Demo season is in full swing! We've recently been along to both our Bike Live event and the Specialized Trail Days Demo weekend and have been demo'ing up a storm. Here are our eight top tips on how to make the most of any demo day that you attend.
New bike day is the best, we all know that, so making sure that you are safe in the knowledge that you bought the best bike for you puts the icing on the cake! Demo days are a great way to test out a load of bikes, back to back so you can see your potential purchase up close and personal, make direct comparisons between brands and hopefully make a final decision on which way to direct your cash.
1. Ignore opening times
It appears that most people do this! Turn up early and start queuing to register and be the first in line to test the most popular bikes. Our Bike Live demo day and Specialized Trail Days event saw riders turning up from 8:30am, even given the 9:30 start time. At a demo day you will be required to register beforehand and then 'sign in' once you get to the event. The signing in process usually requires you to leave the organiser with some form of identification and a credit card as security, just in case anyone decides they want to leave with a two-wheeled freebie. This does take a bit of time, so getting there early is recommended.
2. Be prepared to queue
Leading on nicely from the above, you need to be prepared to queue. Certain bikes at demo days will be popular with everyone so it will pay to get in the queue and nab a ride on one early. Some brands will book you a ride on a particular bike so you just need to come back at the allotted time and grab your steed. Make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.
3. Ride the same trail on every bike
We reckon its best to ride the same trail on every bike so you can make direct comparisons between each ride over the same terrain. The devised demo loop will be the best trail to ride, it will usually have a good mix of steeper and more technical terrain, some fast flow and a steep pinch climb so you can get an idea of the bikes ability to deal with both uphill and downhill. We do this when we test bikes too!
4. Get help getting set up
There will usually be a helping hand on offer to help you get set up for your ride. Take the help, the staff at the event will likely work for the brand of bike you are testing so will know the best way to set the bike up for your riding style, plus they will be pretty quick at it too! Usually, bikes are allowed out on the demo loop for about thirty minutes to an hour and you don't want to spend half that time fiddling with suspension settings or tyre pressures.
5. Ride a technical feature
Ride something on each bike that scares you a little bit. Choose a feature that you would normally think twice about on a trail and session it on each bike, it's a good way to find out about the bike capabilities and you never know, a certain bike might surprise you!
6. Take some friends
Riding with friends is great anyway, right? At a demo day it's good to gather as many opinions on each bike as you can so having mates along with you to discuss the ride is a really good way of doing this. They might notice things about the spec or the ride that you don't and if you go along with a riding buddy whose opinion you trust, their help could be invaluable.
7. Don't get hungry
Like any ride, you'll need to take snacks to keep you going all day. Testing three or four bikes, could easily see you spending four hours plus in the saddle, not to mention set up time so you need to make sure you are adequately fuelled. The last thing you want is to run out of steam for that final bike test, keep snacks in your pack and schedule a lunch stop to your plan. Most demo days will have great catering on site, like this yummy pizza at Bike Live.......
8. Ride a bike you hadn't planned on riding
Ride something you wouldn't normally, like an e-bike or a cross-country bike for example. Demo days are a great way to see lots of different bikes all in one go, so if enduro riding isn't really your thing but you have always been 'long travel curious', have a go on a big full susser and see what you think - it could confirm your suspicions or it could throw a spanner in your bike buying plans. Either way, it will be worth the experience.
Photos - Christopher Lanaway and Oli Pendrey
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