Fenders for Different Tire Sizes


As the rains return to the northern hemispheres, many cyclists’ thoughts turn toward fenders (or mudguards, as British riders call them). Fortunately, the idea that fenders are just an afterthought is long passé – today, most real-world bikes are designed with fenders in mind from the onset. Just like Porsche and Ferrari only sell cars with fenders…

Whether you are planning a new bike or retrofitting an old one, fitting fenders takes some consideration. Well-mounted fenders enhance the appearance of the bike, and they disappear when riding – until the roads get wet, when they protect your body and your bike’s drivetrain from the road spray that makes life so miserable.

Poorly designed and/or poorly mounted fenders rattle and resonate, they drip water onto your feet, and they often break prematurely. Sometimes, they even catch on the front tire and send you over the handlebars.

Fluted Honjo fender

The best fenders are stiff enough to hold their shape, are long enough to prevent front wheel spray from reaching your feet and drivetrain, and have rolled edges that keep the water inside, so it doesn’t drip onto your feet. Rene Herse aluminum fenders meet all these requirements, plus they are lightweight and beautiful.

Once you have ridden with these fenders, you realize that plastic fenders are at most “50% fenders” – they keep some water off you, but they offer only 50% the protection and riding comfort that you get with the best fenders.

We went one step further: The fenders we sell are longer than Honjo’s ‘standard’ models, both for the front and rear fenders, to provide even more coverage and less spray onto your feet and drivetrain. And our custom hardware ensures secure mounting.

Requirements for good fender installation:


  • Clearance (required). Some riders manage to squeeze a fender into a 5 mm gap between tire and frame, but ideally, you should have about 30 mm between the tire and the bridges/fork crown. 20 mm (above) is workable, but if you have much less then you are running into safety risks. On some bikes, it may be necessary to switch to narrower tires when mounting fenders.


  • Chainstay bridge (highly desirable): If your bike doesn’t have a chainstay bridge, fender mounting will be difficult. There are work-arounds, such as using a clamp on the seat tube and cutting the fender short, but they are less than ideal.


  • Drilled bridges (required): If your chainstay and seatstay bridges aren’t drilled for fenders, then fender installation will be difficult. Ideal is a vertical drilling (above), which allows direct mounting of the fenders. Rene Herse fenders come with an optional sliding bracket that allows mounting the fenders on a seatstay bridge drilled horizontally for a rear brake.
  • If your bridge isn’t drilled, you can drill it yourself and install a rivnut. Rivnuts usually are used to retrofit waterbottle bosses on older frames.
  • Equidistant bridges (desirable): When you look at the three photos above, you see that the gap between tire and bridge is the same at the seatstay and chainstay bridges, as well as the fork crown. (The same applies to any fender mounting points on the racks.) This makes it easy to get good fender lines and to install the fenders stress-free, which is crucial for their longevity. If your bridges aren’t spaced correctly, you’ll need to figure out spacers to mount your fenders.

The short summary of the above: As long as you have adequate clearances, you can use Rene Herse fenders.


Which fenders for which tire size?

Generally, fenders should be about 30-40% wider than your tires. This allows them to wrap around your tires without encroaching on the required clearances. This works well for tires up to 42 mm wide, which are best used with 58-60 mm-wide fenders.

However, you cannot scale up fenders indefinitely: Fenders wider than 62 mm do not work with road drivetrains: The chain hits the fender in the smallest gears. For tires wider than 42 mm, stick with a 62 mm-wide fender. Choose a model that does not wrap around the tire very far, and mount it higher above the tire to provide the required clearance. You get a bit of “air” showing between tire and fender, but this “motocross” look is inevitable if you want to run ultra-wide tires with a road drivetrain. (Mountain bike cranks sit further outward and have room for wider fenders.)

Here is a list of Rene Herse tires and recommended fenders:

  • 26″ x 1.25″ – 1.8″ tires: 26″ smooth, 60 mm wide.
  • 26″ x 2.3″ tires: 650B smooth. These fenders are 60 mm wide and don’t wrap very far around the tire. The 26″ x 2.3″ tires have the same outer diameter as 650B x 42 mm tires, so 650B fenders are a good choice.


If you buy Rene Herse fenders, we include a reprint of Peter Weigle’s article on fender installation in Bicycle Quarterly 34, with easy step-by-step guidance on how to indent the fenders for fork crown and chainstays (don’t cut aluminum fenders!) and how to mount them free of stresses, so they will give decades of silent, trouble-free performance.

