Bike Reviews are a pretty good source of information for bicycles where u cannot ride them as they are mostly done by independent bike magazines. I used to read them feverishly while deciding between a new bike. However, nowadays when i read bike reviews from bike magazines, I always see a few words being recycled and being overused to the point that it appears cliched.
Here is an good example of a typical bike review
as quoted from here
Amazing response, incredible performance, vertically stiff yet laterally compliant and subtle feedback, improved power transfer with better power to weight ratio.
Wind tunnel test show significant watt reduction as well as decreased rolling resistance for unequivocal real world advantage.
Revolutionary design and the latest modulus composite matrix of Unobtainium allow the 2012 ( insert big time company using same Asian parts) to climb and perform better than anything on the market.
The 2012 ( insert brand here ) offers a balance of strength, durability and unparalleled climbing performance.
Key words being emphasized are Climbing,Road Comfort,Stiffness and Aerodynamics.
I am perfectly convinced if a bike has a teardrop-ed tubing profile (like the Cervelo S series) or the Kamm tail profile (like the Trek Speedconcept Series) and be advertised as an aerodynamic bike. But how can every tom, dick and harry bike out there in the market can be advertised as an aero bike with no proof of aero watt reduction? Aerodynamics in my honest opinion is an real integral part of the bike that can be proven through science and it can benefit the normal people the most but the rest of the factors i am not really convinced.
Stiffness of the bike, I am not able to detect any signs of flexing be it lateral flex or vertical flex. But all bike reviews goes something like this” (insert bike model here) has XX% more stiff as compared to other years bike model due to (insert some bull-shit technology here). Judging by that, a 2005 bike model should be around 400% less stiff than the newest bike model. Fact is stiffness simply mean whether the shocks of the road will be transmitted to your hands.
Climbing ability is dependent on the legs of the person and not the bike but bike reviews has been putting “This bike will be able to save XX seconds off your climbs” or “This bike makes it super easy to climb” Last I known, if you suck as a climber means you cant climb. No point giving you a 5kg road bike and ask you to climb , you will still lose out.
As much as i do not want to admit, selling bikes is like selling snake-oil. As long as consumers are convinced that this years models are better than previous years model, they will bite the bait and buy a new bike. People also like some statistics to make themselves feel good when they are buying an improvement of speed or ride quality. In fact at 30-32 kph, speeds are too low for aerodynamics to play a large part.
For me? I would like to as much as possible try out the bike that i am buying but it is not easy for bike shops to trust an S$xxK valued bike to an complete stranger who may run the risk of crashing it. I might be a little too new to try out many other bikes but for now, I think bike magazines should write their reviews based on their views on the bike be it good or bad (oh i rarely see this side) such as any comparisons between bikes of similar price point and value-addness of the bike