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Have you ever had a shop refuse a test ride?

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Have you ever had a shop refuse a test ride?

Old 12-08-19, 06:57 AM
  #76  
downhillmaster
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I worked in a few different shops across the west when I was younger, so I'll play Devil's advocate.

We'd get asked multiple times a day if we could bring in size-specific equipment like bikes/shoes/helmets so a customer could try it out. Out of the stuff we actually brought in, only 1/4 of those customers bought the item. If I had to guess, I'd say half of the people that wanted to "try it on" lied through their teeth and just needed to know their size so they could buy it online to save a few bucks. This leaves the shop with a heinous amount of inventory (read: tied up money) that either ends up selling for/below cost, or taxed. This is tough on a low-margin business that's losing the battle to the internet every single day.

Try to keep in mind that for every person that genuinely wants to test ride a $7k bike so they can take it home that day, there are at least 25 people that just want to test the waters and have ZERO intention of signing the dotted line. We would intentionally keep the plastic test ride/placeholder pedals off of the high-end bikes just to give that extra cushion between serious buyers and people who were just wasting time before their Applebee's buzzer went off.

Another point to make is that most customers buying high-end bikes expected the bike to be FLAWLESS. Scuffed-up cranks, pad residue on the rims, road dust in the headset gaps, scratched paint, dirty chain, etc. would incite the "I want a discount because this bike is used" argument. We once had a customer order a Madone in, then immediately warranty the frame 3 times (!) before he even took delivery of the bike because he would find the tiniest paint flaws straight from the factory. It's not uncommon for customers to test ride the exact bike they want, then order in a new one just to make sure they are getting the newest bike.

I guess my point is that while you may have good intentions, there are many many many people that ruin it for the rest of us.

That's retail in a nutshell.
This.
Nailed it.
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Old 12-08-19, 09:47 PM
  #77  
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I wouldn't say refused but considering the downpour that started after I walked into the shop, we mutually agreed another day would be a better choice. When I went back I was promptly offered a test ride, but I was shopping lower end bikes Sora/Tiagra groupsets.
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Old 12-08-19, 11:09 PM
  #78  
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Wow, seems like owning a bike shop might be a problem with internet orders . . I am thinking of a new type of bike shop. It's an idea I have but cant say 🤐
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Old 12-09-19, 12:22 AM
  #79  
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There's no way I'm buying a high end bike without a test ride. It doesn't matter if the drivetrain or other details are exactly what I want, but I need to see how the bike feels on different surfaces and over at least a couple hours. I don't mind paying to rent a similar demo bike, and many shops will apply the rental fee to the purchase price. If a shop won't let me test ride for a few hours, they are not getting my business. I'm not buying a multi-thousand dollar piece of equipment without making sure it's right for how I ride. In return, I shop at my local LBS and even have them do some service that I could really do myself. I also recommend them to anyone interested.

A few years ago, when I was looking for my next road bike, I was thinking of getting a Ti bike. But the only shop in town didn't allow test rides. So no Ti. Another shop had a brand/model that I was interested in. No test rides, but if I wanted to wait until the US distributor had a ride day, I could come and hope to get something in my size to demo. Out. Another shop had a third option I was interested in. They had a demo one level down from the one I was thinking of, and with a different groupset, but they fit me on it and told me to bring it back in a few days. I put 15 miles on it to make sure it wouldn't be a waste of time, and the next day I put 60 miles on. Wouldn't you know I ordered a bike. They gave me the demo back for a few days so I could be sure of what stem, seat post setback, etc. I wanted, and my bike came in a month later with exactly the parts I wanted. Couple of years later, I bought another bike from the same shop, after riding the demo first, of course.
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Old 12-09-19, 09:45 AM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
I have all the tools, build my bikes the exact way I want them and save a ton of money and time.
Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
I probably watched 100s of hours of bike build videos troubleshooting videos random park tool how to use tools videos even if it wasn't relevant to me.
Story checks out...
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Old 12-09-19, 09:54 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by MikeEckhaus View Post
There's no way I'm buying a high end bike without a test ride. .
Back in the 80s I bought a bike after a test ride. For some reason that shop had some bikes in my size. It's very rare that a shop has a bike in my size, 62-64, and if they do it's not set up how I like it. In 2012 my lbs had 2 bikes in my size, one of them was used. I rode them both and they were both so uncomfortable that the road test told me nothing. I bought the used bike, still have it, because I knew I could make it work.
The last 2 mountain bikes I have bought were purchased sight unseen.
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Old 12-09-19, 10:01 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
Story checks out...
Your lack of reading comprehension is impressive!
I have done the learning and watching over the years. Saving time part comes from having to drive to bike shop every time a minor thing goes wrong with the bike.

