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  1. #1
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Test ride--denied

    Eagerly anticipating the purchase of my first new bike in some years, I stopped by a LBS (Extreme Sports in Charlottesville, VA) to check out a bike that I am very interested in purchasing.

    When I asked about a test ride, the shop guy said, "You can ride around the parking lot." He said that they don't allow longer test rides.

    I was surprised and said, "Ok, I'll buy the bike somewhere else." I doubt I'll ever return to that shop, but I'm wondering, is the practice of "parking lot only" test rides normal? If so, how does one get a real feel for a bike in a two-minute spin around a parking lot?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Eagerly anticipating the purchase of my first new bike in some years, I stopped by a LBS (Extreme Sports in Charlottesville, VA) to check out a bike that I am very interested in purchasing.

    When I asked about a test ride, the shop guy said, "You can ride around the parking lot." He said that they don't allow longer test rides.

    I was surprised and said, "Ok, I'll buy the bike somewhere else." I doubt I'll ever return to that shop, but I'm wondering, is the practice of "parking lot only" test rides normal? If so, how does one get a real feel for a bike in a two-minute spin around a parking lot?

    So maybe they have had bikes stolen from them. Maybe ask them if you can leave your credit card or car keys or something. You can easily get a feel for a bike while riding it around a parking lot or road though, I have bought all my bikes by just riding them around like that.

  3. #3
    Feed me your soul! Jakey's Avatar
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    If they let you go farther, and you crash or whatever, then they have to try to sell the damaged bike to someone else.. I guess it depends on what kind of bike it was... if your test riding a $5,000 madone or something I can see them not wanting you to ride off into the sunset..

  4. #4
    Censorship Stinks! pcsanity1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakey
    If they let you go farther, and you crash or whatever, then they have to try to sell the damaged bike to someone else.. I guess it depends on what kind of bike it was... if your test riding a $5,000 madone or something I can see them not wanting you to ride off into the sunset..
    I personally have to say...with that test ride policy, I will not even talk to the shop. They want you to test drive it in the most dangerous possible location, not! As for the 5k issue, a bike is a small ticket item compared to an automobile. Can you imagine a car dealer saying you can test drive it around the parking lot!

    Find a new shop...quick.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanity1
    I personally have to say...with that test ride policy, I will not even talk to the shop. They want you to test drive it in the most dangerous possible location, not! As for the 5k issue, a bike is a small ticket item compared to an automobile. Can you imagine a car dealer saying you can test drive it around the parking lot!

    Find a new shop...quick.

    Wow.....

    Yea maybe that shop should start letting everybody take a test ride on muddy trails and downhill and stuff. Then they could have the opportunity of washing all the bikes, cleaning the tires off and making the bike look new. Maybe dealing with bikes that come back with scratches....and then having to take money off the price of the bike when somebody asks about it.

    What kind of test ride were you looking to take the bike on? If you were 95% set on one bike, you liked the price and looks and components and everything, then I could see you wanting to take the bike out on a real test ride on trails or something. But if it was a bike you were "looking at" and had other bikes in mind then why should they let you take it out and really ride it? I am sure you could have talked one of the sales people into riding with you if you wanted to go hop a few curbs or ride up some hills or something, or ride
    it on something other than pavement. It dosent sound like you even gave the guy a chance, "ok i'll buy the bike somewhere else".

  6. #6
    Senior Member Xtrmyorick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KleinMp99
    Yea maybe that shop should start letting everybody take a test ride on muddy trails and downhill and stuff. Then they could have the opportunity of washing all the bikes, cleaning the tires off and making the bike look new. Maybe dealing with bikes that come back with scratches....and then having to take money off the price of the bike when somebody asks about it.
    It's quite possible that Blackberry is talking ahout a road bike, and not a mountain bike. In that case, taking it for a test ride probably wouldn't result in a whole lot of mud or very many scratches on the bike.

    I think it's perfectly acceptable to expect to be allowed to actually test a bike on the kind of surface you're going to be riding on. A parking lot is going to be a lot smoother than actual roads, so it wouldn't give any indication of how the bike handles rough roads and vibrations.

  7. #7
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Yes it was a road bike, and I would have handled the potential new purchase with much respect. I certainly would have been willing to leave a credit card or driver's license, but the shop guy basically told me, "we don't allow road tests." I very much wanted to check out its climbing ability on smooth roads among other things.
    The amazing thing is that I had done signficant research on this bike and was just about ready to buy untiil I felt blown off by the shop. I wouldn't have asked for a discount or jawboned on the price. I respect the need for a small business to make a decent profit. I just wanted to be sure that a $2000+ investment was well
    founded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Yes it was a road bike, and I would have handled the potential new purchase with much respect. I certainly would have been willing to leave a credit card or driver's license, but the shop guy basically told me, "we don't allow road tests." I very much wanted to check out its climbing ability on smooth roads among other things.
    The amazing thing is that I had done signficant research on this bike and was just about ready to buy untiil I felt blown off by the shop. I wouldn't have asked for a discount or jawboned on the price. I respect the need for a small business to make a decent profit. I just wanted to be sure that a $2000+ investment was well
    founded.
    Still you could have reasoned with the guy. For some reason I thought it was a mountain bike right away, possibly because the name of the bike shop "extreme sports"

  9. #9
    Senior Member djbowen1's Avatar
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    road racing isn't "extreme" ???

