My PBP Bike: Fenders

My PBP Bike: Fenders

Until 1991, all bikes in Paris-Brest-Paris had to be equipped with fenders. Traditionally, this had been a way to distinguish randonneur events from races – the randonneurs were expected to ride bikes that were equipped for real-world riding. However, by the 1980s, there simply weren’t many performance bikes with fenders any longer, and most riders struggled to put fenders onto their racing bikes. The rule no longer made sense, and so it was abandoned.

Now that fenders are no longer required in Paris-Brest-Paris, why run them at all? Apart from the fact that the fenders are an integral part of my bike, the weather during a 1200 km (750 mile) ride is always unpredictable. It doesn’t have to be a year like 2007, where I rode 49:49 hours in the rain. Even a short thunderstorm during a sunny afternoon will soak your shorts if you don’t have fenders, and riding in wet shorts can lead to saddle problems and end your ride prematurely.

Until about 15 years ago, German-style plastic fenders were pretty much the only style available in the U.S. They worked OK…but I recall my surprise when I rode in the rain for the first time with a set of French-style aluminum fenders: The fenders kept not only my back and upper body dry, but my legs and feet, too.

There’s a lot to fenders that doesn’t immediately meet the eye. Aluminum fenders have rolled edges that keep the water inside. Plastic fenders don’t. In fact, they usually have brackets riveted to the inside where the stays attach. These brackets act as dams and divert the water in the fender outward, until it drips onto your feet. It may not sound like much, but a drop every second will have your feet soaked in no time.

Another important point is coverage. The water that the fender catches must go somewhere. Most of it runs down and exits the fender at the bottom. There it is incorporated into the spray that comes off the wheel. Your front fender needs to extend downward far enough that all this spray does not hit your feet – otherwise, they’ll get wetter with fenders than without. The front fender should reach to within 12 cm (5″) of the ground – just high enough that it doesn’t get caught when you roll down a curb. A mudflap is useful to reduce that gap further; otherwise you’ll still get wet feet during fast downhills.

The difference between excellent and mediocre fenders is as great as the difference between mediocre fenders and none at all. Once your feet stay dray, you realize that, compared to the spray that comes off your wheels, relatively little rain is falling from the sky. And your drivetrain also stays dry and clean. Since running fenders, I rarely have to lubricate my chain.

To get sufficient coverage on the front, we used to install a cut-down rear fender on the front wheel. Having to buy two sets of fenders was expensive and wasteful – what do you do with the two front fenders that are left over? So we worked with Honjo in Japan, who make the world’s best fenders, to make Rene Herse fenders with sufficient coverage from the get-go.

Fenders inevitably add weight, but it’s less than most people think. Aluminum fenders are lighter than plastic ones, because the fender is stiffer, so only need two light aluminum stays, rather than four heavy steel ones that you find on plastic fenders.

Rene Herse fenders are lighter yet thanks to their tubular aluminum stays. There’s a story behind these: Many years ago, during one of my visits to Lyli Herse, we rummaged through her workshop, looking at everything that was left of Cycles Rene Herse: tools, parts, jigs, photos… We came across long lengths of aluminum tubing. Time had oxidized the aluminum. It was clearly decades old. What was its purpose? It took us a while to realize that this was the material Rene Herse had used for the fender stays of his bikes for the Concours de Machines, the competition for the best (and lightest) cyclotouring bikes.

My first Herse used some of that old tubing for the fender stays, and they’ve worked without problems for 20,000 miles, including hard rides like the 364-mile Oregon Outback gravel race. Clearly, they were strong enough, and they save 35 grams. So you don’t have to look for high-strength 5 mm aluminum tubing, we’re offering tubular stays as an option for our Rene Herse fenders.

Mounting the fenders well is essential for their performance. Ideally, all bridges are equidistant from the wheel centers, so the fenders mount easily. The bridges have threaded holes, so the fenders can be mounted directly. (You can use brackets if your bike doesn’t have fender mounting points.) A leather washer goes between fender and frame to keep things quiet and prevent the fender from rattling loose. Leather works better than plastic here, and you want high-quality, firm leather. (Our leather washers are made from scraps left over during the manufacture of handlebar bags.)

Where the fender fits between the chainstays and fork blades, it’s important to indent the fender and not cut it. That maintains its strength, whereas a cut will weaken the fender, and it may crack in the future. And since the stays and fork blades provide fixed points for the fenders, it’s OK if the fender clearance is a bit smaller in these spots.

