It can be difficult to find a good-quality balance bike under $100. Most “budget” balance bikes are intended for the playroom, not the playground. That’s why we appreciate the Banana Bike GT balance bike.
This affordable little ride offers features like pneumatic air tires, alloy wheels and hubs, and a threadless headset. Thanks to its low standover height and long seatpost, it also provides a good fit for kids from 2 to 4 years old.
Review in a Nutshell
- Pneumatic (air) tires
- Quick release seatpost collar
- Low standover height
- Threadless headset
- No steering limiter
- Lacks features of higher-end bikes
Price & Where To Buy:
- $69.99 List
- Check Price at Banana-Bike.com
- $79.99 at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2023-01-29 at 00:13) – More info
Banana GT Detailed Review
Low Standover Height Accommodates Kids as Young as 2
With a minimum seatpost height of 12″, the Banana GT is a good fit for kids in 2T pants or somewhere around their 2nd birthday.
It may fit some toddlers as young as 18 months, though if your child has an inseam less than 12″, a better choice would be the Strider with it’s 11″ minimum seatpost height.
Thanks to the low standover height–the bike has a nice swooped top tube–it’s also easy for toddlers to maneuver and get on and off the bike.
From there, there’s plenty of room for the bike to grow with your child thanks to an adjustable seatpost that extends all the way to 17“. This makes it feasible for your child to ride until age 4 or 5, though by that time they’ll be pretty cramped on the bike. It does not have an adjustable height handlebar so older riders will be fairly leaned over. If your child is already 3 or 4, opt for a bigger balance bike.
Seat Height Changes Are Easy Thanks to the Quick-Release Seatpost
We love that the Banana Bike GT comes with a quick-release seatpost collar, so that you can make quick, easy, and tool-free seat height adjustments. This comes in handy if the bike is being shared between siblings, or for those seemingly overnight growth spurts.
Pneumatic (Air) Tires Offer Superior Traction
One thing that gives the Banana GT a huge leg up over the competition in the under-$100 category is its inclusion of aluminum wheels and pneumatic (air) tires. Many budget balance bikes have plastic or foam tires that make them more of a “toy” than a bike.
Not so for the Banana GT. Its air-filled tires are beefy, have good traction, and can be ridden safely on any terrain–grass, dirt, gravel, uneven pavement, you name it.
We also like that the wheels and hubs are alloy. This makes for a stronger, more durable wheel than the plastic wheels that are found on many balance bikes in the sub-$100 pricepoint.
Good-Quality Threadless Headset Is Better Than Most Budget Balance Bikes
Where many budget balance bikes fall short is their headset. (This is the mechanism that connects the fork to the handlebars). These bikes have quill-style headsets that easily rattle loose and can be dangerous.
We found that the threadless headset on the Banana Bike GT is good-quality and that it held up even with some decent abuse. It’s not as good as an integrated, maintainable sealed bearing headset like the one on the Prevelo Alpha One, or other high-end balance bikes, but for a bike at this pricepoint, we’re impressed.
Lack of Steering Limiter Can Be an Issue for Young Riders
One of the only real “cons” about Banana GT balance bike is its lack of a steering limiter. A steering limiter keeps handlebars from over rotating, which can be hugely beneficial for young toddlers just learning to ride. We’ve learned that kids learning to ride on a bike without a limiter tend to crash more and get more frustrated early on. Since we’re talking about toddlers just figuring out how to scoot, these are usually super low-speed, non-dangerous crashes–but non-injurious crashes can be upsetting just the same.
We also found that our 3-year-old tested, who is already a balance bike pro, struggled with the lack of a steering limiter, as she kept allowing the bars to rotate 180 degrees. In doing so, she was riding with the handlebars backward, as you can see in the photo below.
Another “con” about this bike is the exposed bolts on the wheels. We always like to look for bikes with either recessed bolts or at the very least bolt covers.
Exposed bolts can end up scratching little legs, or otherwise hurting kids in a crash. This isn’t a serious safety issue-you’re child isn’t going to get seriously injured as a result–but is something worth being aware of.
Grips and Saddle Provide a Good Fit for Little Riders
Both the grips and saddle are well-designed and provide a good fit for toddlers and pre-schoolers. We like that the grips have nice large bumpers on the outside, so little hands won’t slip off while riding.
Exceptional Bike For the Price
For a bike that sells for well under $100, the Banana GT balance bike has exceptional value. Many “budget” balance bikes are poorly designed and have such cheap construction that they fall apart quickly.
This isn’t the case for the Banana Bike. It has many features only found on higher-end balance bikes like pneumatic (air) tires, alloy wheels, a quality threadless headset, and intelligent geometry.
That said, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re getting all the same features as more expensive balance bikes at a killer price. The Banana Bike GT lacks the hand brake and sealed bearing hubs of a bike like the Woom 1, for example.
At the end of the day, it’s a budget balance bike, with budget components, but a much nicer build than most budget balance bikes.
Banana Bike GT vs Banana Bike LT
The Banana Bike comes in two versions: the GT and the LT. We’ve reviewed the GT here.
The main difference between the two bikes is that the LT comes with EVA foam tires. This makes it lighter and easier to maintain–you never have to worry about the tires going flat. If either weight or easy maintenance are your top priority, then go with the LT.
For everybody else, we’d recommend the GT. The pneumatic air tires provide superior traction allowing your child to ride on any terrain, and to do it safely. This becomes increasingly important as your child transitions from tentative toddler to athletic preschooler.
While slightly heavier, at 8 lbs, the GT is still respectably lightweight and should be manageable for all but the very, very tiniest riders.
Comes in Multiple Colors
Our yellow Banana Bike GT is really pretty, and aesthetically, looks like a much more expensive balance bike. The lettering is just decals (rather than paint)–but this is true of all balance bikes at this pricepoint. Nonetheless, you have to look close to notice and they’ve held up well, at least thus far.
The bike is also offered in several other colors–all of which are bright and fun.
Comparison Chart: Budget Balance Bikes
|Balance Bike||Wheel Size||Minimum Seat Height||Maximum Seat Height||Weight||Frame Material||Pneumatic (air) tires?||Quick release seatpost?||Adjustable handelbars?|
|Banana Bike GT||12"||13.5"||18"||10.3 lb||Aluminum||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strider Classic||12"||11"||16"||6.4 lbs||Steel||No||Yes||Yes|
|Retrospec Cub||12"||12"||16.5"||9.2 lbs||Steel||No||Yes||Yes|
|Vitus Nippy||12"||15"||17.5"||4.1 lbs||Aluminum||No||No||Yes|
|Schwinn Koen / Elm||12"||14.5"||16.75"||8.5 lbs||Steel||No||Yes||No|
|Yvolution Y Velo Jr||10"||11"||14.7"||8.4 lbs||Aluminum||No||Yes||Yes|
Bottom-Line: A Balance Bike That Offers Excellent Bang for Your Buck
If you don’t have a huge budget, but went to get your child a good-quality balance bike, we’d recommend the Banana Bike GT. Thanks to it’s pneumatic (air) tires, alloy wheels, and threadless headset, it provides superior quality when compared to most balance bikes under $100.