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vinfix 02-23-12 12:57 PM

LBS bike tryout policies?
I've been shopping around for a new "store-bought" mid-to-high end bike, rather than the old-school steel & aluminum bikes I've acquired or built up. I can appreciate the subtleties in fit, ride quality, handling, wheels, etc. enough to know a short test ride in a parking lot isn't really enough to make an informed choice.

Several bikes shops in my area will let you take a bike out for a test ride, one will even let you take it for the day. But one that has a bike I like (and won't find anywhere else) told me I couldn't take it out of the parking lot, wouldn't let it out of their sight (less than $2k bike).

What's the consensus- make sure you get a real test before you buy? Don't buy from an LBS that won't allow that? Or pay your money and take your chances?

ColinL 02-23-12 01:02 PM

first observation: NJ is not Kansas. that said, this is pretty unusual for a sub $2,000 bike. my LBSs don't stock $9,000 bikes, but I've taken out the most expensive they had and I've even ridden employee bikes when they were the right size and same model (or at least frame) I was interested in.

second- will they let you put down a refundable deposit, leave your DL, something?

third idea- can you go for a test ride with a store employee? I can't see you getting in 10+ miles or anything, but even 4 or 5 could help you get an idea about the bike.

Seattle Forrest 02-23-12 01:37 PM

ColinL has some good advice: ask if you can leave your driver's license and/or other ID, possibly with a credit card. There isn't much reason for a store (wanting to sell a bike) to say no to that.

People have a lot of opinions about the usefulness/uselessness of test rides. Personally, I wouldn't buy a $2,000 bike without a good one.

pgjackson 02-23-12 01:38 PM

PB let me take a $400 Fuji all the way around the store. Bicycle Warehouse let me take the Felt out wherever I wanted. The LBS where I got my Giant only let me ride it in their small parking lot under the close eye of their shop-dude. Just depends. I think test rides are over-rated anyway. Is it a cool looking bike, in your price range and does it fit (you don't need to ride it know if it fits)? I'm sure others will strongly disagree.

Brian Ratliff 02-23-12 01:44 PM

My primary shop will let anything out for an extended test ride. They simply swipe your credit card first; if they never see the bike again, they just charge you for it (I assume).

WarLordZ 02-23-12 01:44 PM

A good dealer will let you make a lateral move to another bike they stock, if your not happy, or upgrade usually within 30 days of your initial purchase. Not sure on nominal demo policy.

NRZ 02-23-12 02:09 PM

My LBS calls the rep in the area for a demo bike. They just did that with Giant that one of the guys from the group rides was interested in and I've ridden an Evo that was dropped off for demo purposes.

SlimRider 02-23-12 02:15 PM

Usually, you can just show them your ID and leave a credit card. In most cases, they'll hope they never see you again! :lol:

thump55 02-23-12 02:15 PM

Bike shops are more apt to let you ride longer if they know you are truly interested, and ready to buy now.

"Sir, I am buying a bike today from some place and you are my last stop. Here is my money (hold up a big wad of cash, it really does help). I have test ridden three bikes already today, but I think the one you have here is the one I will like the best. The other shops let me ride for 30 minutes. I do not feel I can decide by only riding the parking lot, will you let me ride it longer? You may hold my giant wad of cash while I do so."

Any shop that says no to that is not a place I would deal with.

ColinL 02-23-12 02:30 PM

Looking like a serious buyer and not a tire kicker definitely helps.

Another thing that helps is knowing the shop. If you're a regular, and you buy some stuff now and then, they are far more likely to let you test ride anything they've got than some person they've never seen before.

telebianchi 02-23-12 03:56 PM

Different businesses run things differently. Adding to the good advice above, make clear that you are buying a bike but it won't be theirs if you can't test ride it (obviously, be nice and not a jerk when explaining this). Another idea: how about throwing the bike on a trainer? I know it's not the same as the road but you could definitely get a feel for the geometry and make small adjustments along the way.

I've had good experience with this including a shop being OK with me riding a cyclocross bike on a gravel/dirt path to try it out. Another place had me ride a $3500 Trek just for the fun of it when they knew my budget was around $1250 ... they just wanted me to have some fun but it also allowed me to compare the $1200 bike to a really good bike instead of to my old low-end, 2x6 geared steel Bianchi.

SmokedDeathDog 02-23-12 07:01 PM

I think that many people here have hit the nail on the head. The bike shop needs to know that you are serious of purchasing the bike. I was in the market for a new bike and wanted to try a Ti bike. A bike shop that I frequented (but had not bought a bike from them before) offered to build up a Merlin and take it out for the weekend. I was clear that I only wanted a frame set and would be moving over all my components. I also offered them the cost of a bike build to move my stuff over for a test ride. Anyway, they built it up with all new components and let me take it for the weekend. I left my current bike at the shop. They did try to sell me the new bike completed, but I had set my expectations that I only wanted a frame set. Anyway I got the frame set and still love the bike. I would not have bought the bike unless I had ridden it and 10 miles was not enough to know.

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