Accidental hybrid purchase - test ride

prophet01
prophet01 Posts: 26
edited May 2016 in Commuting general
Ciao folks

To set the scene:
I'm an athletic 55 year old squash player (Div 1 standard 3/4 times a week) and fair weather (spring/summer) occasional cyclist. Only cycle to squash and occasional trips to supermarket if not cold.

Last week, having decide it was about mild enough to go two wheels, I de-mothballed my steed of 4 years (bought for the princely sum of £30 off fleaBay) and prepared it for it's short lived seasonal usage.

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Last Tuesday, whilst leisurely cycling through the city centre en route to play a squash match, I noticed a branch of Cycle Republic on the corner. As I had time to kill and, as I'd been considering installing a rear rack, I thought I'd take the opportunity to see what they had to offer.

On entering my eyes were immediately drawn to the visually appealing array of shiny new bikes. As I perused the shiny things an enthusiastic sprog of an assistant shouted across the showroom:
"Hello mate, need any help?"

Not being one who relishes a shouting style conversation I simply nodded confirmation as he made his way across the showroom toward me. Once close enough to begin a civilised interchange I smiled and confirmed:
"Yes, I would indeed appreciate your assistance, however, I'd be really grateful if you didn't refer to me as mate, buddy, pal or by any other such informal prefix. I'm a customer, we are not acquainted"

He froze for a few seconds then attempted a stuttering apology which I cut short:
"That's ok. I'm considering buying a new bike. I know next to nothing about bikes and need some help in deciding what would be suitable."

I lied. I didn't come in with a view to buying a bike. Then I thought... were I actually considering buying a bike what would I say? How would it go? I decided to run with this hypothetical situation so...off we went.

"No problem" he gleefully replied.

"Firstly, that's the bike I'm considering replacing" I exclaimed, pointing through the window at my machine tethered to one of the gleaming Sheffield cycle stands set into the pavement
"It cost me 30 quid four years ago and does what I need it to do. Short, relaxed journeys to get me from A to B"

"I understand, but if it does all you want why are you looking to replace it?" queried he.

Hmm, good question, I thought.
What justification could I possibly have to shell out my hard earned cash to replace something which performs its solely utilitarian role perfectly adequately. I paused for a few seconds to consider that self posed question.

"Because I work hard, week in week out, to maintain a good quality of life (as do many others) so I've decided to treat myself to a new bike" I initially bluffed. But the more I thought about it the more it became apparent, at least from my perspective, that it was actually reasonable justification.

With that last thought I had, in effect, decided to buy a new bike. This was no longer a hypothetical exercise, this was for real.

The next 30 minutes were spent looking through the display of hybrid bikes from the budget, but wholly adequate, sub £150 offerings up to the higher end delights with my eager guide explaining the differing specifications and features at the differing price points.

A brief glance at my watch confirmed that I was now late for my squash match. Thanking my guide for his assistance I shook his hand and confirmed that I'd consider all the information he'd imparted to me in my new quest to find the right bike. So, having entered the shop to while away a little time, I exited having persuaded myself to treat myself to a new bike.

Late that evening, on returning home from squash, I poured myself a glass of red wine and parked myself in front of my computer to do some research armed with the knowledge I'd acquired earlier. I'd already decided, whilst in CR (Cycle Republic/Halfords) the highest price point/specification at which I could justify for my treat. The closest matching offering at CR was the Voodoo Marasa.


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This bike, I decided, would form the basis of my research. So, for the next few hours, into the early morning, I searched for every available piece of information about this bike; read reviews, read forum discussions, watched videos. I then researched other manufacturers' offerings at this price point.

Some three hours and a bottle of Aldi's Grapevine Merlot later I'd reached the conclusion, albeit based upon my scant knowledge and self research, that the Voodoo Marasa appeared to have no equal in respect of features/specification at it's price of £340. I sauntered off to bed convinced that this was the bike I'd buy.

The following morning, having slept on the matter and with a clear head, I thought it'd be a good idea to elicit the view of the Marasa of someone impartial and knowledgeable. The person I had in mind was an Italian bloke I played squash with on a regular basis whilst residing some years ago on the beautiful Thai island of Phuket.

Now, I know he's knowledgeable about bikes because a few years ago he invited me over to his home in a lovely town some 40km north east of Venice. When we arrived at his home, after picking me up from the airport, he opened his rather large garage to reveal what in reality was a cycle workshop.

All the time I'd known him in Thailand he'd never mentioned his love of cycling and that from a young age he'd built his own bikes for racing. Now living back in Italy he'd continued where he'd left off.

So yesterday I emailed Ettore a link to the Marasa and asked him his opinion of the bike, its price and features based on the way I would use it. When I called him yesterday evening he'd not long been back from a 140km run. He initially appeared decidedly underwhelmed but, as the conversation continued, it became apparent that this was clearly because of his own high standards and expectations.

