Where to get Bicycle Mechanic Training in Canada
By C.M. - March 2021.
So you want to become a bicycle mechanic, or perhaps you are already a bicycle mechanic but you lack professional training and credentials. But maybe you don't know where to get a bicycle mechanic training course?
Well, you're in luck. Canada has multiple different bicycle mechanic training courses to choose from. Well... Two main ones.
There is the Winterborne Bicycle Institute in Guelph, Ontario, and then there is the Quadra Island Bicycle Mechanic School on Quadra Island in British Columbia... And let's face it, those are your two choices. Your only two choices when it comes to professional training in Canada.
It is that or you have to go to the USA, and that is not the purpose of this topic today. Going to the USA isn't really an option for every Canadian and it is a nuisance to get a passport/etc. Plus I am writing this during COVID, and the border between Canada/USA is currently closed, so it really isn't an option at all right now.
Now if you live on the east coast of Canada and you don't want to travel too far, then Winterborne is your obvious choice. Likewise, if you live on the west coast of Canada, then the Quadra Island Bicycle Mechanic School course is the more obvious choice.
But let's pretend you live exactly in the middle, between the school and the institute. What are the differences between the two schools? (And let's face it, they're both schools, even if one calls itself an institute.)
The Quadra Island Bicycle Mechanic School (aka the Quadra Bike School) offers 3 different courses for $1660 each. Taking all 3 courses is $4980 + HST and takes 5 weeks to complete.The three courses are:
The Winterborne Bicycle Institute offers 2 different courses. The first course is a very basic 2-day course for $275 + HST. The second course is for professionals, takes 11 days to complete, and is $1899 + HST. Taking both courses is $2,174 + HST. The two courses are:
Now I have to be honest. I already took a course from the instructor Smokey from the Quadra Bike School, but I took it back in 2009 when he was teaching the BAM program in Toronto. Thus I am rather biased towards the Quadra Bike School, even though I've never been there. I can only judge having taken the course back in 2009 when he was teaching in Toronto.
But even without that bias there are definitely differences, math wise. Yes, the QBS beginners course is more expensive: $1660 for 7 days versus the Winterborne beginner course for $275 which is only 2 days. Yes, it is more expensive, but you have to guess that you are learning more during a 7 day course than you are learning during a 2-day course that mostly focuses on the tools and less on how to fix things.
Likewise the professional level courses are similarly priced. $1660 for Quadra, and $1899 for Winterborne. Again there are time differences. The Quadra course is 9 days, and the Winterborne course is 11 days. So they're pretty close to equal in that respect.
But then QBS offers a third course which Winterborne doesn't offer: "Bicycle Repair Practicum", a course which implies you already took the beginner and/or professional level courses, and allows you to get more practice fixing bicycles and learning more that you wouldn't otherwise learn.
So yes, you have to ask yourself what your budget is for learning all of this and what you're willing to pay, versus how much you are going to learn. I should also mention that both schools are currently limiting the number of students to 4 due to COVID, although QBS always had a limit of 4 in the first place so that students got more personal attention from the instructor.
Lastly, I should mention that if you go to Winterborne then you will have to pay for your own accomodations at a local motel or hotel, bed and breakfast, etc, and that can be expensive if you're spending 11 to 13 days there. QBS however includes accommodation in the school residence in the cost of the courses. You are still required to pay/bring your own food/etc, but staying in the residence is part of your tuition. Thus when you consider the extra cost of accomodations then QBS is ultimately less expensive.
Then all you need to figure out is how to get to Quadra Island from Vancouver.
Hint - From Vancouver take the ferry to Victoria Island, walk to the Victoria Bus Depot, take the bus to Campbell River, walk down to the ferry terminal, take the ferry to Quadra Island. See? Easy. Done!