Speaking of clearance, for safety and to prevent the fender clogging up with mud during winter gravel rides in the Cascade Mountains, I set my fenders with 20-25 mm (0.8-1.0″) clearance above the tire. That way, small stones that could crumble the fender simply pass through without doing damage. (Big stones are too heavy to be picked up with much force, so they just bounce off the rear edge of the fender.)

In the photo, you also can see the essential attachment point in front of the fork crown. On my bike, it’s part of the rack. It stabilizes the fender, making it quiet even on the roughest roads. It’s also essential for the durability of the fender. If you don’t have a rack with a mounting point, you can use a second fender stay. That’s why we sell fender stays separately, together with the hardware to mount them. Mounted correctly, aluminum fenders last as long as the bike they are attached to.

As an aside, you can see how I reshaped the end of the fender. It’s something Rene Herse did on his bikes, and I always thought it was a nice touch.

Another Rene Herse touch are our custom-made eyebolts for the fender stays. The rounded shape is a little lighter and a lot more elegant, but more importantly, the bolts don’t protrude into the fender any further than necessary, so there’s less risk that something gets caught on them. The tensiloc nuts we use to tighten the eyebolts won’t come loose, no matter how fast you ride and how rough the roads are. They may cost a bit more (actually, they cost 9x as much as standard nuts), but for me that is worth it: Fenders should be install-and-forget components.

A lot of readers have asked about my mudflaps. There’s no big secret – I cut them out of a thin plastic file folder. I first made a cardboard template, then transferred the shape onto the plastic. They slide into the rolled edges of the fender and reach up far enough that the fender stay bolts hold them in place. The holes in the mudflap are large to fit over the nuts on the eyebolts, so the mudflap simply snaps in place. Installing and removing takes just seconds. Last year’s Paris-Brest-Paris was dry, so I took off the mudflaps and carried them in my handlebar bag, just in case. (They weigh just a few grams.) Our wind tunnel tests have shown that mudflaps add a little drag, whereas the fenders themselves shield the tires and improve the bike’s aerodynamics. So on my performance bike, I don’t use mudflaps unless I need them.

On my other bikes, I make the mudflaps from thin rubber sheets that you can buy at hardware stores to make your own gaskets. I install those mudflaps permanently by crimping the fender edges so they hold the mudflap firmly in place. Some riders use leather mudflaps, but I’ve found them to be too flexible, especially when they get wet. During fast descents, they extend straight back and become ineffective just when I need them most.

Of course, there’s more to fenders and how to install them, which is why all Rene Herse fenders come with detailed, illustrated instructions. But now it’s time to head out for a ride rather than think more about fenders…

Other parts in this series:

Photo credits: Duncan Smith (Photos 4, 7); Nicolas Joly (all others).

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Comments (53)

  • Joe.B

    Nice idea for the mud flaps Jan. I used to have a roll of thick silicon bricklaying damp course that was perfect for making mud flaps from though recently I’ve bought an A4 sized sheet of 5mm leather from which I will cut out some mud flaps for my Gilles Berthoud mudguards. Much cheaper and more satisfying than buying them from GB or Brooks.

    September 29, 2020 at 1:40 am
  • rnst

    Hi Jan,

    thank you for sharing the details of this wonderful bike.

    I’m using cork instead of leather for the washers on my fenders: I just cut a slice from a wine cork and punch a hole in the center. Simple and cheap, maybe not quite as elegant, but it seems to work well.

    I’m looking forward for more details on derailleurs, stem and bottom bracket

    September 29, 2020 at 3:55 am
  • Darren Cope

    Many others advocate for ‘breakaway’ style fender stays to prevent sticks or other large yet light objects from jamming up the fender and locking the wheel. You don’t mention this, and I see no such design here. Do you worry about this issue? If not, why not?

    September 29, 2020 at 5:46 am
    • Jan Heine

      That’s a good question. We’ve done a lot of research into fender safety, as I have several friends who had their plastic fenders collapse, sending them over the handlebars. I’ve also had a metal fender on a test bike wrap around the front wheel when the attachment on the carbon fork broke loose – it was improperly glued in. (I was unhurt because the fender stay broke off, and the fender went to the side.)

