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Test Rides - The Demand Curve

kickstandsup

Why not?
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I know, I know. There are about a gazzilion reasons why US dealers can't/don't/won't allow test rides.

Don't
Effing
Care

Let me say that again: I don't care why they can't/don't/won't.

Why? Because WE can change it.

That's right. Demand Test Rides. Full stop, no test, no sale.

Here's my back of a piece of paper towel reason:

IMG_20220328_195555567.jpg



In 2004, I bought an ST1300 because it ticked all my boxes for touring, no test rides available. Sold it in 6 months, took the financial hit. Absolutely hated that bike. That was the very last bike I ever bought without a test ride.

And test rides have since saved me from buying at least 3 other bikes: An Aprilia Caponord, a BMW S1000XR and a BMW K16GT. All "looked good" to me at various points in time, hated them all instantly. Saved a lot of money. It does not take very long/far to assess the character of a bike, not all the attributes and faults, but rather the essential character, which is obvious pretty quickly.

Now, I will only patronize those brands/dealers that allow me to test ride a bike before purchase. I understand that limits my choices, currently, and I'm ok with that.

I'd like to suggest that there are quite a few riders out there that regret their purchase, ride less because of it and may even become ex-riders.

We deserve more, we should demand it. That's the only way it will change. Test rides are readily available throughout Europe; we settle for less.

Stop the insanity! :happay
 

nmroadrunner

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Interesting...I've never encountered resistance to a test ride request.
Perhaps I'm only patronizing those select dealers desperate for sales! 😁

Maybe organize protest 'sit-ins'? I wouldn't mind spending the day at a motorcycle dealership 🤩
 
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Punkinhead

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When I bought my FZ09 there was a dealer advertising a really good price but they didn't allow test rides. Another dealer agreed to uncrate and assemble the bike then let me test ride it. I got lost on the ride and was gone for over an hour but the salesman didn't seem at all perturbed. I ended up paying a few hundred more than I would have at the first dealer but I wanted to reward dealer 2 for allowing the test ride. I've been trying to buy an MT09SP from them for 2 years and I talked to them about getting a KLX300 this Spring but both are unobtanium right now. But when they arrive I know who I'll buy them from.
 

kickstandsup

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When I bought my FZ09 there was a dealer advertising a really good price but they didn't allow test rides. Another dealer agreed to uncrate and assemble the bike then let me test ride it. I got lost on the ride and was gone for over an hour but the salesman didn't seem at all perturbed. I ended up paying a few hundred more than I would have at the first dealer but I wanted to reward dealer 2 for allowing the test ride. I've been trying to buy an MT09SP from them for 2 years and I talked to them about getting a KLX300 this Spring but both are unobtanium right now. But when they arrive I know who I'll buy them from.

+1 on that approach.
 

klaviator

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Luckily there are several dealers I frequent and have bought bikes from that have no issue with test rides. A couple of months I was down down at Max Motorsports near Birmingham, AL. I there to drop off my scooter to get it fixed and after dropping it off I was looking at the New Kymco People S150. The Scooter Manager came up and asked if I brought my helmet. When I said yes he said he'd wheel it out front so I could take it for a ride. I didn't even ask for a test ride. I've been offered test rides without asking before at other local dealers.

Several years ago I was at a local dealer with my wife and we sat on a bike. She thought it was really comfortable and wondered if we could try it out. The owner of the shop walked by and we asked him if we could ride it. He said it wasn't serviced but if we wanted to ride it he'd get it ready, just give him an hour and a half. So we did that and ended up buying a bike that I had not intended to buy. It was NOS so well under MSRP. Six years later I'm really glad I bought that bike and so is my wife. It's the only bike I have that she is comfortable on. This was us on the dragon a few years back:

wknudsen_My%20Favorites_948991_zpso5gkbebe.jpg
 

oldschool

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I haven't bought a new bike in decades and certainly can't afford one now (prices have gone insanely higher since my last new one), but back when I worked at Honda dealers the selection of bikes was somewhat smaller and the bikes were so much less money (inflation notwithstanding) and you could test ride at most dealers. At today's prices you'd think they would want to let you test ride more than dealers might have back then because there's so much more money at stake if your purchase turns out to be a bad choice for your fit and/or tastes. As the OP said, there's money to be lost due to depreciation even in only a few days and/or miles of ownership of the wrong bike, and with the dollars they want for them today it's a potentially big roll of the dice without getting some seat time.
 

