Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The tentative utility cyclist gift guide: Fenders

When I drive, I don't wear any automobile-specific clothing. No flame retardant racing suit. No driving moccasins. And since Bike Year was conceived as an attempt to replace car trips with bike trips, I don't wear any bicycle-specific clothing either. No tights. No jersey. The clothes I wear at the office and in the supermarket are the same clothes I wore on the way there on my bike.

That's why fenders are important to me. They keep what's on the road from being on me, which is helpful since I don't make a costume change once I arrive at my destination. Unfortunately, fenders don't come standard on many bikes these days. Fortunately, almost any bike can be retrofitted with them. Plus, I think bikes look almost naked without fenders.

I've tried two varieties of after-market fenders. First I bought Planet Bike Freddy Fenders. Then I tried Zefal CAB fenders. Then I went back to the Freddy Fenders. The main advantage of the Freddy Fenders is their adjustability for different frame sizes and geometries.

Planet Bike even makes a fender for bikes that lack the eyelets for mounting fenders, called the SpeedEZ. One word of warning about these, however. When you unpack the fenders, throw away the rubber straps that are used to mount the fenders to the forks and seat stays. Use some zip ties instead. The rubber straps on my fenders began cracking after 30 days and had completely deteriorated within 60.

If you can't get with the plastic fenders, check out these beautiful things.


Tommy Williams said...

Or there are these instructions to make fenders from old campaign signs. I see a surprising number of people around here (Seattle area) with these self-made fenders.

Evan said...

Brilliant suggestion. Fenders make riding so much more comfortable in the rain or after the rain or even down dusty trails. Fenders rule.

theboy said...

Fenders are great. I had trouble with cold feet for years and couldn't imagine that fenders would help -- I was completely wrong.

Still, some people - my pal Gerty among them - just can't abide the way they look. We had to get her a second "utility" bike before she would agree to use them.

Planet Bike fenders are fine, and they come in yellow - which is pretty fun. But I think the SKS fenders are unbeatable (and unbreakable.)

Anonymous said...

I hope someone's still looking at this post...

Anyway, I'm thinking of adding fenders to my bike and have one question.

Can you still use the "quick release" function on a front wheel after adding a fender? I typically take off my front wheel when I lock up my bike.

John said...

Since the fender would be resting on the ground when the wheel was removed, you'd have to be pretty careful to make sure it wasn't broken or knocked out of position when it makes contact with the ground.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, John! :)