Bikeability and handlebars

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robgul
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Bikeability and handlebars

Postby robgul » 28 Aug 2018, 9:35pm

A customer who hasn't ridden bike for about 30 years has just started a bikeability course (one to one, sefl-funded) - a good idea.

Now, what shocked me was that the instructor told her to loosen the stem on her bike (flat-bar hybrid with a-head system and disc brakes) in order to get the bike in her car - rather than remove the front wheel which is what I showed her (supplying a plastic insert for the disc brake to stop the caliper closing)

This is a petite lady with, at present, no mechanical knowledge or experience of using tools.

Tightening the stem bolts should be done with a torque wrench to the recommended settings . . . and the act of loosening the stem bolts and frequent turning of the stem could impact on the steerer pre-load.

Seems a very dubious thing for the instructor to suggest?

Rob

** with a bit of juggling and moving the passenger seat forward she can get the bike in the car without removing the wheel or loosening the stem.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pjclinch » 29 Aug 2018, 8:30am

robgul wrote:<snip>

Seems a very dubious thing for the instructor to suggest?


I would agree that's not really the greatest idea I've ever heard, but the problem lies with the individual instructor and not with National Standards Cycle Training. While an NS instructor is typically assumed to have some degree of Clue regarding basic bike mechanics it's only really a Sure Thing at the level of being able to look over a bike and diagnose it safe or not to ride.

Whether one can tweak a bike is typically down to individual cases. LAs I've worked for stipulate it's okay to make minor adjustments to e.g. tyre pressure, saddle height, brake clearances via barrel adjusters and the like, but it's their call. If I was flying as a private instructor I'd want to read the Fine Print on my insurance and double-check with my accrediting authority (Cycling Scotland in my case) to check what I could do, but then we're still beyond the realms of advice like this.

To re-iterate, NS instructors do not take a formal mechanic course as part of the qualification.

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robgul
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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby robgul » 29 Aug 2018, 6:09pm

My comment wasn't a criticism of the Bikeability scheme - that's the old Cycling Proficiency scheme to give it a more meaningful name.

It was really a comment about what I consider to be very poor advice given to to non-mechanical cycling novice. In the instance I referred to the lady had to borrow an Allen key and then phoned me to ask how tight it should be . . . difficult one on the phone!

Rob

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pjclinch » 30 Aug 2018, 7:43am

robgul wrote:My comment wasn't a criticism of the Bikeability scheme - that's the old Cycling Proficiency scheme to give it a more meaningful name.


To clarify, Bikeability is set of delivery schemes for the National Standards for Cycle Training and (like the standards) is split in to 3 levels, 1 covers basic bike handling in a bit more depth than CP did, 2 is the mainstay of CP but is taught out on real roads and 3 goes well beyond C, not only on real roads but sharing with serious traffic volumes.
I'm not trying to be defensive of the scheme, and here I think you're exposing a hole in it that's not really addressed by its present structure. What I'm trying to do is point out that this sort of advice isn't covered by the scheme.

robgul wrote:It was really a comment about what I consider to be very poor advice given to to non-mechanical cycling novice. In the instance I referred to the lady had to borrow an Allen key and then phoned me to ask how tight it should be . . . difficult one on the phone!


I agree it's not the best advice, but given this is the National Standard Cycle Training forum and the thread title is "Bikeability and handlebars" I feel it's important to disassociate the two. I'd be inclined to track down the instructor and share your concerns directly because that's probably the only way anything's going to happen in the context of private lessons to individuals. The instructor's advice here is nothing to do with the NS and so not obviously accountable to NS channels for giving it. Could well be the instructor will learn something useful, and be grateful for it.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby robgul » 30 Aug 2018, 7:58am

To me someone who is just a Bikeability instructor should not be imparting mechanical advice beyond the "pre-ride safety checks" It's not their remit. That's the issue here.

The suggestion is that I'm decrying Bikeability - far from it - I still have my Cycling Proficiency* badge (and a Cytech accreditation)

Rob

* from about 1959

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pjclinch » 30 Aug 2018, 8:58am

robgul wrote:To me someone who is just a Bikeability instructor should not be imparting mechanical advice beyond the "pre-ride safety checks" It's not their remit. That's the issue here.


We're in Furious Agreement!

The thing is, what can we do about this? And having a moan here, while justified, probably doesn't help anyone. Depending on the particular structure of local cycle training and whom folk are working for and the path by which they received their accreditation you might get somewhere taking it up higher in the chain... but I suspect you may well not.
So I'm suggesting tracking down the instructor and having a natter about it. It's quite possible they don't even realise their client was left stranded and a bit confused with a non-functional mount. It's quite possible they're used to getting more-or-less correct torque on their stems and have never given it a second thought that others may not.

robgul wrote:The suggestion is that I'm decrying Bikeability ...


That was never my intention, I just want to put across that the "advice" proffered was not something to do with NS training, or really part of the remit of an NS instructor. As above, we are in Furious Agreement. There's a huge amount of advice given between cyclists as a matter of course, and not all of it is good, whoever they are (c.f. the reigning Tour de France champion in the press lately...). This is one of those, I suspect.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby Si » 30 Aug 2018, 7:52pm

TBF, if you teach Bikeability Plus: 'fix' then you ought to know this stuff. However, BP doesn't come under the National Standard as such.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby robgul » 30 Aug 2018, 8:04pm

I guess what my original post was saying that it was poor advice ... BUT given that the lady in question was buying a service from the accredited Bikeability man in his official capacity she had good reason to trust what he was saying.

