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Old 12-11-09, 10:59 AM   #1
slipknot0129
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How do you test drive a bike right?

I havent ridden a bike since I was a kid. Im buying me a bike soon. How do you test drive a bike to make sure its the one you want? Im not sure what it should feel like. I think im getting a cyclocross so I will have the choice of either redline or cannondale at my lbs.
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Old 12-11-09, 11:03 AM   #2
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It is kinda like wearing a new pair of shoes.
You will know when it fits Good.
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Old 12-11-09, 11:07 AM   #3
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some places to start:
http://www.jimlangley.net/crank/howtobuyabike1.html
http://bicycleuniverse.info/eqp/fit.html
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Old 12-11-09, 11:19 AM   #4
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First, you ride a bike and drive a car. Sorry..

But seriously, test riding a bike doesn't tell you much. Have the bike shop measure you to find out which size would work best for you and just pick the one you like the most. A bike that feels perfect around their parking lot, may feel like crap 20 miles down the road and vise versa. I wouldn't bother unless you can take it for a weekend and put a good amount of miles on it.
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Old 12-11-09, 12:45 PM   #5
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It is kinda like wearing a new pair of shoes.
You will know when it fits Good.
but do you have to do all the silly things you do when you buy a shoe - like pushing the shoe down to find out where you toe is, or looking at your shoe from a floor level angle mirror?!
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Old 12-11-09, 01:13 PM   #6
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It really helps if you have something with which compare your test bike.
I know that test bikes are not going to be setup 100% right for me and that my position may change from bike to bike. I've ridden enough bikes to know that each one has its own character and you soon get used to it.
I like to get a feel for
acceleration and braking.
steering agility at low speed
steering stability on higher speeds and descents
though-control around corner, ie the bike just goes where you want it too without much positive input.
bunny-hopability; this is a test of forward-aft weight distribution. I like a little forward weight so when I take it off I can hop curbs.

I dont pay too much attention to saddle comfort, this can be changed.

At a bike show in London they had a short indoor circuit with about 30 different urban bikes of all styles. You just grabbed one and rode a circuit. I cant say that I felt bad on any of them.
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Old 12-11-09, 01:30 PM   #7
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As knobster said, take the opportunity for a decent test ride. There might be a good hill or some rough pavement nearby that the staff can direct you to. On that note, I don't know what's customary, but I've just asked the staff if there's a preferred route or location for the test ride. This has effectively informed me how much of a test ride the shop *allows.*

You probably don't own cycling shoes yet, but be sure to wear the most appropriate shoes you own. Same with clothing. The shop may offer a helmet...or even ask that you wear it. If nothing is mentioned about the helmet, I'm sure they have some loaners available for the ride if you just ask.

When I was shopping for my first new bike as an adult, the LBS owner had no issue with me test riding any of the bikes of interest. He adjusted the saddle on each bike, pointed out some rougher road in the area that I should hit as well, and let me go. He had never seen me prior to this shop visit, asked for no personal info, and didn't seem overly concerned with a stranger riding his pricey merchandise out of sight. I enjoyed the opportunity to get a feel for each bike without a restrictive time/distance limit.

Contrast this to my visit to a different shop this fall. While browsing the end of season specials, I was all too interested in one bike I saw that screamed "Take me home!" I asked if I could take it for a spin. Though the salesperson didn't want to be bothered with adjusting the saddle, he didn't forget to take my driver's license. I can understand getting my personal info, but my car was parked immediately in front of the shop's door, and I was only allowed to ride in the small parking lot under the salesperson's watchful eye. If I had be allowed a meaningful test ride, I may very well have bought that bike.
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Old 12-11-09, 02:25 PM   #8
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You are going to be reliant on the LBS to help you get the right size bike in the first place. And even the right bike. Unless you take an experienced cyclist along with you.

So first of all- make certain you have the right LBS.
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Old 12-11-09, 02:30 PM   #9
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New to cycling? The fact is you don't know what you like and don't like. The best advice is to ride an many bikes as you can get your hands on. Ride bikes you might not consider buying. For example, along with the cyclocross ride a sport tourer or a hybrid bike at the same shop. Visit as many bike shops as time allows. The more you ride, even short test rides, the more you'll learn not only about the bikes, but yourself. Some shops may let you go for longer rides. Once you've done this for a while you'll have a base line from which to form an opinion.You are now ready to buy a bike.
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Old 12-11-09, 04:53 PM   #10
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The first meaningful test ride I had was when I had three sizes of the same model of bike to choose from. The salesman eyeballed me, had me stand over one of them, then sent me out on that bike and two others of the next bigger and smaller sizes. I felt like Goldilocks -- the big one really did feel a little too big, the small one just a bit small, and the one in between felt "juuust right". I never had any size-related comfort issues on that bike for as long as I owned it.
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Old 12-11-09, 07:27 PM   #11
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IMHO, a test ride should begin in the trainer with a fitting. (There's more to it than just adjusting the saddle.) Once things feel right there, then take it out for a spin. My last test ride was for around an hour. I took the bike out on streets and trails that I ride all the time anyway. That gave me a good baseline for comparison. (I bought that bike and continue to love it two years and 9,000 miles later.)

If you're choosing between two bikes at the same LBS, they have all the more incentive to help you pick the right one. Trainer sessions should be back to back to get the fit the same between them. Tires should be inflated the same, and the test rides should also be back to back, and over the same route. If it's a cyclocross bike, make sure you do some off-road too, even if it's only across the lawn in a park or school.

If you're new to cycling, all I can do is echo what Tom said above. You can't know how it's supposed to feel. But you'll probably find subtle differences between the bikes, and that can be your guide. If you're working with one LBS, a good one will be able to help you along with the decision.

Finally, remember that a first bike's job is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike. No matter what bike you buy, and no matter how carefully you shop, you won't get the perfect bike. The reason is that you will change as you become a regular cyclist. It only makes sense that regular cyclists look for different things in their bikes than beginners do--and so will you. So relax and enjoy the process.
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Old 12-13-09, 02:14 PM   #12
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If you're choosing between two bikes at the same LBS, they have all the more incentive to help you pick the more expensive one.
.
Fixed. The guy on the floor will almost certainly try to up-sell you. If he doesn't, he's a lousy salesman.
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