One Day Maintenance Workshop Curriculum

We offer one-day workshops to over a thousand people a year in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Participants are able to buy a sound bicycle for one-third the market price, which makes bicycles a viable transportation option for so many more rural villagers.

The main point of the workshops is to introduce people to the idea of maintenance and so they become aware of small problems before they become big ones. Essential to the workshops is the ‘practicals’, when everyone gets a chance to actually practice the repairs we teach through hands-on learning is.

The curriculum below is the full content used for the Advanced Classes. The One Day Workshop concentrates on identifying problems and ensuring your bike is safe to ride. This is free for you to use, we ask that you credit VBP when you are using it and let us know how it’s working for you.

Download the PDF here.

Curriculum

Preparation: 

  • Everyone must be able to ride a bicycle to be a part of the workshop. If there has been no test ride before arriving in the village, you should use one bicycle to test everyone in the class can ride unaided.
  • If the class is using a translator, have them introduce themselves.
  • Identify the local fitter who is assisting in the instructors, and have them explain to the class where their workshop or shop is located.

Rules: 

  • Bicycles are often shared, but the person attending the workshop must be the person using the bicycle the most.
  • Nobody can attend the workshop on behalf of another person.
  • If you’re not on time for the workshop and after the lunch break then you can be sacked.
  • You cannot come and go throughout the workshop, and you cannot leave without asking permission from the instructor.  
  • You must participate actively in the workshop or you will not receive a bicycle.   
  • Bicycles are chosen at the end of the workshop.  The organizer decides the way the bicycles are chosen.
  • Does anyone have any questions about the rules?

Class: 

  1. Why do we have workshops instead of just selling bicycles?  Ask the class if they know why before telling them why.
    • If you give someone a bicycle today, tomorrow when it spoils, the person will come back to you for another bicycle.  But if you teach someone to repair, when the bicycle spoils they will know what to do to fix the problem.
    • A small problem will take some time and maybe some money to repair. But if you leave a problem until it becomes big it will cost more money to repair or it may completely spoil your bicycles.
  2. If the workshop is a women’s workshop, discuss why we have all women workshops.  Ask the class if they know why before telling them why.
    • We want to have a place where women feel free and can work together to learn about their bicycles.  Women are less free when men are around
  3. Explain the workshop goals:
    • To know when you have a small problem so that it can be repaired before it becomes a big problem.
    • To know how to use tools to make basic repairs and adjustments.
  4. Explain the workshop outline:
    • Introduction to tools 
    • Tire pressure and pumping
    • Removing the front wheel
    • Removing the tire and tubes
    • Puncture repair 
    • Bearings and rotational systems 
    • Chain maintenance 
    • Brakes 
    • Gears and Selectors 
    • Size and Safety 
    • Choosing of bicycles

Preparation: 

  • One bicycle with nut steer, and one bicycle with allen steer
  • 10x allen keys and 10x 13mm spanners
  • Spoiled nuts to show
  • Correct spanner fit pictures
  • Turn all the bicycles the right way up, loosen the steer and turn them so they are not straight.

Class: 

    1. Repair and tool knowledge
      • What repairs does a bicycle need? Who can do small repairs? Which repairs?
      • Show the tools to the class and ask them to name them.
      • Can someone point to where on the bicycle the tool is used?
    2. Correct spanner use
      • Show damaged nuts and ask what happened?
      • Proper size is best – the spanner must fit the nut tightly.
      • Use the pictures to show incorrect and correct spanner use.

      spanner_nut2Original

    3. Loosening and tightening the steer
      • Use a water bottle to show how loosening and tightening is like opening and closing.
      • The spanner is tight on the nut before you turn!
      • Show the class the ‘minimum insertion’ mark. The mark must not be visible!
      • Have someone come and straighten the steer and tighten it. Check it is straight.
      • Repeat the demonstration with an allen key.

Practical: 

    • Every person should straighten the steer and tighten it.
    • The instructor should check the steer is tight. If not, make the person tighten it more before they sit down.