  10. #10
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    If I owned a bike shop you would not leave the parking lot either. Allowing people to ride off down the road for test rides is stupid.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  11. #11
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    It dosent sound like you even gave the guy a chance, "ok i'll buy the bike somewhere else".[/QUOTE]

    Actually, he never gave me a chance. If he had given me a chance to ride the bike for more than two mintues, I'm almost certain I would have bought the it--and at his price. But I guess that's the beauty of the capitalist system. He exercised his freedom of choice. So did I.

  12. #12
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamDaBikinMan
    If I owned a bike shop you would not leave the parking lot either. Allowing people to ride off down the road for test rides is stupid.
    Really? I've bought a number of high-end bikes exactly in that manner with excellent results.

  13. #13
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    OK blackberry, lets put this in a perspective you might understand.

    You start a business and put 100,000 dollars into inventory. The money for the inventory is borrowed on top of that. It is a normal business practice to borrow money to cover the business instead of using your own capitol.

    In strolls a man you have never met in your life insisting you let him ride off down the highway on a 2000 dollar peice of merchandise you really do not even own yourself. Realizing how likely it is that if stolen that the bike will never be recovered by the police what do you do.

    Think about it.
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  14. #14
    seeking simple
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    I understand these people that are thinking they would be weary of letting someone test ride if it was their own shop (but Klein definitely has an attitude), but how can you be expected to drop such a chunk of change without even knowing if you're happy with something? Leaving something behind will solve the anti-trust problem. Being happy with the price and the looks will only do good if the bike sits in the living room as a decoration. Let's face it, nobody (I hope) buys a car without test driving. When a bike is made to be ridden, how do you know it'll work for you if you don't ride it? It's just ridiculous to be expected to get a feel for the bike by just looking and riding in circles.

    When I bought my Cannondale a while back, I test rode the three I was choosing from all at least twice, and these were rides as long as I felt comfortable. (around town) I somply wouldn't have made a purchase without doing so, and they understood. Actually, a test ride was understood on their part, and freely offered, I left my purse behind each time.

    Finding a different shop instead of spending so much without really knowing what you're getting is an awesome idea. Good luck!

    Jessica

  15. #15
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    Sam, how will you ever make that money back that you've borrowed if you don't make a profit? People need to know what they'd actually be buying from you, and lot of them wouldn't want to make such an expensive mistake based on looks, components or price, etc. Perhaps $2000 just isn't such a big deal to you?

    No shop should just trust so quickly, either, without getting something of value in return from the customer before they leave with the bike.

  16. #16
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    Around here, when you test drive a car, the salesperson stays with you, and additionally they take a photocopy of your license. Perhaps the shop owner could designate someone to ride with you on that test?

    When I bought my Lemond, there was no problem with the test ride. But, I had been into the shop several times discussing what I wanted in a bike and the owner and I were on good terms.

    When I came back from my test ride, the owner complained that my ride was too short, I should have stayed out longer.

    But, since I was coming off of a mtn bike, and had never done much riding of a road bike, I pretty much left the recommendation of what to get to the LBS owner, who has a great reputation in those areas.

    I really did not know a lot as to what I wanted in a road bike, except that I had a loonngg torso and short legs, and I wanted something faster than a mtn bike! So a test ride did not mean a lot.

    Fortunately, he chose well for me, and I have never had to change anything about the "fit" (except I raised the seat 1/4 inch) in almost 5 years.
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  17. #17
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    You sign a wavier,leave your DL and a CC.That covers everything doesnt it.Both times i tested a bike,a salesman came with me to ride and talk to me. We rode around for 15 minutes at one lbs and 10-15 at another.

  18. #18
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    Sam, how will you ever make that money back that you've borrowed if you don't make a profit? People need to know what they'd actually be buying from you, and lot of them wouldn't want to make such an expensive mistake based on looks, components or price, etc. Perhaps $2000 just isn't such a big deal to you?
    There is also the added angle of what stipulations there might be in the shops insurance providers. If I provided insurance to protect this shop I might stipulate that they cannot allow bikes to be ridden off the property in the event of theft or even bodily injury of the customer after you have sent them on their way down the road.

    There are all kinds of reasons for limiting test rides.

