At the suggestion of a friend a few years ago, I made a note to look into getting MetaBoy a balance bike when he turned 3. A balance bike is a lot like a traditional bike, except it doesn't have pedals. The idea behind this is that a pedal-free bike is that it allows a child to walk while seated on the bike, allowing him to learn to balance and steer. This action gives the child the ability and confidence to speed up, and before you know it, she's flying along with her feet off the ground, and your running behind her trying to keep up.
I saw several models, ranging in price from $50 to $350. I finally settled on a Skuut, primarily because I wanted to patronize my local toy store, and that's what they carry. A quick search online revealed that its price currently ranges from $90-100.
We bought it for my son's 3rd birthday. He was pretty excited, and on his first ride, he did well. He walked several blocks sitting on the bike. Then he lost interest completely, and I thought it was a lost cause. But one day, out of nowhere, he asked to ride his bike again. Whew!! He got on, and walked like before, but this time he was a little more confident. And he got better with each ride. Now, he sits and runs (think of how the Flintstones drive their cars), then picks up his feet and soars on the bike path...with one of us running and panting behind him.
The best part of this bike is that one day, he'll be able to make an easy transition to a bike with petals, and he won't have to endure training wheels (I hated training wheels!). At least, that's what they say. We're not there yet, so I can't say for sure. But for now, he's doing great, and he loves it. And MetaGirl, who is now 2, will get it when he graduates to a bike with petals.
As for the specific bike, I don't know that one is better than the other. Is the $300 one better than the $50 one? I don't know. But I know that a $50 price tag is much more accessible. And on that note, here's one I found at Costco for $50 (shipping included). And because it's Costco, you know that you can always return it if you don't like it.
If you can afford it, though, consider patronizing your local small toy store. You might pay a little more, but I'm sure they could use the business these days. And your dollars are the best way to assure that the stores you truly appreciate will be around when you need them.