Gravelcruiser

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Agreed, except the the T7. Seems as though you won't lose money on those at the moment.
 

Yinzer Moto

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I have heard a couple stories of people test riding bikes at dealers and crashing. I am sure that is a risk and happens at a car dealer too. I wonder what the accident rates are between bike test rides and car test drives.

I have a bike in the for sale section because I brought it home and rode it for a while and was not happy with it. I was thinking I would ride it across the country and put it in storage. As a fly and ride bike.

I had a dealer who allowed test rides (he recently retired and closed up shop). He would insist on it. I would go rip dirtbikes, with no plates, around the neighborhood. Riding a dirtbike on the street really did not tell me anything but it was fun.

I really can’t tell much about a bike in a short test ride. I need to spend a couple hours on a bike before I really get a feel for it. I think every bike I have ever purchased (30-40 bikes), I did without a test ride. Even the ones I bought from the dealer who allowed test rides, I was taking the bike before the test ride and the ride did not really tell me much about the bike.
 

klaviator

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I bought a lot of bikes when I was younger without test rides. The only bike I have ever bought for myself that I regretted afterwards was my very first bike and I liked that bike but I realized I could have found something better.

I think that one reason I can easily get test rides is that I develop relationships with the local dealer. They are more likely to allow a test ride for someone they know than some kid who walks in off the street and wants to try a Hayabusa.

I also get to do a lot of "test rides" simply because I ride regularly with friends and we will sometimes swap bike for a little bit. Last weekend I got to ride a new Tiger 660 sport. I bought a new KLX250 a couple of years ago and didn't ask for a test ride because I had ridden a friends KLX a few times and had more miles on it then I ever would on a short test ride from the dealer.

I also take advantage of planned demo rides. A few years ago I stopped at a local dealer and the Indian Demo Truck was out front and they had about a dozen Indians lined up just waiting to be ridden. I had no intention of buying an Indian but I rode 3 of the scouts and came away impressed.
 
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I've never been denied a test ride at a dealer, even when I was younger and before the local dealers knew me. Maybe 'cuz I just look so damn responsible. Or old 'n' slow.
 

woods

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I've never been denied a test ride at a dealer, even when I was younger and before the local dealers knew me. Maybe 'cuz I just look so damn responsible. Or old 'n' slow.
I've always been declined. Some places are shocked that I even asked. I show up in full gear and everything. Nope. In fact, some places don't allow you to sit on the bike while its even running. "insurance purposes".
 

JimVonBaden

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In the DC area most dealers of higher end bikes have demos. Even some of the Japanese 3 do.

That said, as YM mentioned, a short demo ride often isn't enough. IMHO, just rent what you are looking at for a weekend.

BTW MOD and Mortons in Virginia both allow demo rides, and Mortons encourages you to keep it over a weekend even.
 

LuciferMutt

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FWIW, BMW has a robust test ride program at virtually all their dealers. I've found most of the Euro-brand dealers more willing to allow test rides than the Japanese brands.
So have I, which strikes me as a bit odd, considering they are usually the pricier option. But it may have something to do with the manufacturers being willing to accept a portion of the liability and/or providing bikes to dealers they expect to be used as demos.
I was allowed to test ride my W800 before buying it, but it was a a left-over 2019 I bought in late 2020 and they were pretty eager to get it off their sales floor. But when I was thinking about a new Vulcan S at the same dealership a few years prior to that, they offered to let me ride that too.

Harley Davidson has the best test ride policy in motorcycling. Say what you will about their dealerships or motorcycles, but if you want to ride an HD, go to a dealership and they will practically throw the keys at you. It's no wonder they sell so many of the damn things.
 

kickstandsup

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The range of responses is interesting...everything from "always denied" to "throw the keys at you," to everything in between.

Somewhat encouraging; at least some dealers seem to "get" it.

The folks on this site, though, are probably more experienced than most purchasers, and are also more likely to have a relationship with a dealer or two. That usually goes a long way to getting a test ride, I think.

Personally, I'm in the "always denied" category with the Japanese brands, to the point that I don't even consider them any longer, and have no relationship with any of those dealers...after repeatedly being turned away for a test ride. They have trained me to ignore them.

I'm also somewhat amazed that new MSF graduates are not targeted with test ride offers...my wife took the beginner MSF course several years ago...in a Kawi dealers parking lot IIRC (I wasn't allowed to be there)...and got absolutely no follow up from them or anyone else. Dumb.

I hope more folks will continue to Demand Test Rides.
 

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