Click here for more information about Rene Herse fenders.

About Jan Heine

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Rene Herse Cycles, that turns our research into the high-performance components we need for our adventures.
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61 Responses to Fenders for Different Tire Sizes

  1. Robert says:

    To take this one step further, rather than the leather “mud flaps” I have been using, I see some bikes with longer flaps both front and rear (mostly rear) which look pretty effective.
    Can you shed some light on materials, construction, etc.?

    • Long mudflaps tend to be not very effective, since they move out of the way when hit by spray. Basically, a mudflap cannot make up for insufficient fender coverage. Also, leather gets very soft when it gets wet, so it’s not ideal for a mudflap.

      We’ve found that the best material for mudflaps is rubber – available at hardware stores to make your own gaskets. I use material that is about 1.5 mm thick, and crimp it between the rolled edges of the metal fenders. We had detailed instructions and patterns for mudflaps in Bicycle Quarterly 45 (Autumn 2013).

    • Jason Dul says:

      Long mudflaps *can be* effective if they’re made from a stiff enough material which doesn’t get knocked about by spray. I’ve seen some pretty ineffective ones made from material which flopped around and looked dangerous as if it could flip about and get caught in the wheel.
      The best commercially available ones I’ve used are for narrower fenders, 45mm and less. They’re the reflective flaps from Randonneurs USA, and they’re a stiff but slightly flexible plastic with 3M SOLAS reflective material on one side. I have a pair on my 35mm SKS longboards; I popped the stock short flaps off and replaced them with the RUSA long flaps.
      If you’re looking to make a pair of long flaps, the best material I found was rubber stair tread material from your local hardware store. It’s stiff yet pliable, and easy to cut to any length and width you prefer. Once mounted inside the fender, the slight curvature will help stiffen it up further and even a super-long flap in the rear won’t give way when riding in heavy rain.

      • Perhaps all the RUSA mudflaps I have seen on bikes were poorly mounted. They tended to move sideways, so they only caught the wind, but not the rear wheel’s spray.

      • marmoytte27 says:

        Too stiff a material can be counterproductive, too. I made a flap from an old plastic folder, the material is only 1 mm thick, however, when riding through a sahllow puddle, or just water collected in a rut, the water thrown up by the tire is scooped up by the mudflap and splashes around it onto my feet. When I mentioned this earlier on this blog, Jan thought, the flap might be to stiff.
        I haven’t had time yet to go looking for another material like the rubber sheets Jan recommends. They don’t seem to be as readily available in hardware stores in France.

      • Jason Dul says:

        “Perhaps all the RUSA mudflaps I have seen on bikes were poorly mounted. They tended to move sideways, so they only caught the wind, but not the rear wheel’s spray.”

        I had that issue at first with them, especially on gravel roads
        They only come with a single mounting screw per flap, which does allow them to swing sideways if not tightened down enough or if riding on rough terrain. I use the mounting screw to fasten it to the fender, and a single pop-rivet to hold it from swinging around.

      • nextsibling says:

        The trick is to mount them inside the fender and tighten them down so they conform to the fender’s shape, then and they stay put.

      • nic says:

        The best material I’ve used for custom mudflaps is what we call here “crazy carpet”, a toy for sliding over snow covered slopes. Not sure what kind of plastic it is made of, nylon?, polypropylene?, but tough and just flexible enough, cheap and easy to work on, a choice of colors but the most desirable black may be difficult to get. When I find it, I make a provision. Yes, inside the fender is the best place and with two screws, one above the other, it won’t move. I think a rear mudflap balances the aesthetic of the bike equipped with a front one, and protects the rider behind you…

  2. Greg says:

    An excellent and timely summary! I’m working on an old Woodrup for my wife at the moment, and this bike will have proper fenders, so these guidelines are quite helpful. Thanks!!

  3. Willem says:

    My RTP tyres arived in the post yesterday, and they look and feel very promising. Mounting them on my loaded touring bike will have to wait until I am back in Europe after Christmas, however. I have ordered a set of Gilles Berthoud fenders because at least on paper they seemed marginally wider (and are easier to get hold of back home). Fitting the tyres and fenders will be a challenge on my bike, given that it has Magura HS66 brakes and a 59 mm internal width fork crown. I will report once they are fitted.

  4. Joe Ramey says:

    Thanks Jan, as always a good article. I would remind you that rains are returning to the Pacific Northwest not the Northern Hemispheres. For instance for those of us in the Four Corner states, the wet season is July-October. Our winters are dry on average.