Anyway. Iím glad thereís people out there who canít even adjust a saddle height. Shops gotta stay in business somehow!
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Old 12-09-19, 11:20 AM
  #83  
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I have never walked into a shop that would order an out of stock size for a test ride. The only condition I have ever seen for a special order is your purchase of said.
I have had shops check within their dealer network to see if any other shops in a semi local area, or even nationally actually had one listed but more often that is just a 'so you know' move indicating that you are welcome to take yourself there to try for the ride.

In the case of the shop that I dealt with and worked in for a short time:
We would let just about anyone that had an ID, and drove a car in take an escorted test ride out in our parking lot. In some cases we would have one of our fast techs take a bike out with people that just walked in, assuming they could provide the other requirements.
If you were a regular customer with a history for buying items from the shop, particularly (return customer) bike purchases we would allow a round the block test ride.
We never allowed test rides in inclement weather, wet parking lot, etc. If the ride was going to require more than a very basic wipedown (if that) then no ride. Our bikes needed to remain new looking.

With all this said, one of the other major influencers in this situation was the actual bike size. Our shop would get an allocation (of sorts) of all manner of sizes small, medium, and large. IMOE everything that was 56/58 seemed to sell faster than many of the other sizes. Our allocation almost never included a bike larger than a 58. In many cases manufacturers make a very limited number of bikes in that size. As mentioned in the first line, that situation leads to a rare instance that I can find a bike in my size, 58-61 depending on geometry.
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Old 12-09-19, 12:18 PM
  #84  
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I'm surprised to hear that, I have had very good experiences at my local Trek store.
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Old 12-09-19, 12:45 PM
  #85  
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This is a serious question: I wonder what the test ride protocol is like in more bike-centric countries? England, France, Belgium...even Australia?
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Old 12-09-19, 12:47 PM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by WJBIII View Post
I'm surprised to hear that, I have had very good experiences at my local Trek store.
Just like anything involving human beings...the experience is highly individual. At my local Trek chain at first when I got into cycling I thought I'd been treated well. Turns out, that was just me being new to the scene, and I didn't get anywhere near the discount I thought I did, and also they've messed up two wheels and bottom bracket, and both times denied anything was wrong.

When I took it out to the official Trek superstore about 30 miles from me (after chatting with Trek customer service online) they fixed everything Trek related for free and apologized for the poor service I got locally. The bottom bracket issue was on a different manufacturer, so I'm going to email them to see if I can get a remedy. So what was initially a favorably reviewed shop by me, I have now sworn never to step into again.
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Old 12-09-19, 01:54 PM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
Yeah personally I don't step in bike shops anymore
Yeah bike shops have 0 value to me. I have all the tools, build my bikes the exact way I want them and save a ton of money and time.
I hear this a lot on here but am curious what brand bikes do you buy? Assuming you are buying new. From what I see I can't buy Trek, Specialized, Giant, Scott, or Cannondale without picking it up from an authorized dealer. Am I missing something.
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Old 12-09-19, 02:02 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by Razorrock View Post
I hear this a lot on here but am curious what brand bikes do you buy? Assuming you are buying new. From what I see I can't buy Trek, Specialized, Giant, Scott, or Cannondale without picking it up from an authorized dealer. Am I missing something.
You can buy direct from many brands or buy frame and build it up. I have purchased 2 brand new bikes in my life.

One was my first ever aluminum Felt. Didn't know enough so besides the horrid setup (found out later. not talking fit but unnecessarily long cables, headset done wrong where the expander plug thing wasn't even aligned with the stem so the stem was clamped on bare carbon etc) I couldn't tell much wrong with it due to inexperience.
Since that one I have bought used frames and built them up myself. Learned from people around me I trust or internet.
Then years later I saw a BMC Roadmachine that I loved in a store. Bought that and all the nightmare back and forth with the shop I mentioned has happened.
Since then I've bought several S-works. 0 issues.

