Priority Start F/W 2.0, 16″

Pedal Bike Review

Best Bang for Your Buck

Solidly built and well proportioned for young riders, the Start series in an excellent choice for beginning, timid or everyday neighborhood riders.

View on Priority Bicycles

Product Specifications

MSRP: $249

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Seat Height: 19.5" - 23"

Weight: 15 lb.

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Tire Size: 16"

Brakes: No Coaster Dual Hand

Handlebar: Medium

Gain Ratio: 3.67

Q Factor: 5.5"

Wheelbase:

Available Online: Yes

Review

Overview

The Priority Start is back for 2017 and is looking as good as ever! Completely re-designed and fine-tuned for a child’s small frame, the Start 2.0 features a more relaxed body positioning for beginning riders and is now available in 14″ and 16″ tire sizes. Built on a lightweight aluminum frame with a grease-free, maintenance-free belt drive, dual-hand brakes, and no coaster brake, the Start packs a lot of punch into its $249 price tag.

Perfect for a first pedal bike as well as a second bike for those moving up from a 12″ or 14″ bike, the Priority Start F/W 2.0 is perfect for cruising around the neighborhood or paved bike trails. With a seat height ranging from 19.5″ – 23″, the Start 16″ is ideal for average to tall preschoolers in at least 4T pants (size 5 pants are best if your child is a beginning rider).

Please note that the Start 16″ does not come with training wheels (which balance bike graduates do not need) and does not have a coaster brake. The F/W in the bike’s name stands actually stands for “freewheel” (or no coaster brake). This allows kids to naturally pedal backwards when they lose their balance without accidentally braking, which leads to unexpected stops and oftentimes crashes.

Performance

“Mom, let’s go ride the white bike!” Having tested out over 20 different 16″ bikes, our 5-year-old tester rarely gets really excited about a new bike. He knows what he likes and rarely 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 our tester 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.

5-year-old Tester on Priority Start 16

3 image collage of 5-year-old buy riding the Priority Start 16" kid's bike. 1st image riding in the street, 2nd image pausing on the lawn, 3rd image riding up the curb on a small ramp.

Geometry

Not too upright and not too aggressive, the Priority 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). The Priority has similar geometry to the high-end WOOM3, and is more upright than the more aggressive Early Rider Belter (the only other 16″ bike with a belt drive – explained more below). This mid-range body positioning is ideal for the majority of young riders on 16″ bikes.

Differences in Geometry of 16″ Bikes

4 images showing one 5-year-old straddling 4 different bikes. The bikes are in order of most upright body positioning to most leaned forward, or most aggressive. In order from least to most aggressive the bikes are: Walmart's Next Rocket, Priority Start F/W 16", WOOM3, and Early Rider Belter.

Size

The Start 16″ seat height ranges from 19.5″ to 23″ and accommodates both beginning and experienced riders.

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 Start 16″ is a great fit for beginning riders with an inseam of at least 19″. For those beginners riders with an inseam less than 19″, the Priority Start 14 will likely be a better fit for them.

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 16 is an ideal buy for experienced riders with an inseam of 17.5″ to 20″.

Start 14″ vs. 16″: The Start 14″ is slightly smaller than the 16″ and has a seat height of 18″ to 22″ versus 19.5″ to 12″. Out 5-year-old tester in 5T clothes fit on both bikes, but the 16″ was a better fit as it provided more room for growth. Your child’s inseam will best determine if the 14″ or the 16″ is a better fit for your child. Beginning riders should aim for a bike whose minimum seat height matches their inseam while experienced riders can ride a bike whose minimum seat height is up to 2″ taller than their inseam.

Size Difference between Start 14″ and Start 16″3 image collage showing difference in size of Priority Start 14" and 16". 1st image: 4 year old tester with 17.5" inseam on the Start 14" bike. As a beginner rider the seat height is set very close to her inseam measurement. It's a great fit with room to grow. 2nd Image: 5 year old tester with 19" inseam on the same Start 14" bike. As an experienced rider, the seat is set to 2" higher than his inseam. It fits, but has little room for growth. 3rd Image: The same 5 year old tester on a Priority Start 16" bike. As an experienced rider, the seat is set to 2" above his inseam. The Start 16" is a great fit with room for growth.

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 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 simpler. 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.

Priority Start 16″ Features a Grease-free, Maintenance-free Belt Drive

Collage showing a side image of the Priority Start F/W 2.0 14" in blue, and a wide shot and a close up of the grease-free belt drive.

Brakes and Q-factor

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 F/W 2.0 allows kids to pedal backward to regain their balance without stopping and without loosing 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 brakes available on bikes 20 years ago or even those found on most bikes in big-box stores, our testers had no problem stopping the bike within a couple feet of activating the brakes. The brakes on the 14″ and the 16″ bike are the same (the picture below is on the Start 14″ brakes).

The Start also has a narrow q-factor of 5.5″ (read more about q-factors on our page Kids’ Pedal Bikes: How to Choose). This prevents kids from having to splay their legs while pedaling, making each stroke more efficient.

Dual Hand Brakes and No Coaster Brake are Ideal for Kids Learning to Ride

Collage showing close-up shot of the V-brakes, as well as the brake lever reach from the handlebar grip on the Priority Start F/W 2.0 14".

