Just about the most helpful (and honest?) thing I've ever read on a bike forum

by ColT   April 11, 2014  

Looking for reviews of a particular bike recently, and came across this:

"I own a bike shop that was a Ridley dealer up to this season. We still are a dealer, we just didn't order any bikes for the year. I really like the Noah bikes, although they really are a touch on the heavy side. I'd also point out that those aerodynamic features only provide a benefit over the 20-24mph mark. So, should you find yourself riding solo a lot, that's a techy advantage you may not ever notice. Okay, let me rephrase that. Even if you ride 25mph every day, you won't notice that feature.

One thing about your post that sticks out is - test rides. As a shop owner and avid rider, I would never in a Brazillion years suggest anyone buy a bike of this caliber based on test ride impressions. Terrible idea. Just to pick on you, how do you know the Onix didn't ride smoother because it had 10psi lower pressure in the tires vs the Ridley? What if the Onix had 3mm more foam in the seat? What if the roads you traveled on the Ridley were bumpier? What if the Onix had softer bar tape? What makes you think the carbon wheels made a difference? If it wasn't PSI related, it could have merely been an issue with wheel type, spoke tension, or maybe your sit bones were just not able to judge the vibrations accurately.

To be brutally honest, every bike in this category of rides will perform flawlessly, and just as a racing bike should. You could ride a Felt AR1, Ridley Noah, Cervelo R5, Look 695, Colnago c50 or a dozen other bikes and guess what...they'll all ride damn near the same. If you can feel a difference and can attribute that to just the frame, you're an amazing individual.

Now, this is not to say any bike should be YOUR bike. These bikes will all likely fit differently. So, fit should always drive your decision.

For what it's worth, in my experience over 25 years in the bike business is this - only a teeny, tiny, minuscule percentage of bike buyers accurately pinpoint a bike's real attributes on a test ride, but almost all of them THINK they do."

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To me, this sounds like a very obtuse way of saying " I don't do test rides".

I am famous for my cynicism though.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

Jack Osbourne snr's picture

posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
12th April 2014 - 1:02

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Good post I feel. Not sure if it makes me any more comfortable blind buying, like with online retailers.

Specialized Allez 2009, Campagnolo Centaur 10, Campagnolo Shamal Wheels. 8.3kg

Miles253's picture

posted by Miles253 [199 posts]
13th April 2014 - 10:44

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Jack Osbourne snr wrote:
To me, this sounds like a very obtuse way of saying " I don't do test rides".

I am famous for my cynicism though.

Not sure obtuse is the right word, but I take your point.

However, I'm also something of a cynic and I'd be prepared to bet my house that in a blind test (if it were possible), most people would not be able to tell the difference, assuming the bikes were the correct size and set up correctly, so a short test ride has virtually no relevance.

Indeed, all the bikes I own, or have ever owned, were bought without testing beforehand and I really can't see what I would have lost or gained through such cavalier behaviour. Wink

ColT's picture

posted by ColT [210 posts]
14th April 2014 - 13:43

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I think he's probably right -- I'd be amazed if there were any surprise differences between similar price/style bikes that you'd be able to tell on a test ride, and that individual fit is what really counts (and even then, you can probably adjust most setups to fit most riders, if the basic frame size is OK). However, the test ride is so much more than just a cold, hard review of the frame -- it's probably the thing that seals a lot of bike sales. It's not really a 'test', it's the buyer selling the bike to themselves. Once they're on a test ride, they're almost over the hurdle of spending that money. It's almost their bike at this point...

If this guy is spoiling that moment for his customers with his no-nonsense approach to myth busting, he might be losing himself some sales.

P.S. I didn't bother going for a test ride before I bought my bike last year. Partly because I knew that I wouldn't be able to make any real decision without having ridden lots of bikes, partly because it wasn't the actual bike I'd be buying that I'd get to test, and partly because the staff in the LBS seemed a bit harassed and I'd already waited around for ages just to get served... However, a small part of me wishes I had tested it, because I hate the Sora gears that came on my Trek 1.2, and I might have found the money to jump to at least Tiagra if I'd have known how junky they were (and the no-name brakes too, but no doubt then I'd have wanted 105 and so on Smile Also, I wish I'd just dropped a grand on a Planet X carbon bike. But what can you do, hey? I still love riding my Trek and getting a road bike is one of the best things I've done in a very long while.

posted by adrianoconnor [42 posts]
14th April 2014 - 22:30

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