Fenders are a life saver. Even when it seems like it may never rain again here in Houston, they are worth always having on the bike just in case. Because, that one time it does rain, it will keep your bike cleaner (especially keeping the grime out of the hard to clean places like under your fork crown) and spray off your back. Besides, nothing is better than passing a Fred with some fenders on your steed.
The catch is you have to install the fenders, which can be more than just screwing a few bolts into some braze-ons, especially when it comes to Aluminum fenders. In fact, the only fenders I have experience with are Velo-Orange aluminum fenders. V-O used to have the 48mm fluted 700c fenders on sale for $28, and I picked up a couple sets. They also had a fender fire sale for 20% off, so I picked up some 37mm hammered fenders as well for the Holdsworth.
The good thing about the V-O fenders are their length. They are full fenders, front and back, and they practically don’t need a mud flud or “buddy flap” unless it is for aesthetics. The better thing is their price, as they are 1/2 to 1/4 the price of equivalent Honjo fenders. Fenders won’t last forever, so this isn’t a “buy once, cry once” type of scenario.
If you are installing aluminum fenders yourself, I would suggest plopping down the money for an issue of Bicycle Quarterly (Vol 9 No 2 pg 56). They have excellent photos and instructions from JP Weigle.
Installing Front Fender
I find the front fender to be easier to install. Especially on bikes like my Circle A, which have a braze-on on the underside of the fork crown where only a small bolt and leather washer is needed. Otherwise, I use the daruma (see V-O fender installation instructions). It is important to know that the front fender needs to be “dimpled” under the fork crown, as the fork crown typically doesn’t run tangential to the tire. If you don’t dimple the front fender under the fork crown, the front of the fender will hit the tire and will most likely hit your down tube towards the back of the fender.
Installing the stay is simple, especially once you see Chris’ post on the V-O blog. When I cut the stays, I like to finish off with a file.
The front fender line on the Rivendell is pretty good, but could use a little adjustment on the front end. Spreading the front fender apart here would fix the line, as the squeezing together of the fender under the brake is causing the fender to rise. Also, not being lazy and properly dimpling the fender under the brake would prevent this.
Installing Rear Fender
On the borrowed Rivendell, the rear fender was much more difficult to install, as it wasn’t built to readily accept fenders. The fenders needed to be dimpled in two places along the fender line (total of 4 dimples).
I found a scrap piece of wood and cut a little valley out of it for the dimpling work. It took the help of D, but we managed to get the dimples for between the chain stays and under the rear brake placed reasonably well.
With this, I used the V-O “sliding bridge bracket” for attachment under the brake bridge (once again, refer to V-O’s directions). It’s not as clean as a bike with a braze-on under the seat stay bridge, but it works.
Attaching the stays is all that is left. One lesson I learned is to install the stays on and ride with them for a couple of times before you make any cuts. For some reason, I cut the stays before I even put the rear wheel on and I cut them way too short. Luckily, I had some others laying around, but it only delays me ordering new stays, as the Holdsworth needs fenders.
Since this Rivendell doesn’t have braze-ons on the chainstay and seatstay bridges for fenders, the fender will need to be attached with a p-clamp or something of