BikeBiz speaks to Sean Lally, Bike Doctor director about opening the Academy, paying a fair wage and Boris Johnson…


How long has it taken to prepare and open the Bike Doctor Academy?
At the 2008 Cycle Show we first showed the trade our repair business. We exhibited with dual purpose though. I did the rounds at the show promoting a business venture – the plan for a training academy. The response from the trade was overwhelming, with many stating that they thought it’s just what the industry needed.

From there, things began to take off with Howard Barrett coming on board as our strategy director. We’re now in a position where we have a number of fantastic sponsors, all of which have provided us with backing in the form of tools, support and all things bike.

Boris Johnson opened the academy on July 2nd and immediately Twittered: "Have just officially opened the new Bike Doctor Academy in Angel. Excellent new business. Super chaps!"

How can students sign up?
It’s as simple as getting in touch via email or phone. We’re inviting the trade to enrol their mechanics, but we also teach youths seeking placement in the trade plus disadvantaged youths looking for something more worthwhile than getting into trouble at an early age. Occasionally we get referrals through the London Cycling Campaign too.

Our aim is to train those who enrol to above the current industry standards and students can leave with City and Guild qualifications equivalent to an NVQ Level Two.

Tell us about your ambitions going forward?
We have strong goals going into 2010. For starters, we’ll introduce a Wheelbuilding course, with advanced Level Three Advanced course also due. Then there’s the planned introduction of an electric bike specific module, something the manufacturers are increasingly interested in as they begin to invest in e-bike production.

Tell us about your ethical policy and why it’s important?
We’re quite militant against car use. Last year we were the only ones to get absolutely everything to the Cycle Show by bike. Literally, we moved our entire stand on cargo bikes. We’re strong believers in changing the way people think about transport.

Even our strategy director Howard Barret sold his BMW to align himself with our stance. It was a proud moment.

We also pay staff a fair wage. It’s a shame that mechanics typically get poorly paid. We’d like to change this.

What equipment and components do students have access to?

Tool wise, Pedros has been incredibly generous and has decked our place out with everything a mechanic could dream of. Cyclo Tools were also extremely helpful in providing the more technical tools, meaning we really can teach in-depth topics.

Meanwhile, we had to have the best of the best elsewhere, so there are a few Park Tool bits and bobs around such as the brand’s popular truing jig.

We’ve been blessed with a number of sponsorship arrangements from the likes of Fisher Outdoor, Brompton, Specialized, Trek and many others. I have to give a special ‘thank you’ to Hope who really thought outside the box and have provided a number of cut-out shells of their components, which are great for demonstrating how to solve technical problems.

TEL: 07726 92100

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