As we get older, some of us actually get smarter. As a result, that sleek racing bike with the teeny weeny tires and ultra short reach brake calipers starts to look a bit goofy. Your new and improved brain is telling you that the bike would be a lot more useful if only you could ride it in the rain without getting soaked. You ordered some fenders but when you tried to install them, OOPS! there's no room. There aren't even any little eyelets to attach the fender struts to. Well "POOP" you say, and I couldn't have said it better myself.
For most American cyclists, reading the rest of this page is analogous to putting the cart before the horse. Your bike isn't made to work with fenders. When you try to convert a racing bike to more practical use, the first thing you want to do is change to bigger tires. Any clearance you had between the tires and the brakes and frame is now reduced. The second thing you'll want to do is install fenders, but since you've just reduced the available space for fenders by changing to a larger tire, I'll let you finish the sentence. ;-)
So if you're shopping for fenders, please be aware that you may need a good deal more than just fenders; you may need a new bike. Here's what to look for.
First, the fenders need to attach securely to the frame. You'll need eyelets at the rear dropouts, a chainstay bridge (that's a short tube connecting the two chainstays an inch or two behind the bottom bracket) and eyelets at the fork dropouts. Next, look at the tires. More specifically, look at the air ten millimeters away from the tires. Why ten millimeters? Everyone has his own comfort level for risk, and since stuff can get jammed between a fender and a tire, possibly locking up the wheel, adding fenders slightly increases the danger while riding a bike. The more clearance between the tire and the fender, the less likelihood of something getting jammed in there. So for me, on a road bike, I like to have ten millimeters clearance between the tire and the fender. Well, clearly, if some part of the bicycle frame or a brake caliper is within ten millimeters of the tire, you won't be able to have ten millimeters of clearance for a fender. Time for a new frame?
My best fenders are made by Gilles BERTHOUD, in France. But they may not be for everybody. The stainless steel versions take a bit of work to install. But, once installed, they are very rugged, and give the best protection against spray from the tires, particularly if you use their optional leather mud flap in front. They also make super lightweight carbon fiber fenders for brevet bikes.
The Berthoud fenders now come pre-drilled for the struts. You will have to drill holes to mount the mud flaps, if you get mud flaps.
There are two types of Berthoud fenders, stainless steel, and carbon fiber. Both types use lightweight aluminum struts. The carbon fiber fenders are made in only one size; 700c x 25mm. They are very light. Since most tires labeled 700x28 are actually about 25mm wide, these can be used with most 700x28mm tires, making them ideal for brevet or randoneuring bikes, like the Rivendell Rambouillet. The mud flaps can't be used on the carbon fiber fenders. The stainless fenders are a bit heavier, a lot less expensive, and come in a variety of sizes; 700c x 40mm, 700c x 50mm, 700 x 60mm, 650 x 40mm, 650 x 50mm, 26" x 40mm, 26" x 50mm and 26 x 60mm. The carbon fenders are sold as a complete set. The stainless fenders are sold "a la carte". The optional leather mud flap is only to be used with the stainless fenders. People have been asking if the mud flap is suitable for use with Esge/SKS fenders. I don't recommend it, since those fenders aren't as tough as the stainless Berthoud fenders, and the wind acting on the flap may cause the SKS fenders to crack.
The Dreaded Fine Print
Of course, any fender will eventually crack due to the constant flexing that happens while riding. While I have yet to see a report of a carbon fiber fender breaking, it won't surprise me to see one fail eventually. The Berthoud stainless fenders are clearly the most rugged full coverage fender available that don't weigh as much as a bicycle. We get very few reports of cracks with these. But we do get some, and most are on bikes that get ridden many thousands of miles per year.* And a crack is not considered a defect and is not covered by any warrantee. It's like a tire wearing out. Some tires last longer than others, and some fenders last longer than others. Berthoud stainless fenders are like very durable touring tires. They'll last a long time. But eventually, they will wear out. $ 318.00
Complete stainless fender set prices
700c x 40mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
700c x 50mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
700c x 60mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
26" x 40mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
26" x 50mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
26" x 60mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
650B x 40mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
650B x 50mm stainless steel fenders complete with struts and hardware: $ 73.00
Berthoud stainless fenders are measured to the outside. The metal is rolled to the inside to eliminate the sharp edge, make the fender stiffer, and increase the life of the fender before it finally cracks and needs to be replaced. This makes the inside width of the fender about 9mm narrower than the stated width. I would want at least 5mm clearance on each side of the fender when the fender wraps down around the sides of the tire. So, with the40mm and 50mm stainless berthoud fenders, you should always use a fender that is a minimum of about 18mm wider than the width of your tire,measured at the outside of the fender, depending on how much vertical clearance you have over the tire in your frame.
