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Buy Without a Test Ride?

Old 08-19-20, 02:18 PM
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Sorg67
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Buy Without a Test Ride?

I have been shopping around, reading and researching. Focused on gravel and endurance bikes. Mostly looking at Roubaix, Diverge, Domane and Checkpoint. I think I would like any of them. All would be very different from my MTB and hybrid. I could test ride them all and still not know which is best for me.

I found a good deal on a Roubaix and it is the one I am currently leaning towards. Thinking of pulling the trigger and skipping the test riding.

Bad idea?
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Old 08-19-20, 02:23 PM
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Depends on how sure you'll like it.

I bought a very expensive bike without riding one since they didn't have any in stock. But the geometry was about the same as the bike I had. That was 5 years ago and I still love it.
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Old 08-19-20, 02:26 PM
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Not really sure at all. Totally new style of riding. Have not ridden this style of bike for 30 years.

But I am not sure a few test rides will tell me much. I think it will take a few hundred miles under various terrain to tell me much.

So I am wondering if a test ride will really do anything for me.

Maybe I should get a cheaper bike and get some more experience.
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Old 08-19-20, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
Maybe I should get a cheaper bike and get some more experience.
I suggest a used bike. That way when you upgrade and sell it you don't take a beating on the price.
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Old 08-19-20, 02:33 PM
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Do the test rides. You don't think they will tell you much but you don't know. One bike might just feel better or fit better. All of them might feel terrible. Since this will be a new genre for you, you cannot rely on past experience ... except for all the riding experience you do have.

Take the test rides. Can't hurt, might help.
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Old 08-19-20, 02:53 PM
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if you're considering buying without a test ride, you can still look closely at the other determining factors to help you choose.

Do you know if you'll be riding more road or more grave?
Checkpoint and Diverge are mostly-gravel bikes while Roubaix and Domane are mostly-road bikes.

For a new gravel rider, do you have any sense of what the conditions are like where you intend to ride?
I started gravel riding this year and quickly learned not all gravel conditions are equal.
If you choose your bike hoping for equal performance on roads and on gravel, try to know your gravel conditions aren't so gnarly and unpredictable that they'll beat up a road machine.

Fit is my biggest concern about buying without a ride.
if you cannot test ride your chosen models can you at least test fit with similar models by the same brand?
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Old 08-19-20, 02:59 PM
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I took a relatively short test ride on my Ruby, which was much different from the hybrid I had been riding for years. i did get to try a good hill - and it was March, so I was not in riding shape at all and made it up the hill. Loving the Ruby.
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Old 08-19-20, 03:01 PM
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It takes a certain amount of faith (OK, a whole lot of faith) in your shop/builder/fitter to get you the right bike and get it fitted to you. I'm guessing this is a Covid-related bike shortage question. If you're willing to plunk some money on the counter for a bike that they'll have to order, at least have a discussion with the shop about what happens if you buy the bike, ride it for a few (<50) miles, and don't like it or even hate it. $100 for shipping? Probably worth it. Full retail price down the drain? Hmm.
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Old 08-19-20, 03:07 PM
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Very useful comments!! Thank you!!
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Old 08-19-20, 03:43 PM
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I'm having the same problem. Very few bikes are even available, at least in my size/desires/price range.

There are a couple that I'm interested in at an LBS, but they're only doing test-rides for purchases by appointment. Between work and what little social life remains, I can't make any of the available appointments until September. At which point I figure that the bikes I'm interested in will be long gone. I asked if I could get a special slot.
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Old 08-19-20, 03:51 PM
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Already aced the 'which size should I buy' question without needing to ask anyone else, often enough , & know what you want,

& can do your own work once the box is at your door? then you may be ready for that solo flight..
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Old 08-19-20, 04:42 PM
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The test ride programs I have found require buying a bike and returning if you do not like it. I do not have a problem with that. But they are not the ones who have the good deal I am interested in. I do not feel right about test riding at one place and buying at another place.
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Old 08-19-20, 06:21 PM
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If you don’t have a problem buying first, and returning if you don’t like it, take a look at Canyon. Probably the Grail or the Endurace models.
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Old 08-19-20, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
I have been shopping around, reading and researching. Focused on gravel and endurance bikes. Mostly looking at Roubaix, Diverge, Domane and Checkpoint. I think I would like any of them. All would be very different from my MTB and hybrid. I could test ride them all and still not know which is best for me.

I found a good deal on a Roubaix and it is the one I am currently leaning towards. Thinking of pulling the trigger and skipping the test riding.

Bad idea?
I purchased my Diverge and my Roubaix without test riding. Like you, Iíd need more than a short ride.
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Old 08-19-20, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
If you donít have a problem buying first, and returning if you donít like it, take a look at Canyon. Probably the Grail or the Endurace models.
You can only return Canyon bikes if they havenít been ridden, according to their written policy. Thatís not terribly comforting. I found my Endurace less comfortable than my Diverge or a Roubaix. But not so uncomfortable that I wanted to return it.
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Old 08-19-20, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
I purchased my Diverge and my Roubaix without test riding. Like you, Iíd need more than a short ride.
How do you find the difference? If you had just one, which would it be? Does the Diverge give up much on road vs the Roubaix?
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Old 08-19-20, 08:01 PM
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A friend of mine got a Domane SL7 about a month ago in a killer green and black color. He is a physical wreck.

