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Test rides from LBS

Old 10-02-12, 08:21 PM
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Test rides from LBS

Hi,

First post but I had been lurking this and other forums doe some time. Sorry if this is not the right sub-forum to post my questions.

Right now I'm riding and old (2003) and cheap (very cheap), Raleigh SC-30 that I have modified a little to move it closer to the light (actually very light), XC mountain bike category and out of the "comfort" category. I'm looking to buy a new mountain bike probably by December or January.

One thing that always gets my attention is that almost everybody says that a LBS should let me test ride a bicycle before buying it, but that has not been my experience. I have already visited 6 shops in my area, with the exception of two stores they have very limited models on floor to look at them and I said look because that's all you can do. They won't let you test ride any bike and with the limited stock must probably I will have to ask them to order it for me.

Now, I'm not an cyclist athlete, neither an experience rider, a little overweight and not in decent shape. So they don't see to take me too seriously and when on top of that I ask about a test ride they tend to either ignore me, excuse themselves and go to other customer or plainly tell me no.

So do I have to force the topic and tell them no test ride you won't get my money? (I don't think they will care much). Is really important to test ride when I'm not an athlete and have no previous experience? If by any chance I found one store that allows me to test ride, where should they let me go with that bike and for how long? What do you recommend to people like me that is taking more seriously cycling and have no previous experience. I hope this won't make me loose too much money.

No comes the question that you wont probably like. Since I can not test ride and I will have to ask the LBS to do a special order for me anyways, Is buying a bike online a bad idea? You should know which online store I'm specifically talking about. Not need to mention it to avoid a flame war. At least I can save a couple of bucks that way.

Thanks.
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Old 10-02-12, 08:44 PM
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I'm surprised that the LBS do not offer a test ride... that's how they build a loyal customer base. Also, it's not just the test ride, but the long term customer service that you want. Things go wrong, and when they do, you want a shop that can trouble shoot and help you out. Hard core cyclists at the university I work out keep going back to one LBS - you can be sure they've dropped thousands of dollars on them, and a good reputation spreads fast.

In fact, all four LBS in my town are pretty good. Any cycling friends or bike clubs that can give you a recommendation on where to go?

If no LBS really meets your satisfaction, then yes, you might just have to order online. The catch is getting an LBS to provide service and maintenance. Sounds like even if you're willing to pay, they might be too boorish to even service your bike.
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Old 10-02-12, 08:53 PM
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One advantage of buying from an LBS is that you get to test the bike. Or at least it should be. In my experience, many shops really push test rides and I never had one refuse a request for a test. One shop my wife and I visited when out of town insisted we take a couple bikes home with us for a week of test riding. (I did feel a bit guilty that we didn't buy from that guy, and they were very nice bikes, but we ultimately each found something we liked better.) Others had tighter test policies where you took a short 5 or 10 minute rider. One had an employee ride with you on a relatively short ride. But when I was shopping I didn't run across anyone who wouldn't let you have any sort of test ride.

Maybe things are different in other parts of the country, but I'd be very reluctant to buy from a shop like the ones you describe.

The only downside about buying on line is unless you know what you're doing you can't be sure the bike has been properly assembled. Buying from a shop gives you more confidence that everything is properly tightened and adjusted and you often get a free tune up or two in the first year. (Or longer depending on the shop.) It's a very good thing to have a relationship with an LBS, but it doesn't sound like you're dealing with shops that seem to want to develop such relationships.

You've already been through half a dozen, but if you have more LBS options, I'd try to find one where you felt they welcomed your business. Because even if you buy on-line, you ultimately need an LBS unless you can become a skilled mechanic on your own.
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Old 10-03-12, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by 3d1l
Hi,

First post but I had been lurking this and other forums doe some time. Sorry if this is not the right sub-forum to post my questions.

Right now I'm riding and old (2003) and cheap (very cheap), Raleigh SC-30 that I have modified a little to move it closer to the light (actually very light), XC mountain bike category and out of the "comfort" category. I'm looking to buy a new mountain bike probably by December or January.

One thing that always gets my attention is that almost everybody says that a LBS should let me test ride a bicycle before buying it, but that has not been my experience. I have already visited 6 shops in my area, with the exception of two stores they have very limited models on floor to look at them and I said look because that's all you can do. They won't let you test ride any bike and with the limited stock must probably I will have to ask them to order it for me.

Now, I'm not an cyclist athlete, neither an experience rider, a little overweight and not in decent shape. So they don't see to take me too seriously and when on top of that I ask about a test ride they tend to either ignore me, excuse themselves and go to other customer or plainly tell me no.

So do I have to force the topic and tell them no test ride you won't get my money? (I don't think they will care much). Is really important to test ride when I'm not an athlete and have no previous experience? If by any chance I found one store that allows me to test ride, where should they let me go with that bike and for how long? What do you recommend to people like me that is taking more seriously cycling and have no previous experience. I hope this won't make me loose too much money.

No comes the question that you wont probably like. Since I can not test ride and I will have to ask the LBS to do a special order for me anyways, Is buying a bike online a bad idea? You should know which online store I'm specifically talking about. Not need to mention it to avoid a flame war. At least I can save a couple of bucks that way.

