Motorcycle Repair School Turns out Power Sport Techs
Story and photos by John “Gunner” Gunnell
A good place to learn the skills needed to maintain and fix motorcycles is the Power Sports Institute. PSI is a branch of Ohio Technical College, a private school founded in 1969 for diesel mechanics.
PSI teaches everything from racing and high-performance to painting graphics on motorcycle tanks. At the PSI campus in North Randall, Ohio, the focus is on fixing motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and watercraft. The school’s motto is “Powersport Technician Training for All 4 Seasons.”
PSI offers three diploma programs. The PowerSport Specialist Program is 48 weeks (1200 clock hours) and consists of 10 of the school’s 17 courses. Students start with core information on motorcycle engines, primary drives, transmissions, fuel systems, electricals and suspensions. The program includes an off-road technology course. Students must take two of four “factory” schools offered through partnerships with Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki.
The PowerSport Technician Program runs 72 weeks (1500 clock hours) and actually consists of the same 10 courses, except that students must take all four of the “factory” schools, instead of choosing only two of them. Since each of them is a 12-week (300 hours) course, this adds a total of 24 hours to the overall curriculum. Service, maintenance and diagnostic skills are stressed.
PSI’s third curriculum is American V-Twin Specialist, another 48-week program. The five core power sports courses are included in this curriculum, but the factory schools geared to the products of the Japanese manufacturers are not. Instead, AVS students take these classes: 1) V-Twin Technology, 2) Victory Technology and 3) Custom Motorcycle Building and Performance.
Officially supported by Polaris/Victory, the American V-Twin module teaches students how to work on both Victory and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The skills needed to build motorcycles from the ground up and to test them on a dynameters are part of the Custom Motorcycle Building & Performance course. These classes also teach some basic painting skills and electrical wiring.
The former JC Penney store in a now-nearly-empty mall is so big that the school was able to expand its Partners in Education programs with Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, KTM, American V-Twins and several other brands.
PSI founder Marc Brenner believes the motorcycle industry will expand rapidly when gas prices rise in the future. He feels advancements in technology will create an increasing need for more skilled motorcycle technicians.
PSI is a motorcycle enthusiast’s paradise. There are hundreds of bikes, a wide array of ATVs and scores of snowmobiles and personal watercraft, from multiple manufacturers, for students to work on.
In one engine teardown class a group of young students was assembling a Suzuki RMZ 450 engine. Sabrina Hickman said she was learning how to disassemble and inspect the power plant. Sabrina reflects the flavor of youthful enthusiasm at the school. PSI patches will be showing up in many service departments. PSI’s mission is educating the power sport techs of tomorrow.
Instructor (with red shirt) gave PSI students a lesson on dyno testing. During the test, an oil line loosened and made everyone think the engine blew up.
An architect’s rendering of the completed Power Sport Institute. It is housed in a renovated JC Penney store in an abandoned shopping mall.
Victory and Polaris models are just two of the brands of motorcycles that have factory training schools inside the Power Sport Institute campus.
The school is fully stocked with the modern tools and high-tech equipment needed to repair motorcycles today.
The student body is both youthful and talented. PSI’s mission is to educate and train the power sports technicians of tomorrow.
Every aspect of repairing a V-Twin motorcycle engine is taught at the Power Sport Institute.
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106 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247