Frequently asked questions about our Bicycle Mechanic Courses
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where are the training centres?

  • We have two central locations in Auckland (CBD) and Rotorua.

Q: How much does it cost?

  • $3,845 for the Level 3 course (2017 fees). Complete Level 3 to graduate as a Bicycle Service Technician
  • $2,610 for the Level 4 course (2017 fees). Complete Level 4 to graduate as a qualified Bicycle Mechanic
  • Student loans and allowances are available through StudyLink

Q: What’s the schedule?

  • 3 days per week (for Level 3 programme – 17 July 2017 to 15 December 2017): Mon, Tue, Wed; 9.00am – 3.00pm
  • 2 days per week (for Level 4 programme – 17 July 2017 to 24 November 2017): Thu, Fri; 9.00am – 3.00pm
  • + You’ll have coursework to complete in your own time
  • + You’ll have work experience in a bike shop
  • There are two intakes per year in February and July

Q: What kind of employment opportunities are there?

The bike industry is huge, and graduates have several options:

  • Technician in a shop service department
  • Technician in a home-based workshop
  • Technician with a mobile business
  • Technician with a bike hire company
  • Technician from a motor home with hire bikes
  • Technician with an E-bike shop
  • Technician at a Mountain Bike park
  • Technician for professional riders and teams – both nationally and internationally
  • Technician in overseas resorts with hire/touring bikes

Q: How much does a bicycle mechanic get paid?

  • Someone just starting out as a bicycle mechanic can expect to be paid around $16 – $18 per hour (Career Services estimate).
  • Someone with two years or more experience can expect around $18 – $21 per hour.
  • These rates are comparable to most entry-level trade positions.
  • Some shops will also pay a commission on sales, which could increase a mechanic’s salary by $9,000 per year.

Q: How many NZ Bike Shops need Bike Mechanics?

  • There are 265 bicycle retailers with workshops in New Zealand, so any number of them could be ready to hire you once you have finished your Bike Mechanic training.
  • We have all their contact details, so when you have finished your training we can help you find work.

Q: How big is this opportunity? How many bicycles will need servicing this year?

  • Did you know that well over 220,000 bicycles are imported into NZ every year? How many of those will need servicing and repairs this year or next? Lots. That’s why you should get ready.

Q: What variety of work does a bicycle mechanic do?

  • You might work in a local bike shop, in a department store, or for a cycling team, or for a bicycle manufacturer
  • You’ll be involved with a range of service and repairs on bicycles, including bicycle assembly, but may also custom-make bicycles for customers, plus provide customers with advice on bicycles and fit, parts and accessories
  • Depending on the type of business you are employed by, you might also maintain stock levels, general shop duties and share your expertise with customers.  If you’re working with a cycle team, you may regularly travel nationally and internationally with the team.

Q: What kind of person would enjoy a career as a bicycle mechanic?

  • Are you sick of being stuck behind a desk or in other mundane job?
  • Wouldn’t you rather be working with bicycles and sharing your knowledge and expertise with like-minded customers who share your passion?
  • Do you want to learn in the best bicycle mechanic training workshop in New Zealand?
  • Do you want to learn using the latest bike tools and components?
  • Do you want to learn how to assemble, service, and repair bicycles?
  • Do you want to learn about service, adjustment, steering systems, tyre and hub systems, braking systems, drive train systems, and suspension systems?
  • Do you want to learn how the bike industry works, including: wholesale, retail, entrepreneurship and business?
  • Do you want to be able to get work experience at local bike shops while you study?
  • Do you want to have the confidence to say you know your stuff?

If so, then becoming a bicycle mechanic is a career you will enjoy.

Q: What kind of academic and physical attributes am I required to have?

The following is an adaptation of requirements from the Barnett Bicycle Institute:

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
Proficiency level: All lectures/theory, workshop supervision, texts, and curriculum materials (and a significant amount of reference materials in the bicycle industry, as well) are provided in English, only. If English is not your first language, you should have an IELTs level of 5.5 or the equivalent.
Examples:

  • Teaching materials have only been prepared in English.
  • After watching demonstrations, students guide themselves through workshop tasks by following written procedures (in English). The detail and extent of the information provided in these written procedures goes far beyond what you could reasonably expect to learn and retain just by having observed the demonstrations, so you must be able to read the procedures.