    But what prompted me to write was the statement that plastic fenders are “at most 50% fenders.” I would agree that plastic fenders are not as efficient as rolled edge metal fenders. My qualitative perception from using both is they are about 98% fenders. There is an occasional drip onto my shoes from the edge of the front fender, among the dozen or hundreds of drops falling from the sky. The plastic fenders channel nearly all (98%?) of the road splash away from me and my bike. They have some advantages of less expense, ease of installation, increased safety with releasable front stays, and some increased aesthetics for certain bikes.
    Ride 13Oct12

    Wishing you a wonderful wet season. Ride on!

    Joe in Grand Junction Colorado

    • nextsibling says:

      Agree with the above (been using SKS for years and they work just fine) but would also note they’re actually 33% fenders (of the price).

      • I am glad the SKS fenders work well for you. I used to think they were OK, too, until I did back-to-back rides with Honjos and SKS.

        When you look at your photo above, you see that your drivetrain is protected from spray only by the mudflap. I suspect that mudflap moves a lot when you go fast on downhills – to the point where it may pose a safety hazard (if it touches the tires). As to the drip – most plastic fenders have brackets on the inside that act as dams and divert the water outward to the stays, where it forms a very steady drip onto your feet. That will completely soak your feet within 15 minutes, whereas your body heat will keep your feet relatively dry in all but the biggest downpours with Honjo fenders.

        You really have to experience the difference to realize how nice riding in the rain can be…

        And then you have the longevity issue – plastic fenders rarely last more than 10,000 miles, while well-mounted aluminum ones last as long as the bike. So if you ride a lot, the aluminum fenders actually are less expensive in the long run.

      • Jason Dul says:

        I’ve used aluminium fenders (Velo-Orange) and plastic fenders (Planet Bike, SKS) and there are definitely differences, but not (IMO) as drastic as you’re making them out to be.

        Either type of fender will pose a safety hazard if improperly mounted, but on the flip side, plastic fenders can mount up just as solidly as metal ones if properly installed. The big thing that many people (even mechanics) don’t realize is that for plastic fenders you have to bend the struts straight after getting them mounted up, so they’re not bowed from the eyelet to the fender bracket. That bowing will cause lots of movement, rattling, and safety issues. It’s that rattling and movement which lead to the durability problems that I have seen with plastic fenders, mostly with the rivets which hold either the strut brackets or the L-bracket for the crown mount. On the plus side, though, you can drill the loose rivet and pop in a new one to shore them up if that happens.
        There’s certainly some additional dripping issues with plastic fenders versus metal fenders with rolled edges, but if I’m riding in the rain, I’m already wearing waterproof booties so some side drips don’t affect me.
        I’m only a few thousand into durability/stress testing my latest pair of SKS mounted up on my Domane, but I’ll make certain to keep a watch on what the total mileage I get out of them before they finally crap out on me.

      • nextsibling says:

        Not sure who you’re replying to, but that’s not my photo.

        The diverting water thing I’ve seen you mention before and so I’ve actively looked for it and still not sure what you mean because I’ve not seen it and my feet are fine. Maybe we mount our fenders differently? Maybe if we meet on the road in the rain sometime you could show me? For now, I think if I had such an unpleasant problem I might have noticed by now without you needing to tell me, because I, too, enjoy a ride in the rain.

        The SKS fenders on my commuter are about eight years old, aren’t particularly well taken care of and are still going strong. I think they’ve paid for themselves by now. I sometimes wonder how some folks must be treating their bikes.

        I have a lot of respect for the enquiring and dedicated work you do to investigate the technicalities of bicycling, but occasionally, like in this case, what you declare to be highly significant benefits of a significantly more expensive product seem highly marginal to me.

      • It’s OK to disagree… One of the important things about Bicycle Quarterly is that we detail exactly why we think something is better. This allows you to form your own opinions.

        Regarding the “dams” inside the plastic fenders, a friend once unriveted the bracket inside a plastic SKS front fender and re-riveted it on the outside of the fender. He noticed that his feet stayed significantly drier. Perhaps it’s sometimes hard to imagine how much better a different setup can be until you’ve experienced it first-hand. I certainly thought that SKS fenders were fine, and I originally put Honjos on my touring bike for aesthetic reasons only. But then I rode both bikes on consecutive days, and even though it was raining harder during the day on the Honjo-equipped bike, I was much drier than I had been on the SKS-equipped bike the day before.

