Tuesday, December 15

Wax Friendly Bike Fenders

Buddy in full wet winter commuting gear, including quick on/off fenders
Around North Texas, rain is not something you deal with most days, but fenders would be nice for those days where the roads may be wet but no electrical storms are around. As I reported here, I got Planet Bike full coverage “SpeedEZ” fenders for Buddy, my Specialized Tricross commute bike. Outside reviews of the fenders may be found here or here. I’ve now reworked the fenders so they actually go on and off without any tools or knives or any consumables, unlike what Planet Bike provided. Now, it’s easy to wax the fenders – just take ‘em off! If the roads are wet, I can quickly put them on. I needed to acquire a few common items that Planet Bike does not include in the kit to make it work, including SOME made BY Planet Bike. Here’s the story, including why one might want waxed bike fenders in the first place:

As received, the fenders have rubber bungees, a clip, some bolts, and some zip ties. The PB instructions are shown below.
Planet Bike fender instructions. Click on image to read their
notional isntallation, along with my arrows, and shake your head...

As it turned out, the included bolt was too short for the Tricross fork and there is no drilling in the rear for a bolt. The clip had nothing to attach to, and pretty much nothing went on the way Planet Bike imagined. Their instructions required use of as many as four zip ties. I DID zip tie things on for an initial trial installation, and the zip ties scraped the paint off the rack bracket. What’s more, the front fender rattled like a Thompson Machine Gun. Still, as shown in the photo, the fenders DID look very nice when installed, other than the Planet Bike ad on the mudflaps. There were three choices, put the fenders in a dark closet, get new stays and use them as permanent mount items, or do a little engineering. Three guesses which option I chose and the first two don’t count.

The first step was to figure out a way to mount the front fender reliably. To do this, I took the bracket that PB intended for the rear fender and used the “too short” bolt as a simple “hold it in place” pin. The bracket now just slides into the fork drilling, keeping the front fender straight and preventing rattling. The electrical tape serves to help preserve the paint in the drilling hole and further damp any movement. Now the front fender goes on quickly, securely, and easily, without any rattle. So far, no added money expended other than about 2 cents worth of electrical tape and about 15 cents for the cost of the extra bolt and nut I already had on hand.
Planet Bike didn't include this in their instructions!

Planet Bike "Bayonet" installed before fender is in place.

The only front fender part not from Planet Bike
came from Lowe's and was sitting around

This fender is NOT going to rattle!

This left the back fender without the Planet Bike clip. In the case of the back fender, PB has a better excuse for a difficult rear installation, because some Specialized models use a “Zertz” insert for the Specialized marketing people to hype. The Zertz makes installing SpeedEZ fenders difficult, because the insert interferes with where the rubber fender attachment would normally go. This gave me a choice of adjusting things for the rubber to mount above the insert or below. Mounting above the Zertz raised the fender up so high it fouled the V brake. Mounting below the Zertz allowed the fender to rub on the wheel where it passes under the brake.

The only actual purchase
I went to my LBS to order up another PB clip. The PB website lists them for $4. They were nice enough to give me the second clip for no charge. PB and the LBS both get an “attaboy” for better than expected customer relations. With the second clip, I determined to find a way to make both mounting choices work, with ride experience settling the matter permanently. Again, no zip ties or bolts allowed here. First, I got a clip off of a rack mount clip. This is a clamp that allows a rack to mount on a bike without rack braze-ons. Conveniently, mounted at the hole at the front of the fender, it clips directly and securely to the bike without need for dorky zip ties. I sprayed “Plasti-Dip” and wrapped things in electrical tape to minimize possible paint scraping. The clip cost $5 (for two of them) and I used about 50 cents worth of “Plasti-Dip.” Now I’m thinking about what I’m going to use that second clip for. I really would have preferred a plastic clip since that would avoid the possibility of bridge paint scrapes entirely, without any need for “Plasti-Dip.” I DID see a possible plastic clip in my daughter’s Volkswagen, but it seemed unwise to start stripping family cars for bike fender modifications.

Rack clip installed at the front of the rear fender
ready to clip on to the bridge
electrical tape worked better than "Plasti-Dip"

Next, I determined a means to attach the fender to the second clip for a “low mount” so it would not rub the tire. My initial thought was to use a bungee with the clip. However, upon connection, this turned out to be an inelegant solution and seemed a bit unstable. I’ve also had bungees break from time to time. As a result, I hit on using an old, leftover brake cable (I imagine a new one would also work, but THAT would have cost money) and the mount for the cantilever brake. The improved installation, which easily attaches or detaches, is shown below:
Motobecane brake clamp finds a new use
MUCH cleaner than a bungee and it is out of the way

Now I have front and rear fenders that install quickly and remove even more quickly, without needing to bolt or zip tie anything onto the bike, or cut and hack to get it off. The only needed finishing touch was to sand the silver paint of the PB logo off the mud flap so I don’t look like a rolling PB billboard.

