JustJames wrote:A test ride tells you very little, unless you can arrange a test ride that is hours long.
So, -2 for the test ride suggestion.
Buy the one that talks to you, the one with the colour scheme or some other identifiable "something" that has you reaching for the drastic plastic.
Once the bike is yours, if you find that you don't like it for some reason, pretty much everything about it except the frame geometry can be changed to suit you better.
(Red is generally recognised to be the fastest colour.)
I'd agree with you here, a test ride can only show so much, and there are a lot of other factors that may affect how the bike feels compared to another.
good discussion on it here http://forums.bicycling.com/eve/forums/ ... 8991020616
Velobro.1 The first post on the thread From that website wrote:Let me dive in here as I love this topic. For starters, I'm not only a shop owner, I'm an avid rider...duh. Of the last 30+ bikes I've owned, I've test ridden not a single one of them. NOT ONE. In fact, I've ordered bikes with the most basic of specs and they've worked out beautifully. Of the last 20+ bikes I've owned, I've bought them sight unseen. Some of my team issued bikes were given to me with only a top tube length as the guiding factor to which "size" to get. Granted, that was a tad lucky more often than not, but my point is....you don't HAVE to spend hours hopping from bike to bike to find your winner. Let me also say, I am EXTREME when it comes to fitment. I will not buy a bike unless I can get it to fit with unparalleled perfection.
So, with that in mind, let's say you do get the chance to ride a few bikes. What are you feeling?? There are so many variables that make a bike feel a certain way. Lets say you take out bike A and then bike B. Bike A might be smooth like butter. Maybe it's because the tires were under inflated by 10 pounds. I've actually seen customers get so confused by jumping from bike to bike one guy actually rode a bike twice and gave it two entirely different reviews!!! I had to say, "dude...that's the bike you loved an hour ago...." Things like seats, tape, wheels, tires, or just subtle adjustments can make one bike feel a particular way. As a cyclist of over a quarter century, I can't isolate those variables...no way. Who could!?!
There's also psychology to test rides. If I hand a customer a bike and say...this thing rides like a jackhammer, they'll come back and say, "oooo...it was bumpity." If I say this bike rides like greased velvet, guess what they almost always report about the ride? That's right. I've even seen customers say, "this bike didn't shift well, and that one did....those bikes had IDENTICAL PARTS!!!!
The best thing you'll gain out of a test ride is a rough approximation as to how the fit WILL FEEL once you undergo a proper fitting. You really can't even get a proper sense of handling on a test ride. Maybe one bike has the bars 1cm higher than the other. Maybe one bike has a 100mm stem and the other has a 120mm stem. That'll impact handling. Maybe one bike has low spoke count wheels and another has traditional 32 spoke wheels. That'll impact compliance. Maybe one bike has deep reach bars and another has shallow reach bars. That'll translate to the responsiveness. All of these are variables that can be changed, by the way.
I will say, there is some merit to actually test riding full suspension bikes as you really do somewhat need to feel how the dynamic of a suspension system works with your riding style. But even then, that really requires a few hours to dial in that suspension and that of the other bikes in the test to be objective. I've seen people ride a $7000 Yeti full sus bike and say, "too soft..." Well, inflate the goddamn shock unit properly!!!!!!
Ultimately, I see more people confused by test rides than those who have some epiphany and find their bike love. I also think this test ride thing is an internal justification process. If you walk in a shop, fall in love with a bike on the floor, guess what...when you test ride it, chances are you'll find all sorts of attributes that you love. If I were to force you to ride the ugly left over bike from three seasons ago, you'd come back from a ride and tell me how it was harsh, slow, squirly, etc.
In the end, my advice is - buy a bike using your brain....not your azz. Do your research. Find out what your needs are and look for bikes designed to meet those needs. Same for fit. Find out what you NEED for fit and find bikes that suit those needs.
One last parting thought. I'm one of those guys that might hop on a new bike, ride it for weeks and weeks before it really feels like it's mine. Bikes I love initially might eventually need a lot of tweaks. Bikes I don't groove on right away also might need tweaks down the road. I might log 700 hours on a bike in a year. If I really thought I could get to know that bike down to the core in an hour ride, I'd be nuts.
Test rides. OVER RATED.
Research. OVER LOOKED.
So, do a test ride to get a general
idea of the bike. Do heaps of research and speak to the owners of the shop. Get the bike which you like the look of the best, from the place that you get the best customer service