      Keys to fender safety are a stiff fender and sufficient clearance. Small objects don’t have much inertia, so they get picked up with great force. You want those to go through the fender, not get stuck. This also means that good fender lines are not just aesthetic – if your fender gets closer to the wheel at the fork crown, you may run into trouble. On my bike, I don’t get the ‘scrrrtchhh’ sound of small rocks rolling through the fender, even though I ride on gravel roads at high speeds. Bigger objects get picked up with much less force, but your fender still needs to be stiff enough so they bounce off when they hit the trailing edge of the fender. That is why wider fenders and fenders that wrap around the tire more don’t just keep you drier, they are also safer. If your bike can deal with both small objects going through the fender and large objects bouncing off, it’s best to have the fender firmly attached. Break-away features have a tendency to accidentally release when riding fast on gravel, and the last thing I want when descending a twisty gravel road is my front fender suddenly flopping around and the stays dangling in the spokes.

      If a bike doesn’t meet the criteria for safe fenders, then a break-away feature is useful when the fender picks up an object that is getting wedged into the fender: As the fender starts to move upward, the stay releases from dropout, and the fender can move upward and create enough room for the object to (hopefully) fall out. In practice, this works about 80%-90% of the time – two friends had accidents with plastic fenders that had the break-away feature. For metal fenders, the Berthoud plastic R-clamps offer the break-away feature if it’s needed on the bike: The fender stay just pulls out of the clamp.

      All this isn’t just theoretical reasoning: When I researched fender safety, I asked all the old randonneurs in France if they knew of accidents with fenders. These guys had ridden hundreds of thousands of miles on bikes with (properly mounted) aluminum fenders, and they had competed in hundreds of events where fenders were required. They remembered all kinds of crashes, but not one of them was caused by a fender locking up the wheel. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, but it means that adding a break-away feature that can release accidentally will make a good fender less, not more, safe.

      September 29, 2020 at 8:42 am
      • Luis Bernhardt

        Coming from a racing background (where fenders are NOT allowed on race bikes), I am not a big fan of fenders unless I’m riding in rain or on wet roads, when I become a huge fan! My compromise is to use race blades (SKS, or Planet Bike – cheaper and more adjustable). Although they don’t keep you as dry, the one big advantage of race blades is that their attachment point on the fork – about a third of the way between hub and crown – removes the problem of the fender getting jammed by the front wheel. My biggest front wheel stoppage crash was a result of using a normal front fender, with attachment at the dropout. But the fender was mounted too close to the front tire. The tire actually wore away the rivet holding the plastic fender to the support brace behind the front tire. When the fender separated from the support, it got sucked forward by the tire, and the remaining brace actually tightened against the tire, stopping it completely! This can’t happen with the supports attached higher up the fork. (Or by ensuring there is enough clearance between tire and fender, but this was back in the close-clearance 23mm tire days!)

        September 29, 2020 at 9:25 am
        • Jan Heine

          Back in those days, most of us ran older bikes with more generous clearances as ‘rain bikes.’ I had a Celo Europa that had the same lugs as a Colnago (both brands start with C) with Esge/SKS fenders. It was a very nice bike, but the fenders made it less-than-pleasant to ride. The drivetrain was always gritty, and the fenders rattled and broke every other winter… If we knew then what we know now!

          September 29, 2020 at 11:09 pm
      • Alain Lambert

        Dear Jan,
        Thank you for your insight into fenders.
        I am riding a RH randonneuse since 1984, and if I share most of your experience with fenders, I favour half of the clearance you are recommending above the tire.
        Indeed, for about ten years, I commuted through a forest path and during the first years, using the original 25 mm tires, it happens that the front fender picked up some tree branch with twice the consequent blocking and fall.
        I couldn’t find the remedy to avoid these accidents, but by adopting 28 mm tires for all-round advantages, this problem never happened again (I knock on wood…).
        So, I am inclined to think that the resulting clearance reduction has been the factor.
        Admittedly, mud clogging might be a problem, and sometimes, I had to offset it by walking in a cyclo-cross style.
        Kind regards

        September 29, 2020 at 1:44 pm
      • djm

        There is another fender failure mode that motivates an emergency release. I had an unseen stick catch inside the front wheel rim and spokes which then jammed against the fender stay(s). Fortunately the stick broke before the wheel locked up, but not before partially buckling the Berthoud stainless steel fender.

        September 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm
        • Jan Heine

          That can be a concern, but it’s not limited to bikes with fenders: The same stick would have hit the fork blade. Fortunately, both fender stays and fork blades usually are stronger than the sticks, so this rarely causes an accident.

