Biking in Rain or Shine

Tis’ the season when bicycle commuting gets a little dirty. Riding in the rain can tend to soak your clothes with dirty rainwater from under the bicycle tires because when the roads are wet, your tires will start to shoot water off the back edges- like a ‘rooster tail’. Having a dirty wet “skunk” stripe up your back is never fun, but there are options to eliminate the “skunk stripes” of dirty water thrown off the tires. Most bicycles can be equipped with fenders; and riders can adorn raingear for the days when it’s all rain and no shine.

The question I get asked most is: “will these fenders will fit my bike?”
There are several options when it comes to fenders. The best coverage comes with a “full wrap” fender. These fenders are mounted directly over the tires with mounts that attach directly to the frame of the bicycle. The advantage to a “full wrap” fender is that it covers more of the tire than other types and are generally mounted very close to the tire so very little tire-water gets past. These fenders come in a few sizes to fit 26” wheels (beach cruisers, mountain bikes, and some comfort bikes) and 27”/700c wheels (hybrid/commuters, 70’s-80’s road bikes, touring bikes, old Schwinns, and some new drop-bar road bikes). The basic requirement to run full-wrap fenders to a set of mounting tabs near both axles; these look like small threaded holes above and/or behind the axles. Many new 700c road bikes and Track bikes do not have these mounting tabs on the frame and fork, so these bikes require a different type of fender.
Another type is a clip on or quick release fender. Clip-on’s are usually just long enough to block tire spray, and typically can’t be mounted as close to the tire as full wrap fenders. These fenders fit a wider variety of bicycles, but they have far less coverage than a full-wrap. These fenders are convenient because they come on and off easily, and often without tools. This convenience factor can quickly become a theft risk, so be careful where you park the bike with Q/R fenders. Cyclists riding 700c bikes without fender/rack tabs can use a set of special 700c clip-on fenders designed for “race” style roadbikes. These race style fenders are curved like a full coverage fender, but short like a Q/R fender. These fenders are usually quite lightweight and very effective.

When it comes to price, full coverage plastic fenders start at about $25-35+/set, chromed steel fenders cost around $35-45+/set, and handmade aluminum models run about $130-150/set
Clip-on Fenders can be very inexpensive, and can be purchased individually. Front mudguards can be as cheap as $7-10, and inexpensive sets can be had for $10-15. SKS has some nice options for 26” suspension forks starting at around $25. Race Style Fenders are usually more expensive than other clip-on’s, SKS ‘race-blades start at $50.
So gear up, and enjoy your ride.
-Your mechanic, Ryan


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