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Help! Need test ride advice!

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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

Help! Need test ride advice!

Old 05-20-12, 01:27 PM
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Help! Need test ride advice!

I need some advice about test riding a bike. How important is it that the bike I test ride be the same size as the one I would actually buy?

I've been riding a Giant OCR1 (aluminum) for the past 7 years, about 3000 miles per year. I thought I would take a step up to carbon. I am thinking Madone 5.2 or a Roubaix SL3. (So we're talking $3500-4000.)

I got measured at my local bike shop, and I would need a size 52 frame. Trouble is, they don't have a Madone or SL3 in that size for me to test ride. They are going to build up a size 56 SL3 for me to try. I don't know how they plan to help me with the Madone, but they claim that Trek is out of stock on size 52 frames anyway. (Can that be? It's only May!?)

Does it make sense to test ride a size 56 bike when I would be buying a 52? Is 52 an uncommon size, so I might have trouble finding one to ride at any shop?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-20-12, 01:40 PM
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Some people will say a short test ride, shorter than your typical rides, will not be enough as well as one that doesn't cover your typical terrain. Maybe a test ride will eliminate bikes that immediately aren't to your taste while not eliminating ones that you won't like after 3 to 4+ hours on the saddle?

Also, different size frames often have different geometry (often different trail and wheelbase) and may not necessarily have the same ride characteristics even if you can possibly set up the contact points in the same points in space.

If they already went thru the trouble of setting the bike up and it's not a long drive to the LBS, why not ride? But I'd say a size 52 is pretty far off from a size 56 if 52 is a perfect fit...
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Old 05-20-12, 02:13 PM
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The only aspect you'll fully get from test riding a bike that far from your size is the frame qualities of road feel (stiff, plush, vibration dampening, etc.) You will NOT be able to get an accurate sense of handling.
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Old 05-20-12, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by IcySmooth52
The only aspect you'll fully get from test riding a bike that far from your size is the frame qualities of road feel (stiff, plush, vibration dampening, etc.) You will NOT be able to get an accurate sense of handling.
That makes sense. So if I do somehow get to test the size 52 Trek, it might seem that it handles much better than the Roubaix.But I might feel otherwise had I tested the size 52 Roubaix.

Is it already late in the season to be shopping for a bike? Are bikes like cars...will the 2013 models start coming out in September or something?
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Old 05-20-12, 05:04 PM
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Bikes do come out late in the cycling season, but you'll be waiting for awhile to get a 2013. I wouldn't say it's late in the season though.

As for simply comparing the Roubaix and Trek H2 geometry, the Roubaix is more of a comfort oriented bike, but the Madone isn't a crit racer (like a CAAD 10). I say this because of these comparative measurements:
*Handling aspects*
-Wheelbase- The Roubaix is far longer in the WB, and this makes it track a line "smoother". Less point-and-shoot turning. One of the prime factors.
-Chainstay- Roubaix is leaning more towards plush again, but the Trek doesn't have a super short CS. This length adjusts the weight balance between the front and back wheels. A shorter one puts more on front and once again point-and-shoot, but in a confidence inspiring sharp turn way.
-Fork Rake & Head Tube Angle- The Trek is a crit racer here and there's a massive difference between the two. Steeper angle and shorter fork rake/offset is another quicker turning thing. Think of how a chopper motorcycle would turn compared to a crotch-rocket.
-BB Drop- Hardly a difference here. This is defining the center of gravity, because you're being positioned around the BB. Can't adjust it. If it were higher, you'd need another spacer under your stem and a raise of your saddle. Higher center of gravity then.
*Position aspects*
-Head Tube- Both relatively high compared to a racer. You can change this with your stem height and angle of course.
-Seat Tube Angle- Pretty much the same again. Steeper positions you more above the bottom bracket so you'll have more power (your mass is more above you so you'll have to be pedaling harder to lift yourself off the seat). Seat post offset can affect this too.
-Reach/Stack Ratio- Relative positions to each of the frame's bodily connections. The Roubaix is more lax.

