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the problem with manufacturers and l.b.s.

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

the problem with manufacturers and l.b.s.

Old 12-02-04, 08:36 PM
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Surferbruce
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the problem with manufacturers and l.b.s.

my wife's looking for a new road bike and want's to stick to a budget of under a grand. she's small and fit has been a problem on most of what we've tried. i'd love to get her on a lemond, specifically the reno women's bike.
problem is no shop anywhere in socal has one, this i confirmed from lemond. all the shops say they can order one, IF i commit to buying it.
it seems every other day i read about people unable to find a specific model at their local shop because the shops stuck with the bike if doesn't sell.
there's got to be a better way. it just seems shops should be able to ship back a bike or get some kind of credit or something to allow them to get a particular model for a customer to see and try without a down payment.
it just seems like a big disconnect in the business and almost makes all the slick catalogs full of wonderful options misleading.
i went thru the same thing with my cross bike and luckily it fit and worked out but like i said, there's gotta be a better way.
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Old 12-02-04, 08:38 PM
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phantomcow2
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I found the best way to get a bike just for you and you can return whatever you dont like! I doubt its what your looking for but i will never do it anyway else
custom
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Old 12-02-04, 11:02 PM
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catatonic
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Have you ever had her get a professional fitting? If so, then you have all the specs needed to modify the bike to fit when it gets to the shop. Usually a different stem and maybe different width handlebars are in order.

edit: see if you can get the geometry information of that bike, that way you can verify what needs to be done to that bike before you even see it.
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Old 12-02-04, 11:05 PM
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That's a big problem. I wouldn't buy a complete bike without being able to test-ride it first. Bike manufacturers could do like car manufacturers and host "test drive" events around the country. I guess they sort of do this at bike shows, but they don't often actually offer test rides of the new models. Maybe they could ship demo models to local bike shops. It could pay off with the more expensive bikes; not too likely in the $1000 range.

I guess the best way to overcome this problem as an individual is to look up the geometry of the LeMond or whatever you're interested in and try to ride a local bike with similar geometry.
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Old 12-02-04, 11:16 PM
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This is a real problem. The big advantage of buying from an LBS is that you can test ride it first. If you can't do that, it's the same crap shoot as buying online. So why pay extra at the LBS?
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Old 12-03-04, 12:09 PM
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I've always gone with the approach of...

"I want to do business with you. Obviously, I can't commit to buying a bike before I ride it, would you? What are our options?"

After 2-3 shops, I'll usually find a manager who will come up with something. Maybe you agree to pay for a fit and have them suggest the best bike based on the information they have.

As an aside, check out the Women Specific model of the Trek 1500. I put my wife on one of those and she loves it.
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Old 12-03-04, 12:16 PM
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I have purchased plenty of bikes without riding them first. Of couse I build up my bikes myself and know what I want. There can be minor differences in feel and steering quickness, but after a few rides you forget what the old bike felt like. In your price range, they are all going to be about the same anyway. If you know what size frame you need for the wife you could save some money by ditching the bike shop and buying on line.

If you are set on using a bike shop, they should offer a test ride without commitment to buy.
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Old 12-03-04, 12:24 PM
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The bigger shops often have those hard to sell small or women's bikes. The smaller ones never do. I bet that most of these hard to sell bikes often go for less than cost to get rid of them. You might call around and see if any of the shops have any in stock they might want to unload.

Aside from Lemond, Specialized makes the Dolce which is pretty nice. You'll likely have to expand your choices to anything available in the right size and geometry in order to actually ride one.

Ebay might be another great place to pick one up. Probably real cheap too, as the seller will have a tough time selling it for what it's worth. Of course, you can't ride it, but if you find one in a store, you can test ride it there.

You're in SoCal. Did you try Supergo? Big shop, big selection, or maybe they would be willing to get one in without you having to buy it.
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Old 12-03-04, 12:33 PM
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Fuji also make good women's bikes based on 650c wheels.
I would say get a test ride, dont buy on spec. That may be OK for someone who knows what they like and are of medium-male dimensions. Women's bikes vary a lot more than med size bikes in their dimensions and are prone to far worse problems such as toe clip overlap, bodged steering geometry, excessive length and bottom bracket height and unsuitable components.
Try getting to the shop when the company rep is there, or calling the rep yourself.
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Old 12-03-04, 02:38 PM
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yeah we did try supergo and may end up with a specialized dolce which fit her very well. the lemond is almost exact same size but slightly better components. i would prefer to get her on something with tiagra shifters but it may have to be an upgrade. quite frustrating though.
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Old 12-03-04, 04:40 PM
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I am no bike fit specialist nor am I a bike expert. But I do find --more often than not-- that salespeople know less about bike fit than I do. Most salespeople will make a conclusion on your bike size requirements based on a question or two.

