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Repair-It-Yourself: Bike Maintenance Classes for Beginners

Saturday, October 18, 2014



Gracies Wrench's Tori Bortman helps bike riders maintain and repair their bikes with hands-on classes that go beyond the basics. Photo © Daniel Sharp Photography.

We've all heard it: That horrible, high-pitched screeching of a bone-dry chain creaking down the street on a bicycle. Like fingernails on blackboard, it sends shivers down the spine of professional bike mechanics. It makes me daydream of wearing a holstered belt full of “lube guns” which I would aim and at these poor, neglected chains and pulleys, saving them from an untimely death.

Proper chain lubrication is one of the easiest and most critical elements of bike care. Yet many who are new to cycling as a lifestyle are reluctant to embrace do-it-yourself repairs, seeing their bikes as useful but confusing, complicated machines.

Well, fear no more. Gracie's Wrench offers a pedaler's plethora of how-to classes, all aimed at demystifying basic bike parts, cleaning, and repairs.

Owner Tori Bortman shares her years of industry expertise as a professional bike mechanic and cycling instructor to empower bike owners. In small group classes that provide hands-on experience, she helps cyclists learn how to do basic maintenance and simple repairs.

“While there is a lot of information on how-to repairs out there for people—in books and on the internet—there's no substitute for hands-on experience working on your own bike” said Bortman. “My classes allow students to go at a pace that allows them to absorb new information—and ask questions. Mistakes provide learning experiences for the whole group. You can't get that kind of feedback and support from a book or a youtube video.”

Bortman's lessons go beyond the basics to provide the tricks and tips that mechanics in bike shops use every day. She shows students where to put their hands, and how to push, pull, wheedle, or manhandle their bikes with wrenching aplomb.

Gracie's Wrench offers several different tutorial environments and focuses including: Full Tune Up, Tune-Up Review, Beginner Maintenance, Beginner Maintenance for Women, and Individual One-On-One options.

The affordable classes occur in a small, private studio in NE Portland. Gracies wrench provides all the tools and work stands. Participants bring their own bicycles, any parts that need to be replaced, rags for cleanup and a willingness to get dirty.

For more information or to register for a class, visit www.gracieswrench.com

Üma Kleppinger is a Portland-based copy writer, author and advocate for full-contact anti-bummer living, by bike. She is a recovering sesquipedalian who writes about life in the saddle and outdoor adventure. She is also the author of BikeYoga, a yoga program for cyclists. When not writing, she can be found riding and racing her mountain bike throughout the Pacific Northwest.


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