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What do you think of the new Hotwalk Balance Bikes?
The 2017 Specialized Hotwalk Balance Bikes have just been released, and there's something very interesting about the new colour schemes they've chosen.
Bikes are for kids - not boys and girls!
It is usually very disheartening when looking at kids bikes to find that they come in girls and boys versions. Typically, the girls version is labelled up as being fit for a princess or fairy, and comes in a pretty pink. Sometimes it'll come kitted out with ribbons! Whereas the boys bikes are blue and have a "macho" theme.
These gender stereotypical bikes tend to be poorly made, heavy and without child specific components. We rarely (if ever) feature them on Cycle Sprog.
Most quality bike manufacturers choose not to distinguish between girls and boys at the younger age range. A pedal bike or a balance bike should be just that - to be enjoyed regardless of gender.
You may be surprised therefore to learn that there are two models of the 2017 Specialized Hotwalk Balance Bikes - a girls and boys version. But before you groan and hold your head in your hands - here is the 2017 girls version:
Yes - it's a pale turquoise, not a pretty pink.
And the only difference between the girls and the boys bike is the geometry. The standover height of the girls bike (at 226cm) is lower than the boys bike (at 275cm). You can see that the boys bike has a cross tube, which causes this difference.
The boys bike is green rather than blue, and doesn't come festooned with go faster stripes, monsters or pirates. All other aspects of the two balance bikes are identical.
Have Specialized been listening to the growing group of parents, that have been asking for an end to gender specific bikes and toys? This was one of the 2016 girls Hotwalk colours:
In Specialized defence, they also did a turquoise version.
Personally I prefer the 2017 model, with turquoise forks and the teal decals rather than the red.
The 2016 boys bike also came in two colour schemes - a red and a black option:
Again, I feel that the green of the 2017 model has a more contemporary feel to it than the 2016 models.
A balance bike for girls and boys
Some of our readers may feel that it would have been better if Specialized had branded both balance bikes as being suitable for "kids" rather than "boys" and "girls".
Specialized are following in the well established tradition of deeming a step through frame "female" and a higher, swing your leg over frame as "male".
There is absolutely no reason a boy can't ride the "girls" Hotwalk, and indeed I'm sure that the pale blue colour will mean it's handed down to younger brothers, who won't bat an eyelid.
Similarly, as many girls these days wear trousers and leggings (and decorum isn't something most three year old's have at the forefront of their mind when presented with a balance bike), the "boys" version will suit any girl who is tall enough to ride it.
You could argue that Specialized should have branded these two bikes differently - buy the blue bike if your child is ready for a balance bike but doesn't have the standover height for the green bike. Buy either the blue or the green balance bike if they're slightly taller.
However, it's definitely a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see over the coming years whether the Hotwalk continues to be marketed and bought on a gender basis. I suspect at the end of the day it will come down to customer demand.
In a very non-scientific test, I asked my ten year old son to pick his favourite balance bike from the above photos and he chose the top one - the 2017 "girls" Hotwalk. He was very surprised when I told him is was branded as a girls bike - he liked the colour scheme the best. My 8 year old son plumped for the 2017 "boys" model, as he liked the green combined with the additional cross tube. He said he often rests on the top tube of his mountain bike, so the "girls" model wouldn't work for him!
2017 Specialized Hotwalk Balance Bike Specification
The 2017 Hotwalk balance bikes have a 12" aluminium frame with steel forks. The 12" wheels come fitted with wire beaded 12"x2.0" Rhythm Lite tyres (with a Schrader Valve). The kids specific saddle is integrated onto a 22.2mm steel seatpost.
Specialized don't advertise the weight of these bikes, but previous versions have come in at around the 4.3kg mark.
Where to buy the 2017 Specialized Hotwalk balance bikes
The Specialized Hotwalk 2017 balance bikes have an RRP of £120 and are available to purchase from Evans Cycles.
Are Specialized Hotwalk Balance Bikes any good?
The Specialized Hotwalk has been a popular choice of balance bike for many years now - it's robustly built and should last several children. You can read a dad's review of the Specialized Hotwalk balance bike to find out how his two daughters got on with the it.
There are always a few Hotwalks being sold on Ebay in good condition. This is a sign of a good quality balance bike, given the number of times they can be dropped on the ground and left outside overnight!
I would love to hear what you think about the new 2017 Specialized Hotwalk balance bikes - do leave a message on the Cycle Sprog Facebook Page.
You may find these other articles useful:
- What is a balance bike?
- 9 things to consider when buying a balance bike for your child
- Choosing the best balance bike for your child (a closer look at the makes and models available)
- The best balance bikes as recommended by parents
- Are these the 5 most desireable balance bikes ever?
Affiliate Disclosure: This post uses affiliate marketing on some of the links. This means Cycle Sprog get a very small commission from any purchases you make, helping us keep the website going. Thanks for your support.
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