If you are looking for a 16” wheel kids’ bike, the Priority Start F/W is the best option I know of. I believe it strongly enough, that I’m actually going to start my review right there. It’s not that there is a lack of options, either. There is tons of competition when you start to look at bikes of this size, but Priority Cycles has really nailed the balance of price and quality.
When talking about kids’ bikes, I believe that a belt drive is a feature worth looking for. It’s a design that doesn’t make sense on every bike, but a kid’s bike is the perfect situation for a belt drive. It won’t come off, it’s less likely to injure a finger or catch clothing. There is no grease to get on pants, or car upholstery when you are transporting it, and it’s completely maintenance free.
Bikes don’t melt in the rain, but being left out during a good storm would require a clean and regrease on any bike that had a chain. That can be an even more painful process when the manufacturer has employed a complicated system to encase the chain and protect kids from it. Using a belt drive is a much simpler way of handling things. But once you’ve decided to get a belt drive bike for your kiddo, you’ve eliminated almost every bike available.
The selection of belt drive kids’ bikes is very limited and consists of exactly two options. Early Rider has their Belter model, and they offer it in a few different configurations. And then there is the Priority Start F/W. The Early Rider appears to be a great bike, but it’s very difficult to actually buy in the US, and should you find a way to purchase it, you will be looking at paying nearly double the price of the Priority Start. Fortunately, the Priority Start is a great bike, and there is no need to look further.
On paper, the Priority Start F/W was a winner, and when it arrived, it did not disappoint. As soon as you start to unpack it, you can see that they’ve really thought through the details. It has quality components that I expect will stand up through the years, and it’s well built. After assembling cheap bikes, you often have to spend significant time figuring out how to adjust the brakes, or the headset, or other parts that have been made cheaply and don’t fit quite the way they should. Nothing like that on the Priority Start.
I put everything together easily, and there was nothing I needed to spend time fixing. It was ready to go. Last year, I reviewed the Kundo 16” convertible balance bike, and since then, my boy has been really enjoying that bike. This bike is the perfect next step.
It’s got the same wheel size, but it’s a slightly larger frame, and it has a bit more aggressive geometry. The geometry is such that it stretches the rider out a bit more than the Kundo, and when I watched him transition from one bike to the next, I was struck by what a perfect progression this bike is from the Kundo.
The other really nice thing about the Priority Start, especially for kids that have transitioned from a balance bike, is that there isn’t a coaster brake. In my experience, coaster brakes are not a positive feature for kids. They are difficult to learn and seem unnatural when a kid has started on a balance bike using a hand brake or putting their feet down. The dual hand brakes is a feature I love almost as much as the belt drive.
The bottom line is that the Priority Start F/W stands alone when you look at its features and price. It’s a well made bike that sells for a great price, $249, and it is perfect for kids who learned to ride on a balance bike but are ready to move to pedals. It is a company born on kickstarter and helmed by someone who is passionate about making good bikes for both kids and adults. The Priority Start F/W is definitely a good buy.