Archive | May, 2013

We’re hiring!

This is really exciting for us, and will be great for you too. It means that while we’re busy teaching people and making things we’ll still be able to deal with all the enquiries we get every day rather than becoming snowed under. So, if you fancy working with us, or know someone who might – please get in touch! Full details below:

Job Description:

Administrative Assistant

Position reports to:

Managing Director

Location:

Main office, The Welsh Mill, Frome, Somerset

Job purpose:

A dynamic award winning business is looking for an Administrative Assistant to help achieve their growing ambitions. Currently 4 people are employed with the aim to take this to 7.

Key responsibilities and accountability:

  • Main point of contact for all customer enquiries and incoming company communication
  • Dealings with customer bookings and follow up
  • Processing payments
  • Creating invoices
  • Record keeping
  • Creating internal procedures
  • Managing day to day administration and finance of a small company
  • Liaison with bookkeeper (no direct accounting experience needed)
  • Creating and submitting time sheets to Payroll provider
  • Administration of employee contracts
  • Event logistics administration

Contract, salary and benefits:

21 hours a week flexi-time within 9am – 5:30pm preferably fixed hours each week. Temporary: 1 year with 6 months probation PAYE £8/hour

Key skills and Interests:

The ideal candidate will be positive and outgoing, a natural forward planner with a strong initiative and capability of working autonomously. Attention to detail is crucial and work undertaken needs to be completed to a high standard. Embrace training opportunities pertaining to workplace practice and health and safety. You will be personable; be an excellent face-to-face and telephone communicator, calm under pressure and enjoy working within a team as well as independently. An interest in cycling, craftsmanship or education an advantage but not essential.

Experience:

  • Experience of administration and an office environment
  • Competent in Google docs & Open Office specifically word-processing and spreadsheet programs
  • Competent with Google Mail or Mac Mail
  • Experience of WordPress advantage
  • Experience of PayPal advantage
  • Experience of Free Agent an advantage but not essential

About the company:

Short listed as “One of the 100 most resourceful, original, exciting and disruptive business in the UK” by Smarta.com, The Bicycle Academy is the UK’s biggest bicycle frame building school. Specialists in teaching, the company attracts students from all over the world to learn at the Frome based school. In addition to training courses, The Bicycle Academy provides flexible workshop hire, and also designs, manufactures and sells its own range of frame building tools. Situated in newly refurbished premises within 10 minutes walking distance of the town centre The Bicycle Academy provides a well equipped, dynamic and vibrant working environment.

Contact:

Please e-mail hello@thebicycleacademy.org with a covering letter and CV, alternatively you can send postal applications to:

The Bicycle Academy
Unit 1a
The Welsh Mill
Park Hill Drive
Frome
Somerset
BA11 2LE

Closing date:

Friday 31st May 2013

You can download the application details here

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4 days with Pegoretti

Almost exactly 1 year ago I had an opportunity that was too good to miss. 17 participants were selected from all over the world to take part in the Dario Pegoretti “Tornemo indrio (Back to the roots)” workshop organised by Onirica Lab at Interzona in Verona, Italy. Thanks to the magic of twitter and my poor handwriting skills I was lucky enough to be one of them.

I had a great time, and wrote an article about the experience for road.cc and shot and edited a short film about the whole thing too. I’ve posted both below for you to enjoy…

A short while ago I noticed a tweet about a frame building workshop being run by Dario Pegoretti, I was stunned at first as it’s not something he’s done before, but after some frantic research I realised that the workshop was still accepting applicants! The brief was simple; write Dario a letter explaining your motivations for attending the workshop. Having only met Dario briefly before I was keen to spend some time with him, to get to know him a little, and of course to learn from one of the all time greats. As the founder of The Bicycle Academy I’m lucky enough to be working with a wonderful frame builder, but the opportunity to pass on the skills of Pegoretti to a wider audience was too good to miss, so I sat down, took a deep breath, and wrote my application.

Pegoretti is one of the most important bicycle frame builders of our time, he’s a long serving artisan, and an artist famed for his vivid custom paint jobs. A pioneer of new technology and a protector of the old craft, there are few who can rival Pegoretti’s expertise. Dario was quick to dispel the mythology of his craft “they’re not planes, just 8 tubes welded together” – but those welded tubes hide a great deal of calculation, hard work, skill and sensitivity. It’s easy to create a bicycle shaped object, but to create a bicycle that not only works but is a joy to use, well, that takes a lot.

Over the course of the 4 days we worked under the guidance of Pegoretti, absorbing his know-how and spirit in our efforts to turn a collection of materials and tools into four beautiful bicycle frames. We learnt geometry theory, argued aesthetics, and got to grips with the frame building jig that Luigino Milani himself had used to teach Dario.

It’s fair to say that the workshop was as much of a lesson in Italian culture as it was on frame building. The delicious food, fantastic weather and lots of coffee were great but the slow starts, frequent and long breaks and even longer lunches made it impossible to get much done. Smoking and drinking coffee were the only parts of the schedule we could guarantee and so sure enough by Saturday evening’s ‘grand finale’ – ‘The Makers’ Festival’, we didn’t have a single bike to put on show – only some partly constructed frames, but not a whole frame and certainly not four.

