With the news that online cycle retailer Wiggle would be offering test rides for 30 days on selected bikes, I thought it would be a good time to discuss what sort of things you should be looking for.
After all when you buy a new bike it is fairly essential you give it a test ride. Most retailers will happily take your credit card details and then let you ride around for a couple of hours. You should aim to at least use the full two hours as a new bike is an important decision.
One of the most important things you should be looking out for is size. Whilst a bike shop is generally good at advising roughly the right frame size it is always best to try it out. What feels right will differ from person to person. If after riding for a couple of hours you are already feeling strain then either an incorrect adjustment has been made or the frame is simply not right for you.
A test ride is a good time to test out some configuration changes. If you are used to riding with gears then try a single speed bike. If you are used to V-brakes see how you like disc brakes. If you are used to a wide saddle then see if a narrow one will actually feel more comfortable. It is a good time to test things out that may alter your cycling for the better.
As you will be parking your butt on your saddle for many hours you want it to feel right. A new saddle by default is going to feel a little weird. However, if it really does not suit you then see if you can swap the saddle or try a different bike.
On a new bike the gear shifting should be crisp and quick. A click of the button should mean instant results in the position of the chain. Try to incorporate some hills so you can test out the chain shifting under tough conditions. If there are problems you can ask the bike shop to correct them or try a different bike.
Test out the steering. It should feel smooth and crisp for taking turns and weaving in and out of traffic. If on a new bike you can feel any resistance to the full range of movement or any bumps as you twist the handlebars then this bike is not good.
Overall one of the most important things to aim to do is to ride the bike under your normal conditions. If you normally ride in a suit. Wear a suit. If you normally wear a clown outfit then wear that outfit to your test ride. Also aim to cycle down similar road or off-road conditions. Make full use of your test ride and don’t hesitate to try a different bike if it doesn’t feel quite right.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.