before I spent quite a lot of money on a new frame, I'd like to know with some confidence that I'll not regret the purchase. that's happened to me before and I don't want to repeat that experience. I'm curious how some of you chose the bike you now ride and enjoy if you did not have the luxury of a test ride, considering the following suggestions that usually come up:
- "test ride a lot of bikes." in a perfect world, we'd be able to test ride everything. I've checked, and no one demos any variety of steel hardtails or rigid bikes, at least not near me. I can demo some e-bikes and carbon fiber FS trail bikes, but not any sort of variety of modern hardtail. that's not very useful.
- "get a bike fit." been there, done that. sitting and pedaling on a stationary bike with cameras, lasers, motion-capture gizmos, and someone eyeballing your knees can provide a great result for sitting and pedaling in a straight line. my whole experience of mountain biking is doing everything to avoid sitting and pedaling in a straight line, so I don't see how a bike fitting helps me understand how a bike behaves when the trail points up, down, around a corner, over a jump, and floating over rock gardens.
- "get a custom frame." that's generally outside of what I can justify paying, although the potential that I might ride that bike for many years instead of buying something new every few years might be a worthwhile investment. then again, I have to REALLY trust that the designer understands my terrain, riding style, body proportions and limitations.
- "study the frame geometry to find out what you like." I called a textbook case of Dunning-Kruger Effect (ignorance) on myself when I recently realized how far I am from understanding bike fit and handling. This is after years of reading on the subject and feeling quite confident that I had some answers. I realized that I don't know what I want. every manufacturer and every rider has a different understanding of what works best, so I just feel adrift at this point when I look at numbers or read reviews of bikes.