Both sophisticated and playful, the Priority Start 16 is as beautiful as it is effortless to ride. Its light weight and dual-hand brakes (and no coaster brake!) make it ideal for young riders, while the maintenance-free belt drive is a big win for parents! Quite simply, the Priority Start 16 packs a lot of punch for a very decent price.
So who is this little pony best for? With comfortable, upright body positioning, the Start 16 is a standout neighborhood bike for timid to average riders on their first or second pedal bike. Read our full review below for more reasons this Priority bike is an exceptional ride.
Priority Start 16 Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Kids ages 4 up to 6 with timid to average athletic ability who will be doing neighborhood and paved trail riding.
SEAT HEIGHT: 18.5″ – 23″ (lower seat height requires an available shorter seat post)
WEIGHT: 15.9 lb.
BRAKES: Dual Hand, no coaster
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
GAIN RATIO: 3.38
WHEELBASE: 780 mm
- Confidence-building upright positioning for first-time pedal bike riders
- Clean, grease-free, maintenance-free belt drivetrain (no chain!)
- Great quality for the price
- Dual hand brakes and no coaster brake to allow for a smoother experience when learning to pedal
- Compatible with training wheels
- Kickstand included
- Shorter seat height requires purchase of shorter seat post (but free with code TWTSP)
Priority Start 16 Review – Results of Our Test Rides
“Mom, let’s go ride the white bike!” Having tested out over 20 different 16 inch bikes, our 5-year-old tester rarely gets really excited about a new bike. He knows what he likes and hardly ever prefers new bikes to his tried and true favorites. The Priority Start 16″, however, quickly made its way into his “preferred club”.
Classic and simple by design, smooth and effortless in motion, the Priority Start 16 is well balanced, easy to pedal, and easy to maneuver. From riding down driveways (over and over again!), to tackling small ramps or simply cruising around the neighborhood, the Start was ready for action with this kid as a happy participant.
Even after riding for close to an hour in temperatures reaching 100, he was eager to get the perfect picture of him on the bike so everyone could see how much he liked it.
The Priority Start also has a narrow q-factor of 5.5″ (read more about q-factors on our page Best Kids Bikes: The Authoritative Buying Guide). This prevents kids from having to splay their legs while pedaling, making each stroke more efficient and comfortable.
Geometry – Upright Body Positioning Comes Standard
Not too upright and not too aggressive, the Priority Start 16’s geometry was perfect for our experienced, but not overly aggressive rider. The upright body positioning provided the stability he craves without being too upright to prevent him from leaning into turns or going over jumps (as with cheap bikes like the Next Rocket).
Geometry of 16″ Bikes – Priority vs woom
The Priority has similar geometry to the high-end woom 3, which is also a neighborhood bike. This mid-range body positioning is ideal for the majority of young riders on 16″ bikes.
Optional More Aggressive Geometry
For adventurous riders, Priority offers an optional advanced, low-rise handlebar which provides a more aggressive position. The advanced bar can be purchased for $20 and requires the grips and brake levers to be transferred over from the standard bar, which can be done in less than 20 minutes. The bike comes standard with the mid-rise bar and cannot be purchased with the advanced bar already attached to the bike.
Optional Low-Rise Handlebar is Better for Aggressive Riders
To test out how the bars affect the rideability of the bike, we had our 5-year-old girl tester, who normally rides a Priority Start with standard bars, test out a Start with the advanced bars. As a confident rider, she LOVED the new bars and asked if she could switch bikes!
Within just a couple minutes of riding, she was having fun leaning into turns, which is easier to do while in a more aggressive position. Her twin brother, however, is a very timid rider and much preferred the more upright standard bars.
Experienced, Confident Tester Preferred Lower Handlebars
Gain Ratio (Single Speed Gearing)
With a low-ish gain ratio of 3.38, the Priority Start 16 is easy to get started pedaling and can maintain decent speeds without too much spinning of the wheels. For reference, the Cleary Hedgehog has a lower gain ratio of 3.1, while the woom 3 has a higher gain ratio of 3.8.
For timid and average neighborhood riders, the Start 16’s gain ratio will help kids gets quickly gain and maintain momentum, which does wonders for a new rider’s confidence. A lower gain ratio will also make tackling mild inclines much easier.
However, if your plan is for your child to go on long family rides or keep up with older, faster siblings, a bike with a higher gain ratio would be helpful to reach higher speeds on flat roads.
Priority’s Grease-free Belt Drive
From stained pants to sticky fingers, bike chains can be a pain. They fall off, are hard to get back on, and when you do get them back on, they often fall off again. With a goal to simplify a child’s bike without sacrificing performance, Priority Bicycles uses a grease-free and maintenance-free belt drive on all their bikes (both child and adult!).
