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Have you ever had a shop refuse a test ride?

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Have you ever had a shop refuse a test ride?

Old 12-02-19, 10:11 AM
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maartendc
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Have you ever had a shop refuse a test ride?

So I hear one piece of advice on this forum ad nauseum: " test ride the bike, see if it fits. "

Well, I went to a local bike shop over the weekend that sells Trek bikes, Ridley, and high end electric bikes and scooters, etc. Very nice looking high-end shop.

I am in the market for a gravel bike, so when I inquired about test riding a Trek Checkpoint AL4, the guy was like "sure, you could take it around the block some time, when the weather is nice". He seemed very reluctant. Then when I asked him: Do you have my size in stock, he said "No, we would have to order it". Then, all this led me to ask: "So do most people just buy a bike without test riding it?" He said "Yes. "

SO this leads me to my question: How common is it REALLY to test ride a bike before you buy it? Have you ever encountered a shop that would not let you test ride a bike? Just curious.

In my opinion, this shop provides ZERO added value over ordering online, so I will most definitely not be buying from them. I can look at a geometry chart at home, thank you very much.

Thanks!
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Old 12-02-19, 10:21 AM
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Apparently the weather was bad..... didn't want to get the bike dirty and it wasn't your size anyway.
Did you look high-end...... or like a bum?
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Old 12-02-19, 10:41 AM
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Personally I purchase most of my stuff used. Some online orders. Often requiring repairs or upgrades. Bare frames? I generally don't depend a lot on the test ride.

However, I would expect the shop to work with you to find a "similar" bike to try out.

The problem comes in with custom order.

If you're coming in with a mid-range bike (for someone in say 5'6 to 6'0), then they may accept a sale with a small non-refundable deposit, and contingent on the test ride (but, anticipating a committed buyer).

But, if it is a unique order of something they expect to be difficult to resell, I'd expect a quite a firm commitment, and perhaps full prepayment.
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Old 12-02-19, 10:47 AM
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I've encountered this. I'm generally on a 61cm/XL frame, so I sort of get it... it's potentially hundreds of dollars in shipping/labor to get a bike in stock in my size, build it up, let me test ride it, and then potentially just walk away - and then they have to tear it down and return it if I don't buy (or hope someone else just like me walks in to buy the bike). I'd probably do the same thing in their position. I did have a LBS (that I quite like) tell me they'd go through the effort, but only with a handshake agreement that I'd buy that bike or something of a similar caliber (in the $6k range).

I don't envy bike shop owners. It seems like an incredibly challenging inventory management problem, especially when you're going against the Canyons of the world (or the Treks, that buy up shops and turn them into Trek-exclusive stores). It's tough to turn people off (like they did you) and have them buy online/elsewhere instead. But it's probably even harder short-term to think of the outlay for a potentially dubious return on their investment. This is why I don't think I can ever own a small business!
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Old 12-02-19, 10:57 AM
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Was the local bike shop The Trek Store?
if so I'm not surprised.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:04 AM
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I've bought most of my bikes as framesets. I bought my last two mountain bikes sight unseen, had to order them. My last road bike I bought used. I was able to road test it and it felt terrible but I knew I could make it work by changing the bars, stem, saddle, post, crankset, and cassette.
I think the last time I road tested a bike and it felt good and I bought it was in 1987.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:08 AM
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Sounds terrible. Take your money elsewhere. I can understand if the weather is terrible, or if you just walked in and they're busy, but they should be able to at least schedule a proper test ride. The mindset of a good bike store is that they're in the service business, not just an outlet for merchandise.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:26 AM
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I was in the market two years ago for a bike in the sort of $6000ish range. I knew what I wanted and contacted the local dealer, of which there was one. The configuration I wanted was going to be a purely custom order (frame of choice plus disc brakes plus Ultegra Di2 in a 56). This bike shop is probably the most respected one in my town over the years. They were absolutely responsive and great as I sorted what I wanted. That said, I had to buy the bike in order for them to order it from the factory. The owner told me they just cannot be ordering $6000 bikes to sit on the floor any time someone expresses an interest. The dollars just don't work out. I totally understood.