      • Joe Ramey says:

        That was my photo. That bike, the Legolas, has changed significantly since the photo was taken (I wanted to share the background :-)) Now it has a higher rake/lower trail fork replacement and front load instead of saddle bag, all based on Jan’s BQ analysis. I love those changes and am grateful to Jan’s good work. But the SKS fenders remain.

        I cannot duplicate Jan’s observation of my feet being soaked (by rim drips) in 15 minutes and I rode today in a moderate rain for a one hour ride. My feet did get soaked but from falling rain running down my Sporthill tights and pooling in my shoes, not from fender drip. Perhaps Jan’s SKS fenders were set up differently than mine. My experience is that the Honjo fenders are superior but only by fraction, a fraction that does not usually matter to me. When it is raining I get wet. With full length fenders, plastic or metal, most of my wetness comes from above, or within, not below. Of my eight bikes, four have fenders. Two of those are nice metal, the other two plastic. So far the only fenders made for a Pugsley are plastic. 🙂

      • It may also be different fenders: I have no recent experience with the wider SKS fenders. Perhaps the narrow fenders – even though they were correctly sized for the narrow tires I was then running – exacerbated the problem of water exiting the sides?

  5. James says:

    It appears that with a full length fender, you are not able to rest the bike on the fork ends with the wheel removed (changing a flat for instance) or transport the bike with the front wheel removed and the fork mounted on a rack or truck-bed mount. Do you have suggestions or work around for this? Has the Honjo fender proven to be durable to mild impacts (for instance, dropping the bike with the front wheel removed)?

    • Tom Howarth says:

      Fuss your fork mount however you need to keep the handlebars off the cab and fenders above the bed. Attach fork mounts to a board and that board to large blocks that keep handlebars and fenders clear.
      Also, my bridges could accommodate really large tires and fenders. More space than needed for a good fit of fender to tire. Nylon spacers allow the perfect fit and line. They can easily be dialed in to just where you want them. I have given them plenty of reason to fail if they’d like, high speed washboard and such, two years service. They’ve stayed true, tight and quiet. Fenders Rock! Come home clean…

    • Grego says:

      When loading a front-fendered bike on a fork-mount rack, you want to use fender struts that are compatible with the SKS secu-clip mounts. You are already using those mounts on the front fender for your own safety, right? With those and a sufficiently flexible fender, you can release the fender at the lower mounts and allow it to flex upward as you mount the bike to the rack. Other options include unbolting the dang fender every time, or changing your fork-mount rack to a two-part variety (that has space for the fender behind the first part), or getting a fork-mount riser such as the Hurricane Fork-Up.

      • You mention carrying bikes with fenders on a car-roof rack. That is always an issue, because good fenders extend further than most roof racks allow. Using a two-piece rack, rather than one with a continuous tray, helps, since your fender then can go as low as the roof of your car. A fork riser, as you mention, can raise the front of the bike, so your fender clears the roof rack… I wish roof rack makers would start designing their racks for fenders. Fortunately for me, my bike rarely travels by car. Usually, I just ride it…

        The Secu-Clip mounts may improve safety for flexible fenders, but if your fenders are sufficiently stiff, you don’t need (and probably don’t want) them. We published a detailed article about fender safety in Bicycle Quarterly 49 (Autumn 2014), which looked at the issues that cause fenders to collapse onto the front wheel.

      • There also are some Rinko systems that allow for quick removal of the front fender. We may offer some of these in the future, if there is demand. This would allow removing your front fender in less than a minute, and eliminate all the issues associated with car roof racks and the racks on buses.

  6. Paul Ahart says:

    Yes, a very timely topic as we go into the wet season.
    Addressing brake bridges/chainstay/seatstay bridges: When encountering bridges that are not drilled (I had a 1983 Ritchey mtb this way) I found using vinyl-dipped R-clamps on the bridges (they often come with rack sets) and drilling a hole through the fender to attach, works pretty well.
    The Zefal plastic fenders on the Ritchey survived over 20 years of use and never failed.
    The bridges must be equa-distant from the tire. Last week I installed fenders on a customer’s bike with a seatstay bridge perfectly positioned, but the chainstay bridge required a 35mm long aluminum spacer to bring the fender into the correct position. Stupid frame design! Other frames have the chainstay bridge positioned so the front derailleur strikes the fender, requiring a fender cutaway.
    Aluminum fenders, installed correctly are certainly the way to go. Time-consuming to install, but worth every minute of effort! Superior in every way.
    Thanks for the good post!

