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Priority Start 20 Inch Kids Bike Review

priority start 20 review

Are you looking for a low-maintenance, attractive bike for your child to ride to school or around town? The Priority Start 20 is that bike.

Thanks to its unique belt-drive (rather than a chain) and 3-speed internally geared hub, kids can ride their bike more and parents can deal with maintaining it less. You child will also WANT to ride their bike more because the Priority Start 20 is fast-rolling, lightweight, and has comfortable, child-appropriate geometry and parts.

For a kids commuter bike, I’m not sure there’s any bike we like more.


Review in A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Belt-drive is low-maintenance and cleaner than a traditional chain
  • 3-speed internally-geared hub is easy for kids to operate and low-maintenance for mom and dad
  • Attractive paint job and included touch-up paint
  • Relaxed position is ideal for around-town riding
  • Quick-release seatpost collar (but no quick releases on the wheels)
  • Killer value for the price

Cons:

  • Brake levers are functional, but not as high-end at the Tektro brakes found on many 20″ bikes
  • Externally-routed cables

Price (MSRP): $369


Priority Start 20 Detailed Review


The Belt Drive Is The Main Attraction

The most noteworthy thing about the Priority Start is the Gates belt drive. This replaces a traditional chain.

Although a belt drive is kind of cool on any bike, it makes extra sense on a kids bike. Kids are notorious for leaving their bicycle outdoors, where chains can rust.

The belt drive on the Priority Start is quiet, clean, and maintenance-free. It doesn’t require lubing or frequent cleaning like a traditional chain does.

Because it is clean and lube-free, kids also don’t end up with grease marks on their legs or with stained pant legs from rubbing up against the chain.

There is an optional “chainguard” (aka belt guard) that you can install, but we saw no reason for it, and left it off.

The only other kids’ bike we know of with a belt drive is the Early Rider Belter, a worthy but much more expensive competitor.

But Wait….The Internally Geared Hub Is Pretty Cool Too

Another unique feature of the Priority Start 20 is the 3-speed internally-geared Shimano Nexus hub.

Unlike traditional drivetrains system that use a rear derraileur to shift between gears, the Nexus hub is internally geared. There is no derraileur. Kids can shift between gears via a three-speed grip shifter.

The great thing about this system is that it’s simple. You don’t have to worry about a derraileur hanger getting bent, or the derraileur getting misaligned. That means low-maintenance for mom and dad, or less time in the bike shop.

The value of that simplicity also extends to the child. Kids often get confused by having 7 or 8 gears. Since most kids moving up to a 20″ bike are trying gears for the first time, the Priority Start 20 provides a gentle introduction to shifting.

While we don’t always love grips shifters, the one on the Priority Start was easy to operate, and my picky six-year old gave it two thumbs up. (He did want me to mention, however, that he thought the shifting indicator is “backward.” 3 is easiest and 1 is hardest; he thought it should be the other way around.)

If you like the idea of the internally geared hub, the Priority Start is one of your only options. In fact, it is is the only 20″ bike we know of using the Shimano Nexus hub; however, both the Early Rider Belter and the Cleary Owl are offered with a similar 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub.

Attractive Paint Job Will Turn Heads

To me, bicycles are like art–and some art is better than others. The Priority Start 20 is an undeniably pretty bike. The paint colors are sleek and are sure to draw attention when riding around town.

priority start 20 inch kids bike

We also appreciated that the bike came with a small bottle of touch-up paint. All bikes will inevitably get scratched or dinged up, but not many come with paint to repair them.

Relaxed Position Is Ideal For Around Town Riding

When choosing a bike for around-town riding, we always look for a frame with geometry that allows for a comfortable and relaxed riding position, but that isn’t comically upright. The Priority Start 20 manages to hit this sweet spot.

priority start 20 in action

Kids sit in a semi-upright position that provides stability and confidence. They can easily look forward at upcoming obstacles and traffic. That said, the geometry is still aggressive enough to be “fast” when riding longer distances.

Brakes Are Adequate, But Aren’t Our Favorite

The features on the Priority Start 20 are so cool, and the price is so good, we knew a corner had to have been cut somewhere. It would seem the brake system is that corner.

While the brakes are perfectly adequate (and perfectly safe), we do not like them quite as much as the Tektro v-brakes found on most high-end kids bikes. The brake levers are a little bit bigger and don’t fit little hands quite as well as the Tektro brakes.

That said, they get the job done. The levers are easy-to-pull even for weak hands, and my 6-year-old didn’t have any complaints.

As another nit-picky side note, we also wish that the bike had internal cable routing for the rear brake. Exposed cable gets dirty faster and requires more maintenance. Since Priority prides themselves on being low-maintenance, we were disappointed to find this one lost opportunity. Not a big deal–but worth mentioning.

priority start cable routing

Quick-Release Seatpost Collar is Handy…But There Are No Quick-Release Skewers On The Wheels

We appreciate that the Priority Start 20″ includes a quick-release seatpost collar. This allows you to easily raise the seat (tool-free!) when kids grow seemingly overnight.

On the other hand, we were bummed that the bike doesn’t include quick-release skewers on the wheels. This makes sense on the rear wheel, with its unique Nexus hub, but it’s still a bit obnoxious. Not having a quick-release on the wheels means that you have to use a wrench to remove them when your child inevitably gets a flat tire.

Not having quick releases on smaller kids bikes is common, but most quality 20″ bikes do offer them.

