"Competition? BBI has no competition." -- Cat Gruener-Goss, BBI InstructorBarnett Bicycle Institute is a school founded by John Barnett in 1980 that offers classes in bicycle mechanics and materials for bicycle repair shops. Their specialties include suspension service, wheel building and truing techniques, and bike shop operations. Barnett is a columnist and associate editor for consumer and trade bicycle magazines who has taught professional mechanics longer than anyone else in the field.
In November of 2008, I flew down from Alaska to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to attend BBI for two courses; the BRO (Bicycle Repair and Overhaul) and SST (Suspension Service and Tuning). I had no formal training with mechanics and was very interested in learning more. I learned alot about fixing common repairs, installing new parts, and fine tuning different component groups. In the end, I came away with the belief that the less you know going in, the more you take with you when you leave.
At BBI they believe that mechanics is not an art and they provide the knowledge to service any bike without guesswork, subjective feelings, and memorization. Since mechanics have to deal with so many different companies, BBI also focuses on the wide variety of tools of the trade and its cutting edge technological breakthroughs.
Class begins in the classroom with an overview of the lesson, then moves into an instructor demonstration, followed up by a hands on student version of 'monkey see, monkey do' in the lab. Step by step, the instructors, Cat and Ellis, walk students through the details of the operation and answer any questions that students bring up.
Students are encouraged to do reading prior to coming to school and before each next days lesson. Their philosophy is that each student learns at their own speed and their is no formal grading, merely a certificate of completion at the end of the course for those who make it through.
This is a fun school and the instructors believe that it is the students who determine whether or not the class is exciting and successful. All the students in my class were very enthusiastic and brought unique backgrounds in bicycles with them to class. Students are from all around the world and span in age from kids to young-at-heart old fogies. Whether it's for liesure, BMX, commuting, racing mountain, single speed, or road, BBI students are just plain interested in bikes. That is what makes this experience unique and so great.
As far as lodging goes, there is and RV campground across the street and a hotel next door. Restuarants are everywhere with all cuisines available.
Bring your bike too. There are hundreds of miles of mtn bike trails, lots of good road routes near by, and even a velodrome a stones throw from the US Olympic Training Center in the center of town. There is at least 10 bicycle shops in town too for every aspect of riding you can think of...even Pixies!