Thanks.

It seems extraordinarily unlikely that six LBS's would refuse to let you do a test ride - there's got to be something else going on. How are you asking? What exactly are they saying in response? In my experience, LBS's tend to do their utmost to get you out on a test ride regardless of whether you're buying a $300 hybrid or a $10K fashion statement.

For what it's worth, presuming you're referring to BikesDirect, be sure that you know what you're getting into. I recently bought my 11-year-old a Windsor Tourist from there, and while the bike was perfectly fine, it required more than basic assembly skills; I.E. I had to completely redo the front derailler positioning and adjustment, most of the cabling, install the brakes, adjust the headset, etc. It was an awesome deal, but less so for someone who would have to end up
taking it to an LBS for assembly.
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Old 10-03-12, 06:52 AM
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I work part time in a LBS, we always let people test ride, some will test 2-4 different bikes of different brands and price ranges. We are a small shop and don't always have the color they want so they test the model and if they like it we will order the color for them. A lot of times they end up buying a more expensive bike after they do the test rides so sometimes it's to the LBS's advantage to let people test ride.
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Old 10-03-12, 07:04 AM
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Here in the Bay area, there are a few mechanics thay advertise their services through craigslist. If you find someone like that, call them and ask if they will assemble and service a bike purchased online. If he/she seems knowledgeable you could even use their help to choose a bike and size online.

LBSes can be terrible shopping places, especially if you are starting out and know little. I still am unable to have any conversation with a shop in my neighborhood .. other than him telling me that they have only race worthy trail bikes, and if I'm looking for any bike under $5000 I should go elsewhere. Oh well, I went elsewhere
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Old 10-03-12, 07:36 AM
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What's the location like? You aren't really telling us anything we can work with.

Are you heavy? If you're heavy and you're trying to test ride something with a 20 spoke rear/16 front they''ll say no. If there aren't any actual streets you can ride on, they'll say no, given the bike is a nicer bike.

Are you just walking in and asking to test ride something? Or are you talking to them before hand, and asking questions? Trying to learn before you make a choice?

Normally when people post stuff like this, they're already considering 2 or 3 models, and then get the idea to test ride; maybe give us some numbers or models so we can help you?

I mean, I don't know what you're hoping to gain by complaining to us that you can't do this vague thing everybody seems to do, without giving us a reason as to why.
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Old 10-03-12, 08:38 AM
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On the flip side: If you're comparing properly assembled decent quality bikes of like type, there's very little if anything that you'll be able to discern on a brief test ride. To compare two bikes I find I have to ride them back-to-back on the flat, over a number of road surfaces, climbing and descending, and go back and forth a number of times, not something easily done unless you have a very accommodating LBS which happens to have the two bikes you want to compare in the appropriate size and setup to fit reasonably well (and the same size tires and exact same tire pressure) and enough time and terrain to do the testing, and then know what it is you're looking for and how to evaluate it.
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Old 10-03-12, 09:40 AM
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Thanks for your responses very appreciated. The LBS I have visited do want to have business with me, they do answer my questions and we talk about geometry and they provided suggestions and all that, is just that they won't allow me to test ride.

Let me restate my questions again. What should I look if they allow me to test ride? For how long should I ride a bike to really perceive that is the right one? For example, something I like about my current cheap bike is that it have a threaded fork with an adjustable quill stem. Since I have problems with my neck and rhomboids I can easily adjust positions before or during a ride but I start feeling discomforts after one hour, I'm 6' 228lbs by the way. My budget is $1,200 and for me is not only the frame but also the components that make the difference. I know because the upgrades I have done on my current bike has provided a better ride. I know that $1,200 is not much for some of you but even if I have more money I don't want to spent more than that on a bicycle. So I want a frame with the proper geometry for me and the best components that amount of money can get. I still had two stores in my list close to where I live. I left them for last because I was told that bikes in there are very expensive. Today I phone them (instead of going personally), and they told me that they will allow me to test ride in their parking lot. I have no idea on how big the parking lots are. Will that provide an acceptable test ride? One of them have a branch in Orlando Florida and they recently open one here in Puerto Rico and conversing with the sale rep he told me that even in the continental states they allow you to test ride only if the store is very near to a bike trail. He assure me that they will sell me the right bike for me but when I ask for return warranties he told me that beyond factory defects or what is covered by factory warranties all sales are final.
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Old 10-03-12, 09:43 AM
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Looigi I just finished posting a response when I saw yours and I think it is spot on.

By the way a little bit out of topic is Christmas season the best time to buy bicycles?
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Old 10-03-12, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mulveyr
It seems extraordinarily unlikely that six LBS's would refuse to let you do a test ride - there's got to be something else going on.
I used to say: "Test rides are for people who are ready to buy. If you ride it and you like it, are you ready to buy it?"
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Old 10-03-12, 12:00 PM
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It just seems unfathomable to me that a shop wouldn't allow test rides. My LBS even makes a point of encouraging long rides. A typical test ride for them is to send a buyer out with one of the organized shop rides on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. The shortest of these is 17 miles and depending on the time of year and available daylight, they can be as long as 30+ miles. They even let someone take the bike on a metric century once.
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Old 10-03-12, 12:23 PM
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You have to test ride the bicycle. I can see that they wouldn't want you to ride every one in the store, but ones you are strongly interested in, yes. What you have encountered are sales people who don't want the sale. So don't give it to them. If the store won't treat you well to get your business, it sure won't treat you well when they get your business. So drop the 4 who won't let you test the bikes right now.

