So let’s start with the wooden frame
Generally more environmentally friendly option as the balance bikes are made from sustainable wood, tend to be quite light and flexible and also come in some very cool styles.
The downside is that if the wood of the balance bike frame gets exposed to harsh weather it can swell or crack.
They will mark and scratch easier than the other materials. Also all the balance and stryder bike models I have seen require tools to make adjustments to the seat height.
Most baance bikes frames are either powder coated metal or aluminium. The metal frames can be quite heavy but can stand greater weights up to 200lbs or 60kgs in some cases.
The downside with steel metal balance bike frames is that if they get chipped they will rust
Aluminium frames can’t hold as heavy weight but won’t rust if the paint chips and is exposed to moisture like metal frames.
There is only one brand that has a composite frame and that is FirstBIKE
The advantages is that it is lightweight, weather proof and will not fade.
The downside is the limited colors and the expense. However these are probably the best balance bikes on the market due to the material and construction but they are certainly not the cheapest.
Balance Bike Wheels & Tires
Solid foam tires
At the lower end of the range you will have the Chicco Bullet Balance Bike which has the solid foam tire.
The advantage is that you will not have any punctures so hassle free maintenance
The downside is that it has less traction so they will slip easier than and air filled tires, they also have a smoother tread which does not help with traction and there is no cushioning when they start to get more adventurous and start jumping kerbs.
Air Filled Tires
At the top end of the spectrum you have the FirstBIKE wheels that are SCHWALBE air filled tires and if you know anything about racing tires you will know that SCHWALBE tires are the best around with no peers!
Although this might be a bit of an overkill on a balance bike, it is also a statement of intent in that every component is the best that there is.
One thing to look out for is easily adjustable seats
As you will want your child to achieve the best possible posture on the bike slightly forward as opposed to a straight back.
The easier the seat is to adjust the more likely you are to adjust it. Look for a soft seat with some cushioning that is going to be comfortable for extended use and try avoid hard plastic as they will become slippery and uncomfortable, the strider bike comes with a hard seat as standard but you can upgrade it to the cushioned seat.
Some bikes like the FirstBIKE come with steering limiters and they claim that it is safer for your child which does make a certain amount of sense. However kids learn quick and soon become very competent at steering so this feature should not really factor in your decision process.