Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fender installation, SWB 'bent

Interested in a few tips on installing fenders on a SWB 'bents?

(Photo shows the SKS fender on the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx.  Note that there is a "break away" connector located where the stays attach to the frame, rubber end caps on the stays, and about one inch of slack so fenders may be moved further out, if required.)

A friend writes:

> Got my fenders today and promptly installed them. Go me. :)
> The stays are a bit long ... would be nice to shorten them a bit. Do you have any ideas or tools for
> shortening them? I looked through my toolbox and couldn't find anything that would do the trick. hmpf.

Meet your friend, the hacksaw (or bolt trimmer).  A finished bike would ideally have trimmed fender stays with end caps.

That said, some people prefer not to cut the stays if they can get away with it -- if they do not get in the way or catch on anything.  This allows one to retain flexibility for alternative set ups.

A little advice that you may already know, but it's important: be sure to leave a good amount of clearance between the fender and tire.  This is so nothing typical -- small stone, bit of sticky trash, leaves with twigs -- can easily lodge in there and jam the wheel.  I like to leave about an inch -- about a penny's diameter -- between the tire surface and the fender.  For me, fall leaves and stones are the most common catch (see photo. Shown: HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx).

Also, consider how much "slack" to leave at the tips of the stays for future adjustments, in case one day you install fatter tires, for example.  If you decide to do this, you need not leave a lot.  Say you have 1.35" tires now on a Volae Century.  2" is the max tire width you're likely to use on a Century (though a 2" tire may not be fully covered by the fenders), so an inch -- that penny's diameter again -- of slack is good (See photo at top of entry.)

Side note:
The advice here relates to fenders that allow easy length adjustments. There are also common fender designs that use stays in the shape of a "shepherd's crook" (see drawing).  Other common designs have a fixed length rod and a plastic end piece that screws onto the fender.

These types of designs don't allow easy adjustment for clearance but do allow for a welcome break-away quality if something large gets stuck between the fender and tire.  At times, Rans has supplied fenders with these types of stays for their bents.

Generally, I recommend riders look for designs that allow as much flexibility as possible since bents vary a lot in their geometry and do-it-your-selfers may need to manipulate off-the-shelf fenders.  At the same time, I also recommend using, at least initially, whatever a manufacturer recommends or supplies, and then make upgrade decisions from there, based on personal experience with the product.


Robert Matson
copyright 2010 Robert Matson