How long did it take you to feel competent taking a spanner to your bike? Maybe you were lucky enough to be born and bred with oil under your finger nails, but for many trail riders it's a long hard slog that usually involves a broken bike, YouTube tutorials and a lot of swearing. Central Bristol TRF member Nicolo Panigada is the driving force behind 'Spanner Sessions', a unique approach to TRF club meetings thats designed to help you get to know your bike.

TRF:

Hi Nicolo. It’s good to meet you, I’ve enjoyed seeing what you’ve been doing at Central Bristol TRF. It seems like there’s good energy over there right now. How did you get into trail riding?

Nicolo:

I started by riding friends mopeds (my dad didn’t want me to own one in my early teens) until I was 16 when I got my first 50 cc, an enduro bike. Really until I was 18 I was more interested in cars. Twenty years later (2015) I bought a nostalgic 1991 bike but I didn’t know were to ride or who to ride with. I joined the TRF and started going out with other riders on local lanes and various events.

TRF:

The majority of regional monthly club meets take place away from the bikes. You guys are doing something a bit different. Could you explain what your spanner nights are?

Nicolo:

“Spanner Night” started in 2016. Usually when I’m riding with people their routine bike maintenance happens during the ride because it’s the only time a lot of riders spend time working on the bike, when it breaks down on the trail! Even then, it’s common for them not to have the right tools or skills to fix the bike resulting in a call to the AA. Game Over.

During one club meeting I suggested that I would be happy to discuss and show some basic maintenance in order to prevent and reduce the inconvenience of a trail ride break down, as well as saving a few bucks. Lots of people expressed their interest and fellow member Ian stepped forwards with the perfect venue.

We started off with an intro - what could possibly go wrong on a dirt bike, and what should be maintained regularly. The following sessions have been about different topics:

Air filter - locate it, remove it, clean it, re-lube it, re-install it

Oil changes - a TRF member performed their first ever oil change followed by discussion about different types of oils

Fork maintenance - last session we rebuilt a set of 4 CS forks and had the highest attendance so far

Our next session is on the 20th April and it’s going to be a popular one - Tyre changes.

TRF:

Are the workshop sessions just for beginners?

Nicolo:

The idea was to do some very simple ABC sessions and we definitely always start with the basics. But even the most experienced guys have learned something new, even if it’s just a different technique, a tip or a new product. I’m sure it helps less experienced guys boost their confidence and provides a way of members sharing ideas with each other.

TRF:

So would you say that finding the right venue for this kind of workshop is important? How did you find yours?

Nicolo:

A fellow CBTRF club member provides the space and so far it’s been very successful. I would like to see more members getting their hands dirty, it’s a bit like being at school, not many people want to stand at the front of the class but the one who does is the one who will learn more than anybody else. Fact!

TRF:

What’s does the future hold for CBTRF Spanner Sessions? Do you think they are here to stay?

Nicolo:

I would very much like to continue the maintenance sessions! Our club members are welcome to bring new topics and even if I don’t particularly want to fix other peoples bikes directly I’m happy to show them and help them become more independent. It gives them a chance to repair their bike if it breaks down and save a few pennies. A well maintained bike is a safe bike.

My dream would be to have a CBTRF club house where members could meet before a ride out, get changed, grab a coffee, do some pre-ride checks on the bike, and then return to after a ride out. Share a drink, watch the Moto GP, share maps, organise events, club meetings, regular bike night. This is where I would like to see CBTRF in a short period of time!

TRF:

Sounds fantastic Nicolo. Good luck!


 

Find out more about Central Bristol TRF and their Spanner Sessions here