Think back to your youth if you can. Your first pedal bike probably was heavy, had training wheels, a dirty, noisy chain that required regular maintenance, and came from a big box store. (Back then, they were called “department stores” from what I’ve been told!).
Maybe this bike was themed to your favorite superhero, despite the bike itself not being super at anything other than looking cool. Fast forward to 2021, and I have good news, and then I have even better news. The good news is that we all managed to learn to ride (and love!) bikes despite our first bikes having a few shortcomings. The better news is that when it comes to bikes, today’s kids have much better options.
From lightweight (this is SO important!) aluminum frames to kid-specific geometry and parts, today’s children’s bicycles are light-years ahead of the bikes Mom and Dad grew up riding. Bikes today are lighter, more durable, safer, and (most importantly) MORE FUN!
Some even incorporate unique features like steering-limiters, dual-braking, or like the Belsize 16” Pro bike we’re reviewing today, belt-drives. What’s a belt-drive, and why is it desirable on a children’s bike? Read on to find out!
Review In A Nutshell
- Super lightweight
- Maintenance-free belt drive
- High quality components sized for kids
- Aggressive riding position may be tough for beginners
- No quick-release seat-post
Price & Where To Buy:
- $379.99 List
- Check Price at BelsizeBikes.com*
- Price not available at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2024-02-03 at 11:37) – More info
Belsize 16 Pro Video Review
The Belsize 16 Pro by A11N Sports
Some of you may be looking at the Belsize 16” Pro and asking yourselves, “Okay, but who makes this bike?” The answer, which I was also seeking, is A11N Sports.
While not a traditional bicycle company in the mold of your Specialized, Trek, even Woom, A11N is a manufacturer of sports equipment for pickleball, backyard games, and sport training programs. As is often the case, necessity was the mother of invention.
A11N’s engineers saw a need for a lightweight, easy to maintain bike. This led them to create the Belsize belt-drive in both 16” and 20” wheel sizes. By partnering with established component manufacturers, they weren’t forced to reinvent the wheel,. Rather they enhance it with the trick belt drive!
Why a Belt Drive?
A belt-drive substitutes a tensioned rubber belt for the metal chain and cogs of a traditional bicycle drivetrain. Built by automotive manufacturer Continental, the belt on the Belsize 16 should last for years.
Little to no maintenance is required. Compare this to chain and sprocket setups that require regular applications of lube and are susceptible to stretching over time.
Belt-drives are lightweight, quiet, and present no risk of pinching or staining kid’s clothing or legs with chain grease. Although some adults will claim they can feel the added drag of a belt versus a chain, this simply isn’t a concern for children. What they give up in efficiency (and it’s very, very little to begin with), they more than make up for in lack of downtime for maintenance or cleaning!
Belt drives are an especially good choice if your live in a wet climate or near the ocean as salt and water can rust chains quickly.
Out of the Box
The Belsize 16” Pro arrives mostly assembled, only requiring an Allen Wrench to install the handlebar, seatpost, and front wheel. The brakes on our test bike were setup perfectly, which is not always a guarantee with direct-to-consumer bikes (versus buying from your local bike shop). We had the bike put together and inspected in under ten minutes, at which point, it was time to put it on the scale, where the Belsize 16 Pro really impressed.
Weighing in at just 13 pounds, this is a VERY lightweight bike! Why is that important, you ask?
Here’s why: when you only weigh 40 pounds, a 20 pound bike represents 50% of your body weight, whereas a 15 pound bike only represents 37%, a significant difference. My son’s mountain bike, a 16“ Spawn Yoji, is still considered lightweight at 15.5 pounds, but dropping an additional two-and-a-half pounds was a very big deal for him. So much so that he noticed how much faster the bike was going up hills.
The speed of the bike was also helped by the CST Avant Garde tires, which are best suited for paved surfaces or very hard-packed gravel trails. Pumped up to 40 psi, my son was delighted by how smooth the ride was.
The other thing we noticed about the Belsize 16” Pro was the looks. Should you buy a bike solely based on how it looks? Definitely not!
Does it help when a bike looks as good as the Belsize 16” Pro? It sure does!
The curved chainstays, 25 degree riser handlebar, and gorgeous paint job give this aluminum framed bike a killer set of looks, which kids will surely appreciate.
The other thing they’ll love? The ride!
The Belsize 16 Pro is going to be a best fit for kids in a 4T pant. The minimum seatpost height is 18″, so if your child is brand new pedaler, you’ll want to make sure that their inseam is at least 18 inches. If they already know how to pedal, make sure their inseam is around 17 inches (which is the standover height of the frame).
Our kindergarten age tester stands 45” tall with a 19.5” inseam, and was able to easily throw a leg over the top tube of the Belsize 16” Pro. With the seat raised a few inches, he was able to pedal away comfortably.
