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Get Down Do you
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am probably like most of you that always insisted on Demoing a bike before you buy a bike. And as someone who has always been on the Cusp of bike sizes this mantra has served me well between bike brands and bikes over the years. Now comes the new issues bike shops don't have bikes and if they do they are not demoing them at all. I sold my bike in December because it's usually my Winter MO and I have been looking at getting a new bike.

Every shop I speak to has said put down a deposit and we can get you one. Which is understandable but how can you buy a bike without trying it 1st. In speaking with bike shops they are insisting you will be fine on X size or next shop sure buy Y. This of course doesn't fly so I have started to open my desired bikes from 2 to more than 2 just so I can go and demo one at some shop within 100miles of me.

How are you guys dealing with this issue of no Demos? Or even worse no bike to even parking lot ride? I have even been debating hitting the local forums looking for people with same size bikes asking if I could meet em at the trailhead and if they could let me ride it but with Covid this is an issue too. And who wants some random riding your bike.
 

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Even before 2020 the bikes that interested me were not available to demo where I live. I depended on reviews, youtube, emailing manufacture and stalking locals who rode the bike or at least a model from that brand.

The end result has been last 3 of 5 frame purchases have been home runs buying blind with 2 others that I kept for a year then sold when it was obvious we weren’t meshing.


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Out spokin'
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I've never demo'd a bike with the intention of buying. Rather, I pay attention to frame dimensions of the bikes I have that fit me well, learn what frame geometry I prefer (and be open to a bit of chance with new ideas) and then order based on my preferences after pouring over geo charts. This is in addition to knowing which basic suspension platform I prefer, reading reviews, considering bike companies reputations & warranties, etc.

In short, I never demo. Rather, I research and then order. This approach hasn't failed me yet.
=sParty
 

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Only a couple of times have I demo'ed before buying. Over the past few decades the bike I wanted was not one sitting on a sales floor so I had to take a leap of faith that I'd like it. Usually it's worked but a few times it hasn't. I'm fortunately a very medium size so bike fit hasn't been an issue. I could see how frustrating it would be to live on either end of the fit spectrum though.
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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If I were an even relative noob.. I wouldn't buy this year. Of course, I'm also 6'3" ish.. so if I didn't know what I liked for reach etc, it'd be a complete crapshoot based on 'recommended heights' and various manufacturers.
 

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CEO Product Failure
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I bought new gravel bikes (one for me, one for the wife) in November (2020). They are due to arrive stateside in April/May (2021) so...

We were able to test ride for fit based on other current and older models at the LBS. The spec was determined by test riding other brands that may/may not be gravel bikes. I think the bikes will arrive within 90% of expectations (size and spec).

My LBS was clear--if I did order the incorrect size, they would make it right. I'm a 58cm and on the cusp of L/XL for some brands. The only challenge would be if I do need a different size, then the LBS has no control over availability.
 

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Out spokin'
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When I put a deposit on a new bike in June ,it was with the understanding that if it didn't fit ,I would'nt have to buy it.
That's a terrific safety net.
One that I lacked the past 6 or 8 times I purchased bikes (or frames) inasmuch as all were prodeals.
Prodeals are nice in terms of price but not subject to return. We rolls the dice and we takes our chances.
As jeremy3220 said a couple posts up, "Knowing what geo works for you is a big help."
=sParty
 

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since 4/10/2009
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There will be very little demoing this year.

I've ordered bikes before without being able to demo them. To get an idea of fit, I had to try SOMETHING vaguely similar. Even that might not be possible for some people this year. Yay.

Once, I was able to arrange to demo someone else's bike. That was very helpful, as the bike wasn't available at all at any shops near me. And even bikes similar to it were rare enough here. So it helped me to avoid a complete leap of faith.

You can still try to arrange demo rides from other people who own the bike. Otherwise, there's going to be a leap of faith involved. Thankfully one side effect of demand being high is that shops should have less trouble selling the bike if it doesn't fit you.
 

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CEO Product Failure
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One other thought and I realize time/budget may prohibit this option for most of us:

Go to Moab. Moab bike shops rent a variety of bikes. Schedule your demo rentals on your top contenders and ride them on real trails.
 

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I bought my first mountain bike 2 years ago. I bought it relatively blind, by reading every review I could find. I was able to find a local shop with one in stock, but I was only able to ride it around the parking lot for a minute. Mostly it was confirming the ETT felt about right.

My problem is that now that I've been on that bike for 2 years, I'm noticing things I do/do not like about it. But I have very limited "other bike" experience to draw geo based preferences off of. I did attend the big demo fair at Duthie hill in 2019, and rode 4 more bikes. But those demos are pretty short (~30min), and at this point a while ago. Plus geo has moved a bit since then as well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, I strongly prefer to ride the bike before buying... or at least have some saddle time on something with similar geometry before I buy.