If you order online, can you assemble the bike and fit it to yourself?
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Old 10-03-12, 12:58 PM
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I wonder if there is something different about how things are done in Puerto Rico vs. the Continental US and that explains the differences?
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Old 10-03-12, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by CraigB
It just seems unfathomable to me that a shop wouldn't allow test rides. My LBS even makes a point of encouraging long rides. A typical test ride for them is to send a buyer out with one of the organized shop rides on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. The shortest of these is 17 miles and depending on the time of year and available daylight, they can be as long as 30+ miles. They even let someone take the bike on a metric century once.
Never test rode that far. But also never had a problem getting test rides.

But my major test riding was a starter mountian bike and road bikes.

Since the OP seemed to be Mountian bike oriented I'm wondering jsu thow he wanted to test ride. If I were a bike shop owner I'd feel rather differently about a street test ride and a real off road test ride.
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Old 10-03-12, 05:09 PM
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I'm committed to spend $1,200 on a bicycle but I want the most bang for the buck. If I buy online I will end in a LBS anyways for adjustments all I know to do is to fix flats, adjust a quill adjustable stem and other simple basic stuff.

Out of the 8 LBS, 2 will allow me to test ride the bike in their parking lot. Because of those 6 that won't allow me to test ride I won't be able to try:

Specialized, Giant, KHS, Diamondback, Cannondale or Raleigh

The two that will allow me to test ride represent

BMC, Focus, Scott, Cervelo, Look, Trek and Orbea.

They categorically told me that testing the bike in trails is not possible. I'm not looking for a road, single speed or fixed bike, I want a $1,200 hard tail 29er MTB. Let work with what is available, you and others from other forums specifically say that a test ride is a most so again:

What should I look for during the test ride?
For how long should I ride a bike to really perceive that is the right one?
What things do you recommend me to do while test riding? and [out of topic]....
Is a good idea to buy during Christmas season or I should wait until February, March???

P.D.

My concern with Trek is that they seem to have a longer top tube length for any given size (don't forget my neck and rhomboids) Am I right?
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Old 10-03-12, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jon c.
Buying from a shop gives you more confidence that everything is properly tightened and adjusted
With my bike the front brake fell off and the rear skewer slid out in the first week of ownership. Turns out it was the first bike the new guy had ever assembled and he put it out on the floor without having a senior mechanic check the work. No biggie and the shop made it right.
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Old 10-04-12, 03:22 PM
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I'd expect to test ride a bike 1-3 miles on pavement. That'll give you a good idea that the bike fits you, has the gearing you want, and is comfortable and even exciting. (If it's not exciting, there's a good chance it'll end up hanging on a garage wall, and you don't want that.)

I can understand why a shop wouldn't let you ride on a trail; even if you leave a credit card, you can mess the bike up pretty easy. Lots of buyers would refuse a bike that had a scratch or a chain that sounded like it had mud trapped inside.
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Old 10-04-12, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 3d1l
I'm committed to spend $1,200 on a bicycle but I want the most bang for the buck. If I buy online I will end in a LBS anyways for adjustments all I know to do is to fix flats, adjust a quill adjustable stem and other simple basic stuff.

Out of the 8 LBS, 2 will allow me to test ride the bike in their parking lot. Because of those 6 that won't allow me to test ride I won't be able to try:

Specialized, Giant, KHS, Diamondback, Cannondale or Raleigh

The two that will allow me to test ride represent

BMC, Focus, Scott, Cervelo, Look, Trek and Orbea.

They categorically told me that testing the bike in trails is not possible. I'm not looking for a road, single speed or fixed bike, I want a $1,200 hard tail 29er MTB. Let work with what is available, you and others from other forums specifically say that a test ride is a most so again:

What should I look for during the test ride?
For how long should I ride a bike to really perceive that is the right one?
What things do you recommend me to do while test riding? and [out of topic]....
Is a good idea to buy during Christmas season or I should wait until February, March???

P.D.

My concern with Trek is that they seem to have a longer top tube length for any given size (don't forget my neck and rhomboids) Am I right?
Looking at 29ers top tube length shouldn't be much or a concern. Bikes are no longer all that concerned with standover so depending on how tall you are the seat tube will be the measurement that makes the most diffference. The sloping top tube means you don't have to be as close with fit as you might with a road bike. But none of this is the point. Every Trek Dealer in our area will let most customers test ride a bike for a day or weekend. Your area must be very different. However many have rental bikes when it comes to test riding MTBs if indeed you want to test one in the dirt. You could also try Performance with their satisfaction garrantee. If you don't like one bike simply take it back and exchange it for another. And if you are still thinking quill stem as normal you sure don't want to order from an online store. Once you have a bike that fits and you enjoy then you can order if you like.
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