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.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Seat Height: 19.5" - 23"
Weight: 15 lb.
Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
Tire Size: 16"
Brakes: No Coaster Dual Hand
Gain Ratio: 3.67
Q Factor: 5.5"
Available Online: Yes
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.
“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
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
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″
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
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
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.
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.
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.