Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


[Check here for our newest post on fenders]

Mo Bruno Roy looks great all the time, but she really carries off the muddy look with style and grace!
Photo by Matt Roy
I can't say the same for me!

And while it may be fun for an hour, I bet it would get a bit uncomfortable on an all day ride. And it might not be such a good idea to show up to work this way, or to try and get a seat at any coffee shop other than Ride Studio Cafe. Even there, you might be offered a big bucket of water and a towel at the door!

Photo by Natalia Boltukhova

So while I wouldn't suggest fenders for cyclocross, they are pretty nice for commuting, touring and any long ride in the rain. The photo above is perfect for showing off the effectiveness of fenders. Notice the fellow in the middle with the clean backside and fenders, while the other two are covered in grit. One of the really ironic things about this picture is that guy in back (Fear Rothar) almost always has fenders, but decided to sacrifice them to get 32mm tires on his bike for this race. So naturally it rained for the entire event. I think he may still be washing the dirt from that pair of shorts.

It really is naughty of me to try and embarrass Fear Rothar with that photo, since the bike is usually set up with full fenders. It was actually designed for full coverage Honjo fenders with 28mm tires.

The photo is really showing off the decal, but if you look behind the seat tube you may see his quick release setup for the rear fender, making it very easy to take off for races, or dry events. The top of the fender mount has been filed open. Combined with a Sheldon Nut  it just takes a 1/4 turn with an allen key to free the fender. The Honjo stays are also designed to release with just a 1/4 turn.

I will mention that the Honjo fenders and most other lightweight aluminum fenders don't stand up to much abuse. They are light and look great, but if you kink them, they eventually crack and break at that point. Sadly we have a box full of broken ones. And if you ride off curbs with the front extending down low like in the above photo, it may catch and bend and then eventually break as well. This is not to discourage anyone from using this type of fender, just take care when mounting - and if you travel, pack them very carefully or consider an alternative fender for travel. 

I use plastic Roadracer Fenders from Crud on my Seven. When I spec'd out the frame, I asked for clearance for 26mm tires with fenders. It is designed for 57mm reach brakes, with the pads positioned at the bottom of the slot, to provide maximum clearance for cushier tires. I had planned to use the Roadracers, which do not require eyelets, but I had the frame built with fender eyelets anyway, just in case the Crud fenders didn't work out or I wanted to try something different later. I can report that I am thrilled with how well the Roadracers have worked out. They weigh almost nothing! And they actually work quite well to keep both me and the bike clean. They have three sections, so they come apart and pack very nicely - very handy for a travel bike. The rear fender has a clever wraparound section to provide extra protection for the drivetrain while the front fender has a short section that can be removed easily for mounting the fork on a roof rack. I have learned to tape down the nuts from the inside to make it easy to remove this section without dropping the nut in the parking lot - never to be seen again. The nuts and bolts are plastic and very easy to tighten/loosen by hand. But they should also be checked occasionally, as we have had some come loose. I carry spares now. 

You need about 4mm of clearance between the tire and inside of the brake to use these fenders. Depending on the size of tire, this is a great option for many racier bikes without fender eyelets. I know lots of club riders who consider a 23mm tire fat - and I believe they will work with lots of bikes with 23mm tires. For anything bigger, you likely need the 57mm reach brakes.
Crud Roadracers with mudflap made from high-tech packing tape!

The Crud fenders come apart, making them very handy for packing in an S&S case.

For bikes that really don't have clearance, there is the option of SKS Race Blades. My inexpensive fixie fits into this category. If I was willing to use a narrower tire, I could probably use the Crud Fenders, but given the road conditions around here, I'm using the fattest tires the frame can take - 25mm. But since this is my lightweight fixie, it's OK. If I really need full fenders, I'll use a different bike! They do mount up quickly and provide enough coverage to keep my backside clean, but they are fiddly and I do have to readjust the front one lots to keep it from rubbing! 

I tried the new SKS Raceblade long model, but found several limitations, the primary one being a max tire width of 23mm. I had missed this detail before I ordered them. 

I'd missed another detail as well. The mounting hardware attaches at the brake and the QR skewer.  I should have looked more closely, but had assumed they were similar to the mounting of the race blades I have. The bike I bought them for has bolt on hubs - it's an inexpensive fixie, pictured above.

On initial inspection it would seem that the fender should be more stable with this manner of mounting, but I was never able to prove the point...