Comparisons

Compared to other 16″ pedal 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.

Significantly better quality than the ByK, the Start also has a wider seat height range as well as a higher gain ratio that kids will appreciate once they master pedaling (a lower gain ratio makes is easier to start pedaling but limits the overall speed of the bike).

Compared to the more expensive WOOM3, the Priority is very similar in geometry and performance, but the Start’s overall quality is slightly less than the WOOM, while still being better than most kids’ bikes found in local bike shops.

The Early Rider Belter is the only other 16″ bike with a belt drive. The Belter is an amazing bike with top-notch components from top to bottom, which is reflective of its price tag of $430. Better for more adventurous riders, it also has a more aggressive body position.

Bottom Line

The Priority Start series offers a lot of great features for a pretty decent price tag. Lightweight with upright positioning, dual-hand brakes, and no coaster brake, the Priority Start 16″ is a pedal bike for balance bike graduates in at least size 5 pants (training wheels are not included) or as a second pedal bike for kids in at least 4T pants.

MSRP: $249

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: June 26, 2017

FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. Priority Bicycles provided products to Two Wheeling Tots LLC to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is an affiliate of Priority Bicycles.

  • Monica Lundberg

    Hi! On the comparison page, this bike is listed as having a minimum seat height of 16.5″, but on the review page, it’s 18.5″. Which is it?

    I used your site to choose a balance bike for my son 2 years, ago, and he has mastered and loved the Burley MyKick we ended up with, but he’s now riding it with the seat at the absolute highest it can go (which is listed as 16″). He’s very, very interested in pedal bikes, and has tried out a cheap one at a playgroup…I don’t know how big it was exactly, but it had training wheels and a coaster brake. He was visibly frustrated by the coaster brake, so I definitely want one without that. He’s 40″ and wears 3T pants and 4T shirts, and is about to turn 4.

    • anon

      The listing of the same seat heights for both sizes seems to be a typo, though I might contact Priority just to double check on the seat height. Since balance bikes are usually set about an inch lower than a child’s inseam, I’m going to assume your son’s inseam is closer to 17in. If you have the money, you might also consider the Prevelo Alpha Two – it’s a 16in, but it’s minimum seat height is 17.5in with the correct shorter seatpost. The woom2 would also be a good option in that higher price range, or the Spawn Yoji 14 (approx. 16in min seat height) or 16 (approx. 17.5in min seat height).

      • Monica Lundberg

        I measured him and his inseam is exactly 17in. All those bikes are out of my price range, though. The Priority is the top of my price range already.

    • Thanks for coming back and sorry for the confusion on these bikes. The Priority Start 14″ has a minimum seat height of 16.5″ while the Start 16″ minimum seat height is 18.5″. The problem is that the 14″ currently links to the 16″. I will work on getting that fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out! For your son, it sounds like he could try out the 16″ if is an eager child who is willing to try new things. If he is more hesitant, the 14″ would be better for him.

      • Monica Lundberg

        I measured him and his inseam is 17in on the nose, so I think the 16″ would probably be a bit too big. But the 14″ goes up to a 21″ seat height so it would last awhile. It looks like the perfect fit for us…..except for the fact that it’s not shipping until the end of August, and we live in New England, so that’s already half of what’s left of this year’s biking season. I think what we might do is pick up a 12″ specialized hotrock used – it’s got the coaster but your review said it’s designed to minimize the backpedaling issues, and I can find it used locally for under $75. He’ll probably outgrow it in a year, but then we can get a nicer one for him next summer, when the Priority will hopefully be more available, and he’ll be big enough for the wider selection of 16″ bikes.

        I recommend your site to all my parent friends. I didn’t get my own two-wheeler until I was almost 8, and never really learned to ride it (after reading through all your stuff on pedal bikes, I’m pretty sure now that that was a combination of my own generally poor balance and a bike that was too big, both for me and for the training wheels to work). I hate that I can’t ride, so I want to give my kid every opportunity to learn young. Your site has been incredibly helpful! Thank you! (And if you’ve got any suggestions on adults learning to ride, I’d love to hear them…once we’re in a place with a garage/shed, hopefully within the next year, I want to get a bike and learn to ride myself)

        • Glad to help :). I agree about the Specialized Hotrock. Pick one up for this summer and then you can likely sell it for what you bought it for when he outgrows it. The design of the bike does help to minimize the backpedaling issue, so it is not as big of an issue as with other bikes with coaster brakes.

          For yourself, I agree that a poorly designed bike was likely the major issue. Although it is getting better, often times companies just throw parts on a bike and call it good, without actually testing out the bike to make sure it actually works well. For you, there are several approaches, but I would recommend biking up a comfortable bike and start using it as a balance bike first. Just take off the pedals and practice rolling down hills to learn balance. Once you are comfortable with balancing, add the pedals back on. There is a wide range of bikes for adults to choose from. I would visit several bike shop and stores like REI to try out different bikes in your price range. Be sure to pay attention to the weight of the bike as a really heavy bike will be harder to balance than a lighter bike. Cruiser style handlebars, which point back towards you, are also more difficult to use than bikes with a straight handlebar.

          Hope that helps!