Our Experience Is Above The Rest
If you'd like an in depth explanation of how we're different from other companies that provide stick shift lessons in the Bay Area, our customer Timothy's review lays it out really well:
Their "A Note About Safety" on the website is extremely relevant as someone who's taken lessons at two different stick shift teaching companies. 100% recommend spending the extra money on this company instead of the personal cars/contractors as you'll end up saving money. I had a 3 hour lesson for both and I learned tons more and had way more fun with Shift Bay Area. Now I won't be able to recommend for/against the other companies that also have their own company-cars for training, but again, highly recommend against the contractor-type companies which utilize the teacher's personal car. Being able to be taught out in the open instead of stuck in a parking lot made this so much fun.
My lesson was Otto and he was extremely patient with me and made sure I was comfortable with whatever I was doing before we moved on. He also gave me tips on how to learn on a new manual car without burning out the clutch as well as gave me general tips on making it more smooth for driving. I also extremely love the training area chosen (For the San Jose/Santa Clara area) as it did have a very close deserted roadway of almost 1 mile in length which allows you to upshift without pressure from anyone around you.
I am contemplating a quick 1 hour lesson to fix some manual habits I've picked up with my own manual car now which could use more smoothness but I'm still debating if it's necessary. I would 100% book it here if I do decide I need it.
(This review is basically very late, as I did do my lessons around June/July but I did also review the other company I took lessons at which was less to my satisfaction.)
I believe for the price point you can't complain too much but if you have the ability to pay a bit more elsewhere I'd highly recommend not going here.
I took this lesson as a first time manual driver, picked up a 3 hour slot, was kind of wondering why the 3 locations being offered for me was one, a 24 hour parking lot (which was shared with other stores), a 7-11 lot, or a community center. During covid I would say, chances are they'd be fine and yes I am giving Nabil the benefit of the doubt as he commented that the art(?) center recently opened which is why it was crowded the day I did my training.
Nonetheless, I do want to say Nabil was somewhat patient (it was quite easy to pick up on tones that he was slightly unhappy when I was still stalling during the last hour of our lesson). I do think a lot of the time is spent talking (as another review has mentioned, it probably makes up ~40 minutes of the whole lesson) which you know, is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, I did end up taking a second lesson (which Nabil had advised against) with a different company. This different company I booked is the reason I am only giving this company 3 stars.
I will refer this company as SSDA and the other (better company) as "Other".
First of all, the instructor car. SSDA is using the instructors personal car which means you are utilizing a clutch that is probably already been heavily used. You might see that as a manual instructor they have the best habits and there should not be much of a difference. Wrong. SSDA I was stalling every 10-20 minutes up to a stall in the last 15 minutes of my 3 hour lesson. "Other" has a car used only for training purposes and I did not stall my entire 3 hours with them. Being that I've driven my own manual car now for about a month, I can 100x say that the worn out clutch from a personal car is a factor in the stalling.
Second, location. SSDA as I said above, had chosen locations that are crowded, and may have NOT been crowded during peak covid but my lesson was during the last week of May(e.g. in the middle of reopening since late March). This caused unnecessary pressure as every time we left the tiny area(you could drive for maybe ~10 seconds at parking lot speeds before needing to u turn) we were practicing in, I'd have to deal with other cars AND other pedestrians (as this plaza chosen also had a market). I do want to point out that I was asked to confirm if this location was okay, but after looking at the other 2 locations, I'd probably prefer this one (and as an instructor they should also know more than me). "Other" had a fairly semi deserted roadway. I only had to stop for other cars about 4 times during the whole period.
Third, learning speed. I know some people are probably going to say that obviously "Other" would have a higher learning speed after I had one lesson from SSDA. I would like to argue against that point. In the entire 3 hours of driving with SSDA not once did I get the opportunity to reach above 2nd gear. (Parking lot speeds obviously). In the "Other', they also had a fairly deserted road approximately ~.8-1 mile in length which allowed me to go all the way up to 4th and 5th gear (as well as downshifts). This is probably highly relevant to my first two points. Due to location and car provided, SSDA was not able to provide a quick learning experience for me.
Overall, SSDA provided me: Starting from a stop, upshift to 2nd gear, uphill starts.
"Other" provided me: Starting from a stop(Due to my experience with SSDA I requested they start me over from the beginning), upshift AND downshifts to 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th, heavier incline uphill starts, parallel parking AND street driving.
(Both were 3 hour lessons)
I had way more fun driving with "Other" mostly due to the mini deserted track-like area they had as it gets really fun being able to upshift all the way to 5th, which is something SSDA will never be able to provide as they specifically note that instructors are not suppose to bring you outside the parking lot.