With no need to grease or clean the belt and with little (if any!) chance of the belt coming off (we’ve NEVER had a belt come off), belt-driven bikes make bike ownership easier, cleaner, and more simple.
If the belt drive ever had to be adjusted (which is rare!), the rear drop out of the bike (where the back wheel attaches to the frame) is specifically designed to allow for easier adjustments. A sturdy “chain guard” is also provided to prevent baggy pants from coming into contact with the moving belt when riding.
The rounded teeth on the belt and cogs also increase the overall safety of the bike. This is especially important for younger riders who often want to explore their new bike while it’s laying on the ground.
Dual Hand Brakes and NO Coaster Brake!
When learning to pedal a bike, kids (like adults!), naturally pedal backward when trying to regain their balance. Because coaster brakes are so common on kids’ bikes, this natural inclination actually backfires as kids find themselves quickly coming to an unexpected stop, which often results in a fall.
Without a coaster brake, the Priority Start allows kids to pedal backward to regain their balance without stopping and without losing the momentum they have already gained.
To stop a bike without a coaster brake, kids must rely on hand brakes. The Start comes with dual hand brakes that are designed to make it easier for smaller hands to activate. Much more responsive and easy to use than bikes found in big-box stores, our testers had no problem stopping the bike within a couple feet of activating the brakes.
Priority Start 16 Sizing
The Priority Start 16″ seat height ranges from 18.5″ to 23″ and accommodates both beginning and experienced riders. For step by step instructions on how to find a bike that is the perfect fit for your child, check out our Kids Bike Sizes Guide.
Important Note: In order to achieve the lowest 18.5″ seat height, you must order a shorter, optional seat post. It’s $15 on Priority’s website but free with the code TWTSP at checkout. Due to complicated CPSC regulations that we won’t bother to explain, Priority is not allowed to sell a bike without a coaster brake that also has a shorter seat post. (SOUNDS CRAZY, we know. Call your senator.)
Beginning Riders: For those riders who have not yet learned to start and stop a pedal bike confidently and on their own, the seat height of the bike should be set to match their inseam. This allows them to safely stop the bike with their feet if need be. (The bike does have dual hand brakes, but some kids take a week or so to master them). As a result, the Priority Start 16″ is a great fit for beginning riders with an inseam of at least 18″.
Experienced Riders: Experienced bike riders who are comfortable stopping with hand brakes can set the seat 2″ above their inseam. This allows for proper leg extension with each pedal, which in turn provides the most comfortable and efficient ride. To allow for sufficient room for growth, the Priority Start 16″ is an ideal buy for experienced riders with an inseam of 16.5″ to 19″.
For older riders with an inseam greater than 20″, we recommend the larger Priority Start 20 inch model.
Comparisons – Priority Start 16 vs Other 16 Inch Bikes
Compared to other 16 inch girls bikes and boys bikes, the Priority Start is an amazing deal for its price. The overall quality, lightweight build, and unique belt drive make it a true standout among the crowd.
Guardian Airos 16: The Start 16 is quite similar in riding experience, sizing, and weight to the Guardian Airos 16 but about $50 cheaper. The Guardian features a proprietary Sure Stop braking system and more flashy graphics (but of course no belt drive.)
woom 3: Compared to the more expensive woom 16 inch bike , the Priority is very similar in geometry and performance, but the Start’s overall quality is slightly less than the woom… while still being much better than most kids’ bikes found in local bike shops.
Early Rider Belter: This is the only other 16″ bike with a belt drive. The Belter is an amazing bike with top-notch components from top to bottom. But it’s better for more adventurous riders, as it has much more aggressive body positioning.
Priority Start 16 Comparison
|Features||Priority Start 16||WOOM 3||Guardian Airos||Early Rider Belter|
|Bike (review link)||You're reading it!||woom 3||Guardian Airos 16||Early Rider Belter|
|Seat Height||18.5" - 23"||19.1" - 24.8"||18.5" - 23.5"||19" - 22"|
|Handlebar||High or Low||High||High||Low|
|Weight||15.9 lb.||13.1 lb.||16 lb.||13.7 lb.|
|Brakes||Dual-hand, no coaster||Dual-hand, no coaster, Sure Stop||Dual-hand, no coaster, SureStop||Dual-hand, no coaster|
Priority Start 16 Bottom Line
The Priority Start 16 offers solid quality, tons of kid-friendly features, and a beautiful paint job for a pretty decent price tag. It’s a wicked little pedal bike for balance bike graduates in at least size 5 pants or as a second pedal bike for kids in at least 4T pants.