June 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm #242722
I have been to several bike shops in the Charlotte NC area and I am experiencing a lot of resistance when I ask to test ride a bike. I am well informed, properly dressed and friendly. Is it just this area or are shops/dealers becoming just ‘salespeople’?June 29, 2018 at 5:44 pm #242723
It really depends on the shop. One shop let me demo a $5500 Yeti for a weekend at no charge. Another shop will allow you to “rent” a bike for a daily rate and then apply that money toward the purchase of a new bike. A third shop won’t let you do either. A shop that has demo/rental bikes available is much more likely to be flexible than others that don’t. If it were me, I’d take my business elsewhere.June 29, 2018 at 7:24 pm #242725
Try Sycamore Cycles (either in Brevard or Hendersonville).July 2, 2018 at 9:59 am #242757
Yeah, this is a real problem. I’ve been to plenty of shops where they let me demo a bike, but it was just a cruise around the parking lot. What good is that for a MTB?
These days, people make buying decisions based on test rides at on-trail demo events that are often coordinated and supported directly by the brands. The brands can basically control the sales experience from start to finish, offering buyers the chance to order on an iPad or whatever at the end of the ride. It’s a tough time to be a LBS for sure, and policies like the one you mentioned pretty much ensure they won’t be around much longer.July 2, 2018 at 11:08 am #242759
Agree with rmap01. If a LBS wont let you demo a bike before riding, I would take my business elsewhere. Before I decided on a recent bike purchase, I took out 3 bikes for at least 24 hour demos. I needed all that time to really decide. a trip around the parking lot isnt going to cut it.July 3, 2018 at 12:21 am #242812
I’ve gotta be honest on this. As much as I want to see LBS stay around, the ones you’ve described are actively erasing their only tangible advantage. If you have access to YouTube (for instructional videos) and basic MTB tools, there’s really no reason to go to an LBS like you described instead of Canyon, YT, Fezzari, etc. unless you like spending a 30-50% premium…
For the record, I do support my LBS through accessory purchases whenever possible. They tend to have a higher profit margin and are a lower overhead cost for the shop anyway. For maintenance, I’d rather just buy the tools and do it myself (I now have a pretty well equipped bike shop in part of my garage).July 3, 2018 at 10:08 am #242818
Maybe it’s a Texas friendly thing, or maybe just luck, but the shops I frequent are always willing to demo out bikes. In fact, they encourage it. Even though they know I recently purchased a consumer direct bike from Whyte, they still say, “Hey, see what we just got in? Wanna take it for a ride?”. I agree with other posts. If they are hesitant about bike demoing, go elsewhere.July 6, 2018 at 7:02 am #242997
I always try and view things from the other perspective. I guess if I’m a shop owner, some of my fears about letting someone take a brand new, sparkling $6k bike out for the day are they crash it, scratch it, get it muddy or stolen. I’m not positive on this but unlike say a motorcycle dealer, I’m pretty sure the bikes that a LBS has aren’t insured against damages like these. Even if you bring the bike back without incident, it’ll still take the LBS a good hour to get the bike looking like it did when it was taken out of the box.
Ask yourself this question. Would you want to pay a retail price for a top end bike that looked like it had already been ridden plenty? So the LBS is left with knocking more money (Profit) off the sale. Not to mention manufactures don’t give bike shops much profit as it is. LBS make very little from bike sales. How many people do you think come into a shop asking to test ride a high end bike but have no intention of means of buying? Probably more than you think.
I get it, not being able to fully test ride a bike that costs several thousand dollars stinks, but look at it through the eyes of the shop owner. It’s not like they are just trying to be difficult, there are likely several reasons as to why some shops are hesitant. My suggestion is try and build up some trust and prove your interest level. I have a great relationship with my LBS. I know he doesn’t let just anyone test ride but I know if I wanted to and was serious about a bike, they’d let me take one out no question.July 6, 2018 at 9:27 am #243002
Good point Mr Mojo. I’ve heard of some shops that take the middle ground by letting you test a bike, but you pay their daily rental rate ($100 or so). That covers some of the maintenance/depreciation, and if the tester ends up buying the bike, the shop applies their rental fees to the purchase.July 6, 2018 at 11:12 am #243009
Charlotte resident here too…
Encountered the same… asking for a test ride with some with mentality like the LBS are doing us a favor selling a bike, some others were on the ” not spending $5k on a bike, you’re not worth our time” and then the famous parking lot ride around.
