Project Bike: Danish man builds son coolest balance bike ever

Shop guy turns Specialized Hotwalk into ‘Mini Me’ S-Works kickbike

How To Kids

Photos courtesy of Kasper Albrekt.

When Kasper Albrekt decided to get a balance bike for his almost-two-year-old son Jakob, he had trouble finding one that got him excited. And rather than settling for stock offerings, he took matters into his own hands, building his potential future world champ the S-Walk—a one-of-a-kind, tricked-out balance bike that’s sure to be the envy of the playground.

Jakob Albrekt gets set to drop in on his custom S-Walk at a bike park near his home in Aarhus, Denmark.

Starting with a stock Specialized Hotwalk he bought from WeBike, in Aarhus, Denmark where he works, Albrekt stripped the bike down and sandblasted its tiny frame and fork. From there he began the customization, powder coating it matte black, welding on a rear disc brake mount, customizing the fork, and pretty much upgrading everything he possibly could.

“I could not find a kickbike, that was really nice,” explained Albrekt. “So I decided to convert a Specialized Hotwalk to an S-WORKS.”

S-WORKS is Specialized’s moniker for its high-end race or “works” products, and judging by the photos, we’re pretty sure Albrekt’s bike qualifies. But as simple as the little bike looks, it necessitated quite a few modifications to get the high-end bits to work.

To get a disc brake on the bike, not only did Albrekt have to weld a brake mount on the frame, he had to shave down the hub end caps, shrinking the width 5mm so the caliper and rotor could squeeze between the narrow stays. With less than 2mm between the frame and rotor, the disc rides almost as close to the stays as it does to the brake pads.

The rear wheel uses the Hotwalk’s stock tire and aluminum rim, but Albrekt laced it up with Union triple-butted titanium spokes that he shortened and rethreaded to fit the diminutive diameter. He then used every-other hole of the 32-hole Tune-branded hub, halving the spoke count to work with the 16-hole rim. He finished the wheel with red-anodized aluminum spoke nipples and a shortened and rethreaded Shimano XTR skewer.

To fit the front wheel Albrekt “only” needed to spread the fork blades to accommodate the wider front hub—in this case a WTB Grease Guard model. Not content to use the heavy, stock quill stem, he cut off the fork’s 1-inch threaded steerer tube and welded a non-threaded version in its place.

A Tange DX8 1-inch threadless headset makes for silky turning while the bike’s Specialized S-Works XC 500mm carbon bars are proportionately cut to give two-year-old Jakob plenty of leverage. They’re held on by a red anodized Tune 1-1/8-inch stem that’s been shimmed to work with the 1-inch steerer.

Continue to page 2 for more on the balance bike and full photo gallery »

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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  • Rasmus says:


  • Joules says:

    that seems like an awful lot of work for something that’s going to get used for maybe a month.

  • Nicholas says:

    Why not just weld your own balance bike at that point?

    I doubt the kid’s hand strength is enough to operate that brake securely.

    Some people have too much money.

  • James Guest says:

    It’d be a whole lot cooler if it didn’t have the big S stamped on the head tube.

  • Jeremy says:

    I smell a lawsuit coming. You don’t even think about messing with that company.

  • Rick says:

    Way to send a message Dad!

  • Loll says:

    This is a great example of what you should not do if your lady friend tells you she wants to get into mountain biking.

  • David says:

    I expect a letter from Specialized’s lawyers any day now

    • SB says:

      I think they have bigger fish to fry. I am pretty sure you can do whatever the hell you like on your own bike. Albrekt is not trying to market, sell or patent this.

  • Huw says:

    Looks amazing. Needs a smaller brake lever though – no chance that kid’s going to reach it when he needs it!

  • Soybean0422 says:

    Awesome!!!!!!!! Love it!

  • JB says:

    Specialized even featured this. They’re not bullcrap animals that will sue an act of love of a father to his kid like the way you morons think.

  • Paddy says:

    Props to all the cynical crybabies out here – we need to teach talented craftsmen who build awesome things for their children a lesson. And that is lesson is ‘don’t share your work with the mountain biking community – they’re a bunch of negative crybabies with too much time on their hands.’

  • JamesB says:

    My daughter now has 2 balance bikes both bought on the same day by different people as presents, one a lot cheaper than the other. She uses both now she can reach the floor on both and one is not really any better than the other. However, she could use one before the other due to the size. I like the bike which has been put together in the article, but for a balance bike I am not sure it was worth the effort. Now my daughter is 15 months and starting to be stable on the balance bike I have just bought a 14 inch peddle bike which I have changed the seat, post and cut the frame to lower the ride height (she can’t touch the floor yet but can just touch the peddles). I can’t wait to see what he does with the peddle bike. It was hard to workout which bike to even buy, as these bikes weight a lot and it seems that the sizing of the bikes are worked out differently. Which is really the most important factor but when they are so small obviously weight is also a big consideration.

  • S says:

    Balance bike tuning seems to be the new trend: 😀

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