I'm fairly new here, but I love this place! I recently returned to cycling (used to ride mtb, now road) after about 9 years away, and I'm completely addicted. As I get back into it, I fear I'm going to fast outgrow my flatbar road bike. I love the bike, but I think I'll soon be ready for a more "serious" road bike (with drop bars, to begin with).
Anyhow, my question is mainly for those of you who have purchased some of of the less common bikes--like Colnago, Guerciotti, and the many, many others that aren't necessarily in every LBS. I'd like to test ride a wide array, besides the more "typical" (though great, I'm sure) Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, etc. How do you guys do that? I wouldn't want to plunk the money down for something I couldn't test, and I wouldn't want to buy something if I know there is a world I haven't tested, so I'm wondering how you guys do it? I have loads of LBS nearby here in NYC, but there are tons of brands I'd like to try out that don't seem to be here.
Just curious. Thanks so much!
Long Distance Cyclist
I test rode my Marinoni Ciclo after I bought it.
I'm not sure I see the point of the test ride. What exactly are you checking for?
Size? A good bicycle company should have sizing charts and advice on their websites. A great bicycle company will custom build the bicycle to your size.
Material? I'm just guessing here but I'm thinking that if you rode an aluminum bicycle, a carbon bicycle, and a steel bicycle, of whatever brand, they'll feel much like any other aluminum, carbon, or steel bicycle.
Geometry? Again a good bicycle company will list all the specs on their site or in their catalogue. If you find another, more common bicycle of the same geometry and material, the ride will likely be very, very similar.
Components? They can be changed to just about whatever you want.
When I got Machak (my Marinoni), I had ridden several hand-me-down bicycles that were way too big for me and an aluminum bicycle that is approx. my size. After several years of that, and getting to know exactly what I wanted in a bicycle, I started my hunt for custom bicycles. My search ended with Marinoni because they could give me what I wanted within my budget ....... and several weeks later I had a steel bicycle built for me with the components I wanted at the time. Since then I have made numerous changes to him ... carbon forks became steel ... carbon seatpost became aluminum ... saddle became a Brooks, crankset became smaller (and no more carbon cranks) ... front wheel has been relaced with a new hub ... the whole rear wheel is new ... cassette and chain have been replaced ... handlebars were replaced early on with some I liked. His frame is still the same ... but almost everything else has changed.
Measure your current bicycle and make a list of things you like and dislike about it. Then think about what you want to do with this bicycle ... do you want to tour? ride recreationally? race? commute? do long distance riding? Then with your goals in mind, make a wish list. And finally do some research online on all the bicycle brands you mentioned and any others you can think of, and see which ones match.
All Mod Cons
Originally Posted by Machka
Oh, and while stuff like handlebars can easily be changed, it's even betetr if they don't have to be changed. So maybe two very similar models have different types of handlebars (shallow drops versus deeper, for example). You may go with the one that feels better.
Test rides probably become less necessary the more bikes you have ridden and the longer you have ridden them, but I can't se ehow they can hurt.
Good points, both of you, and thanks!
I guess I was asking because it seems like many, many people MUST be getting bikes sight unseen, but it's obviously knowledgeable people who are doing that. I suppose my first proper road bike should be something maybe a bit more common, so that I am able to do some test rides to see what feels better. I just don't have enough knowledge yet to go with something I've only seen in a photo.
Originally Posted by Machka
You're checking for feel. A TREK1000 and a Spec. Allez are almost the sme bike, but they feel worlds different to me. Maybe in top dollar bikes the feel is not that different?
I would recommend test riding for people who are n00bs to cycling (like myself), to at least get an idea of what style(s) you like, what seems comfortable, etc.
All the info about frame geometries and other facets of cycles can seem very complex and overwhelming at first, to somebody with little experience. Its easy to get analysis paralysis and become discouraged. But by going to a shop and hopping on some bikes, something will eventually "click". This isn't to say a person shouldn't make an informed decision prior to settling on a bike, but ordering a bike sight unseen based on frame-type measurements a custom bike builder might want, is over most people's heads initially.
Standover height and wheelbase were about as deep as I got into the learning curve before settling on a Trek FX for commuting.
Again, thanks for the replies! Yeah, that's the thing--I'm pretty new after so much time off, and since I'm now addicted to road riding, my knowledge is mostly limited to what I have learned from mags and this site.
So the thing for me is I really want to know the real difference between the bikes I can easily test (Trek, Specialized, and the like) and those that are less common. How much difference is there between, say, a comparable middle of the road LeMond, Trek, Specialized, and Colnago? It's crazy that I seen so many uncommon bikes over the past couple of months here in Central Park, and I can't believe so many of these riders bought them without a test ride.
Long Distance Cyclist
There's a good chance that they bought them without a test ride. Like I mentioned, I didn't test ride Machak before I bought him. In fact, I'd never even been on a Marinoni before I bought him. I just had a pretty good idea what I wanted and the Marinoni Ciclo matched what I wanted. Most of them have probably ridden several different types of bicycles and had a pretty good idea what they wanted, and what type of bicycle and components would give them what they wanted.
Originally Posted by bikegummo
If they did test ride their bicycles they may have done so by riding the bicycles of other people in their club (although, I'll warn you that many cyclists are pretty touchy about having someone else ride their bicycles), or travelling to places with shops that have these other bicycles.
And keep in mind ... the particular bicycle you test ride in the shop may not be the bicycle you get anyway. Those are often "demo" models and they'll order yours from the manufacturer or if they are a big enough shop they'll build one up for you from the stock they have in the back.