Tuesday, November 17

Fenders Need Work

Besides the rack and bag, posted here, which unquestionably have utility for commuting, I got a little overenthusiastic and bought some fenders for Buddy. Keep in mind that it doesn't really rain all that much around North Texas to start with and I typically pick rain days to bring in clean laundry and take home the used equivalent.

Having (I hoped), at least a lick of common sense, I elected to pick fenders which would go on and off easily. After reading a bunch of reviews, I picked the "Planet Bike Speedez" fenders, which come in a black color that complement Buddy's red, white, and black color scheme quite well. These fenders had some really GREAT reviews, which gave me hope.

You can see them installed in the photo in the previous post, here. Except for the "Planet Bike Ad" on the mud flap, they look very nice indeed. Even the logo isn't anything a "Sharpie" can't fix. But they're not really set up to mount for anybody not willing to tweak things a LOT. In the photo, they were not really ready for prime time, as will be seen.

Except that fenders aren't made in England any more, some things haven't changed. Putting fenders on a bike is a fiddly task, and it gets even harder if you want the fenders to go on quick and easy for those occasional wet road situations, keeping them in the closet the rest of the time.

Problem #1 was mounting the REAR fender. Planet Bike didn't account for the  Specialized Tricross marketing team that elected to put a dopey "Zertz" insert exactly where you might want to mount fenders. It gave me two choices. I first tried mounting them at the "Choice #1" location, which, when adjusted as much as possible, rammed the rear fender into the V Brake, making it pretty useless. Then, I tried mounting them at the "Choice #2" location which left the fender rubbing on the rear tire. Mounting the included clip fixed this problem, albeit at the cost of a tacky zip tie (actually, I needed to use TWO zip ties and probably ought to have used THREE). What the heck are zip ties doing in a fender designed for "rapid on/off" operation anyway? I might have better off just to do the traditional "bolt it on" fender installation, except Buddy has no "caliper brake bridge" that such fenders traditionally use. It's got a V brake, with an added fitting I could use for a cantilever brake. No caliper brake drilling.

Problem #2 (I only had two problems) was to mount the FRONT fender. While this one went on fairly cleanly, there was nothing included in the mounting kit to attach it to the "brake bridge" (it's really more of a "front rack bridge") except one attractive looking black bolt that wasn't long enough to pass through the hole. I'm not sure exactly WHAT the bolt would have attached TO in any event since Planet Bike didn't include anything other than four holes in the fender. Even this wouldn't have been too bad had not the fender rattled like a machine gun. I could have fixed this with yet another zip tie or two, but at this point, I said to myself, "no mas zip ties!" I'm really NOT a fan of needing a whole bag full of zip ties to attach fenders I want to be able to attach and detach at a moment's notice. Rubber and bungees are OK. They're reusable, even if they might rot if too much UV gets to them.

I've got a bit of work to do. Tonight, the fenders came back off. There's a bit of supplemental purchasing at Lowe's or Home Depot to get things right that the marketing geniuses and what pass for engineers at Planet Bike didn't think out. When these fenders go ON the bike for real, I'll get them on in under a minute. They don't do that as received from the Planet Bike people. NOT EVEN CLOSE. NOT EVEN IN TEN TIMES THE TIME.

In their defense, at least Planet Bike TRIES to make fenders. They just don't do it real well, though their instructions do give you a choice of English or French. You can't really say that about most of the other major bike equipment suppliers. And PB, albeit not very good,  DOES have more promise than what Bluemels  and the other classic suppliers have become nowadays. Hammered aluminum or wood may LOOK nice, but Buddy is a WORKING bike. This is the 21st Century, people. We shouldn't HAVE to either run without fenders or leave them on forever any more! To twist Marx around, "Bike Riders of the World Arise, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Fenders!"

Regardless of the design, these fenders WILL work on Buddy and I'll do a follow-up post showing how at that time...


Chandra said...

Steve, you are NOT alone!

The only fender I installed without much trouble was my SKS Chromoplastic Fenders on my Cannondale T800.

I had trouble installing any fender on my Cannondale Road Warrior 400. There was hardly any clearance. I ended up using SKS Racing Fenders on that bike (they were easily removable).

On the Americano, I have Gilles Berthoud Stainless Steel fenders, which I got from Walbike. Mr. Bill of Walbike warned me that they may be a bit tricky. I did manage to install them without too much trouble.

I have seen other bloggers mention that they had trouble even with Honjo fenders.

I am tempted to say that it is not just the fenders that are to blame but some of the bikes are to be blamed also. Many bikes have been built without provisions for fitting a fender, IMHO.

Just my 2 cents!

Peace :)

Steve A said...

Buddy has fender eyelets, unlike road bikes, but it lacks some things like a drilling where rear calipers would mount. The dorky "Zertz" on the seat stay causes problems. As Chandra says, this just makes things tricky and it's trickier because PB should have thought of a better way to mount using a front drilling and the strut between the chain stays. Bluemels did a much better job in both these locations.

Keri said...

The planet bike mudflap is pretty useless. I replaced it with a real mudflap. That takes care of the tacky logo problem at the same time :-)

Steve A said...

First step - get the fenders so they go on or off in under 30 seconds. Then, improve them further. I have so far tweaked the mounting so I can get the front fender on in under 15 seconds. Now to work on the back. When things are ready for prime time, I'll do a video.

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