Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can our organisation offer Velotech Training?
A: Possibly ... we have a number of sites around the UK where Velotech accreditations are offered up to the Gold level. These are independent centres which we audit annually, whose trainers have worked and continue to develop their skills with us directly at Velotech. The centres all have to adhere to specific standards with regard to tooling, space anf general facility to run training courses for all levels of ability up to the Gold level (or a less advanced level if that is what is required).
Please contact us directly if you feel that your organisation might wish to offer the accreditation.
Q: Do you have government-funded training?
A: No, although organisations such as Business Link may be able to source funds for training at a local level for you. Some charities may also be able to source charitable funding for you.
What we have found in the past, is that for the cycle industry, because we are able to follow a process of assessment first, then training areas of weakness and then re-assessing, mechanics or staff members are generally taken away from their role in store for far less time than is the case with some other training providers. This, in addition to the fact that our courses don't include the elements of numeracy, literacy and IT competence that often slow down final award of a qualification on other schemes also leads to a quicker acheivement of the award and less time away from the store.
When lower accommodation costs as well as lost revenue are factored in, we find that the real cost to retailers of our training is frequently less than that of the "free" options.
Q: Is your training recognised within the industry?
A: Yes. We are endorsed by the Bicycle Association, which is the representative organisation for wholesalers and importers, as well as by many individual manufacturers such as Bianchi, Campagnolo, Sturmey Archer, Sun Race, Sapim and IZIP. We run specialist training for many of these companies.
As noted above and on a wider scale than within the "pure" industry, we are also recognised and widely used by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), Transport for London (TfL), Sustrans for both their Bike-It and Active Travel initiatives, London Ambulance Service, City of London Police and the Prison Service who at selected prisons use the basic accreditations in part of their programmes for the rehabilitation of inmates.
We have also recently been asked to work with the European Two Wheel Retailers Association (ETRA) and several other partners in rolling out a Europe-wide standard for training and accreditation in the cycle trade.
Q: How do the various levels of Velotech accrediation compare to CyTech?
Comparisons are invidious, but broadly, as we discuss below, all of the current industry training schemes are aimed at conferring basically the same skills. We have recently "re-sliced" the skill set and changed a couple of the requirements at the Platinum end of the scale.
The Bronze accreditation gives basically the same skill set as CyTech 1, certainly by the time a candidate has progressed to Silver, Cytech 1-level skills will be well entrenched.
The Platinum accreditation, into which we have now rolled the Sapim-supported Basic Wheelbuilding Certificate (still available as a stand-alone certificate), now has the same skill set as CyTech 2.
Part of the reason for the re-slicing of the course content at each level, was to allow graduates at each level to be able to say that in the context of the whole bicycle, they are comfortable completing specific operations, so we would characterise Bronze as a "set-up and assessment" level accreditation, Silver as "maintenance" and Gold as "Basic repair".
Platinum, in common with CyTech 2, requires a deeper and more thorough understanding of the bicycle and it was felt important to position Velotech Platinum at a directly comparable level to CyTech 2 to reduce confusion as to candidate abilities at respective levels of acheivement.
Platinum Plus is a "Level 3" course in that it requires a deep understanding of a number of manufacturer-specific technologies and the way that they inform the design and assembly of the complete bicycle. For this reason, we believe that once a candidate has completed the modules to complete Platinum Plus, there is a direct comparability their skill set and that of a technician who has successfully completed CyTech 3.
Q: Are there real differences in the way that you train compared to others?
A: All of the mechanics training courses, ours, Cycle Systems, CyTech, etc. - teach fundamentally the same skills, but our approaches do vary. At Velotech, we get you hands-on as early in the process as we can, and try to integrate all of the theory into practical demonstrations.
Q: Is there anything I should do before I come on a Velotech course?
At Velotech, the majority of our trainers are to some extent practical mechanics as well. This differentiates us from many providers whose trainers are often purely trainers and are no longer in real day-to-day contact with all types of bicycle.
In general, we try and cement the "how" to the "why", so that if you are faced with something that you have never seen before, you can relate it to something that you have seen on a bicycle and have an understanding of "where to start" ... of course that should be with the manufacturer's notes, but often these are not as clear as they might be, or have been translated from a second language, or both ... so a little "priming" is often useful.
Unlike others, we DO NOT TRAIN ON A SPECIFIC BRAND until we ourselves have had training from the manufacturer or their appointed service centre and have been signed off by them. We absolutely do not simply take an instruction manual, come up with our own interpretation of it, and then regurgitate that. Let's face it, after a very basic training course, any good mechanic could do that ...
We assess continuously as you work with us, so whilst there are tests, much of the time, you won't know that you are being tested - this cuts down on the anxiety that it is otherwise aesy to develop.
A: Currently, no. We are looking at preparing a sort of "Cycle Mechanics 101" to go onto the web site so that you'll be familiar with some broad basics, like the names of parts of the bicycle, but currently we'd just advise you to read around the subject a bit, so that you'll have some background feeling for what might be involved.
Q: What is included in my course fee?
A: All of your tuition and assessment, your certification and ongoing email / text / phone support after the course - you can always email or phone for advice if you get stuck! It has to be said email or text is a better bet as if we are teaching, the phones go straight to voicemail!
Q: Can you help with accommodation?
All of the consumables we use on the courses are included, and we have a range of bikes purely for training purposes on hand to show typical examples of all of the systems that we discuss, and in general we have "live" repairs to help with that too.
A: In general, yes ... just let us know a couple of weeks in advance of the course and we should be able to recommend accommodation at the very least - in some cases we'll be able to book it for you, too.
Q: I don't live anywhere near Stoke-on-Trent - can you come to me to deliver training?
A: Yes, we can, although the costs make this prohibitive in many cases, only really balancing out if we can assemble 3 people in the same place at the same time.
We also have a limited number of partners that deliver training and certification up to Gold level in other parts of the country, so if you think that one of those partners may be able to meet your needs, please contact us for more information.