Case in point, I've been really interested in the Privateer bikes. But finding one to demo is essentially impossible. But for my size, the 2020/2021 Norco Sight has actually very similar geometry (nearly identical reach, ETT, wheelbase, and also a horst link suspension platform). And I bet I COULD find a demo on that. So that somewhat expands the bikes that I can consider.

The problem is when I can't find anything even remotely similar (Banshee Titan, has long chainstays, shortish reach, and high stack). So while I'm interested in it, I don't know if I can convince myself to buy one without any sort of idea if it will work for me or not.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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One other thought and I realize time/budget may prohibit this option for most of us:

Go to Moab. Moab bike shops rent a variety of bikes. Schedule your demo rentals on your top contenders and ride them on real trails.
Any notable riding destination should offer something along these lines. Of course, availability will vary. But probably the best options for test riding/demos.
 

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I agree. The best bet if you're serious about it is to find somewhere that has rentals/demos available for the bikes you're interested in, and that you can actually ride on some real trails for a bit.

Usually demos aren't super hard to find around here. But I haven't been able to find any all year, and things like the Transition factory demos/etc are still closed as well :/.
 

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CEO Product Failure
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Any notable riding destination should offer something along these lines. Of course, availability will vary. But probably the best options for test riding/demos.
I've only been to Moab. The other places I've been in Colorado (Winterpark, Keystone, Crested Butte, Vail) didn't have quite the selection/variety of Chili Pepper, Poison Spider and, in Fruita, OverTheEdge. I know I'm leaving out other shops in both towns but those are the three I've been to.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I've only been to Moab. The other places I've been in Colorado (Winterpark, Keystone, Crested Butte, Vail) didn't have quite the selection/variety of Chili Pepper, Poison Spider and, in Fruita, OverTheEdge. I know I'm leaving out other shops in both towns but those are the three I've been to.
In the Pisgah area, lots of shops offer rentals. I think most shops in the area offer some kind of rental, so a reasonable variety of brands are represented. You're not going to have all models to choose from, of course.

A lot of it, I think, depends on where you are. Most people probably live reasonably near shops that offer something to rent. Yeah, the more you want to try (especially if you want to try something more obscure), the more you might have to travel to find what you want. But there will be at least a few places scattered around the country that offer a broader selection. Places with a combination of destination trail systems AND enough of a population base to support more than just one or two shops.
 

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I bought my first mountain bike 2 years ago. I bought it relatively blind, by reading every review I could find. I was able to find a local shop with one in stock, but I was only able to ride it around the parking lot for a minute. Mostly it was confirming the ETT felt about right.

My problem is that now that I've been on that bike for 2 years, I'm noticing things I do/do not like about it. But I have very limited "other bike" experience to draw geo based preferences off of. I did attend the big demo fair at Duthie hill in 2019, and rode 4 more bikes. But those demos are pretty short (~30min), and at this point a while ago. Plus geo has moved a bit since then as well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, I strongly prefer to ride the bike before buying... or at least have some saddle time on something with similar geometry before I buy.

Case in point, I've been really interested in the Privateer bikes. But finding one to demo is essentially impossible. But for my size, the 2020/2021 Norco Sight has actually very similar geometry (nearly identical reach, ETT, wheelbase, and also a horst link suspension platform). And I bet I COULD find a demo on that. So that somewhat expands the bikes that I can consider.

The problem is when I can't find anything even remotely similar (Banshee Titan, has long chainstays, shortish reach, and high stack). So while I'm interested in it, I don't know if I can convince myself to buy one without any sort of idea if it will work for me or not.
I bought my bike at the Duthie demo day in 2017. I rode a bunch of bikes there and my current bike just stood out so much that I couldn't pass on it. After riding it around a few trails, I didn't want to give it back because it fit me so well.
 

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Out spokin'
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I bought my bike at the Duthie demo day in 2017. I rode a bunch of bikes there and my current bike just stood out so much that I couldn't pass on it. After riding it around a few trails, I didn't want to give it back because it fit me so well.
What bike did you get, Curveball? (I think I recall, but unsure.) TIA
=sParty
 

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To me the only excuse to use an LBS and let them have the 30% markup is to be able to try the bike. If they don't have one, or you need to pay before you try, you may as well save the 30% and buy direct.

I ran into that years ago (before the COVID excuse) where the LBS in question only had my size in one of their branches, but they asked for a 50% deposit to let me try it. Lol, 50% of that price was the price I ended up paying for the whole bike I bought directly with better components.
 
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