Tube shapes can have a huge affect on handling and not positioning, but comfort. Both are fine bikes, just do you want a sports coupe (Roubaix) or a sports car (Trek)? You'll appreciate the Roubaix on longer rides.
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Old 05-20-12, 06:53 PM
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[QUOTE=IcySmooth52;14248691-Chainstay- Roubaix is leaning more towards plush again, but the Trek doesn't have a super short CS. This length adjusts the weight balance between the front and back wheels. A shorter one puts more on front and once again point-and-shoot, but in a confidence inspiring sharp turn way.
[/QUOTE]

I am asking, not challenging. I would have thought a short chainstay would put more weight on the back, as you are farther back from the midline of the wheelbase and the back wheel is more under your "center of mass".
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Old 05-20-12, 07:12 PM
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Test riding a bike that far off from your correct size would be an utter waste of time. There's no way you could comfortably ride the bike long or hard enough to really make a decision based on the ride. What would you expect to learn? That the gear shifting works?
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Old 05-20-12, 07:20 PM
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Test rides are a waste of good shopping and research time. Don't bother
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Old 05-20-12, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeWMass
I am asking, not challenging. I would have thought a short chainstay would put more weight on the back, as you are farther back from the midline of the wheelbase and the back wheel is more under your "center of mass".
Yes you're right, it is more weight on back wheel with shorter stay. It does create the effect I said though; shorter = snappier handling. Longer stays distribute weight more evenly on each wheel which makes a smoother turn. Less weight on front makes it quicker turning. Shorter stays also encourage confidence on hills.
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Old 05-20-12, 07:39 PM
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That's simply crazy, I don't understand how riding a bike that's clearly too big for you would be of any use. Hit up some other shops, this one is clearly just trying to get your money.
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Old 05-20-12, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Right Said Fred
Test riding a bike that far off from your correct size would be an utter waste of time. There's no way you could comfortably ride the bike long or hard enough to really make a decision based on the ride. What would you expect to learn? That the gear shifting works?
That's easily the most blunt response to this thread! But it is what I was thinking myself. (Not sure what to make of the response saying that test rides in general are a waste of time...if I'm going to drop $4k on this thing, shouldn't I test ride it first?)

As someone else pointed out, since the LBS is close, and they are building it out anyway, I might as well take the bike out for a ride. I've never been on a carbon bike, so I'm looking forward to it! But as far as influencing my decision as to which bike to buy, the test ride won't contribute much.
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Old 05-20-12, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by advicepig
That's simply crazy, I don't understand how riding a bike that's clearly too big for you would be of any use. Hit up some other shops, this one is clearly just trying to get your money.
OK...you're now the winner of the "Most Blunt Response" award. I have to admit, I thought the guy was worried more about selling me a Roubaix, than selling me the bike that I wanted.
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Old 05-20-12, 08:37 PM
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I'd agree that test-riding a 56 when you know you're a 52 isn't going to be very helpful.

Both Trek and Specialized are very common, they should be available all over the place. At least one should have a 52cm or 54cm of those bikes built up. You can also find out from another shop if the Trek 52's are in fact sold out.
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Old 05-20-12, 09:32 PM
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Try a different model Trek in the 52. The frame won't be the same material, but should be the same geometry. It will give you some idea of how the bike will feel. 52 is a popular size. Wait for them to build the bike you want to purchase. If you are spending that much coin on a bike, you should be test riding the bike you want. A 56 is so far away from a 52 that it's pointless test riding it.
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Old 05-21-12, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lafossed
OK...you're now the winner of the "Most Blunt Response" award. I have to admit, I thought the guy was worried more about selling me a Roubaix, than selling me the bike that I wanted.
I won a prize!!!
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Old 05-21-12, 09:03 PM
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As someone that's frequently is on the other side of the coin when it comes to test rides, let me be the first one to say that test rides don't do as much for the potential customer as they usually like to think. the reasoning is that the bike needs to be fitted for the rider in order for the rider to feel comfortable on the bike and I think we'd all agree that for test rides, a custom road fit is not part of the buying process. With that in mind, many bike parts are similar across the board, Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cervelo, other big name brands, right down to Museeuw, Fondriest and Boardman, uses all the same components. We allow all customers to test ride any bikes, from 1200 all the way up to 18000, but having an idea of what you are hoping to gain in the test ride is most important.
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