I planned to write about my experience with the Competitive Cyclist (CC) demo program sooner or later. The latest news out of Little Rock, where CC is based, prompted me to get to it today. It comes as no surprise to this satisfied customer that they've announced plans to expand the demo offering with more bike models, SRAM Red componentry, wheels, saddle selections and even Power Tap hubs.
The program can't miss and I'd encourage anyone thinking about dropping more than $5K on a bike to give it serious consideration. Last summer, I'd made the rather easy first step in the new bike formula; deciding to buy one! There really was no budget but I reasoned I'd attempt to keep it below $10K or run the risk of some marital discord (read violence). I had a great relationship with my LBS yet after riding the new Madone and being somewhat uninspired I didn't have many options. Enter CC and the demo program.
The first bike, a BMC Pro Machine, arrived a week after I reserved it, packed solidly in an ingenious reusable box complete with UPS return info. Twenty minutes later after minimal assembly (mount wheels, reposition bars, insert seatpost) it was ready to ride. And ride it I did, every day for the full week. Yes, at the time it cost me $200, 2-way shipping included and I didn't know if I'd recoup the $100 purchase credit. What I do know is that it was great fun. Ever rented a nice car for the hell of it; you get the idea.
The BMC was good, but I was hooked. A couple of weeks later it was a Cervelo Carbon Soloist I was unveiling to the delight of fellow cyclists in the office. Different bike, different ride and Ryan, CC's helpful demo manager, included an extra stem to get things dialed in. The Soloist was hard to return.
In the weeks that followed I ended up riding another frame size of both bikes and finally a Pinarello Paris. Five super bikes, five entertaining weeks logging more than 500 miles at a net cost of $500 all to know without a doubt that the 54cm Cervelo SLC was the bike for me. My lease, for the Audi I seldom drive, costs more than that a month.
For more experienced riders a parking lot spin or quick afternoon ride might be enough to make a decision. Me – I needed lots of time on the bikes. When my new, beautifully-assembled Cervelo finally arrived, I already had the fit dialed in and I've made no changes to the setup since August.
In 2008 CC is tweaking the terms a little. The week demo will cost you $300 instead of $200, but you'll get the full amount back if you purchase a bike within two weeks. If you're demoing a series of bikes or frame sizes in succession I'd expect they'll credit you for the full amount for each bike when you purchase – suggest you confirm that with CC though.
As for me, my demo days are far from over. I'll be taking a crack at some Zipp wheels just as soon as they're available. Why else do I cycle to work everyday?