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Want to take basic bike mechanic course- Barnett's or United???

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Want to take basic bike mechanic course- Barnett's or United???

Old 01-23-19, 12:15 PM
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Want to take basic bike mechanic course- Barnett's or United???

Hi

I want to take a basic bike mechanics course this spring, mostly for working on my own bikes, and just learning more about bikes. I have done some basic maintenance on my own bikes, but definitely want to learn more in a formal setting. Both United Bicycle Institute and Barnett's offer basic courses. Anyone on the forum here willing to offer recommendations and experiences if you have taken a course at either school. Thanks in advance.

Regards, Max
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Old 01-23-19, 12:22 PM
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Ashland Oregon is a nice place... they have a busy Live theater season , Shakespeare classics and recent plays

For something other than the classes to do..










I self taught during my long lifetime , from my childhood in the 50's....and read books and service manuals..


The course syllabus for each available online via their websites ? I'd look if I were You..












,,,,

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Old 01-23-19, 04:05 PM
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I'll be interested in what those who attended have to say. I've known of both for a long time and employed the Barnett Manuals in my shop in the 1990s. These days I hear more about United, especially in the framebuilding world I follow.

What I would be curious about is the basic approach and goal either has. Are they more shop focused, getting the work out right the first time and without lost time. Or are they more to do with the analytical process and how to figure things out. Which will have more students that plan on a shop job or moving up the shop service tree or have those who need to be able to deal with whatever is in front of them. One of my good friends who leads tours for ACA and a for profit company took the United course and thought very highly of it. The little that I have seen the Barnett stuff the more I suspect they are about the retail shop experience and it's needs.

I have more stories about this but this is all that pertains to the OP's questions. Andy
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Old 01-23-19, 07:27 PM
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Much like the OP, I had worked on my bikes for many years, but wanted to learn higher level "pro" skills without working at a bike shop. So I attended Barnett's Bicycle Institute (BBI) for 3 weeks in 2011. Week 1 consisted of a Bicycle Assembly and Maintenance coursework with an extra half day of wheel building. Weeks 2 and 3 consisted of Bicycle Repair and Overhaul instruction.

The BBI approach was very objective in order to maintain high standards and ensure a quality product. For example, spoke tension was measured with a tensiometer, not by plucking for tone. Bolts were tightened with a torque wrench to manufacturer specifications, not by feel.
Procedures were performed stepwise in a manner the same way each time using an algorithm-like approach. "Short cuts" were not allowed unless it was by combining steps, never by skipping steps in the algorithm. Speed came only by getting more efficient and quicker with repetition.
Personally, I liked BBI philosophy. My career was in medicine and science, and so I was very comfortable with objectivity, measurement, and standard operating procedures. It's a dependable approach that maintains quality of knowledge and performance among many individuals working at the same place.

Before I chose Barnett, I spoke to several people about both schools and one described the two schools this way: Barnett is about the science of bicycle repair -- United is about the art of bicycle repair.
I think that holds true for Barnett. I have not received training at United Cycling Insitute, but I have heard from several mechanics trained there that they did learn a less objective, less regimented approach that works just fine for them.
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Old 01-23-19, 08:48 PM
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I am self taught as well. Most of the material is available online, Park Toolís website has great information on how to fix just about anything on a bike and YouTube will cover the rest. I volunteer at an organization that accepts donated bikes which we fix and then giveaway to charitable organizations that give them to people who are in need. I have recruited several people who want to learn how to work on bikes to come volunteer their time and I help them learn. Mostly what it sounds like you need is a healthy number of subjects to practice with. Many communities will have bike co-ops which also provides a chance to learn with some expert help.

Not to say that the schools are not good but I have never met a mechanic who has gone to one, so unless you need the certification for some reason I see them a bit of overkill.
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Old 01-24-19, 07:18 AM
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If there's a bike co-op in your area, you may be able to learn a lot by volunteering there. Some have formal classes in the basics. I found a couple of pros at one near me, who are gradually fixing a lifetime of self-taught bad habits.

Not all non-profit shops have real pros, though. Many are run by autodidact hobbyists with a lifetime of bad habits. There's one near me where I'm the "big wrench," and that's a little scary.
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Old 01-27-19, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedofLite
Much like the OP, I had worked on my bikes for many years, but wanted to learn higher level "pro" skills without working at a bike shop. So I attended Barnett's Bicycle Institute (BBI) for 3 weeks in 2011. Week 1 consisted of a Bicycle Assembly and Maintenance coursework with an extra half day of wheel building. Weeks 2 and 3 consisted of Bicycle Repair and Overhaul instruction.

The BBI approach was very objective in order to maintain high standards and ensure a quality product. For example, spoke tension was measured with a tensiometer, not by plucking for tone. Bolts were tightened with a torque wrench to manufacturer specifications, not by feel.
Procedures were performed stepwise in a manner the same way each time using an algorithm-like approach. "Short cuts" were not allowed unless it was by combining steps, never by skipping steps in the algorithm. Speed came only by getting more efficient and quicker with repetition.
Personally, I liked BBI philosophy. My career was in medicine and science, and so I was very comfortable with objectivity, measurement, and standard operating procedures. It's a dependable approach that maintains quality of knowledge and performance among many individuals working at the same place.

Before I chose Barnett, I spoke to several people about both schools and one described the two schools this way: Barnett is about the science of bicycle repair -- United is about the art of bicycle repair.
I think that holds true for Barnett. I have not received training at United Cycling Insitute, but I have heard from several mechanics trained there that they did learn a less objective, less regimented approach that works just fine for them.
This was me in 2012, and I loved my experience at BBI. The instructors were exacting in the methods we were taught. This approach was very good for me. I had been self taught, and as a result I was tentative and unsure as I approached more complicated maintenance jobs. Learning precise methods gave me the confidence that I have used to build a number of bikes, both vintage and contemporary, and keep them in repair. Much like an experienced cook who moves away from always using recipes, Iíve been able to move away from some of Barnett's step-by-step methods towards more intuitive work. But I will always use the torque wrenches and tensionometer they taught me how to use.
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