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Would You Pay 300 USD to Test Ride Tandems?

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Would You Pay 300 USD to Test Ride Tandems?

Old 03-27-16, 01:19 PM
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Stick69
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Would You Pay 300 USD to Test Ride Tandems?

My wife and I drove to a regional tandem specialty store to see some tandems in the flesh and to help support brick and mortar. We were given a nice tour of the store and inventory and told we could make an appointment for a day of test rides for 300 USD. When I asked a few questions about bike sizing we were told we would not be hard to fit and all their customer left extremely happy with their new bikes.

I understand they have a lot of money tied up in inventory and they don't want to be a showroom for the internet. Also, if we were buying our second bike, had 7-9K in ready cash, and wanted a brand they carried it might be worth 300 bucks for some TLC. As it was I never found out if the bike we were interested in would fit us and it felt a bit like a time share presentation.
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Old 03-27-16, 02:51 PM
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They didn't offer to apply the test ride fee to the price of a bike?

I suspect I know where you went, but it would be good to name the shop, so other potential buyers know what to expect.
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Old 03-27-16, 02:54 PM
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three bills to test ride a couple of bikes...?

that's pretty funny.
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Old 03-27-16, 03:13 PM
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I've seen really good tandems on ebay that sell for less than $300

for some reason, here in the UK, tandems do not fetch good money
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Old 03-27-16, 03:20 PM
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You go in a Porsche dealer and test drive a $100,000 911, they don't charge you.

Only tandem, we've bought off the floor we test rode for free.

Last single bike I bought off the floor, the shop let me take it home for the weekend before I bought it. ( I was a good customer of that shop).

If you're serious about buying a bike, and they won't let you test ride without charging you, run, do not walk, away. There are way better shops out there to deal with.

Heck, I've rented top end CF bikes for a day, for a third of that. $300 for a test ride is absurd.
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Old 03-27-16, 03:31 PM
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I can understand a fee to demo bikes, with the fee going towards the purchase of a bike. Would consider it if they had the bikes that I was interested in and a extended test ride would help decide what company, sizing, or components to go with. Not many bike shops here in San Diego that have any tandems in stock to try out. Would love a Tandems East, Precision, or House of Tandems out this way.
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Old 03-27-16, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fxsvelo View Post
They didn't offer to apply the test ride fee to the price of a bike?

I suspect I know where you went, but it would be good to name the shop, so other potential buyers know what to expect.
I was a little stunned and didn't ask about applying it to the cost of the bike but you would think he would have mentioned it if that was the case. That would change things a bit.

The shop is Crank2 in Pleasanton, CA. Mostly Santana, Di Vinci, and a few KHS.

I have noticed other leisure industries in Northern California are adjusting their prices to the demand from the booming Bay Area. They have to pay for the rent somehow and charging for their expertise is one way to do it.

On the flip side my wife just bought a Specialized Ariel at a shop with outstanding service, Victory Velo in Auburn, CA. I mentioned we were interested in a tandem but I didn't know if I wanted drop bars. The owner said I could drop by any time and take out a road bike for as long as I wanted to see if I would be comfortable in that position. They are a Co-motion dealer but don't have much inventory except for the owner's bikes which were too small for me.
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Old 03-27-16, 04:19 PM
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Looks like there is a way around the fee at least for the Santana. This is from the Santana website:

How do you find a Test Ride Center? Phone Santana at (800) 334-6136 x.5 and ask for a referral. This way you’ll know the location, phone number, and the name of the shop’s tandem expert. Best of all, callling Santana first ensures that your Test Ride will be free!
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Old 03-27-16, 04:47 PM
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No.
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Old 03-27-16, 05:46 PM
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Feel blessed to have Tandems East a little over an hour away. Looking to the Expo next weekend with dozens of bikes to check out and ride from some of the top manufacturers.
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Old 03-27-16, 09:33 PM
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Would I pay $300 to test ride tandems?...No! 16 years ago, while in Houston on business for a week, my wife and I test rode a Rolland (low end) tandem and were disappointed. I had been thinking about a tandem for a year or so and our first test ride (at a big sporting goods store) was a let down, it was noodley, quite a bit of flex in the frame. We left there thinking that a tandem might not be for us. Quite by chance we found ourselves near Boone Cycles (in Houston as well) the next day and noticed they were a Santana test ride center. After hearing of our poor experience on the Rolland tandem they spent 1 hours with us. They gave us test rides, taught us the proper method to starting and stopping, etc. By the time we left they hadn't sold us anything (the tandem we rode was a little out of our price range) except on the idea that a tandem can be fun and enjoyable to ride. When Boone Cycles found out that we live in New Orleans, they even suggested we go to Tandems Ltd in Birmingham Ala. when we want to buy a tandem for it is a little closer to us than Houston!
We went to Tandems Ltd and had an enjoyable experience with a quality dealer and purchase our first tandem (Santana Arriva) that same year. Two years ago Jack & Susan Goertz (Tandems Ltd) even set up 4 tandems for us to ride when we were wanting to compare a Titanium tandem to our steel Arriva. They spent hours with us as we rode the 4 tandems back to back on a 5-6 mile course. No charge of course, and we did upgrade our tandem with a purchase from them but not for a year and a half (had to save up).
So, there are tandem dealers that provide TLC at no charge!