If I were setting up a bike with 32mm tires, I'd use the 50mm wide stainless fenders. They are typically about 42mm wide on the inside, giving you about 5mm clearance on each side of a tire measuring 32mm wide.
The 60mm wide fenders have a flatter profile than the 40mm and 50mm do, so they don't have to be so much wider than the tire. 10mm wider is plenty for the 60mm fenders.
Keep in mind that these fenders are not made to extremely tight tolerances. There's always a bit of slop in the dimensions. And they can be bent a bit to fit. Before you start bendoing them, be sure about your final result, because once you start bending them, you will not be able to return them.
60mm wide stainless fenders are now in stock!
Add an oil impregnated leather mud flap for $ 30.00
The photo above shows the Deluxe version in brown color. This is also available in black, honey and cork, to match Berthoud saddles. The hardware matches the hardware on the Berthoud saddles.
We also have these with plain hardware at lower cost, but in brown only: $ 22.00
The leather mud flap can only be used on the stainless steel fenders. It is not to be used on the carbon fiber fenders. Nor is it suitable for use on other brands of fenders such as Esge/SKS. So, if you want the mud flap, you'll just have to get the fenders, heh, heh, heh. The mud flap really makes the Berthoud stainless fenders special. The flap eliminates the spray that would otherwise be directed at your feet from the front tire, whenever the wheel is turned in a corner. It makes a big difference in how dry your feet remain during a ride.
Parts for Berthoud stainless steel fenders are available. I stock the aluminum struts, all the nuts and bolts, as well as the fenders themselves without hardware. So if anything should be damaged in a crash, or fail from fatigue, you can buy what you need to make repairs. See the Berthoud Parts page. For installing Berthoud fenders, go here. The main Berthoud page is here.
We have special nuts that replace the allen nuts which hold most modern caliper brakes on frames these days. These nut are special in that they have a 10mm head and a 5mm thread into which you can screw a 5mm bolt, like the button head bolt you see below. This makes it possible to mount fenders to the rear of your fork crown, where most fenders are designed to mount.
The round head allen screw bolts into the special replacement nut for your brakes. It's an ingenious solution to the problem of mounting fenders to bikes with allen nutted brakes. And it allows you to remove the fenders without loosening the attachment of your brakes.
I have these available in four different lengths. The longest bolt has a buuton head allen bolt screwed partly in for illustration. The button head bolt is not included with the berthoud brake bolts.
9mm and 13mm, Price: $ 11.45
22mm, Price: $ 18.70
30mm, Price: $ 24.90
The dimensions, 9mm through 30mm, are for the part of the nut that you can't see, the part inside the fork crown. Different lengths are needed for different fork crowns, and for different applications. For example, if you are mounting not only fenders, but also a Busch & Müller Ixon headlight to the fork crown, that Ixon mount is 10mm thick, and so your caliper brake will then be another 10mm further forward of the fork crown, and the rear nut will have to be another 10mm in length, over and above whatever length it needed to be without the Ixon mount.
See the installation page for instructions on installing Berthoud fenders.
Esge fenders are now sold under the name SKS. I don't know why, and I don't particularly care. They're great fenders. They have a thick core of aluminum, and that core is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. The plastic helps keep the aluminum from bending, and the aluminum helps keep the plastic from splitting. They last a long time, are very hard to break, and they don't even look too bad. In my experience, they are the next most durable fender after the Berthoud stainless fenders, above. The front fender has a break-away attachment at the dropouts to help prevent the wheel from locking up should something get caught between the fender and the tire. They aren't as durable as the Berthoud stainless or carbon fenders, but they cost less and are easier to install. And other than the Berthoud fenders, I don't know of anything that works as well and lasts as long as these.
Esge fenders are also tough enough that you can mount a taillight on them. Just drill two 5mm holes one above the other, 20mm apart, on the rear fender, and you can mount a Spanninga battery powered taillight, or a Seculite Plus taillight, powered by a generator such as a Schmidt hub generator, or a Dymotec tire sidewall generator. Be careful to place the light so that the beam is directed at driver's eye height.
I also have the new SKS Commuter fenders in stock. Pictures and pricing soon.
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This page updated: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Peter White Cycles