- Specialized’s popular Hotwalk balance bike is now available
- It is much lighter and potentially faster than a conventional balance bike.
- It sells for five times the price of a conventional balance bike.
There is no greater kids bike gift this Christmas, than Specialized’s latest Hotwalk.
The Californian cycling brand has a strong presence on South African mountain bike trails, and one of the world’s foremost cycling product innovators.
For those parents who are proud owners of a Specialized mountain or road bike, the family bike fleet can now be extended to include a very showy kids bike.
The idea of a carbon-fibre balance bike might appear ridiculous to some, but Specialized’s engineering department was keen to see if they could downsize their technologies.
Using the same quality of carbon-fibre that forms the brand’s adult mountain and road bikes, Specialized managed to create a balance bike that weighs only 2.1kg. That is less than half of an aluminium Hotwalk’s mass, which registers at 4.3kg on the scale.
Beyond its pure posing value, why would any parent be interested in a carbon balance bike? The same performance logic that applies to adult cycling is no different with young riders. The lighter your bike, the greater your confidence and smoother your learning curve.
Lightweight carbon everywhere
Amazingly this new Specialized balance bike also rolls carbon-fibre wheels, which are only a bit more than a third of a contemporary mountain bike’s wheels in size. Those small carbon rims allow tremendously active rolling speeds, making this one of the most rapid balance bikes a kid can ride.
Handlebars are a crucial aspect of any bicycle. The more natural your hand position and grip are, the better your control. Kids bikes often have handlebars and grips which are way too big for their hand and finger size.
Specialized’s solution has been to fabricate a custom handlebar for this carbon-fibre Hotwalk, that is 38% smaller than an ordinary mountain bike flatbar. The result is a slender handlebar, ideally profiled for little hands.
There are of course no brakes, as with any balance bike. The carbon Hotwalk’s lightness means that a tiny rider will find it easier to stop, by simply extending their legs and skidding their shoes on the terrain they are riding over.
After confirming the Hotwalk carbon prototype’s durability in a series of fatigue and impact tests, Specialized has confidently certified it for riders aged between two- and four-years, with a maximum weight of 18kg.
Considering its carbon frame, fork, handlebars and wheels, this new Hotwalk was never going to be cheap. At R17 000 it radically outprices the aluminium Hotwalk balance bike, that retails for R3200.
Best of all? At half the weight of a conventional kids balance bike, the Hotwalk is a lot less burdensome for parents to carry back to the car, once your little rider has reached the end of their endurance.