Tailwinds,
Charlie

Last edited by Chancy; 03-27-16 at 09:39 PM. Reason: grammar error
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Old 03-28-16, 02:32 AM
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I think I would vote with most of the other respondents... hoping I lived in an area with a more supportive bike shop...
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Old 03-28-16, 05:38 AM
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I wouldn't pay. I have tested (and bought) a variety of tandems through the years, including Santanas, Co-Motions, and recumbent tandems, and never had to pay a "test ride" fee. I have had test rides on tandem recumbent trikes, but did not buy any of them.
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Old 03-28-16, 09:46 AM
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Tandems East Expo

Originally Posted by Paul J View Post
Feel blessed to have Tandems East a little over an hour away. Looking to the Expo next weekend with dozens of bikes to check out and ride from some of the top manufacturers.
I had an older 1997 Co-motion Java that we enjoyed for a few years, but as we got older I was looking for a tandem that was more forgiving.

Drove 6 hours to attend the Tandems East spring expo a few years back. Great owners,great experience, lot's of tandems to try and lot's of interesting fellow tandem enthusiasts. After test riding a daVinci In-2-Ition we were hooked. Ordered one to our specs that day!

Two months later I got a call saying our bike was ready. Drove back down to pick up the bike. Mel & Barbara were great and really love what they do! The tandem was fitted for us and has been perfect. Two years later with many happy miles we're glad we decided to go to the expo and test ride something different.
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Old 03-28-16, 11:09 AM
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If serious about buying a tandem from a particular shop, I would not have a problem paying $100 for extended test rides, as long as that money would be applied to a purchase. If a shop asks for a fee and will not apply that to a purchase, then one should anticipate where their focus is... money over customer service.

We bought our first Calfee frame over the internet and phone from Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA. I believe Richard has sold many brands, but not sure what he has in stock to try out. Perhaps this is another local source for your search.

Gold Country Cyclery
Richard Steele <gctandems@sbcglobal.net>

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Old 03-28-16, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by twocicle View Post

We bought our first Calfee frame over the internet and phone from Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA. I believe Richard has sold many brands, but not sure what he has in stock to try out. Perhaps this is another local source for your search.

Gold Country Cyclery
Richard Steele <gctandems@sbcglobal.net>
Unfortunately they are no longer in business.
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Old 03-28-16, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Stick69 View Post
Unfortunately they are no longer in business.
Doh!
I had checked the website but left the follow-up to you
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Old 03-29-16, 08:32 AM
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No way would I pay to test ride. I would allow them to take a CC number to insure we didn't take off with the bike but I wouldn't expect to be charged.

When we bought our Santana Beyond the local shop didn't have any in stock so Bill shipped one out to the shop for us to ride. We picked the bike up on Friday, the owner spent about an hour with us doing the bike fit and then told us to have fun and he would see us on Sunday. We took the bike back on Sunday ordered a new one with the options we wanted and had it in 6 weeks. To be fair we do live a couple of hours from Bill's shop so it probably wasn't a huge deal to get it out to us, but that is still pretty cool.

