Inside Westminster’s bike maintenance course which is both informative and highly entertaining

On Tuesday of last week I received an unexpected compliment. I was contacted by David from Cycleconfident.com. He told me he wanted to handout my free bike maintenance manual at the training courses they run. It was good to see the manual, which has now surpassed 3,000 downloads, was so well regarded.

Of course I was happy for them to hand it out and I also jumped at the opportunity to invite myself along to one of their courses.

Arriving at the course

westminster-maintenance-session-pic-of-group

I arrived fashionably late (which is another way of saying rudely late). Due to getting a bit lost on the way over. After some quick introductions Digger (the guy in the yellow shirt) continued what he was saying.

He was in the process of teaching everyone the M safety check. This ensures a bike is road worthy. Within a few minutes a number of bike faults emerged. One of the bikes in our small group pretty much ticked most boxes for not being road worthy. It made me think of two things. Firstly how did that person make it to the training course and secondly how important it is to attend courses like this to learn the basics of bike maintenance.

As the course continued it drifted between being a highly informative maintenance course and a comedy act. Digger has some fantastic stories and sense of humour that made the course a lot more fun to follow. I’m pretty impressed with anyone that can make light humour out of a topic as seemingly mundane as puncture repairs.

Course contents

Westminster Maintenance course puncture repair

After the M check we were shown how to repair punctures. Having taught myself the technique I picked up a few new tricks. For example to line up the tyre label with the valve to help with finding the puncture. Also being a bit more careful with where I touch the inner tube with oily hands. Both of these tricks should help me, as Digger says, not to get sniggered at by other cyclists.

I was pleased to see that the course is not just about standing around looking at the instructor doing the repairs. As that would be rather dull. Instead everyone is expected to do them on their own bike with Digger and Diego keeping a watchful eye to lend a hand.

On the beginners course there is also gear adjustment, brake pad replacement, bike lubrication and a knowing your bike section.

Overall I thought it was a great introductory course that should save many hours of frustration and hassle that comes from riding a poorly maintained bike.

How to attend the CycleConfident course

The courses are held every three weeks. The ones by CycleConfident are focused on Westminster. The council subsidises the courses so they are just £15 to attend. If you live outside Westminster then you should take a look and see what your council offers. A good place to look is on the LCC website or if you are outside of London on the CTC website.

I’m interested to hear from anyone else that has attended a similar course and what their thoughts were. Leave a comment!

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5 Responses to Inside Westminster’s bike maintenance course which is both informative and highly entertaining

  1. Adam Thompson 12/04/2010 at 10:21 am #

    Andreas,

    These courses look good and at £15 for four and a half hours are cheap but not as you state free.

    Adam

    • Andreas 12/04/2010 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Adam, I was informed by the course instructors it was free for residents of Westminster. I’ve had a flick through their website and it says there it is £15. I’ll clarify this with the guys and see what they say.

  2. Andreas 12/04/2010 at 11:26 pm #

    Got the clarification:
    “Just to clarify they do cost £15, We used to run them for free but unfortunately too many people did not value a free service and failed to turn up for the course hence the council wanting some sort of payment.”

  3. Stephen Doroghazi 16/02/2011 at 1:37 am #

    Andreas: I recently discovered your blog and must admit that it has already proven very helpful. We have been looking for a course book so that we can begin a program to teach both women and disabled persons basic bicycle care skills. Thank you very much for your wonderful service to the cycling community.

    • Andreas 16/02/2011 at 2:14 pm #

      Thank you Stephen – pleased to hear it’s useful.

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