I'm daydreaming about starting a small business. If my posting questions about this here is inappropriate I won't be offended if this post needs deleted. I posted about this in the road forum but didn't get much response.
I recently bought a Thorn Sherpa frame to build up as a mtb style touring bike. I'm now on my 4th set of handlebars and am waiting for the 5th ones to arrive. (nashbar trekking bars, ti-tek h-bars, on-one mary, generic mtb riser) I just can't find the right fit. I also tried 4 different saddles before finding the right one for me (ugly specialized alias 155). Selling almost new stuff as used sucks. Trading is working out ok but is slow. Buying only from places that allow the return of installed (scratched by installation of brake levers/shifters) is difficult as most places won't allow this.
So I'm dreaming of starting a handlebar & saddle demo/rental company. If one exists (other than http://www.competitivecyclist.com which only does high-end road/mtb saddles & bikes) I'd love to hear about it.
Anyway, what I'd like to know is would any of you find a service like that useful? How much is it worth to be able to try out 4 different handlebars over a few weeks without having to buy any of them? Or with the option to order a new set and apply part/all of demo fee to new bars, or buying the used demo ones you've already installed and are now in love with? It needs to be easy, fast, and affordable.
Such a service would be useful to me. Not sure how much I'd pay, but after all the trial and error on my recently purchased road bike, it sounds like a good idea.
I tried 6 saddles if I remember right, before finding the surprisingly affordable Forte Pro RS1 ($39 on sale!). I thought I had found the perfect saddle at one point, and bought four WTB Power V's for various bikes. I'm in the process of replacing half of them with something more comfortable, a Forte Contour.
Btw, found a great bar for my Trek touring bike recently, a On One Midge. Picked the wrong bar (an upright) for my other Trek however, and even had to buy brake levers to try it out. Even a "standard" road bar has more than just width to consider, which was all the salesman asked me about when I replaced my first one. I've discovered reach and drop to be as important to fit. And for me, the Midge is comfortable because of its unusually small reach and drop, plus and radical flair in the drops.
I think you could add pedals to your list. Bought and sold many pairs and styles of spds, and have finally given up on them. Also bought an expensive pair of Ultegras (PD-6620-G), and sold them at a loss. Have tried/owned Time and Look as well.
91 Specialized Sirrus, 96 Gary Fischer, 08 Specialized Roubaix Elite, 2010 Specialized Tricross Sport
I like the idea of trying out (renting?) different saddles, stems, etc to see what works. Not sure if the economics and time frames make it workable? Honestly it would seem that it would be much easier if a LBS had a demo program for these items. None of my 4 LBS do such a thing so maybe your idea is workable.