Test Riding Day

This morning was the day that we arranged to meet up at Bow Cycle with Kurt to test ride some bikes. I’ve been documenting my thoughts here as the process has gone on. In this day and age of the Internet, there is so much information at your disposal it can make decisions like buying a bike almost overwhelming. I’ve been reading and dissecting opinions, but there’s no substitute for putting your butt in the saddle and shoes in the clips and putting some kilometres on. And to be honest, there’s no bad bike in my list.

So, Tammy was a trooper this morning, coming to the store with me and being the official recorder and support team. The basic idea was: I was going to test ride three different bikes:

  • The 2015 Cannondale Synapse
  • The 2016 Specialized Roubaix
  • The 2016 Norco Valence

I’d worked out a test ride route, and that met with the approval of those at the shop:

Test Ride Route

Test Ride Route

It was out and back, through Bowness (mostly flat), then a climb up Nose Hill Boulevard before turning around. It was a hair under 9 km, and it took me about 19 minutes to ride it each time. Tammy took pictures of me stationary on the bikes, and then video of me returning to the shop along Bowness Road, and finally she took my reactions as audio clips shortly after I got off the bikes.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale Synapse

Specialized Roubaix

Specialized Roubaix

Norco Valence

Norco Valence

It all went very well. It was a little cold at about -2, but no melt meant the roads were lovely and dry and clear, and the bikes were returned to the shop in immaculate condition.

So, the results:

  • The bike I most preferred was the Roubaix. It was incredibly comfortable and felt like a rocket sled running along rails. It was a bit heavier than the Synapse, and I felt it riding up Nose Hill, but overall the experience was amazing.
  • The Synapse was lightweight and didn’t do anything wrong. It was the first bike up, and I tested out the brakes the most on it. The whole point of this exercise was to get the hydraulic disc brakes. I think it hid its speed. I was metering the rides with GPS. It was the fastest and lightest bike, but it didn’t feel faster.
  • The Norco was fighting with a hand tied behind its back. The shop didn’t have one in stock with the higher-end components, so I was testing one with Shimano Tiagra shifters and cable-operated discs instead of hydraulic. It was a challenge to ignore those, but I did my best. The frame was lively. It was the most compact geometry, and it translated into an eagerness to head in whatever direction I pointed it. I could feel the road in a way that was exciting, but for long rides would turn tiring, I think.

In the end, it was a pretty emphatic vote for the Roubaix. I told Kurt that after the rides were done, and now he’s crunching the numbers to get a price. Boo. I thought I’d bring a bike home today…

I should hear back from him tomorrow.

A big thanks to Tammy for putting up with the boredom (three hours) and standing in the cold to get the action shots. ❤️ She got a new bike seat out of it. She’s on the trainer right now, giving it a test ride.