Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting to Know You

As someone who is interested in experiencing a variety of bicycles and sharing my impressions with others, I find myself constantly re-examining the question of how long it takes to get a "proper" impression of a bike. When I test ride a bicycle, the experience is different on so many levels from when I own the bicycle and ride it in on a daily basis. There are discoveries I make about bikes months into owning them.

Also, when I own a bicycle - even if it's one of my "experimental bikes" and I know from the start that I will probably end up selling it eventually, there is something about the personal responsibility of ownership that makes me more comfortable forming impressions of its characteristics.

These are all reasons why I differentiate "bicycle reviews" - which I limit to the bikes I own, from "test ride reports" of the bikes I try. And I also mention how long I'd ridden the bike at the time of the review, so that the reader can factor that in. For instance, riding the Abici for an entire afternoon around the city and riding my friend's Retrovelo for a good portion of our long trip through the countryside, were quite different experiences than riding the Trek Belleville for 10 minutes on the side streets adjacent to the bike shop. And, riding my own Gazelle, Bella Ciao and Pashley were different experiences still, and my impression of these bikes takes hundreds of rides into account.

Ultimately, I feel more comfortable offering an opinion about bikes I have owned, however briefly, than on bikes I have merely test ridden or borrowed. And I am considering what that means in terms of Lovely Bicycle. Should I try to make it a point to own the bikes I feel would be especially interesting to review, and then later sell them, accepting the loss as part of the costs of running this blog? It's a neat idea, but probably not financially feasible. Extended borrowing would be the next thing, but there are all sorts of logistic and conflict-of-interest problems when it comes to that as well.

How long does it take you to get to know a bicycle? Is a test ride enough, or do you have to own it for a couple of months before you really feel familiar with it? When you read reviews and test ride reports, do you pay attention to how long the author has been riding the bike and factor that into your impressions? Finally, what do you think is the optimal time period to wait before writing a review?


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