          September 30, 2020 at 8:46 pm
    • Mike M

      I’ve had plastic fenders on my bike for a few years when I first got into transportation cycling. They were equipped with breakaway tabs. They worked ok for maybe a year, before the breakaway components worked themselves loose when simply rolling over bumps in the road; and then I had fender stays flapping about, plinking against the spokes. How is that safer than a firmly mounted set of fenders?

      I’ve had aluminum fenders for years now without any of them working themselves loose on a ride. To me, the risk of crashing due to fenders is vastly overblown, perhaps even mythological.

      September 29, 2020 at 6:42 pm
      • Jan Heine

        The risk is real – I know of quite a few people who’ve gone over the bars. Like many things in cycling, if your bike isn’t working properly, it can be dangerous. Key to safe cycling is to make your bike reliable and learn how to operate it.

        September 29, 2020 at 9:04 pm
  • Andy Cheatham

    That shaping of the fender ends that you appreciate aesthetically also seems to have a beneficial effect on the shaping of the mudflap.

    As the mudflap material departs the curved section channel of the fender itself the retained curvature of the fender itself is provided by the longer center of the end shaping while the opening of the sides produces wider coverage without adding material dimensionally as the end shape permits the sides to flatten per the material springing toward its baseline shape.

    The resulting mudflap is both of greater rigidity by the compound shaping and of minimal material by the effect of the end of fender shaping provided. It is necessary to consider how flaps of various materials will respond as it exits the final contour of the fender end.

    September 29, 2020 at 5:50 am
  • SteveP

    Great info. I am always struck by how fiddly fender installation can be. It can take hours to properly attach a set of fenders to a new bike, especially if clearances are tight(as is often the case).

    I know you’ve covered Rinko fenders here and there in the past, but it would be great to have a “how to” on “Rinko-ing” a rear fender for reference. While the front fender can often be accommodated by turning the forks to the side, removing the rear wheel still leaves the fender both in the way and exposed to twisting when trying to fit a bike into a small car, etc.

    September 29, 2020 at 6:01 am
    • Jan Heine

      Making a Rinko fender really is simple, but there are some tricks to it. I guess that’s a subject for another article. Thank you for the suggestion!

      September 29, 2020 at 9:09 am
      • Keith Ayres

        If you were using rear fenders at the front, and having spare front ones as a result, could you make a rear rinko out of two fronts?

        September 30, 2020 at 4:24 am
        • Jan Heine

          You could! That is a great idea. Unfortunately, that was long before Rinko, and back then, we ran much narrower tires, so those front fenders aren’t very useful today.

          September 30, 2020 at 6:57 am
      • SteveP

        Perhaps also how to best dimple and/or bend the fenders to clear forks or mount to the crown? It sounds simple (hammer and a block of wood?) but given the cost of quality fenders, best to do it right the first time

        September 30, 2020 at 8:59 am
        • marmotte27

          Good Idea. I ran into trouble when indenting stainless steel fenders for the fork crown. First time it worked fine, second time the indents worked like a kind of “dart” in sewing, it pulled the front of the fender downwards. I then had to hammer the indent quite a lot to stretch the material enough to get a correct fenderline (the longterm consequences of which remain to be seen…).

          I wonder if the same could happen with aluminium given that it is softer, but a lot of us use stainless steel, so it would be nice to have some guidance on this.

          October 1, 2020 at 2:43 am
          • Jan Heine

            Stainless steel isn’t really a good material for fenders. It’s brittle and heavy, so you get fenders that weigh more and last less long (they tend to crack). Plus, since stainless is much stiffer than aluminum, installation can be pretty tough. An advantage of stainless is that the harder material doesn’t scratch so easily.

            October 1, 2020 at 9:59 am
  • PStu

    Placement of the fender stay eyebolts is important. I’ve got aluminum fenders from a competitor, and the eyebolts are located at the same level as the bottom bracket. This directly affects toe clearance, making it hard to turn tightly without toe overlap.

    September 29, 2020 at 6:17 am
  • Christian Bratina

    I used the eyebolts a couple times on my fenders and found them protruding too far inside the fender, catching sticks, plastic, mud, etc. So I switched to stainless steel truss bolts that have a very low profile head that provides more space, with R clips and nyloc nuts on the outside.

