The Importance of Test-Riding - Cycling Magazine

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Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Importance of Test-Riding

The Importance of Test-Riding

TEST-RIDING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE BUYING experience. The only way to tell if a bike truly fits is by riding it. Before buying new shoes, you try them on. They may rub your heel, be too narrow, or not have enough support—or they may be just what you were looking for.
Think of your new bike as an exceptionally nice pair of shoes. The right fit is something a salesperson or your brother-in-law can’t tell you. Your body and heart, however, will know when the fit is right.
You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a first date. Come dressed for the ride. You don’t need to be wearing Lycra, but don’t show up in a business suit or a skirt with sandals and expect to have a good experience. Wear comfortable clothing you can easily move around in and get a little sweaty. It’s a good idea to wear pants that taper at the ankle, or ask the shop for a strap to hold your pants safely out of the way of the chain.

When you come to test-ride, wear comfortable clothing that you can move around in. If possible, bring bike shorts—that’s the best way to know how the bike will feel when you’re riding it.

Bring Your Wallet

If you want to head out of the shop to test-ride on the road, you’ll need to hand over your driver’s license and a valid credit card, no exceptions.

Get on an Even Playing Field

Before you hit the pavement, make sure you understand how the bike shifts and brakes. Different brands of components shift differently. A good shop will offer to show you how the shifters work in the store with the bike in a trainer. This way, you can concentrate on your ride rather than how to make the bike work.
You can’t expect a (good) first date to last 15 minutes. Invest some time in your test-ride experience. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to have a conversation with the salesperson and for them to show you a few models, narrow them down to about the right fit, and then finally take them out for a ride. Plan on taking at least 15 to 30 minutes riding on the road for each bike. It takes close to that long to get a true feel for whether your body (arms, legs, back, etc.) is getting sore anywhere. Yes, that means you could be in each shop for 2 to 3 hours, so this process may take more than a day.

Ask Questions and Make Adjustments

If this is your first road bike experience, you may think the salesperson has set the bike up for you. Then you ride and all your weight seems to be pressing into the saddle. Chances are the seat height is wrong. You may feel stretched out like Superman and can’t reach the handlebars. Don’t waste time on your full test ride if in the first few minutes it feels awful. Turn around and see if there is a simple adjustment the salesperson can make. That may work, or it may be the wrong fit. Don’t discount what you feel just because you’re a “newbie.” If it feels wrong, it likely is wrong. If it’s wrong, you won’t want to ride it, so don’t buy it.
A full bike fit breakdown is in the next section, so read ahead for more details on how a bike should fit.

She’s an Uptown Girl . . .

Always test-ride a bike above and below your budget, even if you are certain you won’t buy it. It will help you get a better sense of what you’re paying for and how price affects quality.

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