“A LOT of people avoid doing work on their bikes because they’re scared of breaking them,” announced motorcycle racer Tony Davis to the assembled crowd.
A low murmur and nodding heads reaffirmed that this was very much the case for those in attendance.
But unlike ‘a lot of people’, they’d decided to do something about that and signed up to Bolt London’s ‘Basics of Motorcycle Mechanics’. The five-week course is held over two hours every Wednesday evening in Bolt’s Stoke Newington HQ, and covers everything from tyres to carb cleaning – routine jobs for any mechanic, but alien procedures to many riders.
The shop/garage set-up is as far removed from the harsh halogen bulbs of college classrooms as possible, creating an amicable atmosphere that inspires casual learning. There’s no textbooks, spreadsheets or whiteboards here; everything that’s taught comes straight from Tony’s own encyclopaedic knowledge, before being put into practise on a semi-assembled bike in front of the 15-strong group.
Tony’s background of motorcycle racing and teaching makes him perfectly qualified for the job, and Bolt is the ideal location. The shop was founded by Andrew Almond in 2013, with the ‘Basics of Motorcycle Mechanics’ arriving two years later. To date the pair have run ten successful courses, and have this month introduced an intermediate group, which is already proving just as popular.
We went along to the second session of the five-week beginners course, where brakes were on the agenda.
Identifying the different types of brakes, and how to tell if they were broken was first up, with examples of each passed around the room. Next, a set of handlebars, attached to a disc and calliper, were shown, allowing everyone to see close-up how the rig works.
The group then took it in turns to remove and replace the calliper and brake pads from Tony’s own racing Ducati 748. During a five-minute break, he went around everyone's bikes and handed out advice on the condition of their brakes.
The two hours passed easily, and soon the mismatched collection of bikes was departing from Bolt’s cobbled courtyard. While the course is mainly focused around classic and custom models, everything was covered, and attendees were from all sides of the motorcycling spectrum.
We'll be reporting more on the course over the coming weeks, but for the meantime check out Bolt London's website, or sign up for their next 'Basics of Motorcycle Mechanics' course, starting in October.