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  1. #76
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    If the shop insists the test ride cant leave the lot I would be looking elsewhere but thats just me.
    I have not test ridden a bike since Ii gave up the last free one I got when racing. By test ride, I mean miles worth. This discrimination that buyers think they have amongst frames...sorry. There is so little difference in the top end stuff, and I have sold a lot of it, most buyers buy for other reasons than rideability. Like a frame is going to make them faster.

    Its a pro frame. At that level nothing sucks. I had a guy take one for a short spin and he comes back and is telling me what he thinks...which he practically memorized from a magazine i had recently read.

    We don't let them leave lot, but it is a huge lot. It has never been a problem.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
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  2. #77
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    I thought I read that some pros stick with their favorite bike brand and just get it painted with team colors. True?
    Generally only if the rider is an odd size like maybe a real long torso and usually the new bike company will make them something to fit. Everything looks like everything else these days so it a bit harder to tell on stock stuff.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
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  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    So you are suggesting that a shop would have to carry six of these bikes so they could have one in your size to ride. Then they all get ridden and the shop has to sell them at a deep discount because they are basically used bikes. That is a lot of bikes at around five grand a pop to carry in inventory when they might sell three of four a year.
    If the LBS is serious about selling those hi-end bikes, then yes, if that's what it takes, do it.

    It's also reasonable to have other somewhat lesser but similar bikes for testing.

    Again, auto dealerships routinely let people less serious about buying the car test drive a $30,000 vehicle on the highway. In comparison, an $8k bike is much more manageable. Even a short spin around the block is better than nothing - we're not talking about going off on daytrips here.

    I acknowledge it's hard for LBSes to carry stock in all sizes to make everyone happy, but reality is reality, and if you're not going to offer test rides, you're going to have to be willing to compete head to head with internet sales and pricing since you're essentially offering nothing better.

  4. #79
    Senior Member garysol1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    I have not test ridden a bike since Ii gave up the last free one I got when racing. By test ride, I mean miles worth. This discrimination that buyers think they have amongst frames...sorry. There is so little difference in the top end stuff, and I have sold a lot of it, most buyers buy for other reasons than rideability. Like a frame is going to make them faster.

    Its a pro frame. At that level nothing sucks. I had a guy take one for a short spin and he comes back and is telling me what he thinks...which he practically memorized from a magazine i had recently read.

    We don't let them leave lot, but it is a huge lot. It has never been a problem.
    You and I are not the typical bike buyer. We realize that the best bikes will perform as intended underneath of us and we can take that at face value. I do not believe your average or even above average buyer can feel the difference between bike frames in a parking lot much less SRAM vs Shimano then Apex vs 105 or Force vs Ultegra.....etc......etc...... Just my opinion. If the parking lot test rides works for your store than that is great it just does not work for us.

  5. #80
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    I wear a pair of 2011 S-Works shoes and ill tell you what..... They are worth every penny. It is by far the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. Light, stiff, good looks and the Boa system is tops.
    +lots. I have been on this shoe for 2 seasons already I believe. I am planning on buying the new one this year. They looks great.

    In all fairness I work with a dealer and incorporate their sponsorship (Specialized) with our team so...it makes it a small bit more financially feasible.

  6. #81
    ka maté ka maté ka ora pdedes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    I have not test ridden a bike since Ii gave up the last free one I got when racing. By test ride, I mean miles worth. This discrimination that buyers think they have amongst frames...sorry. There is so little difference in the top end stuff, and I have sold a lot of it, most buyers buy for other reasons than rideability. Like a frame is going to make them faster.

    Its a pro frame. At that level nothing sucks. I had a guy take one for a short spin and he comes back and is telling me what he thinks...which he practically memorized from a magazine i had recently read.

    We don't let them leave lot, but it is a huge lot. It has never been a problem.
    This.

    Test riders of high end bikes are either looking for an excuse not to buy, or justification in their purchase.
    By the time you're experienced enough to get something germane out of a test ride, you won't need a test ride.

  7. #82
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    My local specialized dealer would let you ride anything you wanted. Give the S-works tarmac or venge a try. they are o so sexy
    half centuries-3 metric centuries-2
    I stand vehemently opposed to stupid people.

