Finding a Place to Test Ride an Electric Bike While purchasing an electric bike online for doorstep delivery is convenient, the hassle of repackaging and returning it if unsatisfactory can be considerable. To circumvent this, consider test riding an electric bike beforehand. Not only is it enjoyable and typically free, but it also allows you to ensure the bike's size and ride feel suit your preferences.
Most shops selling electric bikes (and regular bicycle shops that also offer e-bikes) provide the option for a test ride. While some stores welcome walk-in customers for test rides, others might require you to schedule in advance – it’s best to call or check their website for their preferred process. Some establishments operate strictly on an appointment basis, so it's advisable to verify their policy before making a special trip.
Our shop, we primarily arranged test rides through our website or phone calls, but we were always open to impromptu test rides for those who dropped by our store.
Visiting an electric bike showroom that facilitates test rides is an effective way to identify the ideal ebike for you, bypassing the need for extensive online research. Approach with an open mind, try out various models, and you might be pleasantly surprised by an ebike you hadn’t initially considered.
A number of online ebike retailers offer at-home test rides on a trial basis. This involves purchasing the bike, assembling it, trying it out, and then making a decision to keep or return it. If you opt to return it within a designated timeframe, you're typically eligible for a refund. However, this brings you back to the inconvenience of disassembling and shipping it back, which isn't always the most convenient option.
Remember to Attend Cycle Expos and Demo Events
Bike shows are an excellent, often overlooked chance to try out various electric bikes provided by brands and their distributors. These events typically feature test tracks within the exhibition area. While it's different from real-world conditions, it's an unmatched opportunity to test ride a broad selection of the latest models.
Key events like Interbike in the USA, Eurobike in Germany, and The Cycle Show in the UK all have specific areas for testing electric bikes and showcase the newest models.
Preparing for Your Visit
You've located a reputable electric bike shop offering complimentary test rides, and you've scheduled an appointment. What should you prepare before your visit?
Don't Forget Your ID
Given the high value of electric bikes, shops can be quite meticulous about test rides. They might request a photo ID, proof of residence, and a signed waiver to cover insurance purposes in case of injuries. A helmet may also be a requirement.
In some cases, if the shop is particularly vigilant, they might ask for a credit card pre-authorization before you test ride, although this practice isn't common. If these are the shop's conditions, ensure you have all necessary items with you.
Expect the bike shop to provide a range of cycling helmets and possibly other cycling attire. If the weather is chilly, remember it will feel even chillier with the breeze during your ride. Conversely, in warm weather, you may sweat more on an extended ride, so bringing a water bottle is advisable.
Familiarize Yourself with the Area
Riding an electric bike allows you to cover considerable distance quickly. If you're cycling in an area you're not familiar with, it's wise to review the location on a map beforehand. Using Google Maps on your smartphone is convenient for this purpose and more practical than a paper map. Set a marker at the shop location to ease your return in case you get lost.
Notify the Shop of Any Specific Needs
If the bike you wish to test requires certain adjustments or has special features, inform the shop well in advance. Whether it's a need for a particularly large or small bike due to your height or weight, preferences for specific brake handles, gear shifters, or pedals, communicating these requirements beforehand can prevent disappointment and help you identify if the shop can meet your needs.
Consider Test Riding with a Companion
Riding an electric bike alone is enjoyable, but bringing a friend along can enhance the experience. It also offers the chance to test two different bikes if you swap with your friend midway through. This approach provides two perspectives on two bikes from the same ride, so consider who might be available and interested in joining you.
Additionally, if your friend is also considering purchasing an electric bike, inquire about a potential discount for buying two bikes simultaneously. Salespeople often agree to such requests or offer complimentary accessories. Dual purchases are highly beneficial for any bike shop.
Allocating Time for Test Riding
Customers' test riding durations vary widely. Some may take a brief ride and decide to buy immediately, while others might try every bike in the store, sometimes more than once, and leave after extensive deliberation without making a purchase.
If you have a clear idea of what you're looking for and just need a test ride for confirmation, an hour or less should suffice. Often, parking availability and duration can be a significant constraint, so ensure your parking ticket covers the necessary time.
Lastly, if you're driving to the shop, it's crucial to check parking options and costs beforehand.
In the Store
Getting Ready for Your Ride
After completing the necessary preliminary procedures, it's time to explore the bikes. The store will likely offer an array of models for test riding. They might suggest a specific bike or leave the choice up to you.
Expect a variety of sizes and frame styles to select from, and your suitability for a particular size or style will influence your options.
Usually, bike shops display smaller bikes as display models since a taller individual can manage a smaller bike, albeit not always comfortably. However, it's risky for a shorter person to attempt riding a bike that's excessively large.
Every bike provided for customer use is typically serviced regularly, but not always right before your test ride. Therefore, it's crucial to personally verify the bike's road safety. Points to check include:
- Are the handlebars securely in place?
- Do the brakes function correctly?
- Are the pedals securely attached?