Our local Calfee shop will also let you test ride bikes for free if they have something in your size.
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Old 03-29-16, 08:46 AM
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No. I wouldn't pay that kind of money for a test ride. My LBS lets folks test ride for free. They were so nice that they even let me return a bike I purchased after I took it home and rode it for about a week and finally figured out it wasn't right for me. I have paid a small fee, $15, to test paddle kayaks and canoes. That didn't seem unfair especially since they would subtract the fee from the purchase price if you bought the kayak. There are other places that let you test paddle for free. Anyway, back to bikes, no, no way, not $300, not $100, not $50. Maybe $20 if they let you ride as many different kinds of bikes as you want to try and they apply the fee to the purchase price if you buy.
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Old 03-29-16, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Chancy View Post
Would I pay $300 to test ride tandems?...No! 16 years ago, while in Houston on business for a week, my wife and I test rode a Rolland (low end) tandem and were disappointed. I had been thinking about a tandem for a year or so and our first test ride (at a big sporting goods store) was a let down, it was noodley, quite a bit of flex in the frame. We left there thinking that a tandem might not be for us. Quite by chance we found ourselves near Boone Cycles (in Houston as well) the next day and noticed they were a Santana test ride center. After hearing of our poor experience on the Rolland tandem they spent 1 hours with us. They gave us test rides, taught us the proper method to starting and stopping, etc. By the time we left they hadn't sold us anything (the tandem we rode was a little out of our price range) except on the idea that a tandem can be fun and enjoyable to ride. When Boone Cycles found out that we live in New Orleans, they even suggested we go to Tandems Ltd in Birmingham Ala. when we want to buy a tandem for it is a little closer to us than Houston!
We went to Tandems Ltd and had an enjoyable experience with a quality dealer and purchase our first tandem (Santana Arriva) that same year. Two years ago Jack & Susan Goertz (Tandems Ltd) even set up 4 tandems for us to ride when we were wanting to compare a Titanium tandem to our steel Arriva. They spent hours with us as we rode the 4 tandems back to back on a 5-6 mile course. No charge of course, and we did upgrade our tandem with a purchase from them but not for a year and a half (had to save up).
So, there are tandem dealers that provide TLC at no charge!

Tailwinds,
Charlie
Wow! What a great experience. More stores (of all kinds) should be like that. If you invest in potential customers you will eventually get your investment back and then some.
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Old 03-29-16, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Stick69 View Post
Unfortunately they are no longer in business.

That's where we test rode our Tandems - all for free. However - if he had charged $300 he might still be in business.

Honestly - that's a joke to pay to test ride. But here in the Bay Area - they believe everyone is rich.
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Old 03-30-16, 07:30 AM
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It sounds like that shop operates more the way some golf stores do, where you can pay for a lot more advice than you could get from a regular sales clerk.

If I paid that much for a tandem test ride, my expectations would be quite high -- fitting help ride anything I wanted, set up the way I wanted it. And the money applied as a credit if we bought.

We have had enough trouble fitting our bike that I would actually consider doing something like that for our next one. But based on what I've read here, it sounds like connecting with Tandems East might be an even better option. Thank you!
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Old 03-30-16, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Stick69 View Post
Unfortunately they are no longer in business.
Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
Doh!
I had checked the website but left the follow-up to you
Yeah, that's what I found looking in the area too. Unfortunately Bicycle Planet, whose owners would rent their personal tandem, are now folded too. I think City Bicycle Works is a Santana dealer or at least order-er.
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Old 03-30-16, 09:08 AM
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I can sort of see it, but not totally on board.

As everyone else has mentioned, any such fee should certainly be applied to the purchase price if a purchase is made.

For that money, I would fully expect to be able to demo multiple bikes for fairly prolonged periods of time in an area where there is some nice riding. If it's at least half a day of riding to get the feel after you start to tire, and there are two or three different bikes I'm interested in, and some help with fitting/sizing along the way, I could see paying a demo fee.

If it's just riding a bike or two around the parking lot, no way.

Not sure I totally buy the argument that this is a fully justified way for LBS to protect themselves from being a free test ride service for what winds up being an internet sale.
Very few of the high end bike brands are available direct purchase on the internet.
Custom or semi-custom brands that do most of their business on the internet usually have alternative arrangements for fitting and sizing.
When it comes down to it, LBS have to provide a high level of knowledge and service that makes it worth paying extra up front. For new riders or those who do not do much of their own wrenching, this often works out to be a good value. If they aren't providing a value commensurate with the price differential, I don't have a lot of sympathy for their plight. Most of the real value of a LBS purchase comes after the sale, anyway.

Bottom line, it's a free market (more or less, in this industry anyway), and they're free to devise and pursue their own business model. Either it will work out for them or it will not.

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Old 03-30-16, 09:29 AM
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@Stick69 Here's my gigantic Craigslist link from when I was shopping for tandems. It will catch you all the nicer stuff from the whole region around Sac

Craigslist Tandems
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