Once I'd reiterated the circumstances for buying the bike and my intended usage he appeared a little more enthused and stated his opinion that for the price the feature set and specification were quite good. However, whilst looking at the site he did push me to consider the Boardman Hybrid Comp but I really couldn't justify the additional £150.

That afternoon I rang CR to discuss the purchase of the Marasa
"Hello, Cycle Republic"

"Oh hello. I was in the shop the other day and Tom did a great job of showing me the hybrid bikes. I've pretty much settled on the Voodoo Marasa but I want to take it for a spin before confirming."

"No problem. You can come in tomorrow as long as you bring a credit card and ID"

"Great. I assume you have an 18" model in store as the one on the showroom floor was 20"

"Let me just check the stock. Unfortunately not, we only have the 20" in store for you to test"

"What's the point in me test riding the wrong size bike, it won't fit. Can't you have an 18" delivered to store and made up for me"?

"Unfortunately that's not our policy."

"Well I assure you I wouldn't consider for a second buying anything on that basis"

"Er, well look, erm, as you've been in the shop already I'll make an exception and have an 18" model brought in and made up just for you. Is that ok?"

"Yes of course that's ok, thank you. But what an odd sales policy"

CRs have since called to confirm that the bike has been delivered, made up and is ready for me to test which I shall do tomorrow.

My initial intention was simply to ask if there's anything I should do on the test ride to check that the bike's right for me. I just got carried away with the story which I hope some will find enjoyable and possibly helpful to other initiates to the purchasing game.

Ciao
Prophet

Comments

  • The Rookie
    The Rookie Posts: 27,812
    Certainly all halfords will get in the right size for you
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • apreading
    apreading Posts: 4,535
    Marasa is a good solid, dependable bike. Its a bit heavy but nothing wrong for the price. You might like to look at the Carrera Subway at the same time - similar bike, maybe a bit cheaper but slightly smaller wheels (wont make much difference to you).

    The Boardman would be well worth the extra money - much lighter & better components - but if you cant justify the money then dont spend it.

    If you have a Decathlon near you then have a look there - their bikes are incredible value too: http://www.decathlon.co.uk/C-376962-hyb ... ring-bikes
  • The Rookie
    The Rookie Posts: 27,812
    The tyres on the Marasa are notable heavy, some better lighte tyres turn it into quite a sprightly ride, I know two very happy owners of the previous generation model.
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    The Rookie wrote:
    The tyres on the Marasa are notable heavy, some better lighte tyres turn it into quite a sprightly ride, I know two very happy owners of the previous generation model.

    Appreciate the input Rookie.
    During my boozy, late night research session I did stumble across and take note of your numerous posts recommending this bike for its good value which helped nudge me toward my decision to trial.

    Now however...
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    apreading wrote:
    ...The Boardman would be well worth the extra money - much lighter & better components - but if you cant justify the money then don't spend it....

    Nicely balanced comment.
    You're the fourth person to opine that the difference in cost between the two is easily outweighed by the overall increase in quality of the Boardman.

    Can I justify the additional expenditure? On the basis of the above, a resounding yes I can, plus the fact that I find the Boardman more aesthetically attractive.

    So, earlier today I called CR and queried the availability of the Boardman Comp 45cm size for a test ride.
    The female assistant confirmed it to not be in stock but, without any prompting, immediately suggested they could order one in and have it ready for a test ride on Monday. I eagerly accepted.

    412515553.jpg

    Roll on Monday.
  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    Is that an Emmelle Panther? I had a Cheetah then a Cougar XL in the 90s.
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    supersonic wrote:
    Is that an Emmelle Panther? I had a Cheetah then a Cougar XL in the 90s.

    Indeed it is...at least that's what the livery says.

    As I said at the beginning of the thread, I bought it for £30 off fleaBay some 4 years ago. I thought it was a great buy at the time, at least for what I wanted, and asked the old bloke why he was selling it so cheaply. He said that since retiring from work he simply enjoyed spending his days doing up knackered old bikes people used to give him for free. He'd then sell them cheaply for quick turnaround as he kept being given so many. Extremely contented chap he appeared too.

    It continues to do what I need of it which, admittedly, ain't really a lot. The only reason for replacing it is to treat myself to a new bike.

    On which note, ahead of my test ride of the two bikes previously mentioned (now tomorrow), I had reason yesterday to visit a retail park which contained a Halfords. As I'd not actually inspected the Boardman in "real life" since having it recommended for consideration by numerous people I thought I'd take the opportunity to have a look and feel.

    I have to say that on "static" inspection it looks and feels wholly superior to the Voodoo and I suspect, once I've taken them both for a spin, it will feel "actively" superior also.

    Watch this space for an update.
  • The Rookie
    The Rookie Posts: 27,812
    You'd expect the Boardman to look better made even the price difference, its also a different bike, the Marasa is basically a 29er rigid MTB with Hybrid tryes, the Boardman is close to a CX bike with flat bars.

