Given the fact you can easily spend thousands of dollars buying a sweet mountain bike – it seems to make sense to know how to look after it properly and avoid costly repairs.
Money spent on learning about bike mechanics can easily pay off in the long-term, as well as getting you back up and running if things suddenly go wrong out on the trail. That’s where a company like BMTI (Bicycle Mechanic Training Institute) in Sydney’s west comes in - offering short courses in bike maintenance, servicing and repairs.
“Do you want the bike to tell you that it’s broken and needs to be taken to a bike shop to be fixed? Or do you want to be able to do the preventative maintenance and servicing and just take it to the shop for the most serious problems?” says BMTI founder Kevin Silvy. “And when you think that people spend a lot of money buying a bike, maybe even as much as $12,000 or more – and they all have service components. To keep the bike running optimally you need to service it regularly, but just having a little bit of knowledge can be great.
“It could even be as simple as being able to use a chain checker so you know when to change the chain. If you don’t do that, the worn chain can affect a lot of other components and then you might be looking at quite a lot of money in terms of repairs or replacements,” Silvy adds.
As well as courses for individuals just looking to keep their own machines in tip-top shape, BMTI also run professional training for existing and aspiring bike shop mechanics.
And Silvy is hoping the Cert II and Cert III courses – recognised by the government – will help raise standards across the industry. He started the company around six years ago having previously had to travel to Colorado in USA to get proper bike mechanic training at the Barnett Bicycle Institute.
“We’re the only registered training organisation (RTO) in NSW accredited to issue qualifications in bicycle mechanics,” Silvy explains from BMTI’s base in Penrith.
Elsewhere around the country the likes of TAFE SkillsTech in Queensland, VocTrain in South Australia and IMVC in Melbourne also run courses for professionals, or those hoping to enter the industry.
“We get calls from bike shops who are employing new staff and who are eligible for trainee benefits,” Silvy adds. “We also offer training on location in Western Australia, ACT and Tasmania and the numbers are going up and up in terms of the trainees we are putting through – which I think is important given the shortages of skilled bike mechanics that we keep hearing about.”
Indeed, official figures published by the government show there is demand for at least 1,800 more bike mechanics than are currently in the workforce around the country – and the shortfall is predicted to rise to 2,000 by 2020. Silvy is keen to address that imbalance and is planning to roll out a school-based traineeship course in 2018.
THREE KEY BIKE
PARTS YOU SHOULDN’T NEGLECT
Ensure you are not getting the H-limit setting wrong by failing to back off the cable tension.
Make sure there is no tension on the cable BEFORE you do the H-limit setting.
Setting this up incorrectly could cause the derailleur to go into the wheel and result in a very costly bunch of replacements.
Failure to check chain-wear regularly means the rear cassette and front chain rings could also be sustaining damage.
That could then turn a $50-$60 cost for replacing the chain into a $400-$500 major repair.
Sometimes these are not spaced correctly, which means there is actual side movement. Alternatively, they can be too tight and that wears the bearings out much quicker. Although the replacement cost may not be so high, having a creaking bottom bracket could drive you insane!
“It would be open for kids in Year 10, 11 and 12 and they’d be able to do a part-time traineeship in bicycle mechanics while they are still at school,” he explains. “Loads of kids are keen to be fixing bikes rather than sitting in a classroom doing biology!
“For the industry it’s important to have young people coming through. And this would be a pathway for the kids because the bike shops have to make a commitment to take them on for one-day a week. One shop in Goulburn said they would take on four trainees alone. We’re hoping to have about a dozen schools involved in 2018, but I think it could easily increase to 50 or 60 the following year.”
So whether you are keen amateur rider just looking to service your own bike properly, or want to turn your passion for mechanics into a job – the opportunities are out there to improve your skills and even take it to the next level.
* For more info about BMTI’s range of courses, visit bmti.com.au
Words: Neil Martin Photos: Robert Conroy