The 22” handlebar height proved comfortable for him, however, the stem can be flipped to lower the handlebar height if required for smaller children. The 17” stand over height left more than enough room for the tester to maneuver, and safely mount and dismount the bike with ease.
As an experienced rider, our tester was immediately hopping curbs and eyeing up jumps. He noted how “fast the tires are” and how easily he could “lean the bike WAY over,” both feelings we attribute as much to the lightweight design as to his own riding skills.
The CST Avant Garde tires have a road-oriented tread that is nevertheless durable enough to stand up to gravel or smooth dirt paths. While the Belsize 16” Pro will never be mistaken for a mountain bike, it is tough enough to handle whatever neighborhood or bike path adventures a child can throw at it.
There are both front a and rear Tektro Junior V-brakes. We’ve tested other bikes with these brakes, and they do the job quickly and easily.
The levers are designed for small hands. They wisely feature the same reach-adjustment screw that adult bikes have. This allows for additional adjustment to fine-tune the setup for your child – a nice feature!
We particularly like that the bike does NOT have a coaster brake. Found on many 16 inch bikes, we’re not big fans of coaster brakes. Find out why in this article on coaster brakes.
While riding a bicycle is inherently risky, there are a variety of features that bike companies have developed over the years to make things safer. In the case of the Belsize 16” Pro, we quickly noted the rounded allen bolts securing the wheels to the dropouts. This is a feature we love because it prevents cuts and scrapes from sharp bolts in the case of a crash. Or, even when walking past the bike in a tight space like a garage.
Belsize has also wisely provided a guard that goes around the front “chainring” (or is it a belt-ring?), which protects both the ring teeth as well as the child’s leg. We also appreciate that it’s less bulky than the heavy chainguards found on many kids bikes.
The Belsize 16” Pro hits most of the high points for a high-quality children’s bike, but one thing we wish it came with is a quick-release seatpost collar. These are most valuable on a mountain bike, where it becomes advantageous to be able to lower the seat for technical descents.
That said, they are also nice to have on a more road-oriented bike, as they allow for different seat heights to be achieved quickly, and without the use of tools. Fortunately, aftermarket seatpost collars can be purchased for as little as $10.
Pro or Standard?
Priced at $379 for the Pro version, or $329 for the standard version, the main difference between the two versions of the Belsize 16” is the material used for the casette freehub (aka rear sprocket). The Pro is made of alloy while the standard version is made of high-density plastic. I’m sure you can guess which is more durable and rolls smoother.
The design of the crankset is also different. The Pro has a hollow integrated crankset that shaves weight versus the square taper crankset that comes with the Standard version. Integrated cranksets also tend to be more durable than the square taper ones.
Finally the gearing on the two bikes are different. While both have only one gear (standard on a 16 inch bike), the ratio between the front chainring and rear sprocket differ.
The 16 Pro has a 4.0 gain ratio while the 16 Standard has a 3.4 gain ratio. This means that the Pro is geared a bit higher than the Standard, which makes it better for strong, athletic kids who might get spun out with a lower gearing.
Both versions come with sealed cartridge bearings in the headset, hubs, and bottom bracket, which are both durable and long lasting. In our opinion, both versions of this bike are great. Pick which gearing you prefer, and which fits your budget.
Read Our Review: Belsize 16 Standard
Versus the Competition
The Belsize 16 is anywhere from $79 to $110 less than the Belter 16 by Early Rider, and is priced competitively with bikes from other top companies like Woom, Prevelo, and Cleary.
This Bike is Perfect For…
If you’re a bike Mom or Dad that is looking for a lightweight, high-quality, durable bike for your young rider, it’s hard to go wrong with the Belsize 16” Pro. The belt-drive will provide years of maintenance-free use, while the fast-rolling tires and child-specific brake levers provide a smooth ride and safe stopping.
This bike is perfect for the child that wants to have amazing adventures around the neighborhood, while still being able to hit the bike path with Mom and Dad on the weekend. The super-light construction means your child will have more energy to go farther and longer, allowing the entire family to enjoy MORE time together on bikes, and, ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Learn More Before You Buy
- 5 Best 16 Inch Bikes For Boys & Girls
- Best Kids Bikes: How To Choose, Reviews, & More!
- Ultimate Guide To Kids Bike Sizes (And Bike Size Chart!)
About The Reviewer
Chris Del Sole has been an avid cyclist for over 20 years. He is now sharing his love of the sport with his wife and three children. A Marketing Director by day, in his free time he can be found riding, working on, looking at, talking about, and generally geeking out over bikes. In the winter, he spends his weekends teaching skiing and encouraging his kids to “send it” off every jump in sight.
Since the writing of this article Chris has left his track down the trail and passed on. He will be forever missed and thought of often. Chris, thank you for the indelible mark you left on this world.