TORI BORTMAN IS the cheerful force behind Gracie's Wrench (, where she provides personal cycling coaching and one-on-one bike repair training. Bortman has built a career out of empowering cyclists to take control of their riding experience—an admitted klutz, she's got a down-to-earth, "If I can do it, anyone can" approach to bike maintenance. Her mechanic secrets are simple.

1. Every week, air up your tires and lube your chain. They will make your bike feel brand new. It's unreal.

2. For the novice, use your intuition. If you feel like your bike isn't stopping well or the gears aren't shifting properly, you're probably right. Don't let it get to the point where you get used to a funny noise.

3. Every shop I know gives a free estimate. If you don't want to get it fixed, then don't fix it—but at least find out what's wrong with your bike.

4. Don't be intimidated by the bike shop. You're the customer, and you belong there. Ask to be treated well.

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