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Demos are overrated. Of my last 4 bikes I ordered all 4 of them site unseen. It doesn't particularly bother me. I can usually ride two different sizes of bikes and I pick based on the geo chart and what I am after out of the bike [ie. high speed stability or playfulness]. If I have questions I ask the company what they'd recommend.

I was at a demo a few years ago and because my buddy wanted to try the bike I was riding I swapped with him and rode the bike he was demoing. It was the same bike I owned and loved. The demo bike was awful and if that was the only info I had about that particular bike I would have told you it was a poor choice for me. In reality it was a great bike I rode for 4 years. I don't get too worked up about demos.

If you are unsure about bike fit contact the company and give them all your info [measurements, what you are riding now, etc...] and take their recommendation. Firstly they've sized a lot of people on their bikes and secondly if you were to have bike fit issues they'll be more sympathetic to helping you out.
^^ This 100%. You can ride two of the same exact bikes with slightly different components and they'll feel completely different. You can't really get a good feel for how you like a bike until you've ridden it for a few weeks not a few minutes or hours. For me as long as I can duplicate the cockpit feel I'll adapt to everything else. Besides bikes are getting so good now the differences are splitting hairs. It's really hard to buy a turd of a bike nowadays.
 

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Get Down Do you
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Discussion Starter #44
Yeah that's pretty much it. Not only does the sizing need to work, but the suspension kinematics too. It all has to come together to feel just right.
I agree with this 100% for instance I got to spend a bit of time on a Ripley recently and I just didn't gel with that bike even after 2 days of riding and setup. Meanwhile I rode a trail429 from pivot with similar numbers and both running DW-Link and I found the pivot to suit me and was a much more enjoyable experience. If I just looked at numbers I would have easily picked the ripley no questions asked but I am glad I had an opportunity to ride it 1st.
 

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Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
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Once bicycles become commodities, avid cyclists will be in real trouble, won’t we.

The universe is moving in that direction. We must remain ever vigilant.
=sParty
 

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CEO Product Failure
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One other option to demo bikes is at races and events--I know most are postponed right now. Sea Otter, InnerBike / OuterBike, Epic Rides, and Iceman are events I've attended that offer some form of demo's from a variety of manufacturers.

I think for the short term during (whats left of) the pandemic, it may be easiest to test ride a buddy's bike. Personally, if I know you well enough to have stored your phone number in my phone, I'd probably trust you enough to lend you one of my bikes for an afternoon.
 

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I agree 100% with the not being able to "try before you buy" problem. It was happening before 2020/21 even though I'm sure it is far worse now. I would never drop $5000+ on something that I couldn't actually demo on a real trail first.

In 2018 when the new 2019 Liv Intrigue Advanced bikes were announced, I was sure it would be the perfect bike for me. I already owned a Liv bike in a size small that felt a little big for me (I am 5'2"). According to their size chart, I fit right in the middle of the range for an XS and I really want to try one before ordering. Fat chance. None of the retailers within a few hour drive even stock the bikes in XS and none would order in without a firm commitment. In October of 2018, I was told that if I wanted an Intrigue, I would have to order and pay for it and expect delivery the next March. I told them to stuff it and that I was happy to wait until I could find a demo somewhere even if that meant waiting another year.

I spent the winter researching bikes, comparing geometry, making charts, reading every review that I could find and making a list of bikes that I really wanted to try. Top of my list were the Liv Intrigue and the Ibis Mojo. Spring of 2019 when demo season started, my husband and I traveled hours in any direction to get to bike demos. I tried as many bikes as I could. I really thought that the Mojo would be the perfect bike for me, but it turned out that out of all the bikes that I tried, it was one of the ones that I liked the least. Thank goodness I didn't order one based on how it looked on paper! I was also surprised by some bikes that I ended up really liking that I hadn't even considered.

Finally, mid summer, I was able to demo the Liv Intrigue. Only problem was, even the demos didn't bring bikes in XS. Such a piss off considering that it is supposed to be a brand designed for women and there are lots of smaller women out there. If I could ride a medium frame, I would have way more choices in bikes, I'm sure, but I digress... I demoed a small Intrigue and finally found exactly what I was looking for! Except for the colour. Thankfully the rep was able to let me know what the 2020 model specs were and I was happy to wait. I went back to the local Giant dealer, and again, was told that I would have to pay the bike now but would not receive it until the next April. Again, I told them to stuff it.

Happily, when we were holidaying in another town that we frequent, we stopped in at the bike shop there (one that we also have a good relationship with) and while speaking with our friend that manages sales there, I mentioned what bike I was interested in. He told me he had noticed that that specific bike had just become available to order and that it could be there in a matter of weeks if I wanted it! No downpayment, no nothing. He ordered it on the spot for me and first week of August 2019, I ended up with one of the first 2020 Liv Intrigue Advanced 1 bikes in Canada. I am still totally in love with that bike.

All this to say, I am so glad that I held out on getting a bike until I could demo it and be sure. Looking at the geo and the numbers and the reviews online did not work for me. Out of the 2 bikes that I thought would be perfect and that actually look very similar on paper, one I really did not like at all, and one I absolutely loved. It just cemented the fact that I definitely would not buy without trying.

On the other hand, there were no bikes that my husband demoed that he would not have been happy with, and he ended up ordering a YT Jeffsy without ever having seen one in person, and he loves it. So maybe buying sight unseen is just less risky when you are of average size? Or when you are not as much of a tinkerer and a perfectionist?
 
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