  8. #83
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
    If the LBS is serious about selling those hi-end bikes, then yes, if that's what it takes, do it.

    It's also reasonable to have other somewhat lesser but similar bikes for testing.

    Again, auto dealerships routinely let people less serious about buying the car test drive a $30,000 vehicle on the highway. In comparison, an $8k bike is much more manageable. Even a short spin around the block is better than nothing - we're not talking about going off on daytrips here.

    I acknowledge it's hard for LBSes to carry stock in all sizes to make everyone happy, but reality is reality, and if you're not going to offer test rides, you're going to have to be willing to compete head to head with internet sales and pricing since you're essentially offering nothing better.
    A 30,000 car is not high end. And it appears you may not understand how much it costs to carry those bikes on your books so maybe someone will come and buy one. Further, the majority of people I sell high end stuff to do not test ride. The test riders are generally people who have no real interest in a purchase.

    If you look back through the thread you will find people who do ride good stuff and do not need a test ride.

    I've sold and ordered a lot of five grand plus bikes. Not a single test ride in years. These folks already know.

    In the car world a five grand and up bike is like a high end sports car. Unless you can demonstrate you are a customer with the means to pay, you are not going for a joy ride.
    Last edited by roadwarrior; 01-30-13 at 05:33 AM.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
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  9. #84
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    You and I are not the typical bike buyer. We realize that the best bikes will perform as intended underneath of us and we can take that at face value. I do not believe your average or even above average buyer can feel the difference between bike frames in a parking lot much less SRAM vs Shimano then Apex vs 105 or Force vs Ultegra.....etc......etc...... Just my opinion. If the parking lot test rides works for your store than that is great it just does not work for us.
    The real high end buyer is like you and me. And the average guy is not going to feel the difference even if he rides a hundred miles. I've taken them out on rides and if I tell them what they should be feeling, indeed like a placebo they get it. Say nothing, hardly anyone can tell.

    There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that there are a lot of "buyers" who just want to take the Testerossa for a spin around the block.

    In 10 years not once has a high end buyer wanted to ride. They just order. Your mileage may vary. At around eight million in bike sales, it works for us, but (at least for the near future anyway) we still have choices about how to operate businesses.

    Funny thing....the last 10 or so people who bought up over five grand were more interested in groupsets than frames. They already have wheels. I pull out a couple of bikes with the groupsets in question and a half mile later they are good.

    We just built up a Madone 7 Di2. A guy walks in and asks me if he can ride it. I asked him if he was serious about a purchase of that model. He said no. I explained I could not let him ride a bike around ten grand. He didn't leave he didn't get pissed off. He did buy $600 worth of clothing I helped him with. If you can sell, this is not an issue.
    Last edited by roadwarrior; 01-30-13 at 05:47 AM.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
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  10. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    I wear a pair of 2011 S-Works shoes and ill tell you what..... They are worth every penny. It is by far the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. Light, stiff, good looks and the Boa system is tops.
    Same here. Until those all I've worn mostly are Sidis. Then I tried on the S-Works and I couldn't believe how good they feel. I'm anxious to try them in warm weather to see if my feet get hot in them. They surprised me with keeping my feet warm over the winter and I only used booties one time in 20 degree weather
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
    and if you're not going to offer test rides, you're going to have to be willing to compete head to head with internet sales and pricing since you're essentially offering nothing better.
    I think this is the issue exactly. If someone knows exactly what they want in advance, buying from a LBS without a test ride is the same as internet buying. But if they aren't sure, I would always do test rides. I could immediately tell a huge difference in a Cervelo S5 and R5 and wouldn't want to buy one without feeling the differences.

    A lot of the LBS test rides vs no test ride depends upon where you are located and local competition. I know where I live pretty much every high end shop even encourages test rides. I assume that's to be competitive because one would loose sales if they didn't - buyers would do to a competitor.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  12. #87
    Senior Member garysol1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    The real high end buyer is like you and me. And the average guy is not going to feel the difference even if he rides a hundred miles. I've taken them out on rides and if I tell them what they should be feeling, indeed like a placebo they get it. Say nothing, hardly anyone can tell.