READING TECHNICAL LANGUAGE
Proficiency level: You should be able to read English technical writing at a level equivalent to a typical high-school/secondary-school graduate.
Examples: In conversation, reading of fiction, and reading of non-fiction prose (i.e., news articles, magazine articles, etc.), context may make it possible to get the gist of the article, book, or conversation without completely understanding every word and sentence. The same is not true of technical language. Therefore, you must be able to read at a level where you can understand each word and statement in its entirety.
Possible accommodations and/or limitations: The extent and detail of the information that must be read goes far beyond what can be verbalized by an instructor in the available time or be retained in memory by a student, so it is not an option to expect to learn sufficiently from just what the instructor (or an assistant you might provide) might verbalise or otherwise communicate by non-written means.

MATHEMATICS SKILLS
Proficiency level: You must be able to use a calculator to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division functions. For this purpose, you must be able to understand numbers with decimal notation. No mental calculation or hand-written calculation is required.

COMPUTER SKILLS
Proficiency level: You must be able to turn on and turn off a computer and be able to open software by clicking on its icon on a desktop. You must be able to operate a mouse or other pointing device such as a touch pad, and you must be able to recognize and click on color-coded hypertext links and buttons in order navigate from one part of a document file to another. As a professional mechanic, you will need to be able to use a web browser to navigate the Internet, but this skill is not required in the classroom.
Examples:

  • The text for Level 4 classes is Barnett’s Manual DX. This publication is about 10,000 screens of information which are navigated entirely by clicking on text links and on-screen buttons. This publication relies heavily on images of bicycle parts to convey important information. Written steps cite reference letters, numbers, and arrows incorporated into these images.
  • As a professional mechanic, you will be constantly required to get technical information from bicycle-component manufacturers. All of the major manufacturers provide this information only by publishing it on the Internet, so professional mechanics need access to the Internet, need to be able to operate a web browser, and need to be able to utilize data, images, and diagrams on the computer screen.

Possible accommodations and/or limitations: Without the accompanying images, many steps in the textbook are difficult or impossible to understand. Due to the form of navigation and heavy reliance on images in Barnett’s Manual DX, plus the non-linearity of data on the screen pages, screen readers that convert on-screen text to computer-generated spoken words are of little or no use.

BICYCLE RIDING SKILLS
Proficiency level: You must be able to ride a bicycle, operate its gear systems, and operate its brakes.
Examples: It is an absolutely essential part of working as a professional mechanic to perform diagnosis of shifting performance, braking performance, handling, and noises issues while a bike is being operated under normal riding loads.
Possible accommodations and/or limitations: During classes, you will not be riding a bicycle for the purpose of performing these diagnostic procedures. In the professional environment, inability to ride a bike will severely compromise a mechanic’s ability to function autonomously. In fact, most tasks will only be possible to complete by working with a regular team mate, relying on the team mate to do the riding and to effectively communicate back to you what symptoms were encountered. Particularly when the symptoms involve noise, this can be severely limiting.

AUDITORY SKILLS
Proficiency level: You will need to be able to distinguish quiet noises and noise changes of a very small magnitude.
Examples:
Bicycles make noise during operation. Some noises are normal, and some noises indicate problems are occurring. Often, the “problem” noises occur while normal noises are simultaneously occurring. In the most extreme cases (but still occurring many times a day), these noises will be of a similar sound level to that of a pin dropping on a hard surface such as a desk.
Some specific examples are:

  • Moving parts (such as chains) that need lubrication may squeak quietly
  • Brake pads that are worn out, misaligned, loose, or contaminated make squealing, scraping, and groaning noises
  • Gear-shift mechanisms that are out of adjustment make very quiet scraping or clattering sounds
  • Marginally loose parts or poorly fit parts such as handlebars, stems, pedals, cranks, crank bearings, seats and seat posts make quiet creaking or clicking sounds
  • Structural parts that have cracks developing make clicking and creaking sounds during operation sometimes well before damage becomes apparent visually or by touch.

Possible accommodations and/or limitations:

  • Only a small percentage of these common but critical noises can be detected by looking for alternate visual information or by feeling for vibrations, but in most cases there exist no alternate ways to get this critical information.
  • Should you have partial hearing loss, in class and in the workplace you may need to rely on a variety of amplification tools such as hearing aids, stethoscopes, and sensitive directional microphones connected to an amplifier with headphones.
  • For those critical noises caused by problems that do not create any information that can be detected by touch or sight, if these auditory compensation devices will not make a significant difference for you, there is no other possible accommodation.
  • Students and professional mechanics alike must provide such hearing-assistance devices themselves.