Preparation:

  • One bicycle with low pressure ready for demonstration
  • Tube with a ‘snake bite’ puncture
  • Tire with a spoiled sidewall
  • A spoiled valve neck
  • Turn the bicycles upside-down and deflate all the front tires
  • Make all the valves crooked
  • Burgered tube

Class:

    1. What does low pressure mean, and how to check your tire pressure
      • High pressure lets you cycle faster and easier
      • High pressure protects you from punctures
      • Check the tire pressure by pressing it with your thumb. Do not hit it with your finger!
      • Sit on the bicycle with low pressure and show the class how the tire goes flat.
      • If you ride a bicycle with low tire pressure you can fetch puncture easily, and spoil the tire sidewall – Show the class a ‘snake bite’ tube.
      • Show the class a tire with a spoiled sidewall.
      • If there is a bicycle with a carrier, have someone sit on the carrier and watch the back tire.
      • Bicycles with load need higher tire pressure!
    2. Checking the valve and pumping the tire
      • Pumping the tire with is cheaper than patching the tube!
      • Check the valve is straight. Show a spoiled valve neck.
      • Have someone come and correct the valve.
      • You do not touch the valve! You only need to move the tire and tube to straighten the valve.
      • Demonstrate attaching the pump.
      • Have a persons check the pressure for you. Is it high enough?

Practical:

    • Every participant is to straighten the valve on a front wheel.
    • When the valve is straight, they should pump the tire.
    • The instructor should check the tire pressure before the participant sits down.

Preparation:

  • One bicycle with a front quick release wheel, and one with a front nut wheel
  • 10x 14/15mm spanners (and 13mm if necessary)
  • 10x 10mm spanners

Class:

  1. Removing the nut front wheel
    • Let someone come and remove the nuts from the front wheel
    • Revise the clockwise and anticlockwise action
    • Discuss the order of washers, and mudguards and carrier fittings
    • Show the difference between flat washers and hook washers. Hook washers attach to the fork!
    • Discuss removing the brake shoe, or disconnecting the brake to allow the tire to pass.
    • Replace the wheel, and tighten the nuts.
    • Explain why we tighten each side small, and not one side completely before the other. Check the wheel is straight.
    • What happens if the wheel is not tight enough?
    • Have someone else reconnect the brake, and replace the brake shoe if removed.
  2. Removing a quick release front wheel
    • You do not need tools for quick release wheels.
    • Demonstrate opening and closing the quick release.
    • Explain you can keep the lever-side straight, and tighten and loosen the nut side.
    • Have several people attempt the quick release.

Practical:

  • Everyone is to remove the front wheel and bring it back to where the class is seated.
  • Do not lose the wheel nuts or brake shoes that you remove!

Preparation:

  • 30x tire levers and 10x pumps
  • The lead instructor should have one wheel – a back wheel – for the demonstration
  • 10x 14/15mm spanners

Class/Practical (the class is to follow the instructor step-by-step)

  1. Removing the tire and the tube from the wheelset
    • Every person has one wheel. Ask everyone to spread out and sit comfortably with enough space to work.
    • Explain how to deflate the tire. You can use your fingernail, or a small tool such as a tire lever – The tire will only remove if the tube is fully deflated!
    • Why do we not use screwdrivers to remove the tire? It can puncture the tube again!
    • Show the class the tire lever. If you do not have a tire lever you can use a bent spoke.
    • Start opposite the valve – repeat this several times!
  2. Fixing the tire and tube back to the wheelset
    • Start by attaching one side of the tire to the wheelset. Feed the tire onto the wheelset completely.
    • Find the valve hole, insert the tube valve and push the tube into the tire.
    • Push the second side of the tire into the wheelset, starting at the valve, and finish opposite the valve.
    • We do not use tools to replace the tire – only your thumbs!
    • Everyone should check the valve is straight and then pump the tire to the correct pressure.