Although not part of the program those of us who didn’t have flights to catch, or people to meet, stayed all day Sunday to try and complete at least one of the frames. Dario kindly stayed too, and between us we managed it. Just. The look on everyone’s faces was one of pride and rightly so – sure things hadn’t gone to plan, but we had completed the transition from bits to bike and each of us could lay claim to a part of that frame.

A group of relative novices, from different countries, speaking different languages and with completely different backgrounds managed to collectively build a bicycle frame using the age old artisan methods most people have forgotten existed. Those skills, the way of the artisan, getting ‘back to the roots’ – that’s what it was really all about – a tactile, physical connection with the bicycle. Every one of the participants and organisers shared the same desire to reconnect, to use their hands, an analogue experience with no undo. Whether we had completed the frames or not each of us had been given a window into a simpler way of life that was slower paced but with greater connection. Having tasted the world of frame building many of the participants have since contacted us about attending a course at The Bicycle Academy, so that they can see where their new found skills will take them. Making a living as a frame builder in a world where mass production is king isn’t easy, but for this group of people their goal wasn’t to put food on the table but to learn a craft for the love of it.

The construction of the frame is just the first step towards building a bicycle so the Onirica project doesn’t stop there. Once completed by Dario each frame will be decorated with the designs of young and talented designers, working side by side with Pegorett. Then, once decorated the frames will be assembled and then exhibited before being sold in a charity auction to raise money for the research against cancer, a cause very dear to Pegoretti’s heart.

 

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Understanding vs Mimicry, and the value of real teaching.

I don’t know about you but I never look at my primary school exercise books anymore, nor have I kept that papier-mâché fortress that I made in my year 9 history lessons. I haven’t used that FEA justified lifting mechanism design I made and I haven’t needed those thermofluid dynamic formulae I derived in my final year of university.

Teaching isn’t about the physical output of the learning process, it’s about the relevant understanding and skills that the student gains.

At The Bicycle Academy we specialise in teaching.  We teach frame building courses and skills masterclasses. In the context of learning (the purpose of a course) the frame itself isn’t actually important, it’s what the student learns that counts. That’s why our Classic framebuilding course doesn’t result in a bicycle frame that the student gets to keep – instead we give that away, so that the student can focus on what really matters.

We teach people the skills and understanding needed to build bicycle frames on their own, and we do so to a very high level. By removing the focus from that first frame we can work students through a program that gives them a deep understanding of what they need to do, why they need to do it and how they should do so. We teach people, we don’t simply give directions.

More than that, we actually teach people how to learn. We teach people how to learn from their experiences, how to develop understanding, and how to teach themselves so that they can continue to progress. That’s what good teaching is all about.

Now, there are a number of other places that offer frame building experiences, where the attendee gets to keep the output of their efforts. The concept of experiences like this is great; an unskilled individual gets directed through a process and with a healthy dose of hand holding and mimicry co-makes a bicycle frame that they can take away with them at the end of the process. The focus of these experiences is the physical output, the bicycle frame, and for many people that’s what matters most. The good ones are up front about that fact, and even make a point of saying “We’re not going to teach you how to become a frame builder, we’re going to build a frame together” – they’re open and honest about what they offer.

But if you want to learn then you need to focus on developing skills and understanding, and to do that properly you need to remove your focus from the physical output of that learning. That’s what we do and we believe that as a result our students leave more capably skilled, informed and crucially with a deeper understanding than they would have by any other method.

So what if you really want to learn but also take a bike home with you? Well then you can do our advanced frame building course, where you give away the first frame you make in week one, then get to keep the second custom frame you make in week two.

As for the title; well we feel that the best analogy is the choice between skipping lessons and cramming for an exam or taking the time to learn and understand a subject properly. Sure cramming can get you a long way if passing the exam is all that you are focused upon, but if you want to be able to really know the subject and use that understanding in the future, well then there’s no substitute for real learning and hence real teaching.

 

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Balance Bike Course Details!

Teaching a child to ride a bike is a really special experience, one that you’ll both remember forever. Now imagine how special it would be if you had made that bike… well now you can.

We’re really excited to launch our Balance Bike Frame Building Courses, starting this July.

Over the past few months we’ve been developing our very own 12″ wheel balance bike for kids. We’ve used lightweight steel tubing, narrow axles to give more clearance for the little rider’s legs, small diameter handlebars to make it easier for little ones to hold on, and adjustable saddle height and position so that the bike set-up can be changed as they grow. The bike has been designed to be easy and fun to ride, light enough for a 2 year old to handle and strong enough for an adult to ride (you won’t be able to resist!).

The courses are held here at The Bicycle Academy over 2 days. You’ll build the TBA balance bike by hand, from start to finish, you’ll do it all. Even if you’ve never made anything before we’ll teach you everything you need to know, and coach you through the build.

The bikes are suitable for kids of 2 years old and above, and weigh as little as 3.5kg when built up (that’s less than the Isla Rothan). The frame and forks will be made using light weight straight gauge seamless steel tubing with all the joins brazed by you. You’ll get to choose the colour of the bike, all components and even customise the stickers too.

The course costs £400 + components (which range from ~£30 to ~£100) and we’re taking bookings now!

Call us on 01373 473767 or email us at booking@thebicycleacademy.org

Full course details here: http://www.thebicycleacademy.org/courses/balance-bike-framebuilding-course/

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Build their first Balance Bike courses launching soon!

Full details will be available later today…

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