Fenders or mudguards protect your bike and your clothing from grit and grime when the roads are wet from rain and melted snow. Although they won’t keep you completely dry when it’s actually raining, fenders help tremendously to keep your backside and bottom side dry and clean. Good
Fenders also protect your bike by helping to keep dirt and road grit away from your frame and out of your moving parts.
Riding in the rain
Full Fenders allow me to ride in the heavy mist that Californians like to call “rain” with only minimal wetness. I wear a rain jacket and sometimes wear rain pants, but with full fenders and a mudguard my shoes get only a little damp and my socks stay completely dry. My raingear only needs to be water resistant rather than water proof and seam sealed, which saves me money and gives me more options on riding wear.
I’ve cycled through thunderstorms in the U.S. Midwest and Texas and even a typhoon or two in Tokyo. For the Californians on the list, fill a bucket with water, toss in a tray of ice cubes (for the hail) and have a friend throw the contents on you — that approximates about half a second of a typical Midwestern spring storm. In downpours like this you’ll get wet even with fenders, of course, but fenders are still useful to protect driving spray from penetrating your bottom bracket and headset. (I comment a little more about California rain in my personal blog).
Even in these areas, fenders keep you dry when you venture out after the storms, when your tires throw grit, sand and salt up into toward your clothing, frame and moving parts.
In my opinion, if you can’t install full length fenders, you probably shouldn’t even bother installing them. Full length fenders curve all the way around both wheels. The rear fender should extend from the bottom of the seat tube all the way around the top of the tire and back almost to the level of the axle. The front fender doesn’t have a tube to protect in front, but it should wrap from in front of the fork to about the level of your feet when the pedals are horizontal. A mud flap at the bottom of the front fender keeps your feet dry.
Fenders for road racing bikes
Many Americans have road racing bikes with absolutely no provision for fenders — there are no fender mounts, and even if you have the mounts there’s no clearance between the tires and brakes to fit a fender. A good compromise solution is Planet Bike’s SpeedEZ Road Fenders. They’re only half fenders so the rear fenders won’t protect your seat tube, but they will prevent the stripe up the back, keep your shoes dry, and protect your downtube and bottom bracket.
Short fenders fads come and go; recently, we mentioned Ezra’s short Fast Boy Fenders. They look beautiful, and though I’ve never tried them I’m dubious about their actual utility. If somebody uses shorty fenders like this let me know if they actually work.
I have used clip on fenders. They’re a useless waste of money as far as I’m concerned. I’m talking about the kind that attach to your seatpost with some sort of quick release mechanism. Even when they don’t swing out to the side, they provide zero protection for your bicycle and almost no protection for your backside.
Stay dry on your commute by bike with
Fenders aka mudguards!