The upside, handlebars apart, is that she's very pleased with the tuition in general. Her goal is to ride JOGLE net June.

Rob

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pjclinch » 31 Aug 2018, 9:21am

robgul wrote:I guess what my original post was saying that it was poor advice ... BUT given that the lady in question was buying a service from the accredited Bikeability man in his official capacity she had good reason to trust what he was saying.


Absolutely. However, the implied levels of service (including any advice from someone who knows "all about cycling") isn't what the Fine Print actually guarantees (the contents of the NS instructor syllabus, which doesn't include torque adjustment of headsets). And I think a private word is the best way forwards here, as if you go down the route of making absolutely sure nobody strays a millimeter outside their official remit you'd lose far more than you'd gain.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby Bez » 31 Aug 2018, 2:14pm

robgul wrote:Now, what shocked me was that the instructor told her to loosen the stem on her bike (flat-bar hybrid with a-head system and disc brakes) in order to get the bike in her car - rather than remove the front wheel which is what I showed her (supplying a plastic insert for the disc brake to stop the caliper closing) This is a petite lady with, at present, no mechanical knowledge or experience of using tools.


But then, assuming the front wheel is QR rather than bolt-thru, removing and refitting the front wheel also has a risk for the mechanically disinclined, especially where a disc brake is used.

To be honest, I would be inclined to think that people would instinctively be more able to tighten stem bolts to roughly the right torque (given that the size of an allen key naturally dictates a certain range, and that it's fairly easy to check that a stem isn't too loose) than they would be able to get a wheel QR done up correctly. And unless the components are extremely lightweight, I'd reckon there's a fair range of tolerance in most steerer clamp bolts, given the normal service life of a stem.

My wife is also a petite lady, and she struggles with QRs. I absolutely wouldn't want to rely on applying a disc brake with a QR wheel that she'd fitted.

So, while I wouldn't advise either approach without physically rehearsing the refitting process with someone (which clearly didn't happen here), on the face of it I think I might side with the instructor on this one.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby Vorpal » 31 Aug 2018, 2:38pm

Bikeability Instructors don't have any mechanical qualifications beyond what they are taught to teach as part of national standards (M check).

They come from all walks of life, and not all are keen cyclists, nor knowledgeable about bikes.

I worked with a few who had been Cycling Proficiency instructors before they became Bikeability instructors. One of them hadn't ridden a bike most of her adult life and said that she was quite surprised when she was told to take a bike to the National Standards Cycling Instructor course!

I was told by my boss not to repair any bikes, or give mechanical advice because they weren't insured for that. I didn't want to turn kids away, if it was quick and easy to fix something that made the difference between being able to participate and not, so I did so anyway, on the basis that I had my own insurance. The teaching partner I worked with the most did as well, and was furthermore a Cytech certified bike mechanic.

However, it wouldn't surprise me if other teaching organisations either had no such guidance, or also had instructors who ignored them.
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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby Si » 1 Sep 2018, 8:29am

An instructor should know how to remove and replace a front qr wheel.....being able to lock up a bike properly is one of the l3 options and if youve qr wheels and only one lock...,.

On the other hand wouod you expect your driving instructor to be able to service your car?

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pjclinch » 1 Sep 2018, 9:03am

Si wrote:An instructor should know how to remove and replace a front qr wheel.....being able to lock up a bike properly is one of the l3 options and if youve qr wheels and only one lock...,.

On the other hand wouod you expect your driving instructor to be able to service your car?


While of course all the NS Outcomes are currently under review (and when they come out the resources will very probably need a good fettle), my experience of the Scottish materials and courses is they haven't really caught up with the changes to the bike market over the last decade. You could be forgiven for thinking that gear options are single-speed or derailleur and everyone has rim brakes.

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby pedals2slowly » 4 Sep 2018, 9:38pm

Sadly there are a high proportion of Bikeability Instructors who ONLY know about teaching Bikeability.
They are usually well intentioned but often lack the basic 'cyclist' skills and knowledge that make for better instructors.
Children ask lots of non-Bikeability cycling questions and I've heard some ridiculous answers.
The quality of instruction varies from 'ex-Sargent major' barking commands and making it a miserable experience for children, to the super softy 'do-gooder' who has no skills in managing excitable children and has rings run around them. to the instructor who just doesn't understand what praise or positive reinforcement is.
IMHO the review of National Standards would be better focused on looking at training instructors to teach/manage/coach/train rather than tinker with the technicality of what to teach.

Having said that you have got to bear in mind that most Bikeability Instructors are basically volunteers - zero hours contracts and minimum wages don't make for recruiting quality people!!

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Re: Bikeability and handlebars

Postby Vorpal » 5 Sep 2018, 7:22am

pedals2slowly wrote:Having said that you have got to bear in mind that most Bikeability Instructors are basically volunteers - zero hours contracts and minimum wages don't make for recruiting quality people!!

That's the crux of the matter.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom