If you’re the kind of cad who likes to try the goods before offering any sort of commitment then we’ve got some ideal partners lined up.
Demo days are coming thick and fast as manufacturers realise that the best way to sell bikes is to let people try them properly. Here’s the latest list of try before you buy days, starting this weekend up at Glentress.What’s on where?
This Sunday, April 28th, Alpine Bikes are hosting a demo day using the trails of Glentress forest, just outside Peebles. All of their bike suppliers will be there including Trek, Gary Fisher, Klein and Santa Cruz. There’ll also be something a bit different, with Canadian Norco bikes, which are exclusive to Alpine Bikes in the UK and making their first appearance over here, so it’s a good opportunity to try something copmpletely new. Representatives from Rockshox, Manitou and Shimano will also be on hand to answer questions.
The demo is set to be an all-day, child-friendly event running from 11 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon, and including a barbecue and bouncy castle. Alpine Bikes say there’ll be a choice of loops available to suit all levels of ability.
As with other demo days you’ll need to pre-register, which you can do by emailing email@example.com with your name and address (with DEMO DAY REGISTRATION in the subject line). You’ll also need to take along some form of photo ID and proof of your address for security reasons. For more information check out Alpine bikes’ website.
Rocky Mountain have two demo days coming up
on the weekend of 18th/19th of May, one in Pangbourne and the other at the Eastway circuit, north-east London.
At both days the following bikes will be available:
- Element Team Sc
ETS 70 (new model)
- Vertex Team Sc
On the 18th at Mountain High in Pangbourne, the plan is for three guided rides at 10, 12 and 2.30. The rides will head off northwards from the shop into the Chiltern Hills, where there’s plenty of good, fast singletrack to be found. The first ride is an hour and a half long, and the others are two-hour rides.
They’ve only just started booking people onto the demo days, so there are spaces still available on all the rides, but the shop has stressed the importance of pre-booking a slot if you want to try a particular bike.
The following day, the Rocky Mountain demo fleet will be at the Eastway circuit from 1-6 pm, organised by Cylce Surgery. Testers will be able to put bikes to test on the circuit and munch on the barbecue while they’re waiting. You’ll also need to pre-register for this day, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, telephone, email, which bike you would like to test, or call Guillaume (“jerlome”) on 020 7431 4300 (CycleSurgery West Hampstead).
Rocky Mountain have also now put a list of their UK dealers up on their website so that you can contact your nearest dealer to find out about demo days.
Mountain High have also confirmed a date at the end of June for a demo day for Trek, Klein and Gary Fisher. Among the bikes available to test will be the Trek Fuel, Gary Fisher Sugar and Klein Adept. The date is the 29th June (Saturday) and the same booking advice applies.
What to do if you’re interested in test-riding a bike
These are just a few demo days that we’ve been told about. Other manufacturers that have an active demo day programme include Whyte, Specialised, Marin and Giant, try getting in touch with your lbs to find out what’s happening, when. But if you really want to try a particular bike, then there’s no point hanging round waiting for a demo day to come along so you can test it.
There’s also no point just rolling up at your local bike shop and expecting to be able to walk out with a bike on loan for a couple of hours, because unless they’re your best mates it won’t happen. You’ll need to ring the shop and arrange the test ride first, whether that’s booking a place on a demo day or sorting out your own, individual test ride.
If you’re going on an official demo day then the shop will have a stock of demo bikes, but, if you’re test riding outside of demo days then you might be using the shop’s own stock, so they’re going to be quite particular about it. Typically you can expect to need to turn up with a photo of yourself and your credit card as security.
A shop isn’t going to want to set you loose on a bike that you have absolutely no intention of buying either, so you may well find that the bike shop wants to ensure that you’re genuinely interested first, and fair enough really. Organisers of demo days will probably have some sort of screening process before booking you onto a ride.
The key to getting test rides is to build up a relationship with your shop. It stands to reason that if your bike shop knows you and trusts you, you’ll get preferential treatment. It may also mean that they’ll be more understanding if the unthinkable happens and you manage to damage the bike.
Don’t break them
If you do break the bike on a test ride then expect to pay for it. That’s not to say that you will have to pay for it, but if the bike shop thinks that you’ve been reckless then they can, and probably will, take the dosh off your credit card.
A good approach to getting test rides is to contact the manufacturer or distributor expressing your interest in a particular product. They will probably be able to refer you to a shop near you where you may be able to take a test ride. Taking this route will mean that you’ll have more credibility with the shop, and it also helps to oil the wheels of the industry as the bikeshop feels that it is being promoted by the manufacturer and vice versa.
So what are you waiting for?