What Makes Rene Herse Fenders Special?

What Makes Rene Herse Fenders Special?

In the northern hemisphere, we are moving into the season where we need good fenders: They can make the difference between enjoying the ride and enduring it. The Pacific Northwest, where we live and ride, is known for its long rainy season. We cycle year-round, so it’s natural that we obsess about fenders.

We’re excited to offer our Rene Herse fenders in black and polished: smooth, fluted and hammered, in 700C, 650B and 26″ sizes. In the past, black fenders were prone to scratching. The silver aluminum showed through the paint, making the fenders unsightly. Now Honjo, who makes our Rene Herse fender blades, has improved the manufacturing process: The black coating is much more durable. We had been waiting for this, and now we offer all our fenders models in black as well as the classic polished aluminum.

The photos show prototypes on the bikes of our Paris-Brest-Paris team. They still were equipped with silver stays, but now we have black stays in stock to match the fenders.

With the right fenders, riding in the rain can be fun. Once you eliminate the spray from the road, you realize: There isn’t that much water falling from the sky. It’s the deluge spraying up from the road onto your feet, legs and backside that can make cycling in the rain so miserable. Your backside is easy to protect – even the most basic clip-on fenders do that. However, most fenders do little to protect your feet and legs.

Aluminum fenders work much better than plastic ones: They wrap further around the tire, and the rolled edges keep the water inside, rather than having it drip onto your feet. Both fender blades and stays are stiffer, so the fenders are quiet even when you ride over rough roads. Mounted correctly, they last for decades of hard use. (We provide detailed, illustrated installation instructions with our Rene Herse fenders.)

Honjo in Japan make the best fenders in the world. We’ve worked with them to spec our Rene Herse fenders for the ultimate performance. Our front and rear fenders are longer than usual to provide better coverage. This greatly reduces the spray that goes onto your feet, your legs, and your drivetrain.

We use our own hardware to attach the fender stays. Our 7 mm bolts are only as long as necessary, so they don’t stick into the fender, where they can catch debris. The nuts with their built-in serrated washer make sure your stays remain tight. Small details like this add up to create fenders that you can install and forget – until you are hit by a rainstorm, and you realize that being cold and miserable isn’t a necessity.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’re all about performance. Our fenders are already among the lightest in the world – much lighter than most plastic fenders (which use heavy steel stays). If you really care about weight, we offer tubular aluminum stays that save another 35 g without any loss in strength. The tubular stays are now available in black, too.

To mount your front fender noise-free and safely, we strongly recommend a third attachment point in front of the fork crown. Rene Herse racks have an integrated fender mount. For rack-less bikes, we offer individual stays and hardware so you can install your fenders properly without having to buy multiple fender sets to get all the hardware you need.

Honjo recently introduced a fender reinforcement. It goes under the seatstay bridge, where it distributes the stress. It’s patterned after the reinforcement that Rene Herse used on many of his bikes.

Even without the reinforcement, well-made and properly mounted aluminum fenders last as long as the bikes they are mounted to. Most Rene Herses made in the 1940s and 1950s still wear their original fenders – and many of them have been ridden hard.

Further reading:

Share this post

Comments (29)

  • Joseph Dowski

    Hi Jan, I am running your Barlow Pass tires. I see that both the H50 & H47’s will work with these tires. I don’t ride a lot of gravel. H47’s for a closer fit? Thanks!

    September 24, 2019 at 6:29 am
    • Jan Heine

      Either one will work. The clearance is mostly determined by your frame, rather than the small difference in fender width. I’d say choose the style you like best.

      September 24, 2019 at 8:44 am
  • Jacob Musha

    I still wish for a fender that can keep my feet dry and chain clean. A 62mm fender (H80) is not wide enough for the Rat Trap Pass tire. Water sprays out from all sides. Clearance for the chain could be solved by re-shaping that part of the fender.

