Frequently asked questions
We never get the same question twice. Just kidding. We're always updating the FAQ with the most FA of Q. Help us help you by using the contact form at the bottom of the page!
What are your holiday hours?
We are open 360 days a year. We close on 1 & 2 January, 4 July, the Non-Canadian Thanksgiving, and 25 December.
I want a bike. I haven't ridden much in years. Should I bring my partner who is an avid cyclist to act as a translator and guide?
We'll do our best to divert avid types while we explore choices with you. We're not a shop for "avid cyclists" any more than most shoe stores are focused on avid pedestrianism, or golf, soccer, or rock climbing. We think almost everybody in a city can benefit from one or a few bikes. It's not about joining a club or subculture. It's just another pair of shoes. The shoes you are wearing are bike shoes in our book. We'll help you find a bike that works for you: your test riding is the first and best instrument in this process, certainly not chattering about the latest bike technologies, or how many grams. Once you find a bike that makes you happy, we are happy to talk tech if you want.
Do you ship to Canada?
No. Somebody should totally open a Brilliant Bikes in Canada.
Is there a safe place to test ride your bikes?
Yes. Most inner Southeast Portland streets are very calm. We usually send people south a few blocks into an industrial district with some gentle grades, or through leafy Ladd's Addition to a longer climb up Harrison, east.
So you sell cruisers?
We don't sell "beach cruisers" or the like, defined as bikes with swoopy lines designed to resemble early motorcycle frames, usually with coaster brakes, single speeds, and heavy tires, no. The large majority of our bikes do have handlebars that are neither straight nor dropped, but swept back. Some people call these cruisers, but we wouldn't. Swept handlebars support a relatively upright posture with a natural "slack hands" wrist position, for comfort at a plain-clothes pace and visibility in traffic. They are also ideal for a stem-mounted front child seat for the smallest children. Swept bars have always been and remain the norm worldwide for bikes used for transportation as opposed to sport or recreation.
Tell me about Dutch bikes
When we opened in 2007, most of our inventory consisted of Dutch bikes imported from Amsterdam, the real deal. We brought them in because they were spectacularly functional as plain-clothes urban cargo and family bikes in a rainy city, and supremely comfortable. Not fashion pieces, but utilitarian, for strong bikers with enough experience to appreciate the value of their exceptional durability and feature sets. That's still how we present and sell them.
At the time, Dutch bikes were beginning to come into fashion in the US, in the narrow sense of being trendy lifestyle accessories: twee, charming, retro. While this fad lasted, we found that most of the people asking about our Dutch bikes were put off by their cargo-class heft and prices, while not interested in their capabilities to replace car trips carrying stuff for many decades: they just wanted a certain look, and an upright posture. For these many people, we have less expensive, lighter choices available, but they're not actually Dutch.
These many years later, we remain inspired by the way bicycles are woven into daily life for people of all ages, classes and genders in the Netherlands, but the large majority of bikes we sell are not Dutch, and often better suited for non-flat Portland.
Do you sell used bikes? What about trade-ins?
Used bikes are considered regulated property in the city of Portland. Any business that engages in 50 or more regulated property transactions per year is in effect operating a pawn shop, and must be licensed as such. This requires that each bicycle be cross referenced through the Portland Police stolen goods database, and be held for a minimum of 30 days. We do not have the facility or resources to operate this way. You will receive the most amount of money for your used bike by selling it directly on Craigslist.
What size bike fits me?
A bike fits you if you find it comfortable when its saddle can safely be set so your knees are almost straight when the pedals are furthest away. Every other factor of fit is a matter of fitness for special needs or purposes, which we can discuss. We'll guide you toward likely candidates when we see you, and validate with test riding while tweaking other things like fore-aft weight distribution.
Fit is often a matter of compromise between comfort when riding at low intensity, and performance when ridden with more athleticism. Most bikes we stock are skewed somewhat toward the former, as befits transportation in a city like ours only 8 miles on a side. This means most of our bikes are pretty upright, and this, in turn, means that they often come in only one or a few sizes instead of many very small increments like sport bikes do. Just because you ride a 52cm frame of a particular model of road bike doesn't mean that a "one-size" of a much more upright bike won't fit you as well.
Do you do fittings?
Yes and no. If you are an athlete who already rides a lot, and who is experiencing intractable pain or trouble hitting specific performance goals after trying lots of common adjustments, we will refer you to a professional fitter. If that's not you, we can help.
Upon seeing you riding, we can adjust your bike to fall within norms for your proportions and the style of riding best supported by the bike. This is generally free and casual. We can also suggest adjustments or part swaps if you tell us how you're uncomfortable, or it looks to us like you might soon become uncomfortable. We even know a few tricks to help you ride faster or further while avoiding injury, if that's your thing. But it always starts with you telling us your goals and issues, and letting us watch you ride. We have a problem-solving, rather than prescriptive approach outside of basics like saddle height (too many people: too low). We can't tell you how to adjust your bike if you can't tell us what hurts, unless it's something super obvious.
What we don't do is take body measurements or video of you riding on a specialized stationary "fitting bike," possibly in a wind tunnel, and plug the results into a formula or program to calculate how you're doing it wrong or what parts you need to buy. This approach to fitting, offered for a fee, is helpful when the findings of the program happen to overlap, or can be made to overlap, the intuition of a good listener who rides a lot. We do without the formulas.
What's the discount for floor models? What's the discount on accessories if I buy a bike? On 2 bikes?
There isn't one. We are not a discounter. Our prices are pre-haggled as marked, without exception. We do offer haggling as a service at just $60/hr, but only on Wednesdays by appointment with our bookkeeper. Profit margins and typical pay in bicycle retail are much lower than in most other enterprises. We want you to get a bike you love. We want to pay our awesome staff. We want to be around for many years to support your purchase. Thus, our prices are calculated precisely to keep all parties happy.
We observe no distinction between floor models and new stock, with very few exceptions. The bike you test ride might be the one you ride home. Everybody is encouraged to touch and test everything, gently. Only if an item is plainly shop-worn might we clear it, in which case the marked price will be lower.