Both are Aylesbury-based. Both are linked in to the ACT. One pays IBDs for each mechanic trained; the other offers to-be-paid-for courses but is part-owned by the ACT.

Madison throws weight behind two mechanics training companies

Here’s a statement from Madison:

Madison is pleased to announce their continued investment in training for bicycle mechanics. Since the introduction of Cytech and then NVQ level 2, Madison has been at the forefront of raising the standard of mechanical ability across the industry.

The Shimano Service Centre programme, re-launched in 2002, ensures an industry wide quality mark by requiring each Shimano Service Centre to employ a mechanic who is either qualified or in training to the Government’s NVQ Level 2 standard or to Cyctech level intermedite or 2. All retailers on the Shimano Service Centre programme will now be able to choose between two training providers; the Aylesbury Training Group or Promech.

Madison is thrilled to take this opportunity to express their ongoing support for both the Aylesbury Training Group (ATG) and the additional opportunities for training now available through Promech.

For background, here’s the story on Promech and ATG from the June issue of BicycleBusiness:

ATG and Promech duke it out for mechanic training supremacy

Alan Finch has left Aylesbury Training Group (ATG) and, with others, has formed Promech UK Ltd. The ACT has taken a part-stake in Promech, which will offer CyTech training courses, incorporating the established NVQ qualification.

ATG is to continue to offer NVQ and Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA) cycle mechanic’s training and will pay IBDs £625 for each mechanic, under 25, that finishes the new Cycle NVQ3 five-day course.

IBD Andy Shrimpton of Cycle Heaven in York, and ACT technical director, feels the Promech offering is the best on offer because it is industry-specific, involving staff in no ‘key skills’ training or tests.

"It’s all about cycle mechanics. NVQs and FMAs involve staff in training and testing that isn’t about cycle mechanics at all but says a lot to do about general failures in the educational system."

Key Skills

ATG believes its Foundation Modern Apprenticeship training (FMA) and NVQ schemes provides core skills in areas such as IT and numeracy.

Halina Simpson, ATG’s technical training and operations manager, said:

"From the outset we adopted a policy of raising no charges for the apprenticeship. It is a comprehensive three-stage development programme: First, it enables the mechanic to acquire much improved practical skills. Second, it provides a wider understanding of cycle mechanics – the sort of understanding that turns a spare parts fitter into a problem-solving technician. Third, the apprenticeship raises their communication, IT and numeracy skills, these are called Key Skills and they are the skills required by all effective mechanics."

Following the departure of Alan Finch, who created the ATG cycle mechanics courses, ATG has developed the non-CyTech Cycle NVQ 3.

ATG pays the employer £125 for each day that the mechanic is not at work because he or she is attending ATG’s training programme. Most mechanics will require approximately five days training, said ATG. That means ATG will pay the employer up to £625 for each cycle mechanic under 25 years old who achieves the NVQ 3 qualification.

"We do not charge the employer; we pay them to support their staff to improve their skills. This is not only an industry first but, very probably a UK first, and it is made possible because ATG recognises the special requirements of the cycle industry," said Alex Gates of ATG.

Adam Brown, a mechanic at Saddle Safari in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, who has completed the NVQ 2 with ATG, said:

"The additional key skills and materials parts of the Foundation Modern Apprenticeship gives me other skills very beneficial to customer care and service, and hence the business."

ATG trainers

ATG may have lost Finch and other key staff but no one is indispensable, believes ATG’s Simpson.

"We have three experienced trainers in the team: Steve Goodwin, Jeff Beach and Ian Hughes. Steve developed the Cycle NVQ 3 which has involved working closely with Madison and Windwave to develop Rock Shox and Marzocchi suspension courses as well as Shimano and Formula hydraulic disc brake courses. Jeff is a qualified Reynolds 753 Master Frame builder and has built wheels for Commonwealth Games and World Championship riders. Ian has 20 years teaching experience in cycles. He has also been a team mechanic for British Cycling at the Olympics and World Championship level."

ATG’s Cycle NVQ3 course includes manufacturer specific courses covering suspension systems, integrated control systems, hydraulic brakes, electrically powered bikes, advanced wheel building, internal hub gears, and custom bike building.

