I find myself standing under the big white and blue Trust Performance tent. It’s my first “demo day” experience and I’m a bit like a fish out of water. I have been riding more and more over the past couple of months, exclusively on borrowed bikes. I wouldn’t call myself experienced enough to know how to shop for a brand new shiny $8000 bike, though it is definitely time to get a bike of my own. So, I find myself face-to-face with the Trust mechanic, attempting to understand the “fit” questions he is hitting me with. I had done a bunch of research before I arrived to understand what I was getting myself into and I thought I would share what I learned from my experience demoing bikes.
First, you should start with is a list of the possible brands and specific bikes from those brands you’d like to try out. This will save you time and keep you from being flustered when you see all those big lines of people. If you don’t have a particular bike you are interested in, explain to the demo team what you are looking for in a bike and your riding style This will give them a better feel for what you may fall in love with or at least which bikes to avoid. If you don’t already have a demo situation picked out, search the internet for brand demo opportunities. Try to look into the location beforehand and see if it has similar trails and terrain to what you’d normally ride, if possible.
Secondly, make sure to have your ID and credit card on you for your bike testing extravaganza. Almost every company will ask for both before giving up a bike, but some will only require one or the other.
Third, arrive early to pay. I read about this beforehand and was early on my first day where the line seemed to move swiftly, but on the second day I was a little late and the line was significantly slower and longer.
Fourth, it is wise to be prepared. As in bring your own tools and get the bike set up correctly. The demo crews all have their own tools, but mid-ride that won’t be of any help to you. Something as little as stopping on the side of the trail to add or let out air from tires or shocks can be a total game changer for how the rest of your test goes. The demo dudes will help you set up your sag and do minor fitting, but it may be necessary to give the steed minor tweaks trailside.
Fifth, the devil is in the details. You shouldn't be afraid to ask multiple questions and compare the specs of different builds at each price point. This will help to narrow things down a bit for you. Ask if they’ve tried the model you’re about to take out and see if they have any additional advice or recommendations. The more you know the better.
Sixth, when you start trying bikes on the trail, I recommend you stick to easier trails that flow, so you can focus your attention on the feel of the bike. Next find one that has varied terrain and some climbing, so you can get a better feel for the bike. Ask around and see what trails everyone else is ripping. You should also try to stick to the same run for each bike you try for more accurate testing. Out of my three rides I went on the same trail twice but enjoyed the golden California sun more the second time on my way up zooming on an e-bike and had an almost perfect mix of sun and shade on my not as easy enduro ride.
Finally, I learned it was best to just hop in lines at booths that seemed to have a lot of bikes my size and shorter lines. For it being my first one, I think it went pretty smooth. I was able to try a bike from Ibis, a Specialized Levo, e-mountain bike, and a Trust Performance fork, which in my opinion is much cooler than it looks.Oh yeah, one more thing: I read a variety of "experts" suggest that skipping lunch is a good tactic for getting to bikes faster, but we here at Kali don't go for that kind of advice. Especially, when there is a truckload of tasty tacos included with the demo pass. Tacos trump everything. Always.