    I have to take exception at this. Ill give you a scenario. Our typical mid or high end bike buyer walks in the store. He is middle aged guy who maybe raced a few years ago and maybe he is not in the shape that he used to be in. He walks over to the Tarmacs and says thats the style bike I want. One quick look at his belly tells me that the Tarmac is going to be a bad fit for this guy. So what I do is pull the Tarmac down for a test ride AND I pull a similarly equipped Roubaix down for a test ride. Stems are flat on both bikes and I send him out for a 10 minute test ride on both bikes over varied road conditions and I instruct him to stand and sprint and to hit every bump in the road that he sees. He WILL feel a difference in ride compliance and overall comfort. No placebo effect needed. Could I make a Tarmac fit him, sure but the Roubaix is the right bike for him and now he understands that because of the test ride.

  13. #88
    Senior Member whitemax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    The real high end buyer is like you and me. And the average guy is not going to feel the difference even if he rides a hundred miles. I've taken them out on rides and if I tell them what they should be feeling, indeed like a placebo they get it. Say nothing, hardly anyone can tell.

    There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that there are a lot of "buyers" who just want to take the Testerossa for a spin around the block.

    In 10 years not once has a high end buyer wanted to ride. They just order. Your mileage may vary. At around eight million in bike sales, it works for us, but (at least for the near future anyway) we still have choices about how to operate businesses.

    Funny thing....the last 10 or so people who bought up over five grand were more interested in groupsets than frames. They already have wheels. I pull out a couple of bikes with the groupsets in question and a half mile later they are good.

    We just built up a Madone 7 Di2. A guy walks in and asks me if he can ride it. I asked him if he was serious about a purchase of that model. He said no. I explained I could not let him ride a bike around ten grand. He didn't leave he didn't get pissed off. He did buy $600 worth of clothing I helped him with. If you can sell, this is not an issue.
    Hey, I can certainly identify with your concerns as a shop owner. I wouldn't want some guy that is not serious about a high end bike purchase turning my new bikes in to used bikes; I get it. And it is hard for the smaller shops to be able to afford to have those bikes on the floor. I have no qualms whatsoever buying an EVO without test ride because I have been on a Cannondale for the past 8 years and the EVO is going to be pretty close to what I have been on. The Specialized or Giant I looked at may be a bit different, I don't know. I agree that there prolly isn't a dimes worth of difference between the various brands of high end bikes in terms of performance but I'm not buying a different brand without a test ride. Specialized or Giant or any other brand for that matter should find some way for the small guy that can sell these types of bikes, to have them on the floor; it boils down to marketing strategy. In my area, there are no shortage of high end bikes on the road, so there is a market for them here.

  14. #89
    Senior Member fettsvenska's Avatar
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    After following this thread, I have a couple some thoughts...

    First, it seems like what defines a good bike shop from the rest is their ability to provide the right amount of sales support for customers that walk in the door. I believe that this means they need to allow test rides. As stated by a previous contributor, otherwise they are no different from an internet vendor that will sell you something for less money and maybe even no sales tax. On the higher end stuff that ends up being a lot of money.

    Second, I certainly empathize with the shops not wanting to let every Tom, Dick and Harry take a high end bike for a spin. Roadwarrior mentioned that he asked the customer if they were serious about purchasing. Since the customer was not serious, a test ride was not allowed. As a consumer, I think this is totally acceptable and reasonable. Letting customers take a bike for a spin can be quite risky, especially if you have no idea what their skill level is. I've met quite a few riders who over estimate their personal skill level.

    Third, this entire discussion makes me wonder if the sales model for high end bikes is all screwed up. I think that the comparison to buying/selling vehicles is not completely valid. Auto dealers are accustomed to financing and they have insurance to cover their losses, etc.

    The idea of just dropping by a bike shop to take an $8k to $12k for a 10 minute spin seems inconsistent with the type and level of product that is for sale. I wonder if a new model similar to high quality musical instruments might work better. For those who are unfamiliar with this model let me give an example. My wife plays the violin so this is how I have familiarity with this. If you want to shop for a violin or cello or other instrument of high quality, you don't just walz into a music store and ask to play. Instead you call the establishment and make an appointment. When you talk to them you express your intentions and a sales person talks to you about what they offer. When you arrive a sales associate who is also a competent musician shows you some instruments and allows you to play and points out some differences. The customer will also bring some sheet music and come ready to play.

