Specialized has released its lightest ever bike. Created by the team behind the Tarmac SL7 and the latest Stumpjumper, it uses a monocoque carbon frame, carbon rims, and custom created Rhythm Lite tyres.
Employing all the smarts gained in producing some of the most lauded racing bikes of the last few decades, like these it’s made to the highest tolerances. However, unlike its forebears, there’s no guarantee the majority of its owners will have be out of nappies before it requires an upgrade.
Suiting riders up to 88 centimetres tall, Specialized's new Hotwalk Carbon is undoubtedly the world’s most desirable 12-inch balance bike.
In its press release announcing the new release, Specialized is playing this development entirely straight. As in suggesting a tiny child might benefit from the enhanced vertical compliance of a full-carbon balance bike. Yep, that straight.
As a non-breeder, I’m not sure how any of this computes. I suppose, if you scale up the weight of the average kid’s balance bike, you’d find yourself with a crushingly heavy adult machine, so perhaps a superlight carbon version makes a kind of sense.
There’s also the bonus of it negating the need for any mechanic to ever press another Chris King headset into a balance bike again. Perhaps I’m just jealous because my plan to put a longer stem on it and keep it for myself was foiled by the 18kg rider weight limit.
We had the opportunity while at Specialized UK headquarters to see what is currently the only Hot Walk in the country up close, and the details certainly deserve some attention.
In terms of spec, we were fairly impressed to see a set of full carbon rims and a carbon handlebar.
Though we think Specialized missed an opportunity siding for a flat-bar rather than drops. [Are you sure about this? - Ed]
There's some impressive engineering around the bottom bracket, where Specialized has finally solved the great press-fit or threaded puzzle by removing the bottom bracket altogether.
Removing the groupset has offered other intriguing engineering opportunities, such as the super-chunky carbon chainstay which has proved rigid enough to remove the seatstays completely too.
It also means there's ample tyre clearance – we'd bet on being able to fit 2.1" tyres comfortably.
Tiny test rigs
Made of FACT 9r carbon, the same material used on the brand’s road and mountain race bikes, the Hotwalk Carbon has been tested in the same way - on a customised rig adapted around a reduced rider weight.
Key components have also been shrunk, like the 38% smaller diameter carbon handlebars, tiny BodyGeometry saddle, and carbon rims.
It is, like its makers claim, a tiny superbike.
So kids, if you’re reading this, one of your parents work at Specialized and this isn’t under the tree come Christmas, questions should be getting asked.