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Old 07-27-22, 01:36 AM
  #1  
ElBundo
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Mechanic school

Hello everyone, Iím new to consistent cycling < 2 years. I really love it. I want to get more into fixing my own bike or building my own bike. I have a hard time focusing and mechanical stuff doesnít come easy to me. Iíve always done well though in traditional school. What do you think about UBI vs U of Q? I think this way of learning would be good for me. I have the money. What are your opinions?

Thank you for any help you can give me.
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Old 07-27-22, 03:29 AM
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I attended UBI (albeit 24 years ago) and highly recommend it. You could attend both their basic and advanced courses and will be equipped with the knowledge of how to maintain and repair your bike(s).
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Old 07-27-22, 09:21 AM
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Or just save your money and watch YouTube videos.

Pretty much anything and everything you need know about bike mechanics is available on YouTube.
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Old 07-27-22, 09:38 AM
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Here are some more opinions:

Mechanic Certificate Worth It?
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Old 07-28-22, 12:26 PM
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In 2009, I wanted to become certified, and there were three options in North America at the time: Barnett's in Colorado Springs, UBI in Oregon, and Winterborne Bicycle Institute in Guelph, Ontario. I chose Winterborne, because even after expenses to drive to Guelph from the Midwest and stay nearby, it was the cheapest option.

That turned out to be two of the most intense weeks of my life. The amount of nightly study was 2-3 hr. to prepare for the next day's class, otherwise you'd be completely lost. Classes were discussion first, followed by demo by the instructors, followed by you doing the same work hands-on.

We had to work on bikes in three categories - a Lemond Tourmalet road bike, a Trek 6500 MTB (rim/disc/mechanical/hydro brake compatible), and a Trek Mystic kid's bike. All had been donated by Trek and then never ridden, only used for rebuilding in class. They had been rebuilt so many times that they were near the end of their natural life, even though they had never seen the road!

At the end of the class, we had built a couple sets of wheels from scratch, put together an ongoing checklist of what is required to assemble a bike, were able to pass an open-book test (not easy) on any aspect of bicycle maintenance (say calculating spindle or spoke length in a given situation), and had to build a new bike from a box within a set time.

Two of the most important things I learned were proper posture & mechanical advantage. When you're working on bikes for hours at a stretch, it helps to be able to know how to perform a task efficiently and without injuring yourself.

Now 13 years later, it's pretty easy for me to set up a bike and get it dialed in. Before the class, not so much. No regrets.
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Old 07-28-22, 02:10 PM
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look to see if there is a park tool school near you https://www.parktool.com/en-us/park-tool-school

also places like REI often offer classes
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Old 07-28-22, 02:43 PM
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You can learn a lot in the school of hard knocks, and despite the name, the knocks don't have to be hard. It's also a good way to accumulate tools. Just fix your bike whenever you can. It's OK if you've got a good mechanic at an LBS to take it to the shop when you screw something up, or the Park and youtube videos aren't clear to you.

I'd say there are three scenarios where it makes sense to sign up for a formal class:

1. You're an inexperienced mechanical klutz, you're afraid you'll hurt something, and you have access to funds to be educated.

2. You need to be certified to get your dream job as a bike shop mechanic (i.e., many REI stores).

3. You've got the fiscal means and the time to take a class, either just because you want to or because you're not up to speed on the latest bike technology. (Of course, you'll need to plan for a couple more weeks in a few years...)
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Old 07-28-22, 04:35 PM
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Another option would be to volunteer at a local bike co-op, if there is one nearby. Perhaps the co-op could use someone to help with basics, such as removing wheels, etc., in exchange maybe they would let you help on more advanced repairs. Might not be as quick as a formal bike school, but could provide hands-on experience, and if a co-op exists near you, would only cost your time.
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Old 07-28-22, 06:44 PM
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Last year in the shop I worked for, one of our locations hired a fella that went to Barnett's the year before and then worked in another shop for the season. Unfortunately for that location, the guy has an inability to "see" problems and properly diagnose problems, and constantly asks others for help. The school he got the cert from covered most everything he asks questions about.
The point is, if as you mentioned in your first post, you struggle with mechanics, the school will not provide you diagnostics skills or the basic mechanical abilities. It will give you a start, but not developed mechanical ability.
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Old 07-28-22, 07:34 PM
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Some of us have found that repeated practice is what it takes to best understand the give and take that occurs during repairing stuff. A school situation is a great start, but some will need weekly exposure to retain and grow from. I like the suggestion of a local coop or non-profit but having spent time in a couple do know the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. Another thought is to work at a LBS, we need help and workers who are motivated and not bothered by the low pay. You would likely get a rather different "education" that a school. Boring at times and very frustrating other times. But a lot of repeated procedures and sometimes really good mentors to learn from. Andy
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Old 07-29-22, 06:32 AM
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What Andy and others have said is true.