    • I think the last time I rode a bike with fenders was in the 70s! We do the best job at installation, though; stainless hardware, no protruding stays, rubber tips that won’t come off, toothed washers on crown/bridge clip/bracket, etc.

  7. David says:

    You’ve featured Rinko rear fenders in recent issues of BQ. The problem I need to solve is how to transport my fendered bike on a fork mount roof rack tray (current one is Rocky Mounts). The bottom of the front fender collides w/the tray. My old Yakima Boa does not fit on the aero shape crossbar. Any suggestions?

  8. Being the contrarian, I’m going to put in my two bits for “race blades.” combined with a set of Seattle’s own Rainy Day Biking plastic mudflaps. The race blades are short fenders that attach to the fork and stays behind the fork crown and behind the rear brake bridge, so you don’t even have to have fender clearance or holes drilled in either. They are made by SKS (expensive) or Planet Bike (more reasonable and more adjustable) and take about a minute to install (and far less time to remove). They attach to the fork and stays with rubber belts with holes that align with hooks on the fender mounts, so no eyelets are required. They are designed for bikes that are not designed for fenders, and they work great. But you have to attach the mudflaps. The front flap keeps your feet and bottom bracket relatively dry (compared to the alternative); the rear keeps the rider behind you quite dry and disinclined to berate you for not having mudflaps.If you have a bike with couplers, they are MUCH easier to pack in the regulation-size box than full fenders. And when you know it’s not going to rain (or that the roads will be dry), you can leave the fenders at home. Unlike most BQ readers, and being from California (although I live in the Pac NW now), I really prefer riding without fenders.
    Downsides: the rubber belts will break after a while, but they give you plenty of them. By the time you’ve gone thru all the belts, you’ll need new fenders anyway. The plastic hooks sometimes break, but they fail gracefully (you don’t need both belts to hold the stays in place), and when you discard an old set of fenders, you can remove the intact plastic thing with the hooks to use as a spare. Also, water and grit will get all over your rear sidepulls and the back of your calves. And if the fork blades are the wrong shape, you spend some time adjusting the front fender so it’s not rubbing. But the way it attaches (at the fork blade), it will NOT get caught by the front wheel and cause a sudden endo.
    Yes, I agree that full fenders are superior in keeping you clean in the rain, but you’re going to get wet regardless of what fenders you use, and I don’t mind getting the area below my knees dirty from rear wheel splash-off. I have a whisk broom on a hook next to my front door (as well as one in my car) to take care of that little problem!

    • I am glad the Race Blades work for you, but please don’t add mudflaps to them without first checking with the manufacturer.

      When I see Race Blade fenders with mudflaps added, I am very concerned about the rider’s safety. These fenders move around a lot by themselves, and adding more weight and area to catch the wind makes it even more likely they’ll touch the tire and get sucked into the wheel. I know too many people who’ve had fender-related accidents to be casual about that.

  9. One tip if your bike does not have a chainstay bridge: rather than clamp a mount to the seat tube, get a hold of a Planet BIke Blinky mount, and mount it to the drive-side chainstay where it’s not well seen. The mount has an adjustable interface which can be drilled and mounted to the fender. The fender does not have to be shortened. I used this setup for three years on a Trek road bike lacking a bridge, and the fender never rattled or moved out of its position:

    • Jonathan says:

      That’s a great workaround.

    • Jason Dul says:

      I haven’t seen that solution before, but I’m going to pass the info around to the rest of the crew at our shop on the off chance that we run into the issue. (With credit to you and your shop, of course.)

  10. David says:

    There is another reason to use fenders with good coverage: not to spray the people who ride behind you! It always struck me that when doing rides with the usual racing bike crew, i was the only one with fenders but got all the dirt on my face an torso.

    The ease of setup of the SKS Fenders makes them the best choice for bike shops, as you can install them in about 45 minutes. are cheap and work reasonably well. I am sure this is why Rivendell uses them on their bikes.
    Aluminum Fenders (especially if they are not predrilled) take at least 2-3 hours to install if the bike is designed with all the bridges and clearances. Imagine what a shop would have to charge if you would like to upgrade your current bike to these aluminum fenders…So at the end, either you do it yourself (and you will spend the whole day to install them, if you’re picky about fender line even probably more), or you will have to live with some compromises.
    I love my Honjo’s and they surely are the best fenders on the market.