Kenda Tires Can Tackle Pavement As Well As Gravel Rail Trails

The brand-name Kenda K-Shield tires are perfect for tackling whatever terrain you throw at them. They manage to have just enough tread for riding dirt canal paths and grass fields but still roll smoothly on the pavement.

priority start tires

At Under 20 lbs, The Priority Start 20 Is Several Pounds Lighter Than Most 20″ Bikes

Sadly, most 20 inch bikes–both those at big box stores and even many at local bike shops–are HEAVY. It’s not uncommon to find a 20 inch bike that weighs around 25 pounds (or more!).

Heavy bikes are hard for kids to ride. They are hard to handle and cause kids to tire out prematurely.

The Priority Start 20 weighs just under 20 pounds. This makes it significantly lighter than the average 20 inch bike.

That said, it is NOT the lightest 20-inch bike out there. Both the Woom 4 and the Early Rider Belter 20 tip the scales at under 17 pounds. If your child is particularly petite, they might be better served by one of those bikes. Otherwise, they should do pretty well on the Priority Start.

Sized For Kids Ages 6 to 8 Years Old

The Priority Start 20 is ideally sized for 6 and 7-year-old riders. That said, some younger kids may be able to fit comfortably on the bike as well. Make sure to measure your child’s inseam before buying. The bike has a 22″ minimum seatpost height, so you want to make sure your child has an inseam of AT LEAST 20.5″ to be able to comfortably fit on the Priority Start 20.

priority start sizing

My almost-7-year-old wears a 7T pant and was very comfortable on the bike with room yet to grow. The maximum seatpost height is 28.5″.

If your child can’t yet fit on the Priority Start, check out the Prevelo Alpha Three, which has a 20.7″ minimum seatpost height.

More Stuff Worth Mentioning

  • The bike comes with a kickstand. This is usually an extra “add-on” expense for many high-end kids bikes.
  • We love the Wellgo pedals. These ones have plenty of plastic pins to help keep little feet firmly planted, especially when used with a pair of grippy-soled shoes.
  • The saddle is comfortable and for-aft adjustable.
priority start wellgo pedals

Comparison Chart: Priority Start vs Other 20 Inch Bikes

BikePrice (MSRP)Weight (lbs)Frame Material/DesignDrivetrain/ShiftersBrake SystemRimsTires
Woom 4$44916.1Alu AlloySRAM, 8-speed, grip shifterV-brakes (In-House)Supa Dupa Hoops (In-House)Schwalbe Little Joe 20 x 1.4
Cleary Owl 20$48521.0SteelSturmey Archer Internal 3-speed Hub, trigger shifterV-brakes (Tektro)AlexKenda 20 x 1.9
Prevelo Alpha 3$49918.9Alu AlloyShimano, 8-speed trigger shifterV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseKenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 ×1.5
Specialized Riprock 20 Coaster$270NAAlu AlloySingle SpeedCoaster/ Rear V-brakeIn HouseSpecialized Rhythm Rhythm Lite 20x2.3
Frog 55$52019.4Alu AlloyShimano, 8-speed, trigger shifterV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseKenda K1153 20"x1.75
Pello Reddi 20$39917Alu AlloySinglespeedV-brakes (Tektro)AlexKenda K-Rad 20x1.95
Pello Rover 20$49918.5Alu AlloySRAM, 7-speed, grip shifterV-brakes (Tektro)AlexKenda K-Rad 20x1.95
Early Rider Belter Urban 20$59916.3Alu AlloySturmey Archer 3-speed hub, grip shifterV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseMaxxis DTH 20 x 1.5
Guardian Original 20 6-Speed$41921.2Alu AlloyShimano, 6-speed, grip shifterV-brakes (SureStop)In HouseKenda Kontact
Guardian Original 20 1-speed$37919.5Alu AlloySingle SpeedV-brakes (SureStop)In HouseKenda Kontact, 20" x 1.75"
Priority Start 20$36919.5Alu AlloyGates Belt Drive, Shimano Next 3-speed hubV-brakesIn HouseKenda 20 x 1.9
Vitus 20$24720.9Alu AlloyShimano, 7-speed, trigger shifterV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseKenda Small Block Eight Pro 20 ×1.5
Norco Roller 20$349NAAlu AlloySingle SpeedV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseNorco 20” x 2.1”
Trek Wahoo 20$43919.59Alu AlloyShimano, 8-speed, trigger shifterV-brakes (Tektro)In HouseBontrager
20x1.95˝
Cannondale Quick 20$38020.2Alu AlloyShimano, 7-speed, grip shifterV-brakes (Promax)In HouseKenda Small Block 8, 20 x 1.5
Raleigh Rowdy$25020.4Alu AlloyShimano, 6-speed, grip shifterV-brakesIn House20 x 2.125"
Co-Op Cycles REV 20$19920.2Alu AlloySinglespeedCoaster / rear v-brake (Tektro)In HouseKenda Kontact, 20" x 1.75"

Bottom-Line: The Perfect Kid Commuter

There really isn’t a better bike than the Priority Start 20 for the grade school commute or riding around town. Thanks to the low-maintenance belt-drive and internally geared hub, the bike will hold up even when sitting on the outdoor bike rack in the rain.

This is a unique little package with features found only in bikes nearly double the price. There are some cheaper components (like the brake levers), but overall the Priority Start 20 deserves its reputation as a high-quality kids bike–but with an affordable price tag.

More Reading To Help You Pick The Best Bike For Your Child


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About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Rascal Rides. She’s an avid cyclist and loves all kinds of biking, but has a particular soft spot for mountain biking. Her favorite rides are those with her husband and son.

FTC Disclosure: Priority Bicycles provided a bicycle to help facilitate this review. We did not receive any monetary compensation, and all opinions are our own. The majority of the links on this site are affiliate links and we earn from qualifying purchases.

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