Growing up, my Dad taught me the basics of bike maintenance. This included keeping the tires properly inflated, lubing the chain to prevent rust, and checking the bolts to ensure they were tight. He also taught me to never lay a bike down on the “drive side” (to prevent bending the derailleur hanger or derailleur cage on a bike with multiple gears), and to bring my bike into the garage every night.
Did I listen to Dad’s sage advice, dear reader? You can bet I did not.
Like most elementary school aged kids, I spent my summer days ripping skids, not lubing the chain (or hitting it with WD-40, egads!), losing Dad’s tools, and occasionally forgetting to put my bike away properly at night. This resulted in popped tires, a rusty chain, and reminders galore from Dad.
While the Belsize 20” Belt Drive wouldn’t have prevented popped tires, the main feature of this bike, the belt drive, would certainly have eliminated the rusty chain. And I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble for forgetting to lube the chain!
My other memory of the bikes I rode as a child was how heavy they were. Pushing a bike uphill or trying to extract it from whatever prickly shrubs I had crashed into was hard work!
Fortunately for children today, the options have improved. More kids bikes are being made from lightweight aluminum. And both bike manufacturers and parents have finally realized the value in providing children with lightweight, high quality bikes–like the Belsize 20!
Review In A Nutshell
- Lightweight (14.8 lbs. with pedals)
- Belt drive is about as low maintenance as they come
- High quality aluminum frame
- Adjustable hand-brakes fit tiny hands
- Child-specific geometry
- Water bottle bosses
- Not sold in stores
- Lacks quick-release seat collar
- Belt maintenance may be foreign to amateur bike mechanic moms or dads
Out of the Box: Easy To Assemble, Lightweight, and Fast
The Belsize 20 arrives mostly assembled, only requiring you to attach the front wheel, install the seatpost, and mount the handlebar. Within 5 minutes, my seven year old was zipping around the block, gushing about how quiet the belt-drive was, and how FAST the Belsize had him riding.
At just 14.8 pounds, this is one of the lightest children’s bikes on the market. I will lecture parents until I’m blue in the face about the weight of their child’s bike. When you only weigh 40 pounds, a 20 pound bike represents 50% of your body weight. A 15 pound bike, on the other hand, only represents 37%–which is a significant difference.
My son’s mountain bike, a Woom OFF 4, is still considered lightweight at 17 pounds, but dropping an additional three pounds was a very big deal for him. So much so that he noticed how much faster the bike was going up hills (despite lacking the 9-speed drivetrain of his mountain bike).
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.
Child-Specific Fit: Easy To Reach Brake Levers, Low Standover, & Intelligent Geometry
The high-quality Tektro Mini-V brakes Belsize chose for this bike fit little hands and offer adjustable reach, which is a nice feature. There is no coaster (foot) brake, which is another plus in my book. Coaster brakes are not designed for performance and will ultimately hold a child back as they transition to larger bikes. I highly recommend learning to use hand brakes from the start.
- Learn More: Coaster Brakes vs. Hand Brakes on Kids Bikes
The seat is size appropriate and comfortable. The beautiful brushed aluminum frame has good stand-over clearance which means kids can get on and off the bike easily. The threadless stem and handlebar combination put the rider in an aggressive yet comfortable position.
Why a Belt Drive?
Remember my Dad’s aforementioned good advice, about properly lubricating the chain, and never leaving my bike out overnight? While still good practice, a belt drive eliminates the need for lubrication.
Built by automotive manufacturer Continental, the belt on the Belsize 20 should last for years with little to no maintenance required. It’s lightweight, quiet, and presents 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 belt drive give 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!
Who is A11N Sports?
Some of you may be looking at the Belsize 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, Woom or other well-known brands, 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, which 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, but rather, enhance it with the trick belt drive!
Low profile bolts are one of the first things I look for when presented with a new children’s bike. Low profile, or recessed bolts are safer than exposed bolts because they don’t present a risk of scraping a child or getting caught on their clothing.
While a small touch, the inclusion (or exclusion) tells me a lot about the manufacturer’s thought process, and in this case, the Belsize passes muster. The bike also ships with a chain, er, belt-guard to prevent little legs from contacting the belt as the child pedals. While I didn’t install this (my son is experienced enough to no longer need the guard), it’s a nice option to have for less confident riders.
Water bottle bosses! Believe it or not, little kids get a huge kick out of being able to carry their own drink on the bike, just like Mom and Dad.
The traditional front triangle design of the Belsize allows for a set of water bottle bosses, so for just a few dollars extra, you can install a water bottle cage. Note that the small size of a child’s bike in general means they’ll need a smaller water bottle, around 20 oz. or less, but don’t worry – that’s plenty of water for the average ride, and you can always supplement with a hydration pack or second bottle carried on your own bike.
A Great Value
The Belsize 20 comes equipped with quality, name brand components from respected companies like Tektro, Continental, and more. This matters, because those components are built to last, meaning a family can own this bike for many years and it can be passed down to younger siblings or resold to recoup some of your investment.
With an MSRP of $359 (and $20 off your first purchase after joining their mailing list), the Belsize 20 represents an excellent value for a bike that will pass the test of time. In fact, the closest competitor to the Belsize 20 is the Early Rider Belter 20 and it costs significantly more at $549.
It Would Be Nice to Have
Nothing is ever perfect, so what would we like to see on the Belsize 20? For starters, a quick-release seat-post collar.
Although not as crucial on a “street” bike as it is on a mountain bike (where riders are raising and lowering their seat constantly to deal with changing terrain, ascending or descending trails), kids grow fast. They also like to let their friends or siblings try their bike, and having to head into the garage for an Allen wrench seems unnecessary in today’s day and age. Fortunately, aftermarket quick-release seat-post collars are cheap and can be installed in under 5 minutes.
Another “nice to have” option would be an internally geared hub, similar to the Priority Start 20 or Early Rider Belter, which features a belt-drive and three-speed hub, allowing kids just a little more range and ease of use when things turn hilly.
In the case of the former, the components are lower-end to allow for the geared-hub at a sub-$400 price point, and the latter comes in significantly more expensive than the Belsize 20 (as previously mentioned).
The world of children’s bikes is so different today than it was even just 10 or 15 years ago. While big box bikes still exist (please, don’t buy your child a bike from a big box store!), the direct-to-consumer model has finally reached the cycling industry, allowing for high-quality bikes to reach families at very affordable prices.
I can say with confidence that the Belsize 20 Belt Drive is an excellent bike. Lightweight, built with longevity in mind, and, as my son said, “It looks really sweet.” The Belsize 20 is a bike families can count on to provide many years of enjoyment!
More Help Choosing A Bike For Your Child
- 5 Best 20 Inch Bikes For Your 6 to 8 Year Old
- Best Kids Bikes: 7 Brands Your Child Will Love
- 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, and 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 bikes, working on bikes, looking at bikes, talking about bikes, 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.