I rode the bike for 12 miles and I cannot imagine anyone having an issue with it. The fit and finish are outstanding and its a real fast cruiser. It has this voluminous vibe to it but it rides great. I wouldnít call it a super agile bike but its meant for fast comfortable riding. Just donít leave with the tires it comes with. Stick some Pirellis or Vittoria Corsas on it.

The Roubaix has a more race ready look and feel but it is smooth too. Same type of bike. Again, I canít imagine not liking that bike. Same opinion on the tires.

I would get the one you like better aesthetically because they are both great riders but next to each other they leave a very different impression.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I did mention "teens" because even teens these days have relatively poor flexibility compared to teens decades ago due to addiction to cellphone, laptops.
I thought it was due to the music they listen to.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
How do you find the difference? If you had just one, which would it be? Does the Diverge give up much on road vs the Roubaix?
The Roubaix is a little quicker, and actually a little more comfortable than the Diverge. A little. My average speed on the Roubaix is .2 MPH. So not a huge difference. But I’m a big guy and don’t ride very fast.

Average speed on the Endurace was identical to the Diverge. I found the Endurace a bit less comfortable than the Diverge or Roubaix.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:40 PM
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I tend to think test rides are over-rated, maybe for a really accomplished rider it might help. I don't think a couple laps around the parking lot is going to tell you much. I can't remember ever doing a test ride. I know I bought my Paramount as a frameset the LBS built up for me. On my Focus, it came with 175 cranks after running 172.5 for many years -- can't tell the difference. I did eventually swap the 120 stem for a 110. I would think the saddle could make the biggest difference, but the OEM one might not be the best on any bike being considered. The one exception for me is I have always ridden a 23/58 and I know many folks might suggest a 56 instead. Would want to ride a 56 for a day before I would make that kind of a change. For a road bike for someone with no history on the road, I think renting would really help. But it's going to take some time to learn the new position. This also where a good LBS staff could help.

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Old 08-19-20, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I did mention "teens" because even teens these days have relatively poor flexibility compared to teens decades ago due to addiction to cellphone, laptops.
What? Iíd hazard a guess that teens today are exactly as flexible compared to teens from decades ago. Not sure how a cellphone or laptop would make someone less flexible.
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Old 08-19-20, 09:40 PM
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Never really believed in test rides. Do the research and pick the product best suited to your needs. If it is a endurance bike all the manufacturers make one pick the model best suited. It takes a while to fit the bike and get used to its characteristics. Used to ski competitively and it took a day or two to adapt and learn how to get the best from a pair of skis. Not short test could determine that. Same goes for bikes.
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Old 08-19-20, 10:29 PM
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Test rides can tell you a lot about a bike, but not everything. Obviously no 10-minute ride is going to tell you how you feel on the bike after an hour. However, if you know what you are about, you can probably make some good guesses. Also, no matter what adjustments you make in the parking lot before setting out, no shop is going to offer you half a dozen stems to try .... but if you have enough experience you should be able to at least tel if the frame is the right size.
@scott967 mentioned renting, which i think is a great idea. Never done it myself, but I have never needed to .... but when I bought my first mountain bike, I got the wrong size and had to return it and had a bit of a discussion with the shop owner before he would swap it for a larger model. Now I would know better .... but someone buying his/her first road bike might make the same mistake.

There are probably a few different frame sizes most people could ride, but there is almost certainly a "best" size which would require the least extreme stem and seatpost adjustments, etc. For instance, everybody tires to sell me 58s but I am usually best on a 56, and even then run a shorter stem than most people recommend, but I have odd proportions. Rather than just buy a random bike, renting one for a day and another on another day would allow me to compare a couple different sizes ....
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Old 08-19-20, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
The test ride programs I have found require buying a bike and returning if you do not like it. I do not have a problem with that. But they are not the ones who have the good deal I am interested in. I do not feel right about test riding at one place and buying at another place.

Of course I have no idea on what your LBS shops offer, but earlier this year I RENTED a bike for a day and basically got a 24-hour test ride period with the provision that the rental fee would apply toward purchase if I bought it. I didn't buy that bike, but I felt no obligation to buy it . . . I paid $50, had 2 good rides, definitely enough to test the bike well. I ended up buying a very different bike at a different shop, but the rental / test ride helped me narrow down my decision and helped me avoid buying the wrong bike. The scarcity of bikes right now makes this all less-than-ideal . . . I had never before paid for a test ride, I just took the option I had and it ended up helping me. Now some shops don't even conduct rentals because of concerns with the virus, but you can ask / check to see whether there is a rental option that might help you get closer to your decision.
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Old 08-20-20, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by velopig View Post
Never really believed in test rides. Do the research and pick the product best suited to your needs. If it is a endurance bike all the manufacturers make one pick the model best suited. It takes a while to fit the bike and get used to its characteristics. Used to ski competitively and it took a day or two to adapt and learn how to get the best from a pair of skis. Not short test could determine that. Same goes for bikes.
I have never skied competitively, but I have skied all my life and I am a decent skier. I have skied a lot of different types of skis over the years and i agree with your assessment completely. It is a great and very helpful analogy as it gives me a perspective i can relate to. I have skied enough to be able to perceive small differences but evaluating what I think about the differences takes time. I suppose I have ridden bicycles more than I have skied, but not at the same level and I have not ridden as many bicycles as I have skied skis. And particularly not ridden different bicycles with an eye to performance differences. I think I would need to spend quite a bit of time riding different bicycles repeatedly under a variety of conditions and for extended periods of time and then talking about my perceptions with knowledgeable people.

Do they have demo days for bicycles?
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