As a mother of 2 boys, the information that helps me the most when selecting a product is that from other moms like me. We chose a Strider balance bike for both our kids to start on. I would like to share my experience with Strider bikes in hopes it will help others when deciding on the best bike for their toddler.
My first boy started on the Strider at 2 years old. He stepped over it and off her went. He learned balance. He learned how to use his weight when turning. He learned how to stop with his feet (which is a good thing since we live on a hill!). He did wear through a pair of inexpensive sneakers purchased at Target in about a week. However, the Keen sandals hung in there the whole summer with no obvious wear and tear. We took it on the flat single track at Vail (where we live). My husband was excited we were biking together! The one thing I would do differently, was to get him the padded seat. His came with a hard plastic seat and occasionally he complained his bum hurt. I don't know if it was a seam in the shorts he happened to be wearing or the hard plastic seat. At 4 years old, we purchased him a pedal bike and he made the transition quickly.
Our second son was a bit more fearless. He started on the strider as soon as he could walk, just over a year old. As he grew bigger, at 3, I was getting really nervous, as he wasn't able to control his speed as well. When he'd zoom down our hill into our driveway, he would almost crash on the turn as he was going too fast. When we were on a trail heading into a switchback, he once went straight right off the trail, crashing into the dirt, as he couldn't slow down. He has always had growing pains in his legs, but it seemed if we rode that bike on the bumpy trails, his legs would hurt in the evening from the braking. I figured a bike with a hand brake would help him. We purchased the Specialized Hot Rock 12" pedal bike from a friend - a disaster! Our little guy kept pedaling backwards, thus slamming on the coaster brake, and scaring himself. All his balance and general bike handling skills from the strider went out the window. I was breaking my back leaning over to hold him up while he just stared down at his pedals. This normally confident little athlete was really timid. It made me realize what a difference a good bike makes. Should we go back to a balance bike with a hand brake or try a different pedal bike? Not wanting to spend more money on another balance bike, we tried the Woom 2. For the first week, my husband took off the pedals so our son could get used to the bike's larger size and greater weight (13.5 lbs instead of his strider's 6.7 lbs). After he seemed comfortable on it, we put the pedals back on. Within 2 days, he was off and pedalling on his own. First we tried it with the seat a little higher, as pedalling was a little easier for him. Once he had the hang of pedaling, we were able to lower the seat, so he could start and stop on his own. Proud as could be.
I remember the day when kids learned to ride a bike at age 6 or 7. The skills our sons acquired from their Strider had them pedaling at age 3 and 4.