It’s not often you find a 4-pound complete bike. Sure, it’s not really relevant tech to most riders. And it’s totally cheating to take the 1.8kg weight seriously – it’s just a tiny carbon balance bike for a toddler, after all. But still… look at those little 12″ carbon wheels, carbon hubshell & oil slick flanges!
I kind of can’t get enough of it!
Light-Wolf Dream Build: ultralight carbon balance bike
German custom wheel & bike building studio Light-Wolf wanted a fun family project, likely to keep them entertained through the dark and cold winter in central Europe. So, to get owner Felix Wolf’s young son on two wheels, they found a mini complete carbon bike on AliExpress, stripped it down to the bare essentials, and rebuilt it into a fully-tuned, lighter, and way cooler superbike.
Forget Specialized’s $999 FACT 9r Hotwalk Carbon that weighs over 2.1kg, Light-Wolf says their Toddler Dream Bike is more than 13% lighter…
How’d they do it & why?
Felix tells us the project was realistically more about him “taming the tuning freak inside” rather than any ultralight aspirations of his son. But he did agree with our perspective that a lighter rider needs a proportionally lighter bike, right?
Light-Wolf got its start custom building lightweight carbon road, cross, gravel & mountain bike wheels in Dresden, so that seemed like a good place to begin the tuning process…
The bike arrived already with a carbon hubshell and rainbow oil slick hubs, but plenty of ‘too heavy’ hardware.
Light-Wolf couldn’t abide by any extra wheel weight, so they broke down the wheels, ditch the heavy brass nipples, and scraped away some unnecessary glossy clearcoat. Freshly raw & sanded, Felix re-laced the 10 paired straight-pull spokes per wheel with lighter purple alloy nipples, and bolted on the wheels with matching light purple alloy hardware.
BTW, Berd confirmed that they don’t make the necessary 74mm textile spokes… yet.
Replacing heavy plastic rim tape with light Tesa tape, and swapping in lightweight Schwalbe 1A tubes saved a full 100g of rotational mass, “where it’s most effective“.
After building plenty of custom integrated bikes these days, Felix was pretty impressed by the “awesome stealth carbon cockpit” that arrived on the BXT balance bike. But there was plenty of tuning to be done here, too.
First off, his son is only 81cm tall, so cutting the carbon bar down to half his height at 40cm seemed reasonable. (I could only imagine a 93cm bar on my trail bike, at half my height!)
The alloy wedge in the stem clamp got a titanium bolt, and a heavy steerer expander got replaced with a much lighter alloy one from Intend left over from dad’s own carbon fork.
Plus, they dropped a Cervélo headset cap on the bike out of the shop’s spare part bin, because carbon.
Heavy ‘anti-skid’ kid grips got replaced by some light & slim, trimmed down rubber track bike grips.
Another 125g tuned away, plus a better fitting cockpit for short arms and small hands.
One of the most amusingly custom bits is the one-off 22.2mm Beast Components seatpost, from just across town in Dresden. The stock post was not only out of character in aluminum, but not actually sized properly either.
So where do you get a 22.2mm carbon seatpost? It’s actually a section of a Beast flat MTB handlebar whose finish didn’t pass internal quality controls, so they were happy to give it a second shot at life to a long-time partner across town, bonded into the stock saddle.
Then, the bulky alloy QR seat clamp got recycled, replaced with a simple alloy bolt-on setup, in matching purple ano.
20 more grams here and there.
Out of the box, the 2130g balance bike from China was already almost as light as the Hotwalk Carbon. But Light-Wolf says the AliExpress bike had plenty of quality control issues that required a skilled hand to correct. Not a problem for a shop that custom builds bikes every day, but enough that other online shoppers be warned.
Felix also made clear that the project reiterated that Hotwalk Carbon’s price isn’t all that extreme.
It’s not easy to get this light.
In the end Light-Wolf got the complete matte 3k carbon balance bike down to just 1820g.
(Just for frame of reference let’s think of that water bottle as a bike stand… Two bigger 750ml/25oz bottles full of water, in light cages with alloy cage bolts… would weigh around 1720g… just to carry water on a ride.)
Besides the fact that any kid who rides this is surely gonna start stealing KOM in the junior age groups, Felix had another practical excuse for the superlight Dream Build, that many parents relate to…
When the little guy gets tired of scooting around, it’s less weight to have to carry back home.
No Light-Wolf superlight balance bike available, sadly
We’ve seen the little owner on his new bike, and he looks ready to crush your KOMs. But, unfortunately for our other toddler readers, Light-Wolf says this is exclusively a one-off project.
Apparently, they only take custom wheel and Dream Build bike orders from adults. How ageist.