    One of my best buys was a Townsend off ebay for £5.50, was great for the son to use when he was at college as it was left in town all day.
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    So....the day of reckoning arrives.

    To cut to the chase, took each bike for a 20 minute spin around the city this early evening, on the flat, up and down steep hills, in peak time traffic and on quiet side roads.

    I'm absolutely blown away by the level of performance of both bikes relative to what I'm used to. Of course, I knew there would be a sizeable difference with mine being so old, however, what I hadn't anticipated was the magnitude.

    The relative ease in accelerating from standstill, the instant response when laying down additional power in flight, but what impressed me the most was the braking performance. Once I realised how good it was (for both) I felt confident with increasing my general speed, particularly on steep descents in the city traffic. As soon as the brake lights of the car in front came on I hit mine and immediately decelerated at the same, if not a higher, rate.

    I had intended to buy immediately after the trial runs but once back in CR showroom and the sales guy asked which I preferred I honestly couldn't tell him.

    The more upright riding position of the Voodoo Marasa felt more natural and comfortable but that's probably down to it being more similar to mine. Common sense suggests that I'd become equally comfortable once I'd gotten used to the more racy position of the Boardman plus the fact that I ride exclusively on road.

    Anyway, I said I'd sleep on the decision and go back tomorrow to purchase. Having had time to consider matters I'm leaning more to the Boardman. Oh yeah, the sales guy said whichever I decided upon there would be a 10% discount. Bonus!!!

    Any thoughts to assist my decision?
  • tangled_metal
    tangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    The Boardman is a road hybrid the voodoo is a 29er mountain bike I think. In fact it's even more stark difference because the Boardman is effectively a flat bar road bike with road tyres for better rolling on tarmac. Probably lighter too.

    FWIW I looked at the voodoo on Friday and even the carrera bike that looked similar but cheaper. The Boardman just looked a step up. I'm always a sucker for specs. I start off with a budget then see something with the higher level groups at (gears) for just a little more. So my budget gets blurred to this new price. Then another small step up gets hydraulic brakes or a better make of mechanical disc brakes. It's a conveyor belt that you need to know when to get off.

    One last point, the voodoo is mountain bike with lower gearing and 3 front chainrings. The Boardman is only a two chainring bike with a bigger, big chairing and the small chainring is bigger than the voodoo small ring (a compact iirc).

    What this means the Boardman will not run out of gears when speeding downhill on a fast road. Really steep hills you might struggle a little since it doesn't have the granny gears of the voodoo bike. For what you're doing either would work ok but the flat bar road bike Boardman is likely to get you around quicker than the voodoo. Better gears, better brakes, better frame/forks, better/narrower tyres = faster and IMHO a better looking bike.
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    ...What this means the Boardman will not run out of gears when speeding downhill on a fast road. Really steep hills you might struggle a little since it doesn't have the granny gears of the voodoo bike. For what you're doing either would work ok but the flat bar road bike Boardman is likely to get you around quicker than the voodoo. Better gears, better brakes, better frame/forks, better/narrower tyres = faster and IMHO a better looking bike.

    Ha ha, "granny gears", I like that turn of phrase. Similar to "coffin dodgers" we used to say when referring to the elderly; probably means me know.

    As far as steep hills are concerned as soon as I first hit one within minutes of starting my trials with neither bike did I have to go particularly high as, with the lightness of the bikes combined with having a high leg power to weight ratio (being a high level squash player and only 60k) I was able to apply a little more power and up I went with ease. Yet another huge difference which impressed me compared to my usual ride.

    So...having slept on the matter my decision is to go with the Boardman for pretty much the same reasons TM set out. Higher specification, lighter, faster, more suited to my usage and, as I mentioned earlier, it looks better IMO.

    I shall walk to CR this afternoon (it's only 10 mins away) and pick up the Boardman.

    Thanks to all who've contributed to this thread. With your assistance I've found my bike!!!

    Cheers
    Prophet
  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,974
    Order it online via Topcashback to get 3.15% back above the standard current promo in-store and online of 10% off.;)
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • prophet01
    prophet01 Posts: 26
    Ha ha....and then ride it into CR doing wheelies around the showroom shouting "thanks for the free test rides suckers" before riding ride out giving the finger behind.

    Actually, thinking about it, the purchase would still be with CR/Halfords I suppose.
    Nah, Can't be arsed :lol:
  • I have the one up from the Boardman Comp (the Team) and a Carrera Subway. I like them both, but the Boardman is way more fun to ride, lighter, and with slicks on goes much quicker. That's not to say the Subway is bad - I use it for work commuting, because with M+ tyres fitted it's virtually bombproof - just that the Boardman is more fun.
    Carrera Subway 2015
    Boardman Hybrid Team 2014