Know what size and geometry you need BEFORE entering a LBS. Then make decisions based on your knowledge of what fits. Don't place decision making on a solitary test ride. A short excursion around the parking lot of a LBS won't provide any indication of what a bike will feel like after a few hours on the road.

I sold my wife's first bike soon after we bought it because we purchased it using the same bike shop approach you are suggesting. We found out after several rides that she was miserable on long rides. She assumed her fitness levels were poor when we ultimately determined that her lack of speed and endurance was due to poor geometry and improper fit. So we had her fitted and then did research on bikes that would suit her needs and style. Then I did some searching and found the bike we wanted in the size she needed at a LBS in Palo Alto CA(360 miles away) When I received the bike, all that was required was a minor stem and saddle change to finalize the setup.

She's put 5000 miles on that bike in its first year and has become protective of its setup. Only recently has she allowed me to make upgrades.

My point is: Know exactly what you need, and Get exactly what you want. Otherwise, your compromises will become misery.
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Old 12-03-04, 06:57 PM
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If you can afford it, custom is the way to go. If you can't then you have to go with the LBS. Find a good one, with knowledgable staff - this is the hardest part! Next have them fit her professionally to get all the appropriate measurements. They should be able to pick a bike for you that will fit. Of course it would be great to have a few bikes that fit her on hand to test ride, but this can be difficult. My suggestion is only the next best thing. As Squeegy200 stated, it's all about the fit. I recently built up a frame on my own, which I purchased sight unseen from the manufacturer. The key is to know what measurements are right for you - once you have the CORRECT numbers you can predict which frames will fit without even seeing them - you can pick a frame based on the lists of measurements/angles in the catalog.
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Old 12-03-04, 07:16 PM
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I was in a shop today that not only does fitting, but they have an adjustable stationary bike that lets them find out everything about what you like before you get on a bike. All the dimensions are changeable. They re very serious qbout putting you on the right size bike.
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Old 12-03-04, 08:07 PM
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I am really glad that Surferbruce brought up this topic. I, too, am rather perplexed about how you shop for a bike in a LBS. I live near Santa Cruz, CA, which is really a major cycling community. When I decided a little over a year ago that I was going to get a new bike, I went to the five local shops that deal seriously with road bikes. There was nothing for me to try. No one had a 54 cm bike in my price range (up to about $3,000).

So I set off over the hill to San Jose area. Not much better over there, except for a shop that carried Trek and Bianchi. I'm not sure if Trek is really that popular or is it just that its dealers get to have some inventory. Dealers can make deals when they have something to sell. Similarly, since the West Coast distribution center for Bianchi is in Oakland, it's easy to get test ride on a Bianchi.

Since that time, one shop in Santa Cruz has become a major Trek dealer. The shop is full of bikes and they're selling a lot of them. Having a Madone out on the floor to be admired and touched is a great marketing tool for selling cheaper bikes: Even if you are buying a $1,000 Trek, it feels good to buy a bike related to the Madone.

Eventually, I went back to the shop in Santa Clara that originally fitted me. When I had my fitting, I was not as interested in the custom steel frames they built up there. I was hoping for a carbon or ti frame. The more I tried to look at other bikes, the more I realized that I should have a biker built to my specs. Shaw's was committed to making sure that the bike I ordered was going to fit right and ride right. My new bike worked out just as promised. It's perfect.

However, I am still clueless as to how to shop for an off-the-rack bike if there is nothing on the rack.
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Old 12-03-04, 08:32 PM
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Trek here in San Diego (also a Lemmond dealer) offers a 30 day money back guarantee on all bike purchases (granted you don't crash it and scrape off the paint). You may want to look them up and see if they do that on special orders. If they do, then hey...buy it, if it doesn't work out, you have an action to take.

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Old 12-04-04, 12:37 PM
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I don't understand how an LBS could carry the inventory everyone seems expect. With new models changes every year, what is the LBS supposed to do with the stuff left over from last year? Oh yeah, I guess most would expect that they should sell it at some great discount huh? How many Lemond Renos in your wife’s size do you suppose the local shop sells a year? If the shop orders one (and Trek/Lemond has one in stock) they will have it in around a week or less. They then have to assemble it and set it up for your “test ride”. So you decide you don’t like it (for some reason other than fit?) , they then get to disassemble it and ship it back? Who pays for all that shipping and shop time? Wow, you guys already b!tch about prices at it is.

Just what is it you are going to decide with that test ride? The bike fits or it doesn’t. Are you trying to decide on frame material? If a shop had your size in steel, aluminum, Ti, and carbon, then I could see testing. But when you limiting factor is budget, then getting the best bang for your buck along with a good fit are the most important factors.

Funny how people who have high dollar bikes built from the frame up don’t complain about not being able to test ride.

My suggestion is to have your wife get measured for a proper fitting and order the bike that fits your budget. I’m willing to bet that good fit will make much more difference to your wife than anything else a test ride would yield.
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