    September 29, 2020 at 6:56 am
    • Jan Heine

      Many fenders come with 12 mm eyebolts that stick out 5 mm beyond the nut inside the fender. I used to cut mine off, but it’s a lot of work. So we made our own 7 mm eyebolts that are a perfect fit.

      September 29, 2020 at 8:44 am
      • Mike M

        I did the same with the too-long eyebolts on my first two sets of fenders; then I noticed the shorter bolts in the kit with the h98 fenders, and they were much appreciated.

        September 29, 2020 at 6:46 pm
  • Stuart Fogg

    Have you tried carbon fiber fenders and/or struts? I’d guess the stiffness, weight, and damping would be beneficial in this application.

    September 29, 2020 at 7:37 am
    • Jan Heine

      Aluminum fenders can be shaped, which means you can change their diameter by squeezing or opening them as you install them. This makes it easy to get perfect fender lines, whereas a carbon fender would require the bridges on the frame to be placed at exactly the right distance for that fender. (If you pull the fender into shape with the stays, you create inbuilt stresses that will have the fender crack within a few years.) Also, carbon blades would be difficult to make with the rolled edge (or a similar protrusion) that stiffens the fender and keeps water inside.

      You’d also save very little weight, if any. The weight of Rene Herse fenders isn’t in the blades – thin aluminum sheet is very light – or in the aluminum stays, but in the hardware. So a carbon fender offers few benefits. We’ve thought about titanium hardware, but the strength of steel is a benefit when riding on rough roads, so we just made the steel eyebolts as small as possible.

      There is a lot to fenders, and few makers are willing to invest the R&D to make good ones. A few years ago, a carbon gravel bike came with fenders from the maker. I was surprised how heavy they were – the blades used much thicker material and the stays were made from steel! And yet a stay broke, because it was attached by inserting it into a hole in the frame and locking it with a set screw that had a sharp point and caused a stress riser.

      September 29, 2020 at 8:53 am
      • Nik

        Have you seen, heard or tried a pair of those that Gavril Kenzel-Muntean (Augsburg) developed:

        Unlike concentional prepreg plates, this carbon he made is claimed to be flexible enough that it wouldn’t break, yet as a sytem with the tubed struts be stiff enough not to vibrate.

        Sub 200g a pair, which also is about their price in Euro.

        September 30, 2020 at 4:21 am
        • Jan Heine

          Interesting! However, I don’t see any hardware on their web site. If it’s the blades that weigh 200 g, then they aren’t lighter than aluminum fenders. Our weights include stays and all the hardware, which accounts for most of the weight (and cost).

          September 30, 2020 at 7:06 am
  • marmotte27

    So that’s how the removable mudflap works. Good to know.
    Mudflaps made from rubber sheet get torn after a while at the end of the fender…

    September 29, 2020 at 8:08 am
    • Jan Heine

      I haven’t had that problem, but I have pulled a mudflap out of the fender when pushing the bike backwards up a curb: The flap got caught between curb and tire, and the wheel rotated backward. I’ve been thinking about adding a bolt to prevent this in the future, but it’s only happened once in 13 years of riding that bike in the city.

      September 29, 2020 at 8:54 am
  • John

    Very informative article! I do have one question: is there any way to put a fendered bike on a fork-mount roof rack? The rear fender is not a problem, but attaching the fork seems to require detaching the stays from the fork. Is there a clever solution to this problem? Or are fenders and roof racks incompatible?

    September 29, 2020 at 9:02 am
    • Jan Heine

      You are right – the long trays on most roof racks will not work with fenders that reach down far enough to keep your feet dry. I’ve found that on my car, a split mount – meaning a fork mount that attaches to one cross-bar and a short tray for the rear wheel on the other cross-bar has the fender baaarely clear the car’s roof. You can always cut off a tiny bit of the front fender if you end up on the wrong side of ‘barely clearing.’ That leaves the problem if you sometimes travel with others… At least one reader made a detachable front fender using a Rinko nut, which handily solves the problem.

      September 29, 2020 at 9:08 am
  • Jacob Musha

    Having used both plastic and aluminum fenders, aluminum is definitely better. But the aluminum ones take a *lot* longer to install the first time. The silver lining is that once mounted, they are very easy to remove and re-install if you have to take them off for some reason. Correctly mounted they are stiff, silent, and I mostly forget they are on the bike – the sign of a good component.

