Borrowing the same frame technology that you’ll find in the bikes that the pros are using, Specialized has developed possibly the coolest balance bike we’ve ever seen, the Hotwalk Carbon. It has a carbon frame and carbon wheels as the name suggests, proper kid-sized bars and grips, along with special tyres that all adds up, Specialized claims, to the ultimate first bike.
Who remembers their first bike? I think mine was an Eagle 2000. I only remember that it was blue and did skids. Specialized hopes that its new Hotwalk will be rather more memorable and thus encourage kids to use their bike and ensure that the “first interaction with bikes to be the best it can be”. But there are no brakes on the Hotwalk, so no skids for you.
Specialized says that the tech from its world championships winning bikes has been cherry-picked and put into the Hotwalk Carbon. The frame is made from Fact 9r carbon fibre which makes it the only carbon kids' bike that Specialized has ever made and quite possibly the only carbon balance bike in existence.
The wheels too are made from carbon, as is the fork and the handlebar. It’s all in an effort to keep the weight down, a measure that Specialized says will improve the responsiveness and manoeuvrability of the bike, especially when the rider is very little.
This effort extends to the Rhythm tyres which Specialized says use a lightweight casing to make them as feathery as possible.
The carbon handlebar has been custom designed for tiny hands. Specialized says that “the design of the handlebars affects the rider’s control and, in turn, their confidence” so a 38% reduction in the diameter of the bars and the grips have been made.
We all know how much time balance bikes spend getting dropped to the ground as the child runs off to do something else. Specialized says that the grip ends have been “designed to easily support the bike when resting on the ground between hot laps.”
This carbon model of the Hotwalk does without a footrest that features on many balance bikes. Specialized says that this is a feature that can get in the way when a child is kicking along, resulting in the child hitting their ankles.
“It’s the only carbon kids bike we’ve ever made—and it makes sense. 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 rethinking everything from materials to function. That’s why we made the frame, fork, and handlebar all carbon. We even made sure the carbon wheels and Rhythm Lite tires were as light as possible, with a lightweight tire casing. 2.1kg of pure fun that will last a lifetime”
Balance bikes are generally encouraged for young riders as they allow the child to focus on the basic bits of bike riding, balancing and steering, without complicating things further with pedalling, gears and brakes.
Want to find one under the Christmas tree? At £999, this is only going to be for those children that have been especially good this year... and even for them the chances are slim, because the Hotwalk Carbon is already sold out online at the time of writing. You can head over to the Specialized website for stock updates.