Last week bikebiz.co.uk reported that the OTC had sent its contact list an email saying Is foot and mouth getting you down yet? Try OTC's refreshing alternatives, including: a.. Get your bike sorted, and get rid of those hefty bike shop bills on a maintenance day...
We suggested that this might not be the most sensitive terminolgy to use in the middle of the FMD crisis when many shops especially in blighted areas are only ticking over on maintenence business.
Dan Cook of the OTC sends this is response:
It is important to us that we do meet the needs of mountain bikers, and this is one area that they have consistently identified as a requirement. In answer to your questions:
1.. As the UK's main provider of National Mountain Bike Leader Awards, we have a duty as part of these qualifications to train and assess candidate leaders for their maintenance capability. It is obviously not appropriate for a leader to take a groups out on unsafe bikes, or to not be able to deal with minor or even moderate technical maintenance on the trailside. Maintenance forms therefore part of a Leader training and assessment course.
2.. Many of the candidates we have on maintenance courses are those potential leaders who need to spend more time under guidance in order to achieve the requirements of the leader awards. This shows that both the requirements and the assessment procedure for the awards are rigorous.
3.. Leaders and candidates on maintenance courses are provided with the appropriate tools for the jobs and tasks undertaken on these courses. They are shown how to use them properly and guided when using them. Leaders are expected to have appropriate general and specialist tools for trailside and ride preparatory maintenance, which they would normally purchase from a bike shop.
4.. Often those on maintenance courses are those people who try to maintain their own bike rather than using a bike shop, and as such these people leave the course able to keep their bikes in a much safer condition. Further, these courses don't actually take away any trade from bike shops as they weren't getting it in the first place, but often provide them with more in terms of provision of spares and tools.
5.. We do not provide courses for people who wish to set themselves up as bike mechanics. The courses are aimed specifically at meeting the needs and capabilities of the course candidates. Therefore there are no expected outcomes from the course. We start from a point which the candidate is currently at (whether it be removing a wheel, or stripping a hub) and take it from there, at a rate the candidate can learn effectively, to whatever level the candidate reaches at the end of the day. This means that we do not provide certification in competence (unless we are assessing a leader in a leader role, in addition to running a maintenance course), as the end point can vary so much.
6.. However, there are many areas of bike maintenance that we do not cover: Those requiring a deal of specific tools, mechanical or equipment specific knowledge for example stripping of suspension forks, wheel building. To your advantage, we do provide advice on how something should work effectively, so that people know when it is not. In these circumstances, we advise candidates to take it to an appropriate bike shop.
7.. If you have concerns about the provision of cycle maintenance courses, consider the City and Guilds course in cycle maintenance or the Cytech qualifications. Are these effective? If you think that they are, then does that mean that other organisations cannot provide the same principles in different circumstances and to a different depth of knowledge. If you think that they are not, then what evidence is there to suggest that any bike mechanic is competent at their job?
8.. Concerns about running cycle maintenance courses need to be directed to all providers, not just OTC. There are several colleges providing these courses. Indeed there are several bike shops! Even more oddly, the bike biz website has a maintenance course provider advertising banner at its head!
9.. If the number of people attending mountain bike maintenance courses from OTC raises concerns about taking business away from the bike trade, indeed even putting shops out of business, I have this to reassure you: There is likely to be provision for around 40 places on maintenance courses during the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK. If the bike trade is dependant on this number of people, then it must be in a sorry state already.