VISUAL SKILLS
Proficiency level:

  • You need to be able to see bubbles in fluids contained by clear plastic tubing.
  • You need to be able to see details as small as a period on a typical printed page (10-point font, for example) from a distance of 30-60cm.
  • You should be able to detect whether two lines are out of parallel by as little as one degree when one line is about 30–60cm away from you and the other line is about 45–60cm further away, so you must be able to bring items at both distances into focus without moving your head or body.
  • You must be able to read digital LCD displays with characters of the same size range as the characters on a typical digital watch.
  • You must be able to read dimensional markings on tools and parts that are as small as 8-point type, but these can be held as close as necessary.
  • You must be able to see an indicator needle aligning to marks on a scale when the marks are as close together as 0.5mm.

Examples:

  • To bleed hydraulic disc brakes and some fork dampers, you must be able to detect when a fluid passing through a clear tube no longer contains bubbles.
  • Ability to see fine detail is critical to find cracks and wear marks on used components that would not otherwise be detectable by touch or sound. You will need to see whether two parts are touching or clearing each other when the clearance between them is as small as 0.25mm.
  • Several critical measuring tools used by bicycle mechanics provide results on LCD screens with characters as small as the smallest characters on an LCD watch (such as the AM/PM indicator).
  • Tension meters for measuring spoke tension and dial protractors for measuring angles often have increment marks consisting of parallel lines as close together as 0.5mm.
  • Many critical, every-day-use bicycle-specialty measuring tools have markings or readouts that are only detectable by sight.
  • To align handlebars, seats, and controls on the handlebars to each other, you will need to be able to detect whether they are parallel to each other or parallel to some other item when one item is 30–60cm away from you and the other item is about 45–60cm further away.

Possible accommodations and/or limitations:

  • Difficulty seeing small detail may possibly be compensated for by using a personnel magnification device, and/or prescription glasses.
  • There are no specialty measuring tools for the visually impaired that can work as substitutes for most of the specialty bicycle measuring tools.
  • For aligning close and near objects to each other (such as control levers to each other, handlebars to the front axle, and saddles to the centerline of the bike), no compensating method is available.
  • Students and professional mechanics alike must provide any personal magnification devices themselves.

TACTILE SENSITIVITY
Proficiency level: You must have the ability to feel and detect objects, and features on objects, measuring as small as 3mm. You must have the sensitivity to feel resistance force as small as 5 grams, about the size of a 10 cent piece.
Examples: Mechanics must pick up and manipulate bearings and screws as small as the dimensions listed above. When engaging small threaded parts together, encountering resistance measuring as little as 5 grams could indicate the parts are not engaging correctly, and the inability to detect this could lead to destroying the parts.
Possible accommodations and/or limitations: No way exists to compensate for lack of tactile sensitivity at this level.

DEXTERITY AND HAND/EYE COORDINATION
Proficiency level: You must be able to hold an object about 125% to 150 % as long as a toothpick and with a diameter half that of a toothpick and be able to align and install it through a hole of similar diameter located at the bottom of a narrow, dark cavity about as deep as the length of a toothpick.
Examples: Mechanics routinely perform a task like this when installing a derailleur cable into a shifter.
Possible accommodations: None.

LIFTING STRENGTH
Proficiency level: You must be able to lift a weight of 18 kilograms from 1 metre off the floor to 1.65 metres with one hand. Using two hands, you must be able to lift a 22.7 kilogram box measuring 1.6x1x0.25 metres off of and onto a shelf approximately 1–1.25 metres above the floor.
Examples:

  • The first requirement corresponds to lifting a bicycle from the floor and up into a bicycle work stand. One hand is required for the lift, since the other hand is used to operate the clamp that secures the bicycle into the work stand.
  • The second requirement corresponds to removing and putting away bikes in shipping boxes from and onto storage shelving. Sometimes the storage shelf will be twice the specified height, but workplace safety considerations typically would make placing and removing a bike box from such a high shelf a two-person operation.

Possible accommodations and/or limitations: For both lifting situations, it may be possible to get assistance from another individual in the workplace. Students will have assistance from their tutor or other students if required. When in the workplace, it is possible to buy bicycle work stands that do not require lifting the weight of the bicycle to get it to its proper elevation.

