For a good news story in bicycle building, look no further than Andrew Jones and Jonathan Clark, the design technology teacher and workshop technician at Adams’ Grammar School in Newport, Shropshire.
When Adams’ – like many British secondary schools – decided to make design technology a non-compulsory subject, Jones and Clark determined to fight back against an inevitable drift of pupils to core academic subjects by making DT uncommonly attractive. So, calling on their alter egos as custom frame shop Moss Cycles, the pair mustered resources to get the school workshop outfitted with Park tools, jigs, torches and BikeCAD, and launched the L!FE BIKES course in September 2013; taking 10 pupils through a year 11 GSCE project that had each of them design and build their own bicycle, after going through a preparatory course in design, marketing and branding.
A good deal from sponsors has got the cost down to around £350 per complete bike, which the pupils rode away with at the end of the experience.
Clark describes the experience as one of “blood, sweat and tears”, but he and Jones hope to have 20 pupils take part next year, such was the popularity of the course. Popular but also very successful, judging by the quality of student bikes shown at Bespoked.
As Jones puts is, there is in schools today much pressure to get top grades, but he and Clark “wanted to do something deeper”.