If you’ve been looking at getting into professional bike maintenance and becoming an independent mechanic or just want to hone your skills there is a course out there to suit your needs. In this review I’ll look at four offers in and around Europe and compare the costs, the effort required and timing, and the perceived benefits.
The UCI training centre is based in Switzerland in the Vaud town of Aigle. The bicycle maintenance certification courses( 3 levels) are designed for those wishing to pursue a career as a mechanic with a professional team or a National Federation and includes skills such as bike building, wheel building, maintenance, servicing, race preparation, position on the bike, familiarisation with rules and regulations.
One of the big advantages of this training offer is that participants work alongside the World Cycling Centre (the WCC who co-certify the training) staff and athletes which is an ideal way to gain high level experience. The maximum participation is limited to 4. You might think this would make the courses expensive and you’d be right.
|1||1 weeks||Little or no experience.||CHF 1200|
|2||4 weeks||Level 1 or other relavent experience.||CHF 4800|
|3||3 weeks||Must have level 2 qualification||CHF 3600|
|Exam Only Level 3||1 day||Only for professional bike mechanics||CHF 1000|
So we’re looking at CHF 7,600, or almost £5,400 to get to level 3 certification. Accommodation and living costs are on top of this. The WCC offer full board for CHF 500 a week. Of course, if you’re not lucky enough to live here in Switzerland you need to factor in travel costs too. There may be a waiting list due to the small numbers so be sure to plan ahead.
The price does seem high but it’s worth remembering that these are the professionals who produce the mechanics that support the pro-teams on the circuit.
BikeRight is a sizeable training institution that includes maintenance courses at different levels in Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.
The entry level is a one day course priced at £75 and aimed at beginners who have little or no knowledge about bicycle maintenance. Reviewing the course content this really is a course that anyone not familiar with their bicycle should think of attending. Yes, it’s very basic but everyone riding a bike on the road should be able to carry out the tasks covered on the course.
There is a second, slightly more advanced course (also priced at £75) for those who want to take their skills up a notch. These basic and intermediary would not, imo, prepare someone for a profession in bicycle maintenance and so I would recommend them to those who just want to understand and maintain their own bicycle.
The next level up is the advanced course priced at £110 for a day. There are two courses to choose from but logically you would take course one and then progress to course 2. Again, this is aimed more at the home mechanic but and those who want to know more than the basics and who need to maintain their bikes on a more regular basis, such as regular commuter cyclists, mountain bikers, racing cyclists or touring cyclists.
For those looking to turn professional BikeRight offers a course leading to the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate in cycle mechanics as an intensive 10 day course costing £1000. Reviewing the course content which is lacking in some aspects such as electric shifting and bike fitting I’d put this as an entry level course aimed at young people such as apprentices. The equivalency of the qualification to a UK standard GCSE supports that theory. It still looks like a good grounding though and could be a worthwhile option if you don’t want to spend the type of money for UCI training.
Cytech is the training organisation behind the Association of Cycle Traders accreditation. There is a home mechanic option but the majority of the offer is aimed firmly at the professional bike mechanic. Starting with a theory course priced at £150 and offered online the training gets off to a jump start before having to fork out for travel and accommodation.
The practical training and assessment is divided up into 3 courses:
Technical 1 is a two day course including a practical assessment and is priced at £450. It covers the groundwork that any potential bike mechanic should consider before touching someone else, or even their own, shiny steed.
- Health & Safety
- Workshop practices
- Conforming to British Standards
- Pre-delivery inspection
- Adjustment, set-up & frame alignment
- Torque wrench settings
- Lubricants & greases
- Tyres & tubes
- Consumer Protection Act
The theory course could be considered as a prerequisite in order for the best value to be gained from the two day course.
Technical 2 builds on the previous courses and cover more advanced topics related to modern bikes such as
- Derailleur Gear Systems
- Brake systems (cable operated)
- Internal hub gears
- Wheel truing and spoke replacement
- Wheel building
There are a couple of options on how to take this course depending on providers. ATG Training offers a bundled course including Tactical 1 and 2 plus assessment as a 10 day course for £1500. PJCS on the other hand offer Technical 2 as a follow on to Technical 1 as an 8 day course including assessment for £1068.
Technical 3 has even more variation depending on which training provider is selected.
The version offered by PJCS, is designed to allow the option to choose the suspension & hydraulic disc brake systems that are important to individuals. Courses are selected based on the products that are equipped on the cycles you maintain or supply and work out at £1020 including certification.
Training and assessment lasts 6 days and covers the following modules:
- Suspension (incl. two of the following: Fox, Manitou, RockShox)
- Hydraulic Brakes (incl. two of the following: Hayes, Hope, Magura, Shimano)
- Advanced Wheel Building (incl. one of the following: DT Swiss, Campagnolo, Shimano)
- Complex Bike Building (incl. one of the following: Rocky Mountain, Specialized, Trek)
The modular training offered by ATG Training enable candidates to select specific training relevant to the products they are working on, specialise in either MTB or Road.
Technical 3 MTB
Based around advanced MTB technology, the course lasts 5 days, costs £1320, and covers the following optional modules:
- Advanced MTB wheel building
- Hydraulic brake tech
- Suspension tech
Technical 3 Road
Based around advanced road bike technology, the course lasts 4 days, costs £1074, and covers the following optional modules:
- Advanced road wheels
- Road drive train
So that’s a brief summary of some of the popular training courses available. I decided to dive into the CyTech training as I liked it’s modular nature even though I will pursue both MTB and Road options which could lead to a substantial hole in my pocket. I already did the Theory course which I would have to say appears expensive for what it is. As a fairly well experienced mechanic I guess I found it a bit on the easy side but it would possibly stretch a youngster just starting out.