Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fenders critical for happy bike commuting

Image of fenders on Rivendell bicycle
The crack staff at the Bike Commute Tips Blog Research Institute have tabulated the results of our second reader survey on accessories for wet weather bicycling. (The first survey was on motivations for bicycle commuting.) Fenders are the top accessory for happy bicycle commuting in wet weather, according to our very non-scientific poll of readers of this blog.


In response to the question "Most critical accessory for rainy weather commuting by bicycle", fenders drew the highest response, with 43 percent of the votes. I agree with this. Rain falling from the sky is not a big nuisance for bicycle commuters; it's just water. But the oily muck that splashes up from the road is very unpleasant. Bicycling in rainy conditions without fenders results in a dark greasy, muddy stripe up your backside. Fenders are very affordable, easy to install, and can add a classic look to your bicycle. I leave my fenders on all year long. For my hybrid and touring bikes, my favorites include the stylish SKS P35 chromoplastic silver fenders and the effective Planet Bike fenders with mudflaps.

Following fenders, 34 percent of blog readers felt that a waterproof rain jacket is critical. My favorite rain jacket is the Bellwether Aqua-No Jacket. But for much of my short-distance commuting, a rain cape from REI works fine.

The third most critical accessory for rainy weather bicycle commuting, with 15 percent of votes, is headlights. Visibility is diminished during rain, and motorists are more likely to see you if you're well lit. For most short commuting I manage with an efficient LED from Planet Bike; for darkest conditions I have a Light & Motion Solo Logic. I'm also fond of the Cateye HL-EL410 LED headlight, which attaches easily to any handlebar.

Other important, if not critical, accessories for rainy weather bicycle commuting include rain pants for additional body protection; a bucket of soapy water and a hose for frequent cleaning of the bicycle; and lubrication for moving parts and the chain.

Image: Web capture
Visit: Winter biking 101, Chicago Tribune
Visit: Health, fun top bike commuting poll, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

9 comments:

Robert Anderson said...

Hey, Paul, I use the Planet Bike fenders on my daily commuter and love 'em. One of the things I like is that they're available in yellow. Great color, goes with so many others...

Anonymous said...

This is probably obvious, but keep your fenders maintained and securely mounted. I had an old front fender that became cracked, and then broke while I was riding. It caught on the front tire and stopped its rotation, which sent me and the bicycle flying through the air. The result was a bent bike and a broken clavicle.

Yokota Fritz said...

Big Mega Dittos from Santa Cruz on the fenders. I was a late convert, but fenders make a substantial difference in the amount of muck and mess that lands on me and my bike.

The Honjos on your Rivendell look lovely!

David said...

Honjo or Velo Orange fenders are my favorites - lite, durable, and classic.

Showers Pass makes dakine rain jackets, handsdown favorite of Oregon and Washington riders.

Keep the pedals' turnin'

dr

Darren Alff - Bicycle Touring Pro said...

I used to think fenders were for wimps, but now (after riding in some serious weather) I realize just how important those things are for keeping (your backside) dry.

David Hembrow said...

Thermoplastic mudguards (fenders, if you prefer) are fine for touring bikes, and bikes used only some of the year, but they simply don't last long on a bike which is used all year around. I've had many pairs in the past, all of which have ended up truncated for some reason or another.

Steel mudguards as fitted at the factory to practical bicycles really are the thing to have for a reliable bike.

The only bikes you find here which don't have "fenders" as standard are sport bikes.

Kaitlyn said...

what kind of fenders are those in that picture and is there anywhere i can get a pair?

Yokota Fritz said...

Kaitlyn, those would be Honjo fenders. Available from Velo Orange among other places.

Paul Dorn said...

Kaitlyn: The fenders here are Honsho from Japan:
http://www.jitensha.com/eng/fndrs_e.html. They are hard to find in the U.S. Try Clever Cycles.