    However, I would not want to try mounting aluminum fenders on a bike not designed for them. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a custom frame with proper fender mounts and clearance, and the Planet Bike “full bike fenders” are the best plastic ones I’ve come across. They use a single loop stay like the aluminum ones with no ugly, flexible brackets. So they are stiff enough and don’t divert water onto your feet. As mentioned, you must buy two sets to get adequate coverage on the front. But even then, they are still less expensive than the cheapest aluminum fenders (which are also too short in front…) What to do with the leftover front fenders? Some unicrown forks are too narrow to fit a fender through. One fender on each side of the fork, cut down an modified, will provide good coverage and as much tire clearance as you want. And if you do a good job it’s hardly noticeable at a glance.

    September 29, 2020 at 9:16 am
    • Jan Heine

      Fortunately, more and more bikes are designed for fenders these days. On a mass-produced bike, it’s really not that hard to get the clearances at the bridges and fork right and put a threaded insert in each for direct mounting…

      September 30, 2020 at 7:03 am
  • Phil Shute

    Old school: My 1965 French sports bike had long horizontal dropouts. The fenders were not concentric with the wheels but closest at the rear. The thinking was that any object that entered between the fender and tire tread would easily escape/fall out owing to the increasing distance between the tread and fender.

    September 29, 2020 at 10:42 am
  • ryan martin

    i’ve been curious about replacing my honjo’s on my bishop rando as they’ve gotten pretty beat up over the years loading them in and out of my car unfortunately (need a trailer hitch!). curious about the wiring integration with my son delux light, i have the wire currently routed along the fold of the aluminum right up to the light so it’s really tight and streamlined with no attaching or hanging. is this ability doable with your fenders in the fold? the guys at american cyclery here in sf took a look at my current setup and felt it would be pretty tricky to repeat!

    September 29, 2020 at 12:07 pm
    • Jan Heine

      The rolled edge of the fender is not too difficult to open up a bit and slip a wire inside. On my PBP bike, the front lighting wire runs inside the fender edge from the fork blade to the light. With hanging Edelux lights, that makes a cleaner installation than routing the wire through the rack, plus it’s a lot easier.

      September 29, 2020 at 1:04 pm
  • Bern

    Re: stays
    I think I’ve installed more fenders than any of my riding buddies (and maybe all of them together!) Lessons learned:

    • All fender installations are custom.

    • There’s never enough clearance.

    • Aluminum is a better material than steel for stays (and probably for blades in most instances) for at least one important reason: Aluminum does not resonate like steel, so rattling is vastly reduced. What I mean by ‘rattling’ is not just the irritating scritches at fastening points – I’m talking about major movement of the assemblies side to side and vertically. And worst case scenario, steel stays can get bowed under strain from big bumps, flapping skirts and windage that can cause a knobby-tired wheel to ‘swallow its tail’ – thrusting the trailing edge of the fender straight up into the space between itself and the tire, leading to sudden acute dismount syndrome (SADS), plus a smashed mass of broken blade, twisted stays and abused frame…don’t ask me how I know…

    September 29, 2020 at 2:11 pm
  • singlespeedscott

    I like to know how you go about hanging your mudguards securely under the fork crown with out having to indent it?

    September 29, 2020 at 7:18 pm
    • Jan Heine

      You have to indent the fender. That’s a good thing – it helps stabilize it by providing a good fit. The same applies at the chainstays, where the fender is held very securely.

      September 29, 2020 at 9:05 pm
      • singlespeedscott

        How do you perform the indent so it’s neat and square?

        September 30, 2020 at 4:01 am
        • Jan Heine

          For the full details, you’ll need to look at the instructions that come with all Rene Herse fenders. There are several ways to make the indent. The easiest is to take a bolt with big fender washers (the size of the fork crown). Tighten the washers on both sides of the fender, then use the bolt as a lever to indent the fender.

          September 30, 2020 at 7:02 am
          • marmotte27

            If your instructions are still the P. Weigle Article from BQ (as mentioned on your website), this method isn’t explained there.

            October 1, 2020 at 3:46 am
          • Jan Heine

            We’re reworking our instructions…

            October 1, 2020 at 9:58 am
  • David Kamp

    For those of us who can’t afford yet another bike that is rando specific, we’re left with adapting say a previously purchased carbon gravel bike (to which it is impossible to attach a generous boxy bag and rack). Best solution I’ve found to the carbon bike fender problem is a SKS product, Speedrocker. Any comments on the fender option, Jan?