    September 24, 2019 at 9:10 am
    • Jan Heine

      It’s something we are thinking about. You are right, indenting the fender where the chain passes won’t cause much trouble, as the fender is well-supported there and doesn’t need much clearance to the tire. The H-80 is a good compromise for a bike that sees mostly off-pavement use, but for a daily rider, you want a wider fender for sure.

      September 24, 2019 at 12:27 pm
      • Mike M

        I second the idea of a wider fender set for the Rat Trap Passes. I have a set of the Honjo 650b fenders on my daily driver and I still get some water/dirt/stonedust spray around the edges of the front one. They’re the best set of fenders I’ve had (particularly with my duct-tape mudguards) but dry feet on rainy days still elude me.

        September 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm
  • Eric

    I love that seat stay reinforcement. It’s almost like a headbadge.

    September 24, 2019 at 11:25 am
  • Jeff F.

    Are these only available in 700c? I will need 650 x 47 coverage and don’t see them listed on thewebsite.

    September 24, 2019 at 11:30 am
  • alexanderluthier

    Berthoud Cycles offers fenders made out of Stainless Steel. How do SS compare against Aluminum ones?

    September 24, 2019 at 11:54 am
    • Jan Heine

      Stainless steel is heavier, plus it cannot be shaped easily, so it’s hard to install the fenders without inbuilt stresses. That means they crack more easily. On the plus side, steel is more scratch-resistant than aluminum. We prefer the lighter weight and greater durability of aluminum…

      September 24, 2019 at 12:11 pm
      • Keith JL

        Is this really true? Any amount of permanent work done on steel would case some build-up of internal stresses, but that also means strain-hardening the steel in that are that leaves it stronger. I find it hard to believe that typical riding causes sufficient stress that the fatigue limit of any steel fender is reached. Aluminum does not have a fatigue limit, and would be more prone to cracking given the same circumstances.

        Do you have experience with steel fenders cracking?

        September 25, 2019 at 8:25 am
        • Jan Heine

          Yes, of course. I wouldn’t talk about it if it wasn’t from personal experience. I’ve seen a number of stainless steel fenders crack.

          All fenders will crack due to fatigue if they are mounted with inbuilt stresses. This usually happens when the rear fender doesn’t exactly match the radius you need on a specific bike and with a specific tire. If you pull the fender into shape with the struts, you create those inbuilt stresses.

          With aluminum fenders, it’s easy to adjust the radius so it matches the bike. Then the stays only stabilize the fender, but they don’t exert a constant pull. (We provide detailed, illustrated instructions with our Rene Herse fenders in the form of a Bicycle Quarterly article written by Peter Weigle.) With steel fenders, it’s much harder to reshape them. You really need to be a panel beater… And plastic fenders cannot be reshaped, so some last forever (if you are lucky, and they match your bike’s requirements perfectly), but most crack after a season or two of riding.

          September 25, 2019 at 8:51 am
    • marmotte27

      I only have personal experience with Berthoud fenders, what I know about Honjos is things I gathered from other users or from looking at pictures, specs…
      It seems that Berthoud’s fenders are a little shallower in profile than Honjos, so maybe water stays a little better inside the latter. Berthoud fenders are also a bit shorter than Honjos, but are longer than most fenders commonly sold today or found OEM on bikes. So for example compared to Honjos they need a little longer mudflap in front, don’t extend as far beyond a front rack and dont descend much further than the chainstays (there’s a pre-drilled hole there) .
      I have to indent my front fender underneath the fork crown. First time I did this with 50mm Berthouds, it worked straight away, second time I had trouble keeping the radius straight. As far as durability is concerned I had no issues with either. I’ve seen quite a few decade(s) old bikes with Berthoud fenders that have no problems.
      As for weight and price, you can do the comparison yourself… the latter being why I couldn’t quite bring myself to get Honjos the last time…
      My Berthouds globally give me satisfaction. Maybe Honjos would be that little bit better. Perhaps one day on my ‘Ultimate randonneur bike’.