Practical:

  • Replace the wheel on the bicycle – on the same bicycle you took the wheel from!
  • Instructors should check people are replacing wheels correctly with washers, if necessary.
  • Reconnect the brake, and replace the brake shoe if they have removed it.
  • Instructors should check each wheel nut and quick-release is done up tightly.

Preparation:

  • 10x spoiled tube for practical. You need to puncture each tube twice with a sharp tool
  • 20x small patch and 20x sandpaper, and solution
  • 10x pumps

Class:

  1. Finding a puncture in a tube:
    • Ask the class how to find a puncture. You can use water, fine dust or sand, and listen or feel.
    • Why do we use sandpaper to prepare the area? Why do we not use a hacksaw blade?
  2. Patching a puncture:
    • It is important to scrub an area larger than the patch.
    • Use only small solution, and spread it thinly. It is important to wait for it to dry!
    • While you are waiting, explain why it is important to check the tire and rim tape
    • Put the patch on with your hands. Do not use a hammer to fix it!

Practical:

  • Have the class sit in pairs. Give each pair a spoiled tube with 2 punctures.
  • Have each pair pump their tube and find 2 punctures.
  • Give each person a piece of sandpaper to scrub the area.
  • Only the instructors are to put solution on the tube.
  • Once the area is dry, give each person a small patch.
  • It is not a race! Give everyone enough time to patch their tube correctly, before collecting the tubes again.

Preparation:

  • One bicycle that has loose bearings for demonstration
  • Some loose bearings, and a complete hub
  • Extra gas pliers, shifting spanner and cone spanner for local fitter to help

Class:

  1. What are the bearings, and what do they do?
    • Ask the class to point out 4 places on the bicycle where we would find bearings.
    • What do all these places have in common? (They move/rotate/turn against each other).
    • It is quick and cheap to have the bearings corrected. Leaving a small shake can condemn the bicycle parts, and will cost you a lot of money to repair.
  2. What makes up the bearing assembly?
    • There are 5 things in each bearing part.
    • Show the pin, cone, cup and bearing balls. What is the fifth missing thing?
    • Grease! Bearings need to be greased. Be careful not to wash the grease out when cleaning your bike!
  3. How to check your bearings
    • Checking is quick and simple. You should check once every week.
    • Show how to check, rocking, not rotating.
    • If you find a problem, take it to the local fitter for repair.

Practical:

  • Check the 4 bearing places on a bicycle.
  • If a problem is found, the instructor or local fitter will fix it.
  • Instructors should check the 4 places on each bicycle, before the participant sits down.

Preparation:

  • A bicycle with a dirty chain, and a bicycle with a dry rusty chain
  • Turn all the bicycles upside-down.
  • 10x iron brush and 10x rag for the practical
  • Move the chains onto the large front chainring

Class:

  1. Dry, rusty chains
    • Where is the chain? Can someone point it out?
    • How do chains become dry and rusty? And what do they look like?
    • We need three things to fix the dry chain – iron brush, rag and oil. Which do we use first? Where do we clean chain? – on the large chainring.
    • Which type of oil do we use?
    • We don’t use black oil – because it is dirty.
    • We don’t use cooking oil – because it will dry too quickly.
    • We don’t use machine grease – because it will collect too much sand and dirt.
    • Why do we clean the chain with a rag after applying the oil?
  2. Dirty, oily chains.
    • What does a dirty chain look like? Wipe your finger on the chain and show the black dirt.
    • Why is a dirty chain bad for the bicycle? It makes the free and chainplate dirty, and can spoil them.
    • What do we do about a dirty chain? Let the class discuss options.
    • Why do we not use more oil?

Practical:

  • Everyone checks the chain on each bicycle, and uses the iron brush to clean it.
  • If they think they need to add oil, they will call for an instructor to come.
  • After new oil is added, the participant uses a rag to clean the extra oil.

