Specialized has today launched an all-new carbon fibre, lightweight bike, but it's nothing like what you'd expect. The bike manufacturing behemoth has taken its premium FACT carbon-fibre frame technology and scaled it down. A lot. The result is the new Specialized Hotwalk.
That's right, it's a carbon fibre balance bike, and it weighs just 2.1kg (4.6lbs). Could this be the best first-bike for exceptionally young riders, making them feel just like Peter Sagan?
Most balance bikes are metal - often steel, occasionally alloy - and use rudimentary components. They might not weigh much to an adult, but Specialized believes that even the smallest of riders can benefit from a lighter frame and wheels.
Keen to show the scalability of its best technologies, Specialized set about producing the ultimate balance bike: a carbon version of its Hotwalk which is less than half the aluminium bike’s weight.
This new version might look broadly familiar to aluminium Hotwalks from afar, but once you start evaluating the frame you recognise the organic lines and unique composite layup.
It even has carbon wheels
Utilising the same FACT 9R carbon fibre used on many of Specialized's carbon-fibre bikes, the Hotwalk also rolls tiny carbon wheels. The result is a 2.1kg bike that, according to Specialized, will give miniature shredders enormous riding confidence thanks to the low weight and increased agility of the lightweight bike.
Another of the impressive design outcomes of this project is the new Hotwalk’s composite cockpit. It features a carbon-fibre handlebar and special grips, which are 38% thinner in diameter than you’d find on a conventional flat bar. As experienced riders will attest, hands are a crucial control touchpoint. With its slimmer handlebar, tiny hands can find a more secure grip, boosting steering confidence and control when rolling along. And with those lightweight Specialized Rhythm Lite tyres and carbon rims, this new Hotwalk will roll faster than any other balance bike you can imagine.
Like other balance bikes, the Hotwalk does without brakes, but its frame platform is shaped to allow for easy leg extension and a very low standover height. This enables the youngest of riders to put their riding shoes down and create adequate friction for deceleration.
The Hotwalk might look cool enough for adults to try, but Specialized has certified it with an 18kg maximum rider weight, and it is recommended for riders between the ages of two and four.
Even Specialized describes it as "a little bit ludicrous", but nonetheless, it's in production, and you can order yours today. Priced at £999 / $999, we'll take four.
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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.
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