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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are 4 great local bike shops where I will be checking out a number of road bikes in the $800 - $1100 range. I know each of the bike shop owners and some of the employees - all are good at what they do and will help me find the right bike and a good fit.

My question - what do I need to do when I am looking at a bike and taking a test ride to make sure that I get a good sense of what the bike will be like to own? I DO NOT want to regret this decision. Is there any basic check list - such as try all handlebar positions, shift through all gears, stop aggressively, etc. to make sure I'm not missing something and that I get as accurate a sense as possible of what the bike will be like to ride the way I plan to ride - 2-4 times/wk 15-25 mi, + the odd charity ride (MS150) and short tri.

THANKS!
 

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Easier w/roadie than a mountain bike, but still...

That's always a challenge for me, too. At least you'll be testing on pavement, where you'll be riding. With a mountain bike, it's really hard to get a feel for how it will do on technical stuff by riding across a parking lot.
The main thing, I think, is (here it comes again) fit. Components are pretty much standard and dialed in these days, so everything should shift and stop acceptably. If not, it can be adjusted to work--at most, you might have to swap brake pads for an aftermarket brand.
This is off the top of my head, so feel free to ignore it or take somebody else's advice, but I'd pay attention to the handlebar width and the various riding positions. You can adjust the angle of the bars and the position of the levers, but you're stuck with the width, and a lot of people like wider bars than standard (I have 50cm on one bike and 48 on the other). Don't be talked into (or talk yourself into) a frame that's too small--in my experience, at least, if you're in doubt, go with the larger one.
If you can find some rough pavement, run over that a few times. It's a big problem in many cities, and some bikes do a better job of absorbing shocks than others. Personally, I'd lean toward a bike that had room for larger tires than the probably-standard 700x23s, but not everyone needs that.
Then buy the one you like and never give it another thought. Buyer's remorse is a b!tch. Make the best choice you can with the information you have and go ride.
 

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1. Test ride a bike that fits: this is most important.
2. Try, if possible, to duplicate saddle position, saddle, tire pressure, seat to handlebar drop, and reach. You may not be able to do this exactly, but if the test bikes don't fit right and/or aren't fit similarly, you won't see/feel the real difference between them.
3. Take long rides. In fact, the best option is to be able to test a bike over a few days. Barring that, test for a day, anyway. When I tested a Moots, I had it for 4 days.
4. Try to ride a varied route, i.e. one with flats, hills, etc.
5. Test the bikes on the same route. Ideally the conditions would be the same, but you may not get lucky.
6. Rember that poor shifting will likely be the result of poor tuning, not something caused by the frame/bike. All road component groups, these days, function well and should shift without issues.
7. If your butt hurts on one bike, it's not the bike but the saddle and/or your shorts that are the issue.
8. Focus on how the bike handles and rides.

Taking a short test ride will reveal absolutely nothing of value. If a shop won't let you take the bike for a real test, i.e. for a few hours, a day, a couple of days, then you should look for a different shop. Too many people take short test rides around a parking lot or only over a few miles (1,2,5,10) and think they've found their bike, only to find down the road, after hundreds of miles the bike isn't working that well for them after all.

Don't buy on impulse. Test as many bikes as you can.

Good luck.
 

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What I've done is go out for a regular ride on your own bike first, then drop by the shop and pull the pedals off your bike and go for a test ride of about an hour. Then ride your own bike home. This way you don't jump on a nice new bike with fresh legs and get a false impression and you also see both bikes side by side when you are in a similar condition.
 

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Find some rough pavement. Pedal out of the saddle. The combination of those two things will help you check out whether a bike is too stiff or too flexy. (Not necessarily at the same time)
 

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Good advice so far.....

jtolleson said:
Find some rough pavement. Pedal out of the saddle. The combination of those two things will help you check out whether a bike is too stiff or too flexy. (Not necessarily at the same time)
the one piece of advice I would add.........

Have the shop switch the wheels so you are riding all of the bikes with the same wheels, tires and PSI. It's like the brigness control on a TV....I can take the same bikeand change the ride dramaticially just by changing Wheels, or tire pressure or tires.

I would also recommend you have them put your seat on each bike......you wnat to take as many variables out of the test.

Len
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the advice. I went to all 4 shops yesterday and I'm 85% sure of the bike I want. I took short rides on several bikes and the fit of the one frame felt dramatically better even without being properly fitted. The bike immediately felt like it was made for me - I'm long in the torso and I think that might have been the difference in frame geometry.

Other bikes I rode:
Trek 1200 -same shop
Jamis Satellite, Quest, Ventura
Cannondale R700, Synapse
Specialized Allez
Giant OCR, TCR

It's a Lemond Reno - it was the best set of components for the price range and the only double I could find in that range. I may still decide to upgrade to the Tourmalet - not sure, but definitely the Lemond geometry at this point.

I'm 99% sure that I will buy from this shop, even if I end up chosing a different model because:
- They did not try to talk me up to a higher priced model
- They let me try them out in the parking lot to get a quick sense, but asked if I could either ride my bike there some day or at least bring my pedals and go for a longer test ride - one of their group rides or a ride of at least 15-20 miles with some good hills - can't imagine any ride here that doesn't have good hills so that won't be a problem.
- Spent a decent amount of time interviewing me about how I ride, what I do now, etc.

THANKS!
 

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i have a tourmalet and chose it out of a similar group (trek 1000,1200, reno, cannondale r700, spec. allez ane allez elite, and the reno). feel free to pm me if u have any questions. i love the tourmalet. i took it over the reno cause im on a team and with our team discount the tourmalet came out to be the price of the reno w/out discount. plus im racing and having full 105 seemed like a better idea. either way the reno and tourmalet are both great bikes, enjoy
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks!

I took my pedals and took at least 1/2 hr. test ride on a 2005 Tourmalet Double because it was the right frame size. I did some steep climbs, straightaways, etc. This was all in the afternoon after my 3 hr. ride that morning so I had a good comparison and I figured if I didn't have any saddle issues after that, then I would be good to go. I was intending to order a 2006 Reno if the ride went well, but when the clearance price for the Tourmalet was only $50 more than the '06 Reno, it was a no-brainer for me.

I've only put about 3 hrs. on it so far, but they have been 3 hr. of pure joy. I am sure a lot of it is due to the upgrade from 1984 touring to 2005 road, but it's also a great fit- I'm comfortable in any position.

Can't wait until my 4 hr. ride tomorrow AM!
 
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