Preparation:

  • One bicycle with cantilever brakes, and one bicycle with centre pull brakes
  • Turn all the bicycles upside-down
  • The demonstration bar ready to show
  • 10x 10mm spanners
  • A tire with a spoiled sidewall

Class:

  1. What part of the bicycle is the brake?
    • Ask people to come and point the parts of the brake – The brake has many parts!
    • Point to the lever, the caliper, the shoes, the cables and the barrel-screw-adjuster
    • Use the demonstration bar to show the complete brake. Explain how when you pull the lever, the caliper closes, and the shoes touch the rim.
  2. Common problems with the brakes.
    • Brakes are too soft – the lever should not touch the bar.
    • Brake shoes need to touch squarely on the rim.
    • What happens if they touch the tire? Show a tire with spoiled sidewall.
  3. How to do small maintenance
    • Where are the barrel screw adjusters? Most bikes have two – one on the lever, and one on the caliper.
    • Show how to make the brake tighter, and softer, but screwing the adjusted both ways.
    • Show how to adjust a brake shoe with a 10mm spanner.
    • If brakes are too stiff, they may need oil. Explain where to add oil.

Practical:

  • Each person is to check the brakes on a bicycle.
  • They should check the wheel passes free between the pads and that the shoes touch only the rim.
  • Check the lever does not touch the bar when braking.
  • Give 10mm spanners to those who need to adjust the shoe, or tighten the cables.

Preparation:

  • Examples of different changers ready to show – thumb and motto
  • Clear a table to put a bicycle on upside-down
  • The demonstration bar ready to show.

Class:

  1. What part of the bicycle are the gears?
    • How many people have used gears before? Why do we need gears?
    • Ask people to come and point the parts of the gears – The gear has many gears!
    • Point to the changer, selector, chainplate and free.
    • Use the demonstration bar to show the complete gear. Explain how when you move the changer, the selector moves.
  2. Using the gears
    • How do we count the number of gears on a bicycle? Ask the class to answer.
    • Concentrate on the rear free. When the chain is on the small free, it is hard, when the chain is on the large free, it is easy.
    • Which gears are for climbing hills? Ask the class to answer.
    • Which gear is for running fast? Ask the class to answer.
  3. How do we change the gears?
    • The most important thing to do is PEDAL whilst changing gear. If you do not pedal, nothing will happen.
    • You have to pedal FORWARDS. If you pedal backwards and change gear you can spoil the selector!
    • Never force the pedals if they do not turn easily. You can spoil the selector!
    • Hold the rear wheel off the ground and ask a participant to change the gears.
    • Change only the back gears. Tell the class they can try the front gears later.
  4. Crossing the chain
    • Do not cross the chain. It can spoil the gear parts.
    • The rule is simple: do not ride small-small rings or big-big rings

Practical:

  • The class should work in pairs.
  • One person holds the back wheel off the ground while the other one changes the gears.
  • Have both people try the gears.
  • If the gears do not change properly or the chain falls off, they should call an instructor.
  • Make sure everyone understands to pedal when changing, and to only pedal forwards.

Preparation:

  • One bicycle with a high cross bar ready for demonstration.
  • A spoiled seat tube broken from the body.

Class:

  1. Correct sizing<
    • Review the ‘minimum insertion’ marks on the seat post. It is the same as the steer.
    • If you do not insert the pole far enough, you can break the body!
    • Have a person come and figure out how to loosen and adjust the steer pole. They should explain what they are doing to the class.
    • If you raise you saddle, you should still be able to touch both feet on the ground.
    • Talk about the height of the body top bar. If you cannot stand over the stop bar without touching it, you might hurt yourself between your legs!
  2. Safe Riding
    • Talk about hazards: thick sand, glass, loose gravel and rivers.
    • People often cannot hear you when you are coming from behind.
    • Give way to those who are footing and carrying load.
    • Be careful of traffic. Cars do not respect bicycle. They can force you from the road!
  3. Maintenance
    • Discuss what happens when you loan your bicycle to other people.
    • Washing your bicycle. Keep your bicycle clean, but be careful to keep water out of the bearings.
    • Where can you find good spares parts and local repairs? Have the local fitter explain exactly where
    • their shop is.
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