By Simon Smythe
Santa’s sack is going to be lighter this year and so are cycling-mad parents' wallets: Specialized has just unveiled the ultimate kids’ bike – the 2.1kg Specialized Hotwalk balance bike that will cost £999.
Specialized says it took the same tech from its top performance road bikes and applied it to a kids’ bike: “We created something two-year-olds had only dreamed of until now.”
“When it came to engineering, we utilised the same team we’ve trusted to make bikes like the Tarmac SL7,” said Specialized. “We’re talking precision at every touchpoint to create the ultimate first ride.”
The Specialized Hotwalk Carbon will be made from FACT 9r carbon, as used in the brand’s road bikes and mtbs.
It’s not only the frame that’s carbon: it also has a carbon fork, wheels, handlebar and seatpost. There’s a kids’ Body Geometry saddle with a low-friction zone, 38 per cent smaller diameter handlebars with grip ends that Specialized says are also designed to "easily support the bike when resting on the ground between hot laps."
According to Specialized, kids deserve bikes that are light, responsive, and easy to manoeuvre. Since weight, stiffness, and shock absorption all play a factor in this unique ride quality, making a bike this light meant it had to rethink everything from materials to function: “We even made sure the carbon wheels and Rhythm Lite tyres were as light as possible, with a lightweight tyre casing.”
Specialized says it all started as a sketch: “If road cyclists ride carbon bikes for speed and stamina, kids should too. If mountain bikers need low friction saddles for rough roads, kids do too. When designers saw the sketch come to life in a carbon mould, it was clear: this ridiculously small, totally unique project was just too fun to pass up.”
When it came to testing, Specialized says it raised the bar as well: “Since no one has ever made anything quite like this, there wasn’t a way to test the safety of a bike this size. So, we built an entirely new test to meet a 40-pound weight rating, ensuring your kid has a top quality, safe ride – just like the rest of us.
"We’ve created the ultimate first ride to kickstart a lifetime of riding. At the end of the day, we made this for them”
The Specialized Hotwalk only comes in one size that fits riders up to 35in/88cm, and up to a weight limit of 40lb/18.1kg, available now.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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