TRAINING: Under new stewardship, The Bike Inn is evolving

Long-established The Bike Inn is under new stewardship in a modern unit in the Lake District, from where it is offering IMI accredited cycle mechanics training…

The Bike Inn cycle mechanics training centre relocated from Spalding to Cumbria in March 2018.

The original C&G teaching was introduced by Alf and Teresa Webb in the early 1990s and latterly taught from their home in Spalding. Upon their decision to retire, the natural candidate to take the teaching to the next level was Jon Colborne, the tutor who had delivered courses with Alf and Teresa for over 10  years.

Under new stewardship, the Bike Inn has developed its offering. Despite being well received, it was felt that the C&G model had limitations, only allowing qualification at Level 2. With the development of more complex bikes, electronic gear systems, internal hubs, advanced suspension, hydraulic brakes, electric bikes/conversion and legislation it was felt vital that the course evolved to allow accredited certification at level 3, recognised internationally.

It was therefore decided to move over to deliver the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) accredited training and become the first IMI cycle mechanics training centre in the North of England. The move to IMI has allowed training to be modularised, allowing much more flexibility for students. It makes the course more attractive to bike shops, enabling them to release staff to attend one week at a time and complete the three weeks over a two year period, gaining both Level 2 and Level 3 accreditation.

Alternatively, students can still choose to complete Level 2 accreditation over two weeks and then return to complete Level 3 at a later date. For students who have industry experience or are competent home mechanics there is the option to attend for a day’s assessment and, if competent, negating the need to complete week one. Options also exist for students working in the industry to be assessed in the workplace.

In keeping with the Webbs’ previous thriving model, student numbers are kept to a maximum of eight meaning a one tutor to four student ratio. Consequently, the teaching is personalised and more importantly it allows close supervision during the practical sessions.

Extra options of wheel building courses, hydraulics, bespoke teaching packages for individuals or small groups are also offered. Assistance with setting up in business is key to student success after completion of the course alongside ongoing support from each other in the form of a ‘Bike Inn Graduates’ group.

Jon Colborne’s links with events companies enables students access to mechanic support after qualification. His in-house cycle repair business Helmwind Cycles also means students have the option to come for a day of hands on experience after qualifying.

The new unit is set in the heart of Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park, with excellent rail networks from London to Scotland. The training unit has been furbished to ensure the courses can be delivered in a modern unit, meeting today’s teaching expectations. It is serviced by a huge range of accommodation options locally offering budget options.

The training centre is also a family business with a longstanding connection to cycling. Jon’s daughter Henrietta is a professional competitive cyclist now entering her third race season abroad. Being exposed all her life to bikes she completed Level 2 certification and assists at the unit with teaching and practical sessions and also takes students out for evening rides. David Morton tutors alongside Colborne, with a background of teaching and assessing within the civil service and audit commission, experience in cycling that includes previous cycle racing, British Cycling commissaire work, coaching and bike fit, plus he runs a race league in the North East.