    I wonder if a sales model similar to this would work...and maybe there are already shops that do this. What if when you want to shop for higher end bikes you could call up a LBS and make an appointment for a test ride. As a customer, you would show up in the proper attire ready to ride (shorts, jersey, helmet, etc.), you may even bring your own pedals to use that are adjusted to your preference and allow you to cleat in and cleat out like normal. The shop would have the bike or bikes that are within the scope of your interest prepared and ready to test ride. A qualified sales associate who is also an experienced cyclist then accompanies you on a test ride that follows a predetermined route chosen to adequately test the capabilities of the bikes. You might even meet at a different location from the store so that the ride can be a better experience for the customer.

    I'm sure there are some down sides to this model. I'm sure that this model increases the sales cost for the LBS. However, as a consumer, if I'm paying $8k+ for a bike, I'm willing to pay an extra $100 to cover this cost. Maybe the LBS just offers appointments at specified times.

    All I know is that about a year an a half ago a LBS had an "open house" at the local single track trailhead. They were letting people test ride several different bikes, one of which was a Surly Pugsley (certainly not a high end bike by the standards of this thread). I test rode the bike in the proper environment and had such a good time that I was a proud owner within the week. I'm sure that there were other shops where I could have purchased that bike for less money but I chose to buy from that shop because of the service they gave me.

  15. #90
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Generally an open house is sponsored by one or more manufacturers and they bring test ride bikes that travel the country for that purpose. They are not inventory.

    This is not a right or wrong issue. It's just what works for a shop. In our case it has not ever been a problem. We are one of the 50 largest in the nation, for what it is worth, and if there is a real unusual situation we will work with the customer. But we do not let five grand bikes out the door off our lot just because someone wants to rode a pro frame. It does not mean we are right...but it works for us.

    How many people are going to buy an expensive bike that has a thousand miles on it like it was a rental car? That's cash out of the shop's pocket.
    Last edited by roadwarrior; 01-30-13 at 10:52 AM.
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  16. #91
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    You and I are not the typical bike buyer. We realize that the best bikes will perform as intended underneath of us and we can take that at face value. I do not believe your average or even above average buyer can feel the difference between bike frames in a parking lot much less SRAM vs Shimano then Apex vs 105 or Force vs Ultegra.....etc......etc...... Just my opinion. If the parking lot test rides works for your store than that is great it just does not work for us.
    OK, maybe I am not cool enough to be in your class or to know enough to buy without a test ride, but test riding was essential to a mid-range purchase I made a few months ago.

    I was moving up from an Al framed road bike with 105 and I had myself convinced that as an older rider I was going to want a more comfortable frame such as a Roubaix, etc. I rode a few of those - for example a an SL4 Pro, a Felt Z2, etc- and I just found those longer wheel base bikes uninspiring. In the end and after quite a few test rides, I ended up with something closer to a race geometry - a Felt F3 - which I loved from the moment I had the chance to ride it.

    Also, despite the great hype about electronic shifting, I found that DI2 just didn't thrill me so much and that I'd be quite happy with a high end mechanical (DA 7900) drive train.

    So, as a customer ready to plunk down $4k or so on a bike, there's no way I was informed enough to make a decision without a test ride. Fortunately, every LBS in my area is willing to allow extensive test rides - leave your license and credit card at the register, and you can go on a 3 hour ride if you like.
    Last edited by MinnMan; 01-30-13 at 01:08 PM.

  17. #92
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
    OK, maybe I am not cool enough to be in your class or to know enough to buy without a test ride, but test riding was essential to a high end purchase I made a few months ago.

    I was moving up from an Al framed road bike with 105 and I had myself convinced that as an older rider I was going to want a more comfortable frame such as a Roubaix, etc. I rode a few of those - for example a an SL4 Pro, a Felt Z2, etc- and I just found those longer wheel base bikes uninspiring. In the end and after quite a few test rides, I ended up with something closer to a race geometry - a Felt F3 - which I loved from the moment I had the chance to ride it.

    Also, despite the great hype about electronic shifting, I found that DI2 just didn't thrill me so much and that I'd be quite happy with a high end mechanical (DA 7900) drive train.