    • marmoytte27 says:

      “So at the end, either you do it yourself (and you will spend the whole day to install them, if you’re picky about fender line even probably more), or you will have to live with some compromises.”

      Well, that’s what you do anyway, if you really care about your bike, don’t you, Be it fenders or any other item you want to install, or repair.. I reckon, it took me about 6 hours to install my Berthoud fenders correctly on my bike. I will soon add a little to that in installing screws with boltheads that don’t protrude so far on the inside of the fenders.

  11. Jack Nolan says:

    I’m sorry, but for $150, I’ll stick with plastic for several seasons over.

    • For me, one long rainy ride amortizes the cost of expensive fenders. If somebody offered to pay me $ 75 to be miserable and wet for hours, and perhaps sick for days thereafter, I’d gladly decline the offer…

      • thebvo says:

        So, is it ok to use VO fenders for less moolah?
        Why are the hammered fenders not listed for 650×42, but those are on your bike?
        Is this native advertising?
        I ride 650b Hammered and Rinko’d Honjo’s on Compass 700c-38’s and I still get splash sometimes. Aluminum fenders can be bent very easily, so the fender line is good and there is a mudflapper, and yet nothing is perfect. Will a 26″ touring frame designed around the new chubby tires from Compass have fender options? The motorbike analogy is appealing and perhaps a section could be cut-away for the chain line. Rat Trap Pass tyres on a world-tour…

      • Velo-Orange sold Honjo fenders for a while to figure out how they were made, and then sent them to a cheaper manufacturer to copy. They benefited from Honjo’s R&D free of charge. I have mixed feelings about that, so I don’t have any experience with Velo-Orange fenders. Generally, copies often don’t work as well as the originals…

        The Grand Bois 650B hammered fenders (made by Honjo to Grand Bois exclusive patterns) are listed for 650B x 42 mm tires.

      • What VO did was manufacture a component for which there weren’t a lot of available choices and a very small market, which they saw as growing. They were able to bring costs down and contributed to the increase in popularity of metal fenders over the past decade- a Good Thing. And it’s not like Honjo didn’t get “free” R&D from other manufacturers of alloy fenders– alloy fenders were around before Honjo came on the scene in the 1940s, if my history is correct.

        As for reliability and quality, I’ve owned at least four pair of Honjos and four pair of VO fenders, and the VO are every bit as good. My oldest pair date back five years and they are still in perfect shape. My most recent Honjo pair have very weird ends; the shaped ends are asymmetric and look lopsided when viewed straight on– clearly a QC oversight. They were purchased from a reputable and long-standing Honjo retailer, not a grey-area discount source selling “seconds”.

        I’ve also noticed that some of the finest current day builders, many of whom you’ve tested in BQ, use VO fenders on some of their builds (didn’t the recent Weigle you tested have VO fenders? You rode that bike extensively.)

  12. Fred says:

    Hi, Jan

    In the post you mention that the Honjo fenders come provided with “sliding brackets” to allow mounting on a bike without a vertically drilled seatstay bridge. However, the Compass Bicycles online store states “Sorry, no sliding brackets, etc., available to mount these fenders to bikes without threaded bridges”. Could you please clarify?

  13. Ken Brennan says:

    Random thoughts on fenders: I like metal fenders–price not withstanding. Honjo fenders look great, but I prefer a slightly thicker aluminum fender.
    Recently I’ve replaced all the split ring lock washers (fender stays) and tooth lock washers (mounting points to frame & fork) with nord-lock washers. Yeah, nora-lock washers are over-kill; but this seems like the best solution to prevent a bolt from vibrating loose. Gradual settlement (compression) of a leather washer between the fender and frame doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    • My bikes have been ridden between 20 and 60,000 miles after I installed the fenders, and not one fender has come loose. Good frame design and good installation reduces the stresses on the fenders, so the bolts don’t tend to come loose. Even the Oregon Outback, which had enough vibrations to wear through the cloth tape that I used to attach spare spokes to the fender stays, didn’t loosen my fenders…

  14. Conrad says:

    I’m not sure how a rivnut works. I had Cyclefab install (braze) threaded bosses on the seatstay and chainstay bridges of my old Bianchi Volpe. They also added one to my front rack to properly mount the front fender too. It was inexpensive, quick, and worth it. I really prefer metal fenders over the SKS fenders: the front keeps your feet much drier and the back doesn’t have the sliding bracket that works loose and breaks on a regular basis.