Nothing beats "OJT." You can take as many courses as you want, but nothing is going to train you like on the job training. Additionally, sometimes there are multiple ways to complete a task; several people will tell you how to do something. But ultimately, it's up, to you to figure out the best method for you.

Take a course. Or watch Youtube videos. You'll learn the basic concepts. Putting those lessons into actual practice and use will be a whole different "school."
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Old 07-30-22, 12:39 AM
  #12  
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My only experience was with UBI, which I thought was generally really good (I am now a full time professional mechanic). Their Intro to Mechanics course is, I understand, pretty mellow and makes few to no assumptions about mechanical aptitude (I went straight to the pro mechanics class because I already was an OK amateur mechanic).
It's probably not the most cost effective way to learn, but if the money isn't that big a deal Ashland is a lovely place to visit with some excellent riding, so why not? I would recommend avoiding the mid-summer through early fall (aka the smoke season).

It doesn't sound like you're planning on working as a mechanic, but personally I'd actually prefer to hire a mechanic who had some kind of formal education AND shop training. It's nice to know someone has a broad knowledge base and can do things by the book. If you're a relatively new mechanic it's easy for the shop to teach you a handful of commonly applied skills and just throw those jobs at you (that's what I do with my co-workers...)There's also, frankly, some poor skills and knowledge being thrown around too casually in shops that people are learning experientially. I want to hire someone who'll check the dealer manual if they're unsure and do things right.
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Old 03-28-23, 06:55 AM
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could use some info about this as well. leaning more towards ubi, but i want to hear some pros and cons
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Old 04-02-23, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Matthew Garrett View Post
could use some info about this as well. leaning more towards ubi, but i want to hear some pros and cons
Yeah, that would be really useful. I've recently gotten into cycling as well, and I've been thinking about expanding my knowledge on bike maintenance to better understand my own bike and maybe even build one in the future. It's awesome to see someone else interested in diving deeper into the world of cycling, and I'm sure there's a lot we can learn together. If anyone here has experience with either UBI (United Bicycle Institute) or U of Q (University of Quality Bicycle Mechanics), please share your thoughts and opinions. I found some info here but I want to know more from the people. It would be really helpful for those of us considering these options to gain more insight into the learning experience they provide. Also, if there are any other resources or suggestions for learning bike mechanics that you'd recommend, I'd love to hear about them. I'm excited to learn more and become a more well-rounded cyclist. Happy cycling, everyone!

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Old 04-02-23, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Matthew Garrett View Post
could use some info about this as well. leaning more towards ubi, but i want to hear some pros and cons
Originally Posted by MeganCook View Post
Yeah, that would be really useful
Just keep in mind the thread hasn't been active in a while so when posting in an forum keep that in mind.

In terms of school, the best school is working at a bike shop under a good mechanic. UBI, Barnett's...all good, all really helpful but actually going through the repetitive motions under the tutelage of an experienced mechanic is the best way to go not only do you learn but you also can get paid as it is a job. You are also learning all about bicycle retail as well and learning other important skills. I haven't gone to school for my job (though have done plenty of trainings) and I have gone quite far from managing shops and a service department to now having a job created just for me and while it is true I didn't spend a lot of time wrenching I still have picked up quite a lot and could handle myself decently well and am always picking up new things when I can.
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Old 04-10-23, 02:57 PM
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Hey allow a newbie to say that I can relate to your experience too. I haven't gone to school for my job either, but I've done my fair share of trainings. It's amazing how far you can go with hands-on experience and a willingness to learn. I've gone from managing shops to having a job created just for me, and I'm constantly picking up new things. So if anyone's thinking about getting into the bike industry or anything else, go for it! Look for opportunities to work under experienced mechanics and learn on the job. It may not be the traditional school route. Moreover, now there are a lot of online opportunities like https://paperap.com/free-papers/education/ because I prefer online resources than physics professors' lessons. These free essays examples about education offered me much more than usual courses could do it. But if you get to do what you love and get paid for it, it will be a win-win in any case, right? I got it from my experience))

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Old 04-10-23, 04:16 PM
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Just like any school settings there are good teachers and less so ones. IMO good teachers explain how to think through and dissect problems and not just turn wrenches by the numbers. Not having attended the mentioned schools I can't speak from personal experience but I have worked with some and interviewed a number of people who have attended both UBI and Barnetts. I also have spent a bit of time with John Barnett at industry shows and collectively I feel that his methods are quite good. When I had my own shop I used his manuals both for my mechanics thoroughness and my customers' questions ("what do you do in a tune up?") I have to say that I have worked with more than a few mechanics that didn't have a good ability to articulate or explain why to do something a certain way ("how to do it" is the easy part). I also have worked with a few really good wrenches that really should be kept in their corner and away from others

If the goal is to work in the LBS industry than in the field mentorship is very hard to beat if the mentor is a good teacher. If one was only going to do their own work passing up on in shop experience is somewhat moot. Andy
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Old 04-11-23, 10:30 PM
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Totally agree and like what you claim, Andrew!
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