Biking Gives Kids Wings + Specialized Hotrock Review

Biking has provided so many life lessons for my son (and he’s the ripe old age of four) that I can’t stress enough how important we think it is for kids to take on from a young age.  And the truth really is that it doesn’t HAVE to be biking.  Any physical activity that provides a challenge (both physically and mentally), freedom and a sense of accomplishment holds great value.  In our family, it just happens to be biking (so far) and so that is what this post will focus on.

J is a somewhat timid and cautious kid.  He is challenged by his own mental insecurities and takes time to warm up to new events in life.  Swim lessons, preschool, bike riding, hiking, etc. have all posed a (temporary) “pulling teeth” sensation for all of us involved.  With time he gets more comfortable and is able to adapt and learn, but he needs that time.  This is who he is and is what stage he is at in his little life , and that is fine (every kid is so very different.)

Biking, however, has become “his thing”.  He started on a balance bike at about 2 and has steadily progressed into a confident bike rider at 4.  I am not saying this to brag (though I am proud of him) but rather show that when kids get in their “grove” they really do excel and grow in many more ways than just one.  J is confident now in his bike riding (after literally much blood, sweat and tears), so he is more confident as a kid.  We gently pose different challenges to him (like conquring big hills) and help instill the fact that he really can do it.  While whining, tears and frustration generally also accompany overcoming those challenges at one point or another, it is so rewarding to HIM to see himself improve and it helps bring him out of his “shell”.


Today we rode up that “huge hill” (which, by the way, really is challenging for any bike rider) without any whining, “I can’t do it”s or excuses.  It was incredibly refreshing as a mother, and that smile showed me it felt good to him too.

Our kids are such little sponges, flowing fountains of questions and knowledge and clay that can’t help but be molded.  As parents/influencers/educators/adults, it is our job to nudge them in the right direction.


Specialized Hotrock 16

I can’t publish this article without a little shout out and review of the bike that really has helped J improve with leaps and bounds.  We paid $15 for his first 12″ pedal bike…and it really wasn’t worth much more than that.  We said if he could successfully ride that heavy clunker, he would become a stronger rider.  We were right….

I am certainly not downplaying a cheap bike.  It really and truly was exactly what J needed to help him learn.  And we loved the fact that it wasn’t anything fancy and he was earning a better bike with all his practice.

Eventually, earlier this summer, he just outgrew it.  His little legs were going as fast as they possibly could, but he just couldn’t keep up on those tiny tires.  We had the unique opportunity to demo a 16″ Hotrock from Specialized, and jumped on the opportunity to see what he could do before we spent the (bigger) bucks.


We pursued the kids’ Specialized bikes for a number of specific reasons – they are lighter, run smoothly, and most importantly, have a lower center of gravity.  This means that four year old kids can transfer to a bigger bike, maintain easier contact with the ground for starting and stopping, and still manage to stay balanced.  I have watched many other kids I know riding the same size bike (16″ wheels) and struggling immensely just because of that higher center of gravity.  It really does make a big difference.

The Hotrock goes for about $240. Yep, definitely not cheap.  That said, it is is a bike he will be riding for a few years and really could have started on a little bit earlier than he did.  It also is definitely the kind of bike that can be passed down to numerous kids without much upkeep or hassle (that $15 bike did require some time in “Daddy’s Bike Shop”).  The bike does come with training wheels, but I am a big believer in going straight from a balance bike to a pedal bike without the crutch of training wheels.  The motion of riding with the wheels is so very different and usually just holds kids back in the long run.  However, I also know every kid is different and some kids just need a little extra security too.

The speed (which really is mostly related to the wheel size) he went when he got on the bike was astounding.  The hills were harder for a bit (just getting that bigger wheel size going), but he worked past that challenge too.  In general, he loves the bike and has no problem being talked into going for a little ride.

Specialized also makes a 12″ and 20″ Hotrock – both of which are excellent bikes.  The 20″ is available with 6 gears too.


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9 thoughts on “Biking Gives Kids Wings + Specialized Hotrock Review”

  1. This is so sweet! I love how you encourage your children to be active through biking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. There are so many life lessons to be learned, for our children and for us as parents! My daughter is turning 4 in September, and we need to look into getting a better bike for her. She still loves her balance bike, and I think she’s hesitant to ride her ‘real’ bike because it’s really heavy and clunky.

  2. We are trying to teach our son to ride. We tried a balance bike but he wouldn’t take to it because he wanted to ride a bike like “daddy’s” with pedals. So now we are trying to teach him without the training wheels and he can only take 5 minutes of it and gets frustrated. He won’t go back to the balance bike either so we are stuck with 5 – 10 minute lessons a day….Hoping he learns at his pace, he really wants to ride.

    1. I think 5-10 minute lessons is great! Totally what we did too for the transition. The key is just getting him on there as much as “every day” as possible! Hang in there – every kid really is different and he’ll get it! 🙂

  3. Just to endorse what you say really … Our son had a balance bike from about 18 months and then to a pedal bike at 3&1/2. Just a cheapy to start with, but being fixed wheel it was difficult as he was used to coasting along on the balance bike. We then got a Hotrock too. What a brilliant bike! I agree with you about the low centre of gravity and lower seat than you can get on most 16″ wheel bikes. He never used stabilisers (uk term!) either. Number 2 son is now loving the balance bike so hopefully will also transfer well.
    Both balance bike and Hotrock have been fantastic.

  4. Our sons are like twins. 😉 My Noah is the same, timid by nature, and has totally taken to biking!
    It’s his thing and has given him tons of confidence.
    He’s on a 16″ bike too, A Spawn Banshee, and like you said, a good quality bike is awesome!
    I still can’t believe my kid went straight from a balance bike to a 16″ bike. Your 4 year old must be tall too if he’s on a 16″ Hot rock.

  5. Pingback: Every Kid Should Learn to Bike - May is Bike Month! | Tales of a Mountain Mama

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