    • A rivnut is a pop rivet that is threaded internally like a bottle cage braze-on. So you drill a hole in the frame tube, insert the rivet, pop it, and you have a bottle (or fender) mount. Not as nice as a brazed-in eyelet – the rivnut can loosen and turn as you tighten the bolt if you screw/unscrew your bottle cage/fender multiple times – but a quick and easy solution for an old frame that you don’t want to repaint.

  15. Jon Blum says:

    I am curious what car rack systems work best with fenders (I like to ride from home, but sometimes that’s not feasible). Years ago, Yakima made a rack with a riser for the front fork that allowed rooftop mounting of bikes with low-rider front racks, but I don’t think it’s been available for a long time. For rear-mounted racks, most of the nicer ones (which hold the bike from below rather than dangling it) seem to have a hook over the front wheel (e.g., Thule, Yakima) or brackets that lean against both wheels (1 Up), and it seems like those would put an unacceptable amount of pressure on the fender(s). Is there a better solution for a hitch-mounted rack?

    • DG says:

      The Yakima mount you remember from yore is the Boa and it fits round and square bars. It’s still available – https://www.yakima.com/boa. We had a Thule Helium hitch rack that held the bike by the top tube. The problem was the bikes ended up touching each other. The aero bars are much quieter and RockyMount trays are quiet as well. The Boa was quiet too. All of the mounts that hold a complete bike the wheels have a support somewhere that is compatible w/one of your fenders and/or front rack.

  16. Antoine says:

    What about stainless steel fenders, like Berthoud’s ?

  17. David Pearce says:

    Interesting that the English refer to fenders, which I consider are to fend off WATER, as mudguards.

    You’ve already explained to me in your cyclocross columns, that one can’t use “fenders” or “mudguards” in cyclocross competitions, because the real mud, quickly clogs up fenders.

    • Mudguards or fenders are very welcome when there is just some mud on the road. Once, I followed a herd of cows in Chile on a bike without mudguards… A lot of washing of bike and rider was required upon returning to the hotel!

      • David Pearce says:

        I’ll bet! And even on my mountain bike, I love the “flying” rear mudguard that is attached to my seat post. My sister’s mountain bike has no fender right now, and the difference in cleanliness of the backs of our sweatshirts at the end of a watery, dirty road ride is obvious.

  18. bradci says:

    My experience with metal fenders has been that they aren’t as durable as advertised. But I love them anyway for their effectiveness, and aesthetics. And really, they aren’t that much more expensive, if at all, to other good plastic fenders.
    I’ve had two sets of rear fenders crack on two bikes since I moved to London (a set of hammered VO fenders, and a set of Honjo fenders). The roads in and around London are horrible with lots of cracks and seams, and badly applied rough chip seal, so maybe that has something to do with it compared to riding in Seattle. The constant vibration of bad surfaces and phantom potholes are potentially the cause. I never had SKS fenders break over 10 years of use on the old Bianchi I rode in Seattle.
    Even so, the metal fenders are extremely effective in the rain and with a decent flap to extend the coverage, I rarely ever wear shoe covers.

    • I am sorry to hear about your cracking rear fenders. When rear fenders crack, it’s usually because they were installed with stresses. The fender should be manipulated so it follows the curve of the rear wheel “naturally” – the fender stays should not be used to pull it into shape. On some bikes, that is more difficult to achieve than on others. Well-installed fenders will last for decades even when riding at speed on gravel roads.

      I, too, don’t wear shoe covers any longer, as I don’t find them necessary – except to keep off the wind on sub-freezing mountain descents.

  19. Rolling Resistance says:

    Are there wider aluminum or steel full lenght fenders wider than 60mm? I would like to get set for 2,2″ tires on my dirt rando, any suggestions?

  20. Tony says:

    In your post you indicate that 30mm of clearance between fender and fork crown and bridges is desirable. I have a mid 1970’s Bertin that uses long reach brakes, and with 28mm tires only has 20mm of clearance! I was hoping to upgrade to 32mm tires, but now I’m concerned I don’t have enough room. -Tony

  21. emem1956 says:

    I’ve used mudguards for years. Mostly SKS, sometimes stainless steel or aluminium. SKS work well enough. Stainless steel is sturdy, but, for my uses, feels too heavy. Aluminium IME eventually cracks. Even when installed correctly. Looks great tho. Perhaps I’m careless, but IME in the long term *all* mudguards bend a little (or a lot) and require watching.
    To mount MGs, I use wing nuts in nifty ways that I can explain if anyone is interested. The MGs remove & reinstall easily with the wheels in. I regularly travel to Japan & take them off to stow in rinko bags (c.5mins to disassemble/reassemble bike & into/out of a bag—no need for anything fancy).
    In 40+ years I’ve had to stop maybe five times cos something’s got caught. Maybe twice was this dangerous. Once my rear mudguard accordioned & partially split when something got caught, I pulled it back into shape & rode with the resulting small deformation for years.
    I’m not entirely convinced that MGs make much difference when it rains *heavily* for longer than c.20mins. ( Do we need a wetness test?) MGs are essential, tho, if you’re caught out, esp. in street clothes.

    • emem1956 says:

      Roof racks:
      with wingnuts I can remove the front mudguard without tools & with the wheel in place in c.20secs.

      Thread a longer than usual bolt thru the eyelets from the inside, place a locknut on the outside of the eyelet, push the stays over the bolt & secure them with the wingnut. Alternatively, you can use bolts with a wingnut head & simply thread them into the eyelet. If your eyelets aren’t threaded, you may be able to secure a bolt to the stays, push the bolt thru the eyelet, and secure the wingnut on the inside of the eyelet.

      At the bridges fix an appropriate length bolt to the mudguard—thru the plastic/aluminium, or thru the mounting bracket—push it thru the mounting holes and close it off with a wingnut. The bridges should be drilled but not threaded. To use wingnuts with sidepull brakes you need old fashioned long mounting bolts.

      This is how many early-1970s racers in my part of the world put mudguards on their bikes for training (most bikes had eyelets). It works best with SKS-style mudguards cos they’re flexible. It works and/but looks retro. Like wingnuts on hub axles.

  22. Jan
    This will be my first response to your blog, although I have been reading it enthusiastically for the last few weeks. I have come to many of the same conclusions that you have, and it has been great to see my own views reflected when it comes to the type of bicycle that you advocate. I already agree that for me, wider tires are ideal, toe overlap is a problem, and that smaller wheels (smaller than 700c) can help me eliminate it. I agree that fenders are important both because I am living car free and because I don’t believe my riding should be controlled by the weather. I agree that my bicycle should be able to carry what I need for a ride or commute easily and conveniently, but there is where I have an issue. I am very interested in low trail bikes as they seem like they would help me integrate carrying capacity into the bike as a whole system, rather than just attaching the luggage as an afterthought. Unfortunately I live far from the Pacific Northwest, and don’t have access to a low trail bike to test ride. Another complication is that I have found in my own experience that I tend to prefer bikes with higher trail when I ride them unloaded, although I haven’t yet isolated trail from tire size, so it could be that I simply prefer bigger tires regardless of trail. I know that you often say we should ride the bikes we have, and consider all new information when it is time for a new bike, so that we don’t become dissatisfied with a perfectly good bike. I just so happen to be in the market for a new one already, and was wondering if you had any opinions on getting a low trail bike without the ability to ride it beforehand. Thank you.
    Brad Williams

    • Tony P. says:

      You can get a low trail fork from http://www.somafab.com/parts/forks and try it out on one of your current bikes.

    • There are a number of production bikes with low trail available. Find a bike shop that carries them, and go for a test ride on a Box Dog Pelican, a Toussaint, a Soma Grand Randonneur, or an Ocean Air Rambler – all of which I believe have low-trail geometries.

    • Thank you both for the responses. Tony: the fork seems like a good option, I’ll have to see if it will work on what I currently have access to, a 700c cyclocross bike. Just a quick comparison of the lengths shows that they’re within 10 mm of each other, 385 for the soma vs 395 for the stock fork. It might not be terrible that the soma is shorter since the HT on my bike is 71 degrees anyway, although I guess it might cause issues elsewhere that I haven’t thought of.

      Jan: I’ve had the Grand Randonneur in mind since there are a few shops here in Kansas City that sell Soma, but unfortunately they don’t stock any of them in *any* size. My guess is that I would have to put a deposit down to get near one just to throw a leg over, but I could always ask. Toussaint only has dealers in New York and Seattle. I can’t find a list of dealers for Box Dog or Ocean Air, but I have never seen them in a shop here. Unfortunately for me KC has a very strong racing scene, and most of the shops in town do a good job of catering to that crowd.

      I’ll consider both of these options (the fork from soma, or the grand rando) so thank you both.
      Brad Williams

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