Finding Your Balance

Ah, Specialized…

Nobody chums the waters of cycling like the Big S.

Remember how they sued that guy up in Canada because he dared use the word “Roubaix?” Or how after years of wind tunnel shenanigans they claimed to invent round frame tubes and then used them to make a bike that cost $12,500? Well now they’ve taken their trolling one step (and I literally mean “step”) further with their new $1,000 crabon balance bike:

Of course, this is a bit different than the other examples I’ve cited, since if you watch this video to the end you can see that Specialized are clearly self-aware:

Also, while you may find the idea of a $1,000 balance bike ridiculous, is it really anymore ridiculous than this $58 “Tax The Rich” sweatshirt?

…which is already sold out?

Ironically all of them were probably purchased by rich people hoping protesters don’t harass them while they’re dining.

Anyway, to be clear, I have nothing against either exotic balance bikes or boutique sloganeering. Frankly, I’m glad to live in a country where people are free to put their money where their mouths are–and where they’re prosperous enough to let their money do their talking for them through their purchases. Anyway, I’m the guy who for weeks now has been telling you to buy designer cycling jeans, so far be it from me to take anyone else to task for bringing their cattle to market.

I should also add that this is not even the first expensive crabon balance bike, as Strider has offered one for awhile now:

Hey, kids (or their parents) take this shit seriously, you know:

I mean just look at ’em for chrissakes:

They’re like little lizards:

Still, it’s hard not to take issue with Specialized’s marketing, especially when you read passages like this:

Inspired by a trip to Taiwan for Bike Week, our industrial designers had a vision of the ultimate first bike. Once the team mocked it up, it was clear: we needed to do this. If road cyclists ride carbon bikes for speed and stamina, so should kids. If mountain bikers need low-friction saddles for rough roads, kids do too. This ridiculously small, totally unique project was just too fun to pass up. And when it came to engineering, the answer was easy: Utilize the same team we’ve trusted to make our top performance bikes, like the Tarmac SL7 and the All-New Stumpjumper.

That’s a lot of words to say, “We had a big meeting to figure out what to do with all those leftover crabon scraps and this was the result.”

This is also completely preposterous:

It’s the only carbon kids bike we’ve ever made, and it makes sense. Weight, stiffness, and shock absorption all play a factor in ride quality, even at this scale. That’s why we made the frame, fork, and handlebar all carbon. We even made sure the carbon wheels and Rhythm Lite tires were lightweight. 4.63 pounds of pure fun that will last a lifetime.

Sorry, this is not “pure fun that will last a lifetime,” this is “more plastic that will be fun for a few months”–unless your child does in fact continue riding a Hotrock Carbon all the way through adulthood, which could prove difficult. (Does Rene Herse make 12-inch tires?) And sure, you could always try to hand it down to the younger kid when the older kid’s done with it, but what happens when Specialized releases the Hotrock Carbon SL, and the Hotrock Carbon SL 2, and the Hotrock Carbon SL3, and so on? If you’re the kind of parent who buys your kid a $1,000 balance bike, you’re already raising the sort of kid who wouldn’t be caught dead on last year’s equipment:

Of course you could always break the upgrade cycle by getting your kid the new Rivendell balance bike, which is just as expensive but comes with way more smugness points:

But in the end, whatever you think of the Hotwalk Carbon, remember that it’s all for the kids:

I definitely agree that providing kids with crabon at an early age will create a new generation of riders. In fact, the alarming absence of juvenile crabon no doubt accounts for the significant drop in riding to school over the years:

And now that schools are closed they can’t ride there even if they want to, so that takes care of that.

But maybe no school means more time on the Crabon Fredlet Sled.

We may very well be the unwitting victims of a conspiracy on the part of the Crabon Industrial Complex.

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