If you’re buying a new bike it’s a really good idea to take it for a test ride before you think about handing over your credit card.
Firstly, you need to make sure it fits – one manufacturers “52” can be wildly different to another’s – often they measure from and to different points.
Secondly, geometry makes a difference – you might find even if the stand over height is fine, the design of a bike as it is doesn’t suit your body, in which case you’ll need to look at making alterations or choosing another bike.
Finally – bikes have souls.
Well, spirits at least. When reviewers talk about “smooth rides”, “twitchy handling”, “stiff frames” and “sprightly cornering” it can be tempting to smile and nod, but just look at the price tag and components to determine which is the correct choice.
The components and frame material tell only half the story – you’ll be surprised how different bikes from opposing brands feel. Frame material and geometry make big differences that are better experienced than read about.
Admittedly, most retailers offer a road route or car park for your test ride, so if you’re after a mountain bike, you won’t be able to get a crystal clear view of the way the bike feels unless you can find a trail centre with the right model on demo. However, a test ride will still help you to find the right fit and give you a good idea what sort of beast you’re getting.
Here’s what to consider when you turn up on testing day…