So not sure if that answers your question. Not too familiar with Trek, giant, scott or cannondale.
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Old 12-09-19, 03:49 PM
  #89  
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I know a couple of shops that won't allow you a test ride if they don't have your size. They logic being it isn't a fair evaluation of how the bike will ride, and everything else you can see from the model they do have. I am not defending it, but I have run into it. I even had one call me back about 3 weeks after I was in and said the bike I was looking at came in at the size I needed and would I like to come in and have a look.
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Old 12-09-19, 03:55 PM
  #90  
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My friend has a bike shop. Its closed now due to his being on vacation until March. He actually started bi weekly rides so that people could try his bikes on a real ride. Its how I bought the bike I ride now. I had a Specialized but with my knees the seat was up so high I couldn't touch the ground and I was starting to have crashing problems almost every time I stopped.
I was leaning on ordering one of the Electra's so that it would take care of the problem but he got this one in and come ride day I saw it and wanted to try it. I fell in love. I bought it the next week. If you don't have time to do a ride he will let you take one out into the parking lot, and if you leave your wallet around the block.
He said the man who had a bike shop in town before him would have a fit if you TOUCHED one of the bikes on display. He didn't do much business and closed down and moved away. If I can't try it out, I pass. At least one like it-even if it is the wrong size-you still get a feel for how it will handle and know it will only get better in your size, and tweaked the way you like it.
Now in that same vein in Eugene someone was trying out a new electric bike in the parking lot and just rode off on it, right in front of them. Asking them to let you hold their license makes sense, especially if they set off your spidy sense.
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Old 12-09-19, 04:30 PM
  #91  
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Let's say a normal Ultegra Di2 disc bike costs about $6000. That's a popular and common configuration. So let's call bikes over about $8000 "high end." Say a shop orders a "high end" bike for a customer who insists he needs a test ride beyond a loop in the parking lot. Say the customer turns out to be a bozo Lookie Lou and doesn't take the bike. The shop is stuck with a bike that may be difficult to sell, especially if an oddball size. Weigh that against their small profit on one bike. My thought is that shops would be smart to assess the customer, try to screen out the flakes. If they aren't good at that, a "no special order w/o deposit" policy makes sense.
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Old 12-09-19, 04:43 PM
  #92  
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Just to be clear on "small profit margins"...the dealer price for bikes pretty much is on par with other hobby/luxury items (think home theater electronics, musical instruments, etc.). Think 50%-60% of MSRP, it varies a little by manufacturer and also during special times of the year where the dealer may be able to get even cheaper pricing by buying from a factory overstock or other special promotions, which can result in higher profit margins. Now I understand they have to pay rent, utilities and employees. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that there are running tiny profit margins. It's in their interest to move as many bikes as they can at all price ranges, sub-$1000 to five figure bikes. And you should tailor your business and test ride model around the differing needs of each demographic. Someone coming in to buy a $700 bike is likely going to have a different set of things they'll expect from your shop as someone looking at a $5K+ bike.

The ones that I've seen stay in business and have the most fans in the So-Cal cycling community are 1) customer oriented, 2) allow test rides, and 3) cultivate the customer base. Offering small to medium discounts doesn't hurt either, I'm not talking internet clearance prices, but 10-20% still maintains a profit margin especially on high-end bikes while also making the customer feel like they got a deal. Sure I may go in and test ride something and not buy today, but if I had a good experience, you'll definitely land on my short list of places for my next purchase, and that purchase is likely going to be over $4K. Meanwhile I'm also going to be recommending your shop to any friends and family that are looking to get into cycling, even if it's for a kid's bike. I'll steer them from Wal-mart and into your store.
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Old 12-09-19, 05:02 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by RedBullFiXX View Post
A shop I used to part-time at
Had a trainer/zwift-like setup, if anyone wanted to "test ride" a bike
We would start with a fitting. sizing, and have them spin for a while
Gave the sales guy time for a 1 on 1 with a potential new customer

An uncommon approach that yielded good results
Customers didn't always go for the bike, but usually purchased something they didn't know they needed, and many returned as regular customers over time
This seems like a great way to separate the "got some time to kill" tire kickers from the serious potential customers.
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Old 12-09-19, 05:09 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by CarloM View Post
Think 50%-60% of MSRP,
This is interesting and would be significantly more profit on bikes than I thought. Can anyone who actually works in a bike shop verify this?
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Old 12-09-19, 05:18 PM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
This is interesting and would be significantly more profit on bikes than I thought. Can anyone who actually works in a bike shop verify this?
Not sure if any current (or even former) shop owner will chime in, as it has the possibility of "not looking good" even though it's very much in line with just about every other type of comparable entertainment/recreational good. It's not a "make money hand-over-fist" amount, or else Circuit City, Good Guys, Tower Records, Borders, etc. would all still be in business.

