Specialized Hotwalk

Balance Bike Review

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One tough and rugged bike that will last through several kids. Great for any rider, but best for off-roading preschoolers.

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $175

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Seat Height: 13.5" - 17"

Weight: 9.5 lb.

Brakes: No Brakes

Footrest: Yes

Limiter: No

Tire Size: 12"

Grips Bumper: Yes

Bolts: Exposed

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Review

Built tough, the Specialized Hotwalk is a fun, well-made balance bike that is ready for action and designed by a well-known bike manufacturer. We’ve had a chance to take the Hotwalk for a spin several different times, and staying true to the Specialized name, the Hotwalk is a quality balance bike that preschoolers love, but compared to many kid bike specific brands, the Hotwalk doesn’t pack a lot of punch into its $175 price tag.

 

Overall Performance

The Hotwalk is ready-to-roll with cushioning air tires, a cushioned saddle and an aluminum frame. One tester had a field day testing the bike out on a dirt track, while the other only had a chance to take it for a spin on the pavement. Both loved the smooth ride as the Hotwalk performed equally well on both terrains.

Models

Unique to other bikes, the Hotwalk also has a girl and boy version that have different frames.  The girl version has a low step-through frame and is available in pink and turquoise while the boy’s frame has a higher top tube and comes in red and green.  Specialized does tend to change the colors of the Hotwalk every couple years, but the overall design of the Hotwalk tends to remain consistent.

Size

Weight: The Hotwalk weights 9 lb. and 8 oz. and is mid-range in weight in the balance bike field.

Seat Height: With a seat-height range of 13.5″ to 17″, the Hotwalk is likely to be the best fit for kids ages 2 to 4.  We tested the bike out with two different four-year-olds, who were both on the tail end of a proper fit on the Hotwalk, but both loved the smooth ride it provided.

Specialized Hotwalk Ridden by 4-year-olds

Boy riding black Specialized Hotwalk and girl riding pink Specialized Hotwalk.

 

Compared to similarly priced balance bikes, the Hotwalk is mid-range in size.  It’s larger than the WOOM1, but smaller than the Ridgeback Scoot.

 

As a size reference to Specialized 12″ and 16″ pedal bikes, our four-year-old boy tester (in 4T clothes with a 17″ inseam) was able to ride all three bikes but fit best on the 16″ Riprock.

Same boy riding !) Specialized Hotwalk, 2) Specialized Riprock 12", and 3) Specialized Riprock 16"

Footrest

Our one major concern with the Hotwalk was the footrest design.  An extended platform at the base of the down tube (the frame tube that extends down below the seat), the footrest is large enough to potentially interfere with the stride of young riders.  While we havn’t yet tested out the Hotwalk on young toddlers, we have tested out several other balance bikes with the same footrest platform design. That design  lead to issues with smaller 18-month and 2-year-old toddlers.

Young riders walk a balance bike before they ride it and when doing so, the back of their leg hits the platform, which can limit their motion on the bike and can also discourage them from continuing to ride.  Several videos on YouTube show a child’s leg brushing up against the footrest while walking or riding the bike. In these videos the footrest doesn’t appear to bother the kids, but based on our experience, Hotwalk’s style of footrest will likely be most problematic for young toddlers with small frames.

Hotwalk and Strider have the same footrest design. It's problematic because legs can hit the footrest while kids are running the balance bike.

No Handbrake

The Hotwalk does not come with a handbrake.  While most kids don’t have the hand/eye coordination to use a handbrake until they are around 3, we’ve found handbrakes to greatly increase the safety of older preschoolers who tend to ride faster and more aggressively. It also teaches a child to use a handbrake, making their transition to a pedal bike that much easier.

While many balance bikes, such as Strider and Trek, also do not offer a handbrake, many bikes in the Hotwalk’s price range do, which does limit the offer appeal of the Hotwalk.

Bottom Line

Well-built and rugged enough to last through several siblings, the Hotwalk is a great bike for preschoolers riding on various terrain, but its lack of handbrake is disappointing.  The extended footrest of the Hotwalk also limits its use for toddlers as well as small-framed preschoolers.

 

MSRP: $175

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: December 29, 2016

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