- Is the saddle positioned at a comfortable angle? An improperly angled saddle can lead to an uncomfortable ride.
- Check the bike’s assistance level and gear setting. A bike on the highest power mode and lowest gear could unexpectedly accelerate or even pop a wheelie.
- Exercise caution when first riding the bike. Even moderate power assistance can feel significantly different from a traditional bike, particularly as electric bikes often offer maximum power right from the start.
- Are the tires adequately inflated?
- Do the lights function? This is generally not a concern during daytime rides, but for evening or winter test rides, lighting is essential.
- Is the battery sufficiently charged? Running out of power far from the shop is not ideal.
Local Route Suggestions
Your bike shop is likely to suggest a nearby route that's both safe and diverse, allowing you to assess the bike's performance. If they're exceptionally prepared, they might even offer you a map and advice on hills and local cycling paths.
Advanced Navigation Features Many high-end e-bikes are equipped with sophisticated navigation apps. You might want to ask the staff if their location is set as a destination in these systems.
Introduction to Electric Bike Controls
Some electric bikes are straightforward: you hop on, press a button, and off you go. However, this simplicity is uncommon. The majority of e-bikes feature a display and control panel, which are necessary to understand for a proper test ride.
You'll find a power switch, a button to adjust the assistance level, and another to alter the display settings – showing speed, distance covered, remaining battery range, navigation, cadence, calories burnt, heart rate, etc., depending on the bike's system.
Regarding the gear shifter, it could be a twist grip, levers, or even fully automatic. Some bikes might have a throttle for motor activation without pedaling, though these are increasingly restricted in many areas. It's rare to find a throttle on new bikes in European countries, for instance.
The store representative should brief you on these basic functions. If they don't, be sure to ask before starting your ride to avoid any confusion later.
Guided Test Rides
Many e-bike retailers accompany customers on test rides. This can be particularly helpful if you're unfamiliar with the area or terrain. They can provide tips on maximizing the bike's potential and suggest suitable routes. If a guided test ride is offered, it's a good idea to accept.
Staff members should be willing to join you, provided they're not too busy. They might even appreciate the chance to step outside for a bit.
Experiencing the Ride
E-bikes excel at making cycling less strenuous, especially uphill. Thus, it's crucial to test the bike's climbing capability.
A steep incline, even if short, can effectively demonstrate the bike's power. Additionally, descending is almost as critical as ascending, as some e-bike motors can slow you down when coasting downhill or exceeding the maximum assisted speed.
Try riding with the power assistance turned off. This evaluates the bike’s quality – the motor shouldn't impede your pedaling or slow you down. The bike should still be manageable, albeit heavier than a regular bike. There might be times when you choose to ride unassisted, or when the battery depletes and you need to continue without tiring yourself out. How the e-bike performs without power might be a key factor in your decision.
Take your time with the test ride. Initial impressions can change after a few miles. Likewise, a bike that doesn't impress initially may grow on you after a longer ride. Comfort and power endurance might only become apparent after extended use.
There's no need to rush; a test ride is about experience, not speed – unless your competitive friend turns it into a race.
Often overlooked during a test ride is the sound aspect. A bike might perform smoothly, but produce a bothersome noise. The motor’s sound might be noticeable and disruptive, turning heads for the wrong reasons. A seemingly quiet bike in traffic could reveal distracting sounds like whines, squeaks, clicks, or hums in quieter areas.
While this might not be a major issue for some, keep in mind that you'll be accompanied by this noise wherever you ride. The sound could indicate a need for minor adjustments or hint at a potential mechanical issue. It's something worth inquiring about when you return to the shop.
Post-Test Ride Reflections
After your test ride, especially if it was enjoyable, take a moment to gather your thoughts. This is when a salesperson is most likely to sense an opportunity to close a sale. Remember to ask any questions that arose during your ride, such as:
- What’s the expected range on a full battery charge?
- How long does the battery take to recharge?
- What does the warranty cover?
- Are there essential accessories that I should consider?
- Is there a better-suited model for my needs?
- Which bike would you personally choose and why?
This approach helps you process the experience and prevents you from making a hasty decision influenced by the excitement of the ride.
Negotiating a Deal
If the test ride goes exceptionally well and you're inclined to purchase immediately, remember that you have the upper hand. The sales staff will be eager to make a sale if they know you enjoyed the ride.
It's worth asking for their best price or if any free accessories are available. Inquire about any ongoing discounts or promotions you might not be aware of, or mention any competing offers you've come across.
While the shop may not have room to lower the price, due to profit margins or lack of authority, you can request a complimentary service in the future.
However, if you’re convinced about the bike, there's no need to delay the purchase. Prolonged deliberation or waiting for a new season might mean missing out on the excitement and benefits of owning an e-bike. If your test ride has sold you on the experience, sometimes it's best to seize the opportunity, especially after making the effort to test ride and experiencing the fun of an electric bike.
If you have any additional questions, come and get your free ride at 654 College street, Toronto. We will help you to choose a right bike and all additional equipment.