It's Electric!: BBI Offers Comprehensive E-Bike Training

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Barnett Bicycle Institute is excited to announce the very first edition of its E-Bike Fundamentals course, running 3.5 days at the end of this month, from June 25 to June 28. "E-bikes are a rapidly growing part of our industry," says BBI's GM and School Director Jeff Donaldson. "They bring a new range of technologies to our workbenches, and BBI is expanding into this subject area as a key part of our mission to provide complete and relevant training to working mechanics." The is designed to be a comprehensive training that covers a broad range of topics, including but not limited to: an introduction to e-bikes; understanding e-bike classification; workshop setup and best practices; battery handling; electronics fundamentals for the e-bike mechanic; major systems overviews, including Bosch eBike Systems and Shimano STEPS.

"A mechanic and his/her shop needs all of these skills and know-how in order to successfully sell and service e-bikes," Donaldson continues, "and we hope the training helps remove any of those lingering road blocks that stand in the way of success in this growing market segment." A supplement to BBI's Bicycle Repair and Overhaul (BRO) course, enrollment is limited to BRO students and present or past industry professionals.

Here, Donaldson answers a few questions about servicing e-bikes, and what makes BBI's course unique:

Flickr/profahrrad

Flickr/profahrrad

What are the challenges that e-bikes pose for traditionally trained mechanics?  Learning a new type of technology is the most obvious challenge, and servicing e-bikes also means making a few key changes to the workshop. The most important thing a mechanic can do is to become trained. Our hope is that training will begin to break down mechanics' inhibitions when it comes to servicing e-bikes. Confidence is key here, and we'd really like to see more mechanics and shops benefitting from the e-bike category. 

Can't mechanics get e-bike training elsewhere?  Sure. E-bike training is commonly provided by individual brands, and there are some independent trainings, too. We believe, however, that BBI's course—which we're developing in-house with the help of industry partners—will be the most comprehensive offered anywhere. It brings together several topics of e-bike training, and applies them in a hands-on, practical setting.

When it comes to shop safety, what concerns are there that are specific to e-bikes?  Most e-bike systems are very safe, but there are some obvious risks, like electric shock, and the safe handling of lithium-ion batteries. We teach best practices on these topics.

What kinds of tools/diagnostics systems are required for servicing e-bikes that are different from traditional shop gear?
While the technology can be a little daunting to undertake in the beginning,  a mechanic should recognize that most of the work that's done on an e-bike is straightforward, bicycle-related work—brakes, derailleurs, bearings—that's performed in the same way as on a conventional bicycle.  Having a reasonably up-to-date computer at the workstation is probably the most important tool, if it's not already there. Depending on the brand you're working with, there are specifics regarding how a particular e-bike system interfaces with the computer and diagnostic software. There are also some unique tools for removing chainring lockrings, and the like.

Why focus specifically on Bosch and Shimano e-bike systems?  They are two of the biggest players in the e-bike market. That said, we already have, and are developing, relationships with many other brands. Ultimately, the course will grow in scope. 

Do you recommend that shops service e-bike systems that they don't sell, or avoid them because troubleshooting an unfamiliar system can be an inefficient time suck?  We recommend that shops and mechanics seek as much training as possible, and to be able to offer as many services as possible. Some systems have proprietary tools and procedures that are only available to trained mechanics, and some systems are more open. The ultimate goal should always be a repair that is performed safely and accurately to ensure a good customer experience and a profitable service transaction.


Space is limited (and so is time!), so act now to secure your place. Register here for BBI's E-Bike Fundamentals course ($990). If you miss it, there'll be another offered Nov. 12-15, 2018.