Promech preferred

Promech’s directors are Alan Finch, Peter Cowling, Russell Cashmore and Graeme Freestone King.

Finch has worked in the cycle training business for seven years and, according to Walmsley, has ACT’s "full support to act in the best interests of the industry. He is the leading authority for the industry on all matters regarding training and qualification."

Peter Cowling was Finch’s assistant at ATG and sits on the British Standards board for cycles. Russell Cashmore had worked for ATG for two years as a CyTech instructor and assessor.

The only director not to have come from ATG is Graeme Freestone King, an IT consultant with 20 years experience in the cycle industry in a number of roles, including being a director of Multimedia IT Ltd, owner of, a portal site. Multimedia IT Ltd is the company responsible for designing and maintaining the ACT’s website.

Promech’s CyTech courses will be industry-specific. Course costs have yet to be published but, said Mark Walmsley, the ACT’s marketing consultant, "the net costs to a retailer of these courses have been reduced due to their technical specific nature. CyTech certification can be more readily achieved without the extensive time investment or timescale participation stipulations dictated via government-funded courses."

Stars in their eyes

ACT also plan to launch a CyTech retailer benchmark programme in the autumn, with Promech to launch retail training courses later in the year.

Promech will have three levels of CyTech courses. CyTech 1 covers basic competancies, health and safety, BS6102, frame preparation and other PDI issues. This course will be marketed to corporates as well as IBDs, with on-site training being available en masse.

The other two courses are more suited to IBDs. CyTech 2 includes training to build competancies required in generic full cycle services, and basic wheel building. CyTech 3 teaches specialist bike services, including advanced wheel building.

The ACT’s star rating system for IBDs will be based on, among other things, the number of CyTech accredited staff employed by each IBD.

Walmsley, the former MD of Madison, believes the ACT’s part-ownership of Promech, and the CyTech star rating system, to be "the most significant IBD initiative in the past 15 years! And I’m saying that from me, not just as the consultant to ACT."

Walmsley wants to keep open the channels of communication to ATG but he wants Promech to be seen as the preferred choice:

"It must be made clear that [ATG’s Cycle NVQ] is not currently a CyTech certified scheme and hence will not count towards the CyTech star rating scheme endorsed by many industry leaders at the recent ACT dealer development group."

State of the art

Halina Simpson also wants to keep talking to the ACT, and believes there’s room for two training organisations, but does not want to be marginalised:

"[It’s open to debate] whether the Promech courses are more suited to IBDs because the training that is being delivered will be very similar, if not the same as, that currently delivered by ATG. However, ATG has the benefit of government funding that enables us to be able to deliver the training without charge.

"ATG training is technically specific and the certification timescale depends on the initial assessment of the candidate’s competence. For the CyTech NVQ 2, up to 20 days of training can be accessed free of charge. The key skills, which are generic, are part of the FMA not the NVQ. However, ATG has integrated these into the NVQ so that they are achieved within an industry specific competence based programme. The FMA only applies to the NVQ 2 and then only to those under 25.

"NVQs do not involve staff in training and tests. We believe that through ATG the cycle industry is able to access first-class, technically-specific training in a state of the art facility."

CyTech is the goal

Promech’s Freestone-King believes NVQ and FMA qualifications are nowhere near as important to IBDs as the CyTech certificate.

"Promech will be offering a range of training options which are flexible and focussed completely on cycle industry needs, including the NVQ and FMA routes where desirable, but primarily [is offering] a better standard and more tailored technical provision, the real cost of which would be less than under the FMA route to IBDs due much less training time required on non-related subjects."

The Promech-assessed CyTech certification necessary for an IBD’s star-rating will be promoted to consumers, said Walmsley.

"ACT recognise that the star rating system would require consumer promotion to make it truly attractive to IBDs shy to invest in their businesses to date and ACT would be looking for supplier support in this area."

Walmsley also wants the Bicycle Association to consider funding the star-rating system with some of the cash raised from the bicycle levy.

Other income could come from the licensing of the CyTech name and logo for suppliers to use on products, said Walmsley.

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