Is this full-carbon pushbike really just the ultimate parental indulgence?
Specialized just made its lightest bike ever. The carbon-frame, carbon-wheel pushbike is for riders who are 18 months to 4 years old, under 40 pounds and 35 inches tall, and have a lot saved up in their piggy bank!
And while it’s not the first full-carbon kids’ bike — Strider did that years ago — this one looks at least as high-tech. And it certainly carries some clout with the Specialized name.
Specialized Hotwalk Carbon
The 4.34-pound bike is made of FACT 9r carbon, the same used in Specialized highest-end S-Works carbon road and mountain race bikes, and engineered by the team that brought the Specialized Tarmac SL7 and the new Stumpjumper to life.
Its carbon handlebars and grips are 38% smaller to fit toddlers’ hands.
Grip ends are designed to support the bike when it gets dropped on the ground (repeatedly), while carbon wheels and tires were developed with ultralight casing to support low weight and low miles. And the low-friction Body Geometry saddle has an integrated carrying handle.
Specialized didn’t confirm if it tested this bike in its “Win Tunnel” wind tunnel, but we’re guessing it did. Why not?
For the orthodontist whose child has it all or the parent who hopes for a 4-and-under Strava segment, this bike will be a big hit. I mean, who wouldn’t drop $1,000 to brag to their friends that their kid’s first bike is carbon?
Raising the Safety Bar for Kids’ Bikes
Beyond the optics, however, Specialized says that with the Hotwalk, it raised the safety bar for kids’ bike testing. That’s because there wasn’t an existing safety test for a carbon bike with a 40-pound weight rating. It also may have been tough to get meaningful feedback from riders on the Hotwalk’s glide, cornering ability, torsional rigidity, and whether it absorbs shock better than an aluminum Strider.
Specialized points out that this is, in fact, the only carbon kids bike it’s ever made. In the brand’s marketing materials, it insists that kids deserve bikes that are light, responsive, and easy to maneuver.
“We respect kids, and — in order to set up the next generation of riders — we think they deserve the best that cycling can offer,” Specialized said.
Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Even the lightest kids’ pedal bikes are insanely heavy per pound of rider. And building lighter pedal bikes will make biking more fun and more appealing for more kids, especially if those innovations happen across the board.
Getting kids excited about biking at a young age is truly something to strive for. But this bike seems more about feeding parental indulgence and showcasing privilege in kids who can barely walk or talk yet.
Specialized Hotwalk Carbon: Who Is It For?
Still, I’m not totally buying Specialized’s statements of “we created something 2-year-olds had only dreamed of until now,” or, “at the end of the day we made this for them.”
Specialized created something that only rich dads, and maybe a couple of wealthy moms, had dreamed of until now. To desire something, you have to have the cognitive ability to understand the differences between what you have and what you don’t. And no 2-year-old I know can do that.
Will the Hotwalk Carbon increase your kid’s speed and stamina? Will the low-friction saddle impact their performance on rough playground surfaces? Keep your eye on the Strider Cup World Championships next year to find out.
Despite Specialized saying it engineered “precision at every touchpoint” and “pored over every single detail to achieve an unprecedented ride quality,” this $1,000 bike is available in one size only, for tykes up to 35 inches and 40 pounds.
That’s basically kids from 18 months to 4 years old. In comparison, the lightest Aluminum Strider is 5.6 pounds, $180, and works for kids up to 60 pounds.
Specialized said this bike is pure fun that will last a lifetime. That’s more like a year or two — until your kid is over the weight limit. We’re guessing that Hotwalks will be hot items on Pro’s Closet and Facebook Marketplace soon.
Specialized is only building 700 units of this carbon pushbike (can you say holiday frenzy?). And for sure, parents with big dreams for their toddler athlete will be swiping their credit cards to put this bike under the tree. So don’t tarry if that’s you, or they’ll likely be gone. Find it on Specialized’s website now.