Bike shops + test rides

Lagavulin Posts: 1,688
edited November 2007 in Road beginners
What's reasonble to expect and/or demand of a bike shop when you're ready to part with up to £2k of your cash.

I'm planning on a comfy bike. I'm thinking Bianchi C2C, Synapse Carbon SL (Liquigas :wink:) or Spesh Roubaix Expert.

On a few occasions when in bike shops I've seen people heading out on test rides, having over heard "see you in an hour"," see you in half an hour" and the like.

Is that really sufficient to discover if a bike is right for you. Unless something was really wrong I wouldn't imagine it'd show up in 30 minutes.
I find my current bike good for 50-60 miles/3-3.5 hours. After that it starts to take its toll on me.


  • pneumatic
    pneumatic Posts: 1,989
    Dales in Glasgow will let you test ride for as long as you need (that is where I fell in love with the Spesh Roubaix Expert (look no further, I say!). Gear in Glasgow also told me that I could take a bike out for a day (but they didn't have the model I had in mind).

    I think you have to present yourself as being serious about wanting a new bike, but I would agree with you about needing a decent chance test the bike. I think some shops charge you a refundable rental of a tenner or so, which is deducted from the price of the bike if you buy it. I think that is fair, if it gives you a day's ride.

    The first time I test rode a bike, I went round the block on it. When I got back to the shop, the bloke was really shocked to see me back so soon, and assumed there was something wrong with the bike. No, said I, I'll take it. He must have thought I was a bit of a plonker!

    Fast and Bulbous
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • JackPozzi
    JackPozzi Posts: 1,191
    Slgihtly hijacking here, but what do you do about pedals when going to test out some bikes? Do they have basic flat ones fitted for test use, or do you take your own?
  • sonicred007
    sonicred007 Posts: 1,091
    some of the bigger brands, like spesh, also do in store promotions where you can take a bike for the weekend - although they ride into town occasionally and not a constant feature of the sales pitch
  • pw1brown
    pw1brown Posts: 243
    I find I learn a lot about a bike in just a few minutes' riding. I don't feel I need to test it for long rides as such. The problem I've had with quick test spins, though, is that it might not have been set up ideally to start with. You might then want to tweak the saddle or bars a few times to get the optimum fit for you, so for that reason you might want an extended testing period - or keep hassling the bike shop for minor adjustments.
  • OnTow
    OnTow Posts: 130
    Perfectly acceptable to ask for a test ride.
    I've found a few small specialist shops selling niche off-the-peg equipment such as Orbea/Willier, who are too precious to allow a test ride - so I've walked away from them.

    I wouldn't spend 2000 notes on a car without running it round the block.

    As pw1brown points out, even a short run tells me a lot about a bike - For starters, how good and thorough the shop was at setting it up, response over different road surfaces/feedback, acceleration/directness/feel of the wheels, slickness of gear shifting, feel of the forks, pedal overlap and steering feel/geometry, braking stability, saddle comfort.

    I bought from a shop with a strip of cobbles behind it - very useful!
  • have to say when my fiance bought her condor heritage (from steels in newcastle) she only needed 10 yards to know it was right, as did i, after that short space of time it was obvious that it was perfact and she paid her money and went home VERY happy (and i am still envious as it is faster, lighter and more bling than my best bike,)
    can't wait till it is my turn for a new bike (or until my fixie project is finished)

  • Cunobelin
    Cunobelin Posts: 11,792
    We have just bought a pair of Thorns - a Raven Tour and a Nomad.

    No problem at al about test rides - sorted us out with test bikes at our sizes, adjusted to fit and showed a series of routes of varying distance, difficulty, steepness and surface.

    Absolutely no restrictions on time or distance (although I think a week's tour may have raised an eyebrow!)

    Again we were sold fairly quickly, but got sent back out again to make sure!

    Solid advice and the routes suggested would enable any of their bikes to be tested fully whether like us you were looking for solid tourers or a mountain bike enthusiast looking at the Catalyst or .Sterling.
    <b><i>He that buys land buys many stones.
    He that buys flesh buys many bones.
    He that buys eggs buys many shells,
    But he that buys good beer buys nothing else.</b></i>
    (Unattributed Trad.)
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    It really depends what model of bike you're after and even which size. The likes of Specialized sell 'demo bikes' to shops at discounted rates - fine if you want a 54cm. There was a similar discussion on here a few months ago, with some wildly differing views. For many shops, how do they know the difference between a genuine buyer and a 'tyre-kicker'? Guy walks in, demands a test ride - takes it round the block, says 'naah' and then orders the same bike on the internet, leaving the shop with a 'used' bike. I myself have never had a test ride on a road bike, and never expected one either - Many shops would expect customers to be similarly knowledgeable - particularly if you're going to be spending a couple of grand. Get yourself measured-up, so you know what toptube and stem length etc you need - rather than just taking a 'stock' bike. Some models of bike are also 'special order' - shop orders frame and components and often are non-refundable - who's going to order in a 62cm frame with Record kit to find out the buyer isn't genuine? Fine if you're after a Specialized, Giant or a Trek, but don't expect a similar response from smaller brands.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • BeaconRuth
    BeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    Monty Dog wrote:
    I myself have never had a test ride on a road bike, and never expected one either...........
    I was talking this issue over with a clubmate on the clubrun today because this thread had really got me thinking. Both of us are the same as Monty Dog, which seems to contrast markedly with everyone else. :shock:

  • my local shop doesn't have a problem with a long ride but i'v'e known him for 20 years and have never bought a bike from anyone else.

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • phelim
    phelim Posts: 91
    as already been said it is diffucult to tell between genuine customers & tyre kickers, but i have a big enough area to test ride bikes with a 12% hill facing me, so i don't mind customers test riding but have'nt come accross anyone wanting a bike for a whole day. after xmas i will have my full range of road bikes in stock & plan to use my own Willier as a test bike.
  • Lagavulin
    Lagavulin Posts: 1,688
    Apologies for raising this thread from the dead...

    Now whatever I get, i'll be swtiching from an '06 Allez Sport.
    But I'm looking at a Roubaix Expert '08, the Cannondale Synapse, perhaps a Bianchi C2C, but the Spesh Tarmac is also a late entry as I've read its maybe not quite the harsh ride I had imagined.

    I'm wondering if we all stuck 25mm Roubaix tyres on and ran them at less than a 100 PSI if all bikes would seem fairly compliant and if the Roubaix Expert is all its cracked up to be wtih Zertz this and FACT that.

    Though I could quite fancy something like an Orbea Orca or Colnago CLX I, I think something more mainstream from Specialized, Giant or Cannondale would be a better bet due to the local bikeshops.

    All I would say is that come February/March, when Christmas is finally paid for, and having bought two bikes and nearly £1900 of accessories and clothing from them, I'd hope Edinburgh Bike Co-op wouldn't see me as a "tyre kicker".

    In my experience much depends on which sales assistant descends on you from the onset. One lad virtually wrote off my dinked Allez on first viewing whilst a second guy jumped in, took the bike to the frame expert out the back and had its geo checked in a jig and returned with a clean bill of health but "any worries, bring it back and we'll double check it and take it for a test ride".
  • nolf
    nolf Posts: 1,287
    When I was looking at buying my winter training bike (cinelli xperience) my LBS who I have a pretty good relationship with let me have a test ride. I turned up on my bike as well, so they just took the SPD's off my bike, put it on the test bike and said give it a go, say an hour or two?

    Which was quite nice of them. :)

    I only had to go for about 30 minutes to know that it was a very well set up bike.

    Just look for well set up, smooth gear changes etc, cornering, high speeds (if possible) descending (if possible), and stomping on the pedals for quick accelerations- I find these are what I most notice. Comfort is harder to tell as many saddles will take a while to get used to anyway.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • Random Vince
    Random Vince Posts: 11,374
    i sat on my road bike, that was all the test i got since it was unridable.

    then stripped it down and restored it before riding it for the first time, not the best practice really :)
    My signature was stolen by a moose

    that will be all

    trying to get GT James banned since tuesday
  • guinea
    guinea Posts: 1,177
    When I got my Wilier from cyclesurgery they made me pay a deposit which was the full price of the bike.

    So basically they made me buy it with the option of a refund if I didn't want it.

    It's a pain in the behind, because the money leaves your account instantly and takes up to five days to get returned. So if you don't buy you are out of pocket a couple of grand for a week.

    It's good for the bike shop as it means they don't get timewasters on their bikes, but bad for consumers as I now can't go anywhere else to but a bike for a week.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    As soon as a new bike is wheeled out the door - for anything more than a ride round the block - the dealer loses about 25% of it's value - in some case the entire margin that he would make on the sale of the bike. You can see why many dealers who are reluctant to give test rides. Equally, many distributors don't offer sale or return and don't provide discounts on demo bikes. Some of the major brands do offer demo bikes, but if you're looking at the smaller brands like Colnago, Wilier, Pinarello, DeRosa and the like they just can't afford to. The one way you can prove you're a committed customer is the offer a bike fitting - using a static bike the dealer can identify your ideal geometry and fit and therefore guide you towards a bike suited to your requirements - you'll get far more from that experience that a quick whizz around the block.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..