I did purchase a new bike last year from a LBS in Charlotte and had problem after problem with it sucking the chain and jamming up. They had my bike for 2 weeks and “forgot to call”… after that I was pretty soured. Nothing worse then buying new at a LBS and felling like you’ve been less than valued.
This year i wanted a nice F/S… I went on Youtube a ton, this site and went on Pinkbike and bought a nice used bike and I do have 1 place in mind to service my bike locally I’ll give a try.
not grouping all the LBS here, but we the customer have already done the research and having some salesperson read the sales card to us is not “selling” anything, we want to test the bike.
The majority people (IMHO) that do test would more than likely be going to about 3 or 4 certain trails around here to do the demo ride on and they would be nothing like Pisgah and pretty tame
LBS’s – We’re in your shop, with cash in hand and willing to build a relationship with parts & service and pretty sure we’re going to see you on the trailsJuly 6, 2018 at 11:27 am #243010
Some of our local shops prefer to rent you a bike ($30-75) for a day and credit the the rental fee if you buy from them. IMHO, that is completely reasonable vs asking them to trust everyone with a free trail demo and potential damage to or loss of their expensive new bike. They pretty much all encourage parking lot test rides for free.
A good LBS is a great asset to our sport. It is great that internet direct can save you money, but it comes without the support a good LBS provides.July 7, 2018 at 7:57 pm #243063
Sun N Ski will let you ride every bike in the shop
485 and Providence Road Charlotte NC
Or go to the White Water Center and rent the bike and test itJuly 9, 2018 at 9:17 am #243086
I don’t know what the margins on bikes are. The direct-to-consumer bikes aren’t so much cheaper than regular retail bikes that it seems they are enormous.
There are risks to the shop of theft or damage on test rides, and, even if undamaged, I don’t think they can sell a bike that has been trail-test-ridden more than once or twice as new.
It’s certainly a great service, but whether a shop will do it probably has to do with the volume of MTB business they do. If they can be confident of turning over a demo bike with regularity or selling you one of the several you may test ride (seems likely by offering the service they darn well might), then I think they are likely to do so.
Also, I suspect that non-parking lot test rides are more necessary for MTB than road or other bikes, so again it depends on their MTB focus. And the more MTB focus they have, I suspect the fewer lines of bikes they have. Also depends a lot on how popular MTB is in your area.
The value in it is obvious, but the risks for a shop are not trivial. I can’t blame a shop for not doing it.July 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm #243099
I understand why a bike shop would be hesitant – MTBs aren’t cheap and they can take a beating when we get to ride them how we really want to. I guess if I really wanted to test ride a bike, I would look at similar options from direct-to-consumer brands and then ask the LBS why you should buy their bike over the other option. Perhaps they’ll have very good, convincing reasons. If it’s just a benefit of support and service, then what does that have to do with the actual bike?
I bought a Fezzari Cascade Peak last year and Fezzari gives you a ’30-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee’ test ride period during which you can return the bike for any reason. I didn’t test that guarantee and aspect of their customer service because I love the bike, but that’s their posted policy. I think if a LBS doesn’t at least allow one to rent a bike or test ride after putting down a damage deposit, then they might be putting themselves out of business. It’s a tough reality for sure, but most realities are.
As for service, I haven’t had any big problems, but I also haven’t run into any resistance when I’ve asked about getting service for the bike at a few different shops. The one time I did bring it in, the bike was ready in a day with no problems. I have spent a decent amount of money at that shop on accessories and equipment, so it probably does help to not just walk in out of the blue, but service is a big part of their business and I’ve found most are more than happy to service whatever you bring in as long as you bringing money, too. I’ve also implied that I’d be coming there when I started looking at upgrading the bike, so there are ways to work with and build a relationship with your LBS that don’t require you to buy a bike from them first. Successful businesses are forward-looking, so I think a good bike shop is not going to be concerned with where you brought your business in the past, but rather where you’ll bring your business in the present and future.
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