I almost forgot one last thing. When I was showing Jaguars, I observed entrants apply wax to all kinds of things other than the exterior paint. Relevant to this post, I discovered that a waxed windshield shed rain without using the windshield wipers, and also looked lovely to the concours judges. It was fascinating to thus drive in the rain with a completely clear windshield. Windshield wipers are only needed for dirty cars! Anyway, fenders are no different, so I waxed my PB fenders. Before you laugh, consider how mud and stuff gets stuck in your fenders – because they aren’t waxed. I will have much less problem in this regard, and cleaning them will be easier. Waxed fenders make for easier maintenance. I don’t suggest you become a fanatic and only use carnauba wax on your bike fenders, nor that you need to use show car glaze before the wax application. The “lasts forever” wax will be more than sufficient. You won’t be needed a lot. And bike judges are not going to be criticizing the wax application quality on the underneath side of your bike fenders, but they won’t get nearly so clogged with crud. It’s one more reason for “easy on/easy off” fenders – they’re easier to wax. I’ll bet you never read THAT in any of the cycling magazines! Are YOUR bike fenders properly waxed? It took me more time to walk out to the garage to get the wax than it did to apply it.

I used Autoglym "high resin polish"
I recommend whatever is sitting around

Those Planet Bike logos on the mudflaps look MUCH better
once you sand off the silver paint

Road Tests
First indications were that the fender mounting worked like a charm. I did a local run. So, I left the fenders on for my commute. There's nothing like 10 or 20 miles of sometimes rough pavement to reveal the shortcomings of fender mounting. First, and worst, the front clip on the rear fender did NOT have the strength to stay clipped. I'll have to find a replacement for the only item I actually bought. Serves me right - Rantwick might like buying bike parts, but I only like buying cool ones. Second, the front fender, over the miles inched up the fork just enough that it touches the front V brake. I think I can fine tune that one. In the meantime, I'll use a zip tie on back while I look for a better solution. There's enough tension on the clip that I may want to use something with a more positive retention. As they say, back to the drawing board...


Chandra said...

Great details, nice workarounds, great post!
Nice shiny fenders ya got!

Tracy W. said...

Nice creative solutions. I'm curious...would a little larger P-clip with a bold and wing-nut work better for that rear fender lower mount?

Looking at your process, it sure is nice to have a bike designed with all the right attachment points for my PB Cascadia fenders!

Tracy W. said...

Typo!...should read "bolt and wing-nut".

Apertome said...

I wouldn't lay too much blame with Planet Bike. It seems to me the biggest problem is that your bike isn't really designed to take fenders. The idea of using zip ties is pretty lame, though ...

I like the waxing idea, but do you think this would work well for aluminum fenders? I have Velo Orange aluminum fenders, with a matte finish. Not sure if wax would work well there.

Another thought, if I waxed my mountain bike frame, would that make it easier to clean? I assume it wouldn't harm the finish.

I've never waxed anything in my life, so I don't know much about that stuff, what do you think?

Filigree said...

Sorry to hear those fenders did not stand the distance test. I am becoming increasingly skeptical of Planet Bike products.

So are you ready for that upright bike with hard-core, quality fenders now? : )

Wax... You have revived my passion for it!

Steve A said...

The fenders WILL stand the distance test. In engineer-speak, we're an "engineering order" away from perfection. Part of the problem is the oddball geometry of the Tricross seat stays and part is an imperfectly thought-through PB application. I can't say, though, that PB has performed worse that, say, Cateye stuff.

Steve A said...

I was thinking more like a cam clamp, somewhat like some headlight clamps. My design consultant suggests I wander around the local hardware store until the perfect item appears in front of my eyes.

Today's commute, using a zip tie to keep things attached at the front end of the rear, revealed a secondary failure of the brake cable popping out of the bracket when going over rougher stuff at speed. I'll fix that at the same time & then may try some off-road stuff to wring things out a little quicker. I also see my front fender "bayonet" working its way out a bit, though it doesn't appear to be moving anymore after 80 miles.

I must say that fenders are a tad touchier when you don't want to attach them properly!

Post a Comment

No Need for Non-Robot proof here!