The Longest Test Ride Ever
or
How My Faith in Humanity Rode Away on a Bright Red Road Bike

By Tobie DePauw

I should have suspected something when I noticed his shoes. The guy had come in a few days ago right before closing to check out some road bikes. If I had to describe his look at that time, I’d say “college with a touch of Nascar” but this time he was dressed up. Well, he looked like he was dressed for an interview. At McDonalds. In Rockford. With little chance of success. Light blue button-up shirt, black slacks, and black shoes that looked like low-top goth boots with a pilgrim buckle. And tan socks.

He came in on the phone, chatting about the bikes he was seeing, and finally came to the counter to ask about a bike he saw the other day which we had happened to sell in the meantime. He began explaining how he was getting married in September and all of his in-laws were into road biking. He wanted to fit in. They all rode Cervelos, he said, but he didn’t want to spend 4 G’s. He wanted carbon, but nothing too crazy. I showed him a Fisher Cronus, which fit his ideas, but was a size too small. He rode it and looked cramped. The bike was close to fitting, though, so we switched out stems for something longer. That fit better, but he needed the next size up. He rode a Trek in the right size and it looked more proportional. After riding the Trek, he remarked how much he loved the saddle. This was another flare that I missed – no one likes those saddles. They’re only good for elongating your inseam, which most people would find undesirable.

After riding the better fitting bike, he had to decide whether to buy the aluminum bike in the store or special order a carbon bike in his size. I suggested he ride them both again and evaluate the ride quality for himself. This is now well past closing time for us and my staff is ready to retire after a long day. I was quite exhausted myself, but this is what we do, we help people find the best bikes for their needs. I was glad he was going to get a good fitting bike. He rode the Trek around the block and came back. He took the Fisher out and, well, he’s still out there, somewhere. He never came back.

I know many people will read this and chide us for our lackadaisical approach to test rides. We rarely take ID, take deposits, or thoroughly interrogate the customer before they take our bikes out. You could say, and I’ve been accused of this travesty before, that we generally trust people. It’s outrageous, I know. Statistically, we’re safe. In the last 6 years, I bet we’ve had 10,000 test rides. This is the first one to end this way. This is probably an inadvertent invitation to thieves, but I don’t think they read our blog. They read evil bike thief blogs like, findingmyspecialplaceinhell.blogspot.com.

Getting a bike stolen is something of a terrible rite among cyclists. It’s a tragic thing most of us have in common. Everyone around you becomes a suspect. Every bike you see is your bike. The sick feeling you get when you come back to where your bike was locked to find it’s no longer there was the same feeling that welled up as the test rider failed to reappear behind the shop. The police station is right around the block, so less than 2 minutes after I called it in, there were three cruisers here. All the officers were customers and friends of the shop.

It’s rare to have it stolen like this, though. This took some gall. I figure this guy has done this a few times before. This is not a quick lapse of morality, this had to be a rehearsed con. And he cleverly didn’t pursue the most expensive bikes. Even now I am incredulous. I keep thinking maybe he crashed or he was mugged or kidnapped – all because he spent so much time in the store and wasn’t creepy at all. Except for his shoes and socks…
Here are some flattering security cam photos of our test rider:

and here is a picture of his hot bike:
So if you or anyone you know know a guy who just picked up a brand new Fisher Cronus road bike with a black Thomson stem, give us a call at 815.758.2403. He’s 5’11” 230lbs, short brownish hair with something like facial hair on his chin.

PS: You might be asking yourself why we’d broadcast a story like this. The truth is that social media has so much potential to help us in a situation like this. I prefer transparency over secrecy even if we did get scammed. And it’s a great story.

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