Today I want to introduce the Priority Start. It’s a new bicycle for children from my friend Dave Weiner at Priority Bicycles. Dave is launching the bike on Kickstarter. I’m a bike geek, a friend of Dave’s, and like his design. I’ve been lucky enough to see a prototype in person, and am sharing in this post my thoughts on key design features.
Disclaimer! This is a post to promote the bike. I’m writing this review to raise awareness because I want the Priority Start to succeed. (However, Priority Bicycles has not solicited this post). What follow are my honest opinions, but the fun I am having in being exposed to the project leaves me far from being an unbiased and objective observer.
The Big Picture
The Priority Start is a new bike for kids. It comes in two sizes and four colors, with maintenance-free features such as belt-drive, air-free tires, tool-free training wheels, and a lightweight frame that won't rust.
The stand-out feature is the belt drive. Is it the first ever on a kids bike? It might be. The belt looks fantastic. It’ll last forever.
Dave likes belt drive because belts are free from grease. I like them because chains are free from grease. Kids don’t lube their chains. Parents don’t lube them either. Dry chains rust and make pedaling difficult. Belt drive eliminates chain maintenance. Just ride and smile.
Anecdote: Dry chains are such a problem that I am the largest customer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for Francis Bollag’s excellent chain lube, Chain-L. It goes on every bike I service because it’s the longest lasting lube I know about, and I want to give kids (and adult friends too) the longest possible period of trouble-free pedaling.
Frame and the “Look”
Next after belt drive you’ll notice the classic look of the Priority Start. Clean lines. Classy paint job. A wonderful shade of brown in the seat and the grips. The look is one that won’t grow old.
The frame is aluminum. It won’t rust like steel. It’s not heavy like steel frames of many discount-store bikes. The Priority Start frame is nicely lightweight for younger riders to pedal.
Consider! The weight of a bicycle is a larger percentage of a child’s body weight than of an adult’s. Dave’s attention to keeping weight down helps young riders enjoy cycling as a fun activity that continues lifelong.
Flat tires are right up there with chains as a common problem that I see in kids bikes. Tubes pop. Tires get ripped. Parents don’t pay attention or don’t care, or cannot afford to care. Kids are left in frustration with a maintenance burden they cannot live up to.
The solution? Easy Go air-free tires that never go flat.
Dave had to sell me on the Easy Go air-free tires. I received my first bike at age six, and my tires were hard, solid, and heavy. I do not have good memories of those.
The Priority Start tires are not the rock-hard tires of my childhood. These are soft to the touch and filled with large holes in a Swiss-cheese design that reduces weight and enhances shock-absorbing flex. These tires are air-free, and pressure-free too: no need to own a pump, no rushing about to air up tires before a ride, no worries about patching tubes – ever. No worries. No pressure.
Training wheels? Balance bikes? Or both? Whatever your preference, the training wheels on the Priority Start are dead-easy to adjust and remove. Don’t want them? A couple turns of the knob, and they are gone. Want to raise or lower them? That’s also a tool-free adjustment. Let your kids loose, and they’ll be experimenting on their own.
Anecdote: I have observed that my immediate neighbor boy, now three years old, refuses to play on his balance bike, but he does ride his training wheel bike. He’s learned his balance skills from a scooter.
My TL/DR Take
I like the Priority Start. Dave’s put together a thoughtful design taking into account common problems that I see every day in kids bikes. He’s removed worry over chain maintenance. You never need fret over tire pressure or patching tubes. The frame won’t rust. Training wheels are quickly adjusted and removed without tools. The bike is lightweight, looks great, and children will enjoy pedaling it.
Cost! I should say a word about cost. Look around at major brands like Specialized (Hotrock 16, $240), Trek (Superfly 16 , $309), and Giant (Animator 16 , $185). Priority Start's pricing compares favorably. And no one else offers belt drive at this level.
Header Photo Credit: Cooper and Gordon discussing the Priority Start.