    September 29, 2020 at 9:08 pm
    • Jacob Musha

      The Speedrocker provides minimal-coverage for bikes not designed for fenders. As with nearly every fender sold, the front is much too short on both ends. Spray on the bike and rider is the result. I question the reliability and longevity of the plastic, rubber, and Velcro mounting straps. If appearance is important to you, well, I’ll let you decide that for yourself… Finally, they are only designed for tires up to 42mm wide and appear so narrow that spray will surely exit the sides with tires anywhere near that wide.

      If you want to avoid purchasing yet another bike, sell your carbon gravel bike and get a randonneur. Mine is better on gravel than a “gravel” bike, better on the road than a road racing bike (unless one is actually doing a short and/or fully supported race), and better at commuting than anything sold as a “commuter” bike. With a low-rider front rack it even fills the long-lost “sport touring” role better than those bikes. I try to tell this to anyone who will listen.

      The bike industry likes to create new fads to sell you that new bike you need. The logic makes sense until you realize there is one bike that can do many of these things better – not a compromise but *better* – than any of those types of bikes.

      September 30, 2020 at 10:27 am
  • Nigel Gardner

    Got to be honest -have never had wet feet with Bulemels, Olympic, Club Special or Popular mudguards. Grew up in South Wales where even in our driest part of the year there is a 25% chance of rain. Have also used Lefol, RBN and newer Berthoud. If set up properly not much to choose between them but Bluemels always win out because of the glorious colours. Though have not used any German chromoplastic guards on anything other than 26inch wheel bikes.

    my personal favourites right now though are handmade bamboo guards that I had made in Vietnam.

    September 30, 2020 at 10:51 am
    • Jan Heine

      Are Bluemels mudguards still being made? I recall having a set in Germany as a student, but they only lasted one year before they cracked – cobblestones and rock-hard 25 mm tires were too much for them.

      September 30, 2020 at 1:01 pm
      • Nigel Gardner

        SKS still make a range called Bluemels – never used them. Still use original classic bluemels – getting more expensive to source but NOS can still be found. Only ever had one crack but that was after a crash, but have also had a classic Lefol split as well and when aluminium splits it’s not nice.

        Never ridden 25mm with guards. Bluemels mainly with 37×630 the British touring classic wheel size. Now that would be a useful size to reintroduce quality tyres for. Buthave also used them on bicycles with 28×622 up wheels. On 25×622 or narrower only ever used Salmon, which are in a class of their own. Actually ion anything other than converted ATB don’t think I have a set of mudguards less than 30 years old except my bamboo ones.

        My personal favourite guards are Bluemels Olympics.

        September 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm
      • Al B

        Bluemels are still made by SKS but only in black.

        October 1, 2020 at 4:41 am
  • @d@v

    Hello jan,
    Thank for your detailed explanation.
    On your previous Rene Herse bike you wereusing hammered fenders but obviously you changed to polished fenders. Is there a reason ? Hammered fenders are very scratch resistant, aren’t they ?

    September 30, 2020 at 2:05 pm
    • Jan Heine

      The hammered finish does hide scratches and small dents. For my new bike, I wanted a less ‘classic’ and more contemporary look, and I’m very happy with the result.

      October 1, 2020 at 10:01 am
  • Mike M

    What is the solution for water that sprays around the side of the front fender? I had that problem with all of my previous fender sets, including the H80 Honjos. I upgraded to the H98s, thinking that the wider blades would help, but they have the same problem. Is it an issue with the distance between the tire (RTP standards) and the blade, or the curvature of the fender following the tire?

    Re: mudflaps. My favorite is a custom flap made from Gorilla tape. I use the 50 mm-wide clear of black tape, though the 25 mm wide tape will work too, you’d just need more layers. Both types have proven themselves to be reliable for daily rides. They’re also stiff enough to stay in plast on fast descents.

    September 30, 2020 at 7:39 pm
    • Jan Heine

      Water exiting the sides of the fenders when you ride through deep puddles is caused by more water going into the fender than can drip back out. The best solution are the French porteur-style fenders that have extended ‘skirts’ on the sides. An example is here. Unfortunately, those fenders haven’t been made in many years. The ‘skirts’ were welded on – the entire fenders were made from steel – so it’s not something we can easily replicate with the technologies we have available today.

      September 30, 2020 at 8:54 pm

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