The Banana Bike is hands-down one the best budget balance bikes we’ve ever tested. Having thoroughly tested more than 200 balance bikes over the years, we can confidently say that the Banana Bike is a great choice for those on a tighter budget.
Available in two models – the Banana GT with air tires and the Banana LT with foam tires – both bikes feature a long, sturdy frame which helps to create a steady, easy-to-balance bike. Read the review below for all the details!
Banana Bike Overview
MSRP: $69 (Note: The GT model is not currently available)
BEST FOR: Budget-minded families with a child in 2T to size 4T pants.
SEAT HEIGHT: 12.5″ – 17″
WEIGHT: 8.1 lb.
- Surprisingly good design for the price
- True headset – handlebars less likely to twist out of alignment
- Quick release seat post clamp
- Air tires at a great price!
- As with all budget bikes, it’s not as durable as the other bikes we recommend
- Requires quite a bit of assembly
Banana Balance Bike Video Review
To see the Banana GT balance bike and LT bike in action, watch our video review here. It covers everything you’ll read below, but shows just how great these little bikes are in real life.
Results of our Test Rides
We’ve tested several different Banana Bikes over the years. As Banana Bike continues to innovate, we make sure to get our hands on the latest models so that we can speak to their newest changes. This review covers their current GT and LT models, which were updated in 2019.
Banana GT and LT Sizing
The Banana GT balance bike (air tires) has a seat height range of 12.5″ – 17″, while the Banana LT balance bike (foam tires) is slightly shorter at 12″ – 16.5″. They’re a great fit for kids with inseams ranging from about 13″ to 18″.
To provide a more stable riding experience for older and taller riders, the Banana Bike also has a longer wheelbase (measurement between the front and rear axle of the bike) than most budget bikes. The Banana’s wheelbase measures at 22″, while the Chicco Red Bullet measures only 18″!
This extra length helps stabilize the bike while in motion as well as provides more space for the rider in the cockpit (the space between the seat and the handlebars), so they feel less cramped.
Tires – Air and Foam Options
The main difference between the GT and the LT are the tires. The GT has air tires that offer more traction as well as cushioning compared to the foam tires on the LT. The foam tires on the LT, however, are made of solid foam, so if you go that direction, you will never have to worry about a flat tire!
|Model||Banana Bike GT||Banana Bike LT|
|Traction: All terrain||High||Low|
Having tested so many balance bikes over the years, we can confidently say that air tires outperform foam tires in all types of riding, from paved surfaces to dirt roads, but we also understand that many parents don’t want to deal with the potential of flat tires.
Foam tires, therefore, certainly have their place and are a great choice for those looking for a maintenance-free bike. If your child is mainly riding on paved surfaces, the traction provided by foam tires will be just fine.
Banana Bike Components
Headset and Handlebars
The Banana Bike GT and LT have very different headsets (the part of the bike that connects the handlebars to the frame of the bike). The GT’s most recent update for 2019 now comes with an upgraded sealed bearing threaded headset, which helps with smoothness of steering. It also helps keep the handlebars aligned after falls.
While the Banana Bike LT has a more basic threadless headset, it does have the advantage of being able to adjust the handlebars up 1.5″. Raising the handlebars helps keeps kids in a comfortable upright position as they grow. Adjusting the handlebars is as simple as loosening the single Allen bolt on the headset and can be done in less than a minute.
Unlike the GOMO and the Strider Sport, the LT’s handlebars do require a tool to adjust (the others have a quick release adjust), but adjusting the handlebars on a bike isn’t something you should expect to do frequently. The LT’s handlebars are also less likely to get out of alignment after a crash, than a bike with quick release handlebars.
From a width perspective, wider handlebars allow for a wider base which leads to more stability. While older models of the Banana Bike GT had much wider handlebars (18.5″!), this 2019 model has handlebars that are just 15″ wide. For smaller aggressive kids, this won’t affect them much. But for kids with smaller frames, or those that are just starting out on a balance bike, wider handlebars help them maintain balance and prevents drastic twitches in steering.
To set a point of reference, the wildly popular Strider balance bike has handlebars that are just 14.5″ wide. But if you think your child would benefit from wider handlebars, the LT’s handlebars are a bit wider at 15.75″. If you want air tires and wide handlebars, take a look at the new Swagtron balance bike. At just $59 it’s a screaming deal and has 15.5″ wide handlebars.
Unlike the handlebars, the seat post clamps on both Banana bikes are, however, quick release so the seat height can be adjusted without any tools. This comes in handy more that you probably realize!
One thing to note about the seat post on the Banana Bike LT. When the seat is set at its lowest height (12″), there is only 2.5″ of clearance between the seat post and the ground. This is not a lot of clearance compared to many other bikes. The Strider has only 2.25″ of ground clearance, however.
If a child is only going to be riding on flat trails, this would not be an issue. But if they might be going up stairs or over curbs, they could possibly bottom out and hit the seat post against the ground. The Banana Bike GT has ground clearance of 3.25″, which is a better bet for adventurous riders.
Banana GT/LT Balance Bike Comparison
The Banana Bike models are great for the price, but when compared to other budget bikes, the GT really shines. With air tires on metal rims, the GT is better equipped to handle just about anything a child can throw at it.
Like all budget balance bikes, the Banana Bike, as well as the other models mentioned below, don’t come near to the quality found in most balance bikes in the $150+ range. The additional expense typically buys you higher-quality components, a lightweight aluminum frame, and a handbrake for quicker stops.
Banana Bike GT: Our top pick for riders planning on riding various terrains as well as those hitting up jumps and curbs.
Banana Bike LT: Featuring the basic same frame and design of the GT, but with foam tires, the LT is best for neighborhood riders who plan to ride mainly on paved surfaces.
GOMO: The GOMO is our favorite balance bike with foam tires. Often found under $60, the GOMO is amazingly built and features quick-release adjust handlebars and seat post. If siblings plan on sharing a balance bike, the quick release seat post is a great feature that is not on the Strider Classic.
Strider Classic: A true classic that doesn’t disappoint, the Strider is a solid bike if you need additional room for your child to grow into it. Strider sells an extended seat post that allows the seat height to raise up to 19″. The Strider has a lower minimum seat height and is better suited for toddlers ages 18-months (as long as their inseam is at least the same height as the minimum seat height) to 4-years.
|Banana Bike GT||Banana Bike LT||Strider Classic||GOMO|
|Seat Height||12.5″ – 17″||12″ – 16.5″||11″ – 16″||12.5″ – 16″|
|Weight||8.1 lb.||7.3 lb.||6.4 lb.||8.5 lb.|
|Quick Adjust Seat||X||X||X|
Bottom Line on the Banana Bike Balance Bike
Better quality and a better design than most budget balance bikes, the Banana Bike balance bikes offer a great design at a family-friendly price. With air tires, the GT model really stands out compared to other balance bikes with foam tires.