I ultimately decided to ramp back my purchase and bought a nice BMC with 105, planning for an electronic shifting bike down the road (where I am again now). I am sure the same situation will apply now as I embark on another bike purchase.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:38 AM
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I went into a LBS a while back thinking I might buy a part I needed and get it sooner rather than wait for it in the mail. The price bowled me over, which I expected, but not the attitude of the store owner. All he did was ***** about people with money trying to 'negotiate' him down on bikes he had in stock and that all they want to do is go for test rides. His words-"Their going to wear the d..m things out before I can sell them!" Don't even ask if I bought what I went in for because I would rather wait on the mail then listen to that kind of diatribe.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:45 AM
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If you have an unusual size like 48 or 61cm I can understand their side. But if you have a relatively normal size I think a test ride is a very reasonable request.

BTW a test ride is a good idea but it's not mandatory. It really depends on how comfortable you are with fit/sizing/geometry issues.
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Old 12-02-19, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
His words-"Their going to wear the d..m things out before I can sell them!"
Wow, moron. Test rides may.....maybe maybe account for a total of 100 miles before a bike is sold. That's being super generous. Versus the 4000 miles or so before it even needs tires or a chain or tuneup.

Usually they take you seriously if you show up with pedals and shoes in hand.

If you're an odd size fit, just get your fit coords off current bike and email the mfg of what you want to inquire about size, stems, etc... Then ride one that's the wrong size just to see if you like the build, knowing you can buy the exact fit coordinates you need.
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Old 12-02-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
His words-"Their going to wear the d..m things out before I can sell them!"
Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Wow, moron. Test rides may.....maybe maybe account for a total of 100 miles before a bike is sold.
hy·per·bo·le
/hīˈpərbəlē/

noun
noun: hyperbole; plural noun: hyperboles
  1. exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
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Old 12-02-19, 01:45 PM
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Haha. I'm used to being over on ST forums where we post up in pink if that's the case.

The hyperbole meter was broken on my post.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:00 PM
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I've never had one outright refuse me a test ride on a built bike in-store.

Early on, I had one shop who's floor model of a bike I was interested in, but was a size too large, say they had one in my size still in the box in the warehouse but didn't offer to build it up for me to test ride. That's different from refusing a test ride since a bit of labor and transport was involved, but needless to say I didn't end up purchasing that bike.

As I've become a known rider (read: sales target ) at my LBSs though I'd probably be able to get them to do that, but I'm happy with the bikes I have now so I won't be testing that theory out any time soob. What's funny is that when I was new to the scene, I'd always have to leave my ID and CC when riding an expensive bike. Now my local shops practically push $5K+ builds on me to test out without even asking for me to leave ID. A sure sign that I spend too much on bikes.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:05 PM
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The way many places around here work is they will allow you to rent/demo a bike from their demo fleet for ~$100 to ~$150 for a day, and then if you buy a comparable bike within a narrow time frame, they will credit part or all of it to your purchase.

So if you don't mind renting a bike for more than most car rentals, it is a reasonably good way to test-ride something before you buy.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:14 PM
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The better shops around me also have trails/MUPs right outside their door. I would encourage people to try the bikes they are considering, since I think more often than not it will help deepen the interest.

I dont try a bike before I buy, but I also only buy frames and know the geometry I want for the style of bike I am building up. My wife rode probably 6 road bikes from 3 different stores before she found what she likes. The geometry of each was slightly different- and slight differences are noticeable.
Test rides can be beneficial and should be encouraged.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:38 PM
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Old 12-02-19, 02:40 PM
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"Apparently the weather was bad..... didn't want to get the bike dirty and it wasn't your size anyway.
Did you look high-end...... or like a bum?"
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Old 12-02-19, 02:45 PM
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I just do some research on the bike and look at the geometry and am happy to buy from that.
I do not think a test ride is that helpful as I won't be able to get the bike configured how I want (saddle, stem, bars, tyres etc) and any test ride will be too short to be of much use anyway.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:48 PM
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The shop here lets people ride a similar bike that is the right size, if the exact bike they want is not in stock, or needs to be assembled. It keeps inventory lower and everyone seems happy with it. If the weather is OK.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:55 PM
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The last 7 or 8 bikes I've bought over the last several years from shops I didn't test ride. I honestly don't think a short test ride is going to tell you much.