    So, as a customer ready to plunk down $4k or so on a bike, there's no way I was informed enough to make a decision without a test ride. Fortunately, every LBS in my area is willing to allow extensive test rides - leave your license and credit card at the register, and you can go on a 3 hour ride if you like.
    Did you buy the exact bike you rode? I am curious. I am not referring to the model or whatever...i am referring to the same bike you took on a test ride?
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  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
    its not always about the test ride but about the wow factor. You walk into a bike shop and front and center is the 14 pound wonder bike. You can touch it and feel it and pick it up. Your hooked. So maybe you cant afford the 7k price tag but for 3k you can get close. You have now totally forgotten about your $2,000 budget and bumped yourself another thousand in order to get yourself closer to that wonder bike.
    That's how it worked for me with my first Bike Shop bike.

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    I'm sure this is common: my club has more than a few slightly pudgy high income guys in Rapha/Assos clothing who ride brand new store-bought, American brand name ultra high end bikes. These (usually friendly, engaging and overall terrific) guys typically take their bikes back to the shop to fix a flat, forget to lube their Dura Ace chains, have squeaky brakes and start dropping out the back at mile 3 when we're cruising at an easy 20 mph. By mile 10, they're gone: "you guys go ahead, I'll find my way home". This is your typical high end bike buyers in the suburbs.

    The idea of dropping ten grand on a bike when you've just started cycling, don't know your size (let alone stack/reach) and feel the need to "test" it by tooling around a parking lot in your work clothes and street shoes for ten minutes strikes me as comical. However, I'm not surprised it happens. In fact, I'll bet it's typical.

  20. #95
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    This has been a very interesting thread to read. However, I'm just curious as to where these bikes shops are that carry every size of every model of every manufacturer they sell are located so that any person of any size interested in any one of these bikes at any price point can go in and test ride? Just asking!
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  21. #96
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
    I'm sure this is common: my club has more than a few slightly pudgy high income guys in Rapha/Assos clothing who ride brand new store-bought, American brand name ultra high end bikes. These (usually friendly, engaging and overall terrific) guys typically take their bikes back to the shop to fix a flat, forget to lube their Dura Ace chains, have squeaky brakes and start dropping out the back at mile 3 when we're cruising at an easy 20 mph. By mile 10, they're gone: "you guys go ahead, I'll find my way home". This is your typical high end bike buyers in the suburbs.

    The idea of dropping ten grand on a bike when you've just started cycling, don't know your size (let alone stack/reach) and feel the need to "test" it by tooling around a parking lot in your work clothes and street shoes for ten minutes strikes me as comical. However, I'm not surprised it happens. In fact, I'll bet it's typical.
    Pretty much for retail sales.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
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  22. #97
    Senior Member ka0use's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elduderino2412 View Post
    If you're poor like me, you can test ride the sh*t out of everything in your price range.
    amen, brother man!
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    People that are comparing this to car inventory. My understanding is that cars use floor plan financing, so it is tieing up the dealers credit line but not their actual working capital. Does this exist for bike stores?

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    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    This has been a very interesting thread to read. However, I'm just curious as to where these bikes shops are that carry every size of every model of every manufacturer they sell are located so that any person of any size interested in any one of these bikes at any price point can go in and test ride? Just asking!
    No, it's just the high end stuff. And I don't want to sound crapy here, but there are more than a few people who just want to ride them because the bike is out of their price range. More than one person has told me that.
    I've been riding high end stuff most of my life, have moved around manufacturers, and while I have taken bikes out for a spin (because they left a few for us to try out, then come back after a couple of weeks and take them to another shop) i find I can ride pretty much anything...it is all good. I ride what I ride because the rep is a friend of mine.
    When I was racing we switched manufacturers...was on one on Monday, another on Tuesday. Not really a big deal.
    But not everyone buys or selcest like me so we do what we can and if the customer wants something else...?
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

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    Bikes are pretty bulky items and if you want a shop to have every option available on the floor of every brand and of every style of riding, then you need something like walmart. A walmart style bike shop I bet will have very poor service and non-knowledgeable sales staff. I've noticed that the big chain, big warehouse shops are awful and staffed by spotty kids on their summer vacation.
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