The difference between electronics and how the big box stores mostly went away after being undercut by online stores, and bike stores is that there's still a significant portion of cyclist who will not buy without riding (and that mentality I fully support). I can buy a book, music, electronics, etc. online because the value add by retailers just simply isn't there. They don't really help me make a decision and they don't support the product (outside of returns, or if it breaks during warranty) at all. It's not like bikes where even if it works well, you may have questions, upgrades you want to make, maintenance and upkeep, parts to replace, etc. where a bike shop makes (or rather should make) their value-add apparent.

Sure there will be some who try at an LBS and then buy from online, but you can't construct a restrictive test-ride policy because of the percentage of people who do that. There are likely more people who will actually buy from an LBS that treats them well, and it's these customers you have to target, cultivate and support.

EDIT: I am not going to burn my source but someone I know had a dealer invoice accidentally left in packaging they got for a bike...and it confirms my figure. Also my 2018 S3 itself I consider proof of the "clearance buy" discount. It retailed new for $8800. I got it at a local bike shop one year later, when they did a clearance buy from the manufacturer, initially advertised at $4999. I got it for $5K out the door. And it was from a brick and mortar LBS who is an authorized dealer for all of their product. I guarantee you they did not take a loss on selling me the S3, and keep in mind that was my first purchase with them, so I wasn't even on their "regular customer" radar yet. Wonder what I could have gotten it for if I had been.

EDIT #2 : If you really want your mind blown, wait until you see what it costs manufacturers to get their CF frames from the East. Those multi-thousand dollar frames? Waaayyyy less than probably what you even think. Now just like a $1500 iPhone is made up for less than $400 in parts, Apple will (rightfully) say that doesn't take into account R&D, testing, advertising, etc., bike makers can say the same thing. Sure, Giant's CF factory in Taiwan make frames for Giant, Colnago and Trek...but Colnago and Trek also do their own R&D, which is why there are some pretty noticeable differences between those three maker's bikes even though they're coming out of the same factory. Also explains (at least partly) why Trek and Colnago cost more than Giant, because Giant obviously is going to charge Trek and Colnago for their services, because they need to make a profit on making their frames as well, a cost which is then passed on to us.

Last edited by CarloM; 12-09-19 at 05:39 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 12-09-19, 06:46 PM
  #96  
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datlas, if you ride an unusual size, then the geometry fit really becomes crucial. I ride a size 47 Trek, and so does my husband. With such small bikes we had to find out if the wheels would be just too damned big to turn a corner. And my husband needed to know if his back would be too stretched out or too bent over.
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Old 12-09-19, 07:30 PM
  #97  
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My favorite LBS always gave test rides, but again those were mostly for lower to mid range priced bikes. But some @#$% on google gave them a lowest star review because the LBS would not let them go on a test ride admittedly without leaving any thing to 'hold', like car keys, wallet, etc. Unrelated, BTW, they are going out of business. , but happy for the original owner and present owner, his son.
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Old 12-10-19, 04:02 AM
  #98  
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Well just to chime in, I had a better experience at another shop, where they allowed me to take one of their store models for a spin around the parking lot. It is not a multi-hour ride by any means, but at least it tells me that the frame size was right for me, and didn't need to go a size up or down.
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Old 12-10-19, 04:56 AM
  #99  
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About the profitability of U.S. bike shops: I worked for several bike shops over many years. The most successful (and, not coincidentally, smartest) of the owners of those shops once mentioned that his three shops made a net profit of about 3% in their best years. It's no wonder so many shops go out of business. Given the high operating costs and inventory headaches, it's probable that most shops just break even at best.
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Old 12-11-19, 09:37 PM
  #100  
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I wouldn't want to buy a bike over $4000 that had been ridden by anyone. Whats the point of buying a "new" bike if its been ridden on multiple test rides? No thanks.

If you want to try out the Emonda, sure, here is the ALR rental go check it out. I wouldn't expect a bike shop to let me take out the SLR.
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