      September 25, 2019 at 7:32 am
      • marmotte27

        I’d add, shaping the Berthoud fenders to get a good fenderline has been no problem for me, pulling the fender’s edges apart to tighten the radius, squeezing them to slacken it. For the latter I use my vise, pulling them apart seems to be easier; I did it by hand.
        It’s only a very thin sheet of metal after all, surely aluminium is easier, but stainless steel works as well.

        September 25, 2019 at 9:17 am
        • Jan Heine

          With aluminum, you can do it all by hand. The vise is a good idea for stainless – squeezing a stainless fender by hand was not successful when I tried it.

          September 25, 2019 at 9:44 am
  • Getting ready for winter commuting by bike | Lifestyle, Mutterings | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

    […] been is riding home on my road bike in a downpour with no mudguards. So my top advice is… get some decent mudguards! Even if it is not raining, surface water on a road bike will chuck huge volumes of water at you so […]

    September 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm
    • Jan Heine

      That part is especially true on gravel – the surface stays muddy for days, and without fenders, it’s a lot less fun than if you stay dry.

      September 24, 2019 at 12:53 pm
  • nosyerg@gmail.com

    Any chance you’ll offer your stems in black in the future? Thank you, Greyson

    September 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm
    • Jan Heine

      The chrome-plated 1 1/8″ stems would be hard to do in black. (Black chrome never looks good.) As to the Nitto stems we sell, they could be anodized black. It might be fun to offer a black group of cranks, stem, bars and brakes at some point. Personally, I prefer silver/polished parts…

      September 24, 2019 at 8:30 pm
  • Ford

    You say “We’re excited to offer our all our Rene Herse fenders in black: smooth, fluted and hammered, in 700C, 650B and 26″ sizes.”
    I can’t find any hammered finish in 26″ or 650b sizes. Are they not available yet ?
    Thank you-


    September 25, 2019 at 7:30 am
    • Jan Heine

      We don’t offer the narrower fenders in 650B and 26″, because there aren’t many bike with narrow tires in that size.

      September 25, 2019 at 8:46 am
      • Ford

        I wasn’t asking about narrow fenders – I was asking about hammered fenders. I ride on wide tires.

        September 25, 2019 at 1:17 pm
        • Jan Heine

          Sorry for the confusion – the hammered fenders are a narrow model. With fenders, the tooling is based on the width. The diameter is easy to change. So we could make a narrow (actually: medium-width) hammered 650B or 26″ model, but not a wide one. And as you mention, few people need medium-width 650B and 26″ fenders.

          September 25, 2019 at 3:42 pm
  • thebvo

    Will the bridge reinforcer work with rinko and still allow the bike to sit upright?

    September 25, 2019 at 6:27 pm
    • Jan Heine

      It’s short enough that it should work on most bikes. It all depends on how far your saddle setback is and a few other things.

      September 25, 2019 at 9:21 pm
  • James

    I have some VO aluminum fenders that have corroded from salt water spray on my ferry commute. Any sense of how well the black Rene Herse fenders would resist corrosion?

    September 25, 2019 at 10:23 pm
    • Jan Heine

      The black fenders won’t corrode, since the coating protects the aluminum. For polished aluminum fenders (and other components), rub on a good car wax from time to time to keep the material from corroding.

      September 25, 2019 at 11:28 pm
  • Tommy P

    What happened to Wilcox’s fender in PBP? I saw some photos where he finished with only a front fender. Maybe I need to wait for the Autumn BQ to arrive…

    September 26, 2019 at 5:56 am
    • Jan Heine

      The massive rear leather mudflap touched the tire, got sucked into the fender, and the fender folded, fortunately without locking up the rear wheel. This is the reason why many of us don’t use leather mudflaps – the material is too flexible, especially when it gets wet.

      September 26, 2019 at 8:17 am

Comments are closed.

Are you on our list?

Every week, we bring you stories of great rides, new products, and fascinating tech. Sign up and enjoy the ride!

* indicates required