    BUT...he was not in fact denied a test ride he was just told he could not ride beyond a specified area. Was it a shopping center where there is room for sprinting to a decent speed or was it a 10 car parking lot with no room whatsoever?
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    Quote Originally Posted by schwinnbikelove
    I understand these people that are thinking they would be weary of letting someone test ride if it was their own shop (but Klein definitely has an attitude)

    Haha that was kind of random. I am just discussing the topic, I dont see why you think I have an attitude just because of this. Maybe I should have put a few more 's in my posts...

  20. #20
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    At our shop you give us you drivers liscense or other ID(Sometimes with a credit card) and you can test ride a bike for a reasonable length of time. We allow some long test rides for high end bikes and tandems with the understanding that if you damage it your purchase choice has been made. The only rules are no skidding and no riding in the dirt(Dirty bikes are not new bikes)

    In my opinion, letting bikes out the door with no collateral(ID or whatever) is foolish.

    I prefer that our customers go out in the local neighborhood to test ride. They can pay more attention to the ride and worry less about getting run over by the A-holes rushing to buy organic at the whole food store in our shopping center.
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  21. #21
    Almost Immortal The Rob's Avatar
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    When my wife and I went to our bike shop to select our bikes, our salesman practically shooed us out into the neighborhood with them (twice for me, as I test-rode a Gary Fisher before setting eyes on the Trek). They of course required us to leave our licenses with them (dur!), but it was assumed that we couldn't possibly make a decision by simply straddling the machines in the showroom or by pedaling the short stretch of sidewalk adjacent to their miniscule parking lot.

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  22. #22
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Actually, a test ride was understood on their part, and freely offered, I left my purse behind each time.

    Finding a different shop instead of spending so much without really knowing what you're getting is an awesome idea. Good luck!

    Jessica[/QUOTE]

    Thanks, Jessica, for your good suggestion.

    I had been to the shop three times to talk with the staff before I even asked for a test ride. I would have been happy to leave a wallet/driver's licence, or anything else they asked for. Or I would have been happy to ride with a shop employee. Despite all the flaming re: my question, I still don't think anyone has answered how one can get a sense of a bike riding circles around a parking lot. I have a lot of respect for small business owners, but I guess I also needed to feel like I was in my comfort zone with regard to a big decision. I've bought bikes from great shops (like West Hill in Putney Vt.) where there's just a good vibe between customers and staff. That's what I'll look for again here in the hospitable south.

  23. #23
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
    In my opinion, letting bikes out the door with no collateral(ID or whatever) is foolish.
    My FBS seems to have a bunch of different test ride policies. For almost everyone, they'll require a CC and copy of some form of ID. For some bikes, they require a refundable deposit which they will of course apply to the purchase of the bike should the customer want to buy it. Then for other people such as myself, they just let the bike roll with out the door without much concern. I've developed a pretty good relationship with them and am friends with the owners so they have been known to let me have the bike for a weekend. I do like that idea of the salesperson joining in on the test ride (that definately would demonstrate a personal touch) if it's short enough and things were slow enough but I guess that wouldn't scale very well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
    I prefer that our customers go out in the local neighborhood to test ride. They can pay more attention to the ride and worry less about getting run over by the A-holes rushing to buy organic at the whole food store in our shopping center.
    Agreed. IMHO, parking lots are some of the most dangerous places to be riding. All the bike shops I've ever visited have suggested riding areas that are low in traffic but offer enough distance and terrain to truly exercise the qualities of the bike.
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  24. #24
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    Test Riding A New Bike

    You can't get a good feel for a new bike riding it around your local bike shop's parking lot. Most parking lots wouldn't have enough area to take the bike out of low gear.

    As mentioned, you should be able to leave car keys, or a credit card. Or the salesperson should be willing to hop on a bike, and ride with you around the neighborhood.

    Today, a lot of bikes can be considered a major purchase. It's not unrealistic to want to try out a particular model, and make sure it's right for you, before you buy it. If the bike shop lets you take the bike, or several bikes out for a spin, and you find one you like and purchase, you will probably return to the same shop for servicing, accessories, etc. On the other hand, if you can't go beyond the parking lot testing a bike, and aren't able to get a good feel for how it rides (other then in circles), you may have regrets later on after buying this bike, if you discover it's not suited to the riding you do.

    If there are no other bike shops around, and you can't test ride around the neighborhood. I think no riding around the neighborhood warrants repeated, & extended parking lot riding with each bike you are considering. Test ride a bike, and then stall afterwards making it a point to the bike shop, that you're not sure. Then do another test ride. You should be able to do this several times a day, for each model.

  25. #25
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    When i was looking for my bike the guys at the bike show encouraged me to test ride 3 bikes up the hill just outside their shop. If they told me I could only ride it in their parking lot I dont think I would have made the right decision on the bike I bought as the first two did not feel quite as good.

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