As I discovered after the fact, and due to my own lack of research, they absolutely will not work with my 28mm tires. The fender is too narrow and the stays are simply too short for this size tire.  The length of the stays can be adjusted at the QR plastic piece, but there is not enough range to handle more than a 23mm tire. The only bike I have with a 23mm tire is my uphill race bike - and it's the one bike that will never see fenders!

The mounting hardware at the brake goes under the brake, so if you don't have enough clearance at the brake for the Crud fenders, these won't work either. Back to that 23mm tire limitation.

I also tried to use what appeared to be fender eyelets on this frame, but the fender/stay design seems to be such that the stays must mount at the axle/center of wheel. There wasn't enough adjustment between the two stays to mount away from the center of the wheel - these eyelets were close to the center, but still far enough away to not work.

I then tried to mount them on a different bike that does have QR skewers, and found the mounting hardware at the hub axle/QR skewer is incredibly fiddly, and highly dependent on dropout design - the dropout must be flat, and the next frame I tried had a rear dropout with a raised lip.

The pictogram instructions and this video from SKS show removing the springs in the QR skewers.  I wasn't very happy with that idea.

Now here's a gotcha, you might not discover until you try it. The fender must be removed if you remove the front wheel for roof rack mounting, since the stays attach at the hub. It only takes a second to pop the QR at the brake, but when reinstalling, you have to get the stays back in at the hub and I found that part a bit fiddly. There is a very slick plastic QR that attaches to the metal piece that goes on the skewer, but since this metal piece is open to go over the skewer and needs to come off with wheel removal, it seems completely unnecessary to have this part also be QR. This piece also functions as the way to adjust the length of the stays, but the QR part really seemed superfluous.

The same plastic QR is used at the brake mounting points. It works well there, and makes popping the fender off super easy. 

So if you use a tire no bigger than 23mm, have QR wheels, and flat dropouts and don't mind removing and replacing the fender when removing the wheel, these should provide a bit more coverage/protection than the basic race blades. 

For our commuting bikes, we use full coverage fenders and big fat tires.  I have an old set of SKS/Esge chromoloplast fenders in gold, along with a fat studded tire on the front. Buddy Flaps complete the package. 

The A.N.T. sports lovely painted to match fenders from Velo Orange.

This geared bike sees a bit more trail abuse in snowy conditions. The original metal front fender died in action and was replaced by a flexier but more durable plastic model.

And finally the tandem has full SKS fenders and Angel of the Highway Buddy Flaps  


[Check here for our newest post on fenders]


  1. Now I see why Crud Roadracer can fits well in your bike.

    I also used Crud in my road bike (installation & the 1st road test; text in Chinese though). It's a great product but the clearance is still tight for the regular road bikes and might not fit in some bikes even with 700x23c. I didn't use Crud in PBP 2011 because I was afraid that I might have to adjust them several times on the road.

    I'm planning to build a randonneuring bike. I have read some of your bike trip articles at your site. Are 26mm tires enough to ride on some rough country roads (gravels)? Have you thought about using fatter tires like 32-38 mm? I'll appreciate your comment, especially an experience femalte cyclist like you. Thanks.


    1. My next bike should be more like a light touring bike than a randonneuring bike.

  2. Currently my Seven is set up with the Crud fenders and a Grand Bois 700X28 (Cerf Green) on the front and 700X26 (Cerf blue) on the rear. I've done loads of dirt roads in the area with this setup.

    I will mention that the dirt roads around here are often in better shape than many of our so-called paved roads!

    My fixie commuter is a cyclocross frame with canti-brakes and can take 38s. I think the stud on the front currently is labelled 37. It's great to have all that extra cushion for bombing around on pothole filled city streets at night, but I would find this size overkill for any brevets around here.

    I do have the Cypres tires (labeled 30mm - closer to 32 in reality) on my nominal D2R2 bike. But I also did a weekend of dirt roads in Vermont last summer on the skinny lightweight tires I normally use for uphill races...

    As a lightweight (female), who may be a bit more cautious on descents, I can probably get away with skinnier tires than fearless heavy guys.

  3. The raceblade longs arrived in the post today. Apparently, I hadn't looked close at the mounting for these. Instead of the mounts on the stays that the old raceblades use, these mount on the quick release skewer - which would be great if the fixie I bought them for had quick release skewers! They do look to be much more solid/stable. I will mount them up on the race tandem to try them out - and then report back.