What to look for in a demo bike ride
Another great week getting riders on the latest Ibis demos here at BikeCo.com. As the newest release the Ripmo was extremely popular as riders define what the latest 29er’s are all about. We saw many new faces at this demo. A lot of riders are upgrading from first bikes into better handling suspension systems such as DW, Switch Infinity and Sine. Many of these riders took out the Mojo 3 to see what a 27.5 trail bike offers. As always the HD4 was popular with riders looking for a more aggressive enduro 27.5. The Ripley LS was popular with riders looking for a wide ranging 29 with trail and light enduro capacity. Did you get out on one of these rippers? Planning to? Here’s what to look for in a demo bike ride.
So what kind of input did we get back from these riders? Well, it’s like a lot of them read previous BikeCo blogs about demo-ing bikes! Rather than simply “loved it” or “not for me” most riders came back with a series of likes, dislikes and neutral feedback. This is perfect data for our sales team to help spec the best bike for individual riders and aspirations.
Since it’s unlikely to totally fall in love with a demo we want riders to break down their rides into segments.
Did the bike feel balanced? Were you comfortable with the riding position and able to control both the front and rear wheel while descending?
Dialing in suspension typically takes more than one ride – but was the bike behaving in the neighborhood? Were you on enough suspension for the trails you ride? Too much suspension travel might feel numb or even a bit sluggish if you don’t have it up to speed. Too little suspension might struggle to stay grounded or stutter in and out of features.
With the wide range of tuning available on modern Fox suspension BikeCo can widen our bikes’ performance windows while tuning for specific rider characteristics.
Demos are a great opportunity for riders to access wheel size changes. In fact we had one client who is about 5’1″ and currently rides an older 26″ jump on the new small Ripley LS 29″ to see how a 29er would ride at her height. Lincoln, one of our employees who races a small HD4 went out on the small Ripmo and raved about how fast it was.
29″ wheels will roll a bit faster when brought up to speed. This is in part as they maintain momentum better through leverage and a lower attack angle making them less likely to “chalk” on terrain. 29″ wheels ability to roll over terrain tame features a bit but might feel “numb” with aggressive tires for some riders. The 29ers also require riders to turn in just a bit early while taking a bit more body english in tight switchbacks.
27.5″ wheels are a bit more “playful” by handling a bit quicker. They give up some of the rolling advantages with the smaller diameter. Since the 27.5″ wheels handle a bit quicker they may feel slightly nervous to some riders depending on ground speed and riding disposition.
Is one right and one wrong? With modern geometry not really! We are seeing the bikes get low enabling smaller riders to take advantage of 29’s as well as longer and slacker meaning taller riders can pick between wheels as well.
Really comes down to what you like. In fact, I personally try to change from 27.5″ to 29″ each bike to change how my local trails ride a bit and refresh the experience.
More experienced riders might pick up on this a bit more than newer riders. That said newer riders can take some good information from it.
Did you like the gear ratio? How did the brakes feel?
Since brakes tend to have similar personality throughout the brand lineup the engagement feel, or how the power comes on, is a good thing to pay attention to. Obviously you can adjust power and heat capacity with rotor sizes, etc down the line. But even new riders can tell if they like how “snappy” the brakes are.
Experienced riders may also be able to take some data on rim width from a demo ride. Modern bikes tend to be 30-35mm for the widest range of tire options. What width did you ride? Was there enough volume for a good contact patch at a proper PSI? Were your turn angles engaging the cornering lugs correctly?
At BikeCo demos are setup up 99% of the time by the same team that will setup your new bike and be in contact with you as you dial it in. While a demo bike probably won’t have a perfect setup it should be pretty close. When you get back from your ride chat with the setup team. Ask questions on what you noticed.
You should be comfortable working with the setup team when you purchase a bike at this level! These aren’t $100 out the door beach cruisers. Most riders will have setup questions, often the more experienced have the most as they really fine tune setups.
If you come back from your demo ride with data like “I loved A,B,C – was neutral about L,M,N – and didn’t like X,Y,Z” BikeCo’s sales team can help you determine if the issue is fundamental and we should look at a different bike or if they’re spec or setup changes that dial you in. And that’s really what to look for in a demo bike ride.