Training at Cycle Systems Academy
I last wrote about bicycle maintenance almost a year ago, here’s the next instalment.
Last month I spent two weeks at the wonderful Cycle Systems Academy in London. I was there to take a level 3 training course in cycle maintenance, officially the Level 3 VRQ Diploma in Cycle Maintenance (QCF). This builds on the level 2 course I completed some 18 months ago with Alf and Teresa Webb at The Bike Inn. The two institutions are quite different, not least as one is in rural Lincolnshire, the other in north London! However, the training offered from both is top notch.
The syllabus of the level 3 course spends a few days on each of the following technical areas; hydraulic brakes, fork suspension, full suspension systems, complex wheel systems and advanced groupset set up (including Campag, Sram, Shimano and Shimano Di2). First time I’d worked on the (ridiculously expensive) Di2 system and I can’t say I’m totally convinced electronic shifting is future however prices are likely to fall quickly.
There was lots of hands on experience working with the Avid, Hope (excellent British company) and Shimano hydraulic brake systems, servicing coil and air sprung forks from RockShox and Fox, X-Fusion and Fox rear shocks, building wheels from Fulcrum and the crazy ‘Cobalt’ wheelset from Crank Brothers to name just a few. Our tutors knew their stuff. I’ve never actually owned a bike with hydraulic brakes, let alone one with full suspension (wasn’t a big mountain biking scene in the Lincolnshire flatlands where I grew up!) but after getting to know the product well, I’d be very happy to run the Hope brake system.
There’s also a significant written element to this qualification with an essay on customer service and for each technical area there is a short answer exam and report to write. A multiple choice health and safety exam is also required for one unit.
The workshop is very well equipped with each work area having its own high quality tool set and the bikes we were working on were modern and of high quality. Although some had unusual wear associated with being dismantled dozens of times and yet hardly being ridden! It’s a pleasant 15 minute walk along Regent’s Canal from Angel tube station to the academy, just what’s needed after a Northern Line rush hour commute!
These bicycle maintenance skills complement the frame building I’ve been doing. I’ve built frames with Dave Yates, Dario Pegoretti and The Bicycle Academy this year. After all this fancy kit, I’m thinking to build myself a minimalist frame for a single speed next!