ARM STRENGTH
Proficiency level: You must be able to apply up to 20 kilograms of force with each hand to two levers working in opposition to each other for brief periods.
Examples:

  • Common bicycle parts such as crank bearings (bottom brackets) and crank-arm retaining bolts require this much force be used to secure or remove them.
  • In the case of the crank-arm retaining bolts, the bolt is being secured to another part that is free to rotate, so equal and opposite forces must be simultaneously applied with both hands.

Possible accommodations and/or limitations:

  • While with some general mechanic’s tools it might be possible to use a force multiplier known as a “cheater bar”, the specialty bicycle tools and torque wrenches used to apply these forces as a bicycle mechanic are not compatible with a force multiplier.
  • These high-force activities occur far too frequently in a professional shop to routinely expect someone else to perform the activity should you not be strong enough to do it yourself.

HAND AND FINGER STRENGTH
Proficiency level: You must have the ability to apply about 11.5–13.5 kilograms of force with each thumb for brief periods.
Examples: While many tyres are removed and installed from rims using tools called tyre levers, there are tyre types with which tyre levers cannot be used. For these, you must have the strength indicated above in both hands to be able to install such a tyre.
Possible accommodations and limitations: In a workshop, although it would not be rare, it would not happen so often that it would be impractical to rely on a stronger coworker.

STAMINA
Proficiency level: A typical bicycle mechanic is engaged in moderate physical activity including standing, lifting, and applying force to tools a high percentage of the time for periods up to 8 or 10 hours per day.
Possible accommodations and limitations:

  • It is possible to sit on a stool while performing some of a mechanic’s activities. However, the lack of mobility that comes with sitting on a stool will make many of the activities take longer to perform than if standing, so it is not uncommon for employers to expect mechanics to be standing a high percentage of the time.
  • In class, there will be days when you stand up for six, but other days you may sit for six hours. While stools are provided for occasional use, the nature of the workshop environment is such that within the space normally allotted for one mechanic to work there may be two students and one instructor trying to occupy this space. As a result of these space restraints, there are some periods in the workshop activity that it will not be possible to rely on a stool.

MECHANICAL APTITUDE
Proficiency level: Mechanical aptitude, while challenging to completely define, certainly includes at least a combination of: the ability to understand spatial relationships, the ability to keep track of physical motion regardless of how your orientation to the moving item changes, attention to detail, and having good hand/eye coordination. In general, moderate to high mechanical aptitude is required to excel as a bicycle mechanic. Ultimately, in the professional environment it is inevitable that lack of mechanical aptitude will show up as some limitation of performance as a mechanic (either as lower quality results or as lower rate of productivity) regardless of the extent and quality of training received.
Examples: While many potential students have never done anything officially “mechanical” to provide an indication of his or her mechanical aptitude, life presents most of us with many ways to know if we are “handy” at things, whether it is how well we are able to deal with those products that come with “some assembly required”, whether it was difficult to learn to operate a manual gear shift and clutch on a car, whether you struggle or not with lids and caps, and even whether you have found it challenging to coordinate what you need to do with your hands and your feet to master shifting a derailleur-equipped bicycle. Even things such as your ability (or lack of ability) to arrange items of varying shapes and sizes to fit well into a container can indicate to some degree whether you do or don’t have mechanical ability.
Possible accommodations and limitations: In the classroom at Cornerstone, we work with students of all levels of mechanical aptitude. When lack of mechanical aptitude ends up creating challenges, the tutor will try to work on finding alternative ways for the student to understand things, and sometimes advise the student on what goals might be realistic or not realistic. While low mechanical aptitude in itself does not make it unlikely to succeed at the training program, it may require of an employer a great deal of patience for you to reach an adequate level of performance after your graduation.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL/ABILITY TO STICK TO WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS
Proficiency level: Successful mechanics have strong attention to detail and the ability to stick to written instructions.
Examples:

  • The nature of machinery is that many different parts and separate functions work together to achieve a singular result. Due to the interrelatedness of each of these many items, failure to properly account for even one item can compromise the end result, no matter how well the remaining items were accounted for. For this reason, a bicycle mechanic needs to have the ability to pay attention to and fully keep track of many details to complete a single activity.
  • Individual mechanical tasks may have nearly 100 steps involved in their completion, and there are literally hundreds of different mechanical tasks a mechanic performs. Since all of these could never be fully memorised, good mechanics rely on written procedures for their entire career, so they must be comfortable relying closely on written steps instead of relying on memorisation.

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0508 BIKE MECHANIC (0508 245 363)