rider Belter weighs in at about 13.7 lbs., about 10 lbs. less than most lower-end 16″ bikes.  With a minimum seat height of 19″, the Belter is the perfect first pedal bike for any balance bike graduate.  Albiet pricey at $400, the lightweight frame and laid-back geometry of the Belter make learning to ride a breeze.

belter pics

Carbon Belt Drive

While the brushed aluminum frame steals the show, the belt drive is the icing on the cake.  In addition to being grease and maintenance-free, the belt essentially prevents any snags on clothing and, unlike a chain, will not stretch or easily slip off the gears.

belter gear

Kids, however, love the smooth, jerk-free, quiet ride the belt provides.

Cranks, Saddle and Brakes

Designed to grow with your child, the Belter has three inches for growth on the seat post (19″ to 22″ seat heights) and two mounting positions for the pedals on the crank arm.  Each pedal is also spins freely on ball-bearings, but the raised plastic grips on the pedals were prone to scratching legs.
Belter pedals

Other standout features of the Belter are the faux-leather, riveted saddle and the forged aluminum stem and thread less headset (not adjustable).

early rider other

Another main draw to the Belter is the lack of a coaster brake.  Required by the CPSC on all bikes with a minimum seat height of less than 16″, coaster brake often cause more harm than good for graduates of balance bikes who are accustom to hand brakes.  While learning to pedal, many kids accidentally pedal backwards.  On a bike with a coaster brake, pedaling backwards causes the bike to stop aburptly, causes them to lose all their momentum, while a bike without a coaster brake is much more forgiving and keeps moving forward.  Instead of a coaster brake, the Belter and two short-reach, front and rear, V-pull brakes. While the brakes worked smoothly, the rear brake cable has very little clearance over the tires, which would only be an issue when biking in muddy conditions (as shown on the far right below). The front brake, as shown in the middle picture below, has plenty of clearance.

belter brakes

**Over time we have found that the handlebar grips can completely come off while riding, which led to one of our testers getting hurt (luckily not majorly). As a result, we highly recommend pulling on the grips on the bike, before each ride, to ensure they are securely adhered to the handlebar.**

Testing with Various Ages

We tested the early rider with two five-year-olds a newly four-year-old.  Both five-year-olds loved the bike and found it much easier to ride than their other bikes.

belter various ages

The four-year-old, however, had never successfully ridden his 16″ without training wheels, but upon seeing the Belter, however, was eager to give it a try.  Here’s what happened:

How could one bike much such a difference?  Two main features of the Belter make it easier to ride as compared to other bikes, its laid-back geometry and lightweight.
belter comparison
 

 Lower-end bikes tend to have very poor geometry, which negatively effects the handling of a bike.  The higher your center of gravity, the harder you have to work to maintain your balance.  As shown in the pictures above, both lower-end bikes have the rider in a very upright position, thereby causing the rider to have to work harder to maintain their balance.

early rider comparis

In addition to geometry, the heavier bikes are harder to gain and maintain balance on.  Mr. B’s bike (boy in the video above) was previously riding the 16″ Avigo Extreme that weighs 23 lbs., which was almost half his body weight.  As a result, after three months of trying, he still was not able to ride his bike.  Upon giving him the Belter, however, he was quickly able to take off and ride.

belter weight

Bottom Line

**The Belter’s lack of chainguard and CPSC certification has lowered our rating from “Exceptional” to “Not Recommended”.  The perfect bike for any balance bike graduate with an inseam of 19.5″ to 23″.   While pricey, it is beautiful as it is functional and is worth every penny (if it’s in your budget).  Belter is sure to be the envy of the neighborhood.

MSRP: $450

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: January 3, 2017

FTC Disclosure: An Early Rider Belter was provided by TikesBikes to help facilitate this review.  Two Wheeling Tots is an affiliate of TikesBikes and all links provided to their site are affiliate links.  We are, however, affiliate is several other bike retails and, therefore, have no financial gain from ranking one bike over another.

  • Ceridwen

    Saw this one at REI the other day and was curious if you’d reviewed it. It’s certainly gorgeous.

    • Glad you found the review! Their current model is slightly different than the one I reviewed, but not by much. It is certainly one pretty bike and kids do love riding it!

  • LauraPtennessee

    We have loved this bike for our 4 year old. It is SOOO light and easy for him to ride. The handlebar brakes were easy for his tiny hands when he first started. He tackles hills that his older brother has to get off and walk (big brother is riding the guardian 20″ geared bike, which is also good, but the extra pounds is apparant). He started riding the Belter when he was 3.5, and is now almost 5. He has grown so much, and he might graduate to a 20″ bike this winter. Is there an online site to sell used bikes?

    • anon

      If you live in an area where people will know the value of a good bike, you can probably sell for an appropriate amount on craigslist. You might also be able to sell it on biking forums, or maybe find a used bike site on google. You might also see if there are friends or family who would buy the bike off you fore a reasonable price.

      And of course, hit up the recommendations charts for a 20in bike and if you’re going for geared, also look at Prevelo! (Natalie doesn’t have all the bikes on the charts, just the couple she’s reviewed, but they are very good and comparable to Woom or Islabikes.)

      • LauraPtennessee

        Thanks! I haven’t had good luck locally on craigslist with other bikes, but I think the local bike shop where we first purchased it might resell it for us. Just wondered if there is a kid bike forum similar to this one but specifically for buying and selling good quality kid bikes. Also, I would be interested in buying used, too!

        • anon

          Not that I know of, though I haven’t looked around much. Hopefully your bike shop can resell it for you for a reasonable amount!

        • Ryan

          Laura I’m looking for a belter 16 if you’re still looking to sell your sons. Let me know.

          • LauraPtennessee

            Hi Ryan- how soon do you want it? I think he will be able to ride his through the winter. I was considering moving him up this Christmas but I think we will wait until next spring now.

          • Ryan

            That could work for me. Call me at 724 747 5262 and let’s discuss further.

    • As anon mentioned, sadly I don’t have a forum for posting used bikes as we’ve ran into too many issues doing so as I don’t have the funds to monitor the forum to make sure people are causing problems on there :(. In addition to Craigslist, I would also look at mtbr.com and pinkbike.com. Both of those sites have a used bike market, which are mainly for adult bike, but many higher-end kids bikes do get posted on the sites.

  • Jgregson

    Your experience with getting pants caught in the belt is just as likely to happen with any of the other bikes you recommend and even more likely with those with a normal chain/chainring. Even more likely to cause a crash is any kid whose shoelaces get caught in a pedal and wind around and around.

    • Agreed. This problem isn’t isolated to this bike. My main concern here is that the Belter is required to have a chain guard in order to pass CPSC certification. All the other bikes I have recommended have gone through the CPSC certification process. Since the Early Rider doesn’t have a chain guard, they have not met the regulations. The CPSC certification also ensures other safety aspects of the bike including frame strength and brake effectiveness. There is no way I can properly and fairly assess the frame strength an even brake effectiveness (how quickly a bike stops when a certain amount of pressure is applied) of these bikes and therefore have to rely on set standards to ensure them. Having used the Early Rider Belter for several years and honestly love it, I can’t image the frame of brakes of the bike to be a problem, so I am hoping that they will take the time to ensure their bike passes safety standards so I can give it the rating it deserves. For various reasons though, I just can’t recommend a bike that skipped out on bike certification that is legally required for a bike company of their size.