The Susitna Bicycle Institute (SBI) is a non-profit education center offering a wide range of classes from introductory to advance level bike mechanic classes here in Anchorage. SBI offers a sliding fee scale for classes that accommodate all levels of experience and income. All proceeds go back into the growth of SBI and the support of community programs. At the core of their mission is the teaching of children, adults, and families real world skill sets that can lead to health benefits, job opportunities, and autonomous transportation abilities.
Scott Menzies is the President of SBI and Harrison Law is Vice President. I first meet Scott in February 2016 at the Big Fat Bike Expo here in Anchorage. He is a USA Cycling certified mechanic and a Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association member in addition to being a great human being. Check out SBI’s website at http://www.school.bike/ for more information about all the good works they are doing.
Scott and I talked about SBI when I first met him, he was still in the process of getting the Institute up and running. I told him I would like to up my knowledge and improve my marginal bike mechanic skills. I’ve got basic mechanic skills and keep our bikes clean. I know what I need to in order to get myself home, whether it’s a local ride or bike-packing trip. For more complicated repairs and maintenance I head to my LBS. Scott let me know he was open this past March and I booked a 4 hour session right away.
I headed over to SBI with my FatBoy, it was my first visit to the shop. The SBI shop is well lit and loaded with tools, stands, and bench space. Scott and Harrison threw my bike on the stand and asked what I wanted to learn. I told them I wanted learn how to pull my hubs and bottom bracket apart to properly clean and lube bearings, in particular after beach rides. Alaska has some phenomenal beach riding, primarily salt water beach.
In the 4 hour session we pulled apart the hubs and cranks, serviced bearings, cleaned, and put it back together. We also covered derailleur adjustment. I took a lot of notes and made up a tool list. Scott and Harrison are great instructors, I learned a lot.
In late April I whipped out my big fat credit card and pulled the trigger on a FatBack Skookum. I’ve been eyeing the Skookum since it was released at Interbike in 2015. Speedway Cycles handed it over unbuilt and I made another appointment at SBI. Scott was stoked to have me over to transfer my components from my FatBoy to the Skookum and build the FatBoy up with the Skookum’s NX components and ready it for sale.
The first order of business was to start breaking down the FatBoy. As the hours flew by the Skookum came to life and the FatBoy got brand new wheels and drivetrain. It was an awesome experience to build my own bike from the frame up with a pro mechanic. It was the best bicycle learning experience I’ve had. SBI brings affordable, high quality, bicycle mechanic classes to our community. Anchorage has great bicycle shops and I will still use them, but I like being able to tend to most of my maintenance and repair needs. I also feel more confident about my ability to troubleshoot and fix our bikes on the trail.
Hopefully your local community has a bicycle institute like SBI too, a place to get hands on instruction from a pro mechanic. Maybe you’re the pro mechanic that could offer valuable lessons in your area. I think there are a lot of people out there like myself with an urge to learn bicycle mechanic skills. SBI provides a great service to our community, promoting health and education via my favorite mode of transportation. I found the instruction to be top notch and the shop is professional. I’m heading back soon for a wheel building class.
For more information about the Sustina Bicycle Institute visit – www.school.bike