What I have participated in is demo days...those are pretty fun and you get a small feel for what a bike is like. I try to go to all the mtb demo days I can get to when the local shops have them. If anything, I get to spend the day riding a bike that I didn't pay for.
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Old 12-02-19, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
In my opinion, this shop provides ZERO added value over ordering online, so I will most definitely not be buying from them. I can look at a geometry chart at home, thank you very much.

Thanks!
I agree. I've never had a shop tell me I couldn't take a test ride. I have visited a shop that didn't have the bike I was looking for in my size, but they offered to let me ride what they did have in stock.

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Old 12-02-19, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
I agree. I've never had a shop tell me I couldn't take a test ride. I have visited a shop that didn't have the bike I was looking for in my size, but they offered to let me ride what they did have in stock.

BB
Same. I am 6-4 and I realize a bike shop probably will never have my size in stock. But what I can do is I can get a pro bike fit, do tons of online research, and buy the bike that I'll want to ride day after day. Sometimes I see my target bikes my size in group rides and I kindly ask the owners if I could go for a quick ride at the end. No one said no to this day. Test riding used bikes on local listings could be another way. Bigger bike shops in big cities like NYC or LA likely to carry a more diverse inventory. It would be worth asking these shops if they have your size and model and arrange a test ride if you are traveling to these cities.
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Old 12-02-19, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Wow, moron. Test rides may.....maybe maybe account for a total of 100 miles before a bike is sold. That's being super generous. Versus the 4000 miles or so before it even needs tires or a chain or tuneup.
What is the average test ride duration? Around the block? 1 mile? All day?

Doing 100 miles "Century", may well account for 100 test rides per sale.

Including some custom setup, time, etc.

No wonder "tire kickers" and "internet purchasers" get a bad rap
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Old 12-02-19, 04:42 PM
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I worked in a few different shops across the west when I was younger, so I'll play Devil's advocate.

We'd get asked multiple times a day if we could bring in size-specific equipment like bikes/shoes/helmets so a customer could try it out. Out of the stuff we actually brought in, only 1/4 of those customers bought the item. If I had to guess, I'd say half of the people that wanted to "try it on" lied through their teeth and just needed to know their size so they could buy it online to save a few bucks. This leaves the shop with a heinous amount of inventory (read: tied up money) that either ends up selling for/below cost, or taxed. This is tough on a low-margin business that's losing the battle to the internet every single day.

Try to keep in mind that for every person that genuinely wants to test ride a $7k bike so they can take it home that day, there are at least 25 people that just want to test the waters and have ZERO intention of signing the dotted line. We would intentionally keep the plastic test ride/placeholder pedals off of the high-end bikes just to give that extra cushion between serious buyers and people who were just wasting time before their Applebee's buzzer went off.

Another point to make is that most customers buying high-end bikes expected the bike to be FLAWLESS. Scuffed-up cranks, pad residue on the rims, road dust in the headset gaps, scratched paint, dirty chain, etc. would incite the "I want a discount because this bike is used" argument. We once had a customer order a Madone in, then immediately warranty the frame 3 times (!) before he even took delivery of the bike because he would find the tiniest paint flaws straight from the factory. It's not uncommon for customers to test ride the exact bike they want, then order in a new one just to make sure they are getting the newest bike.

I guess my point is that while you may have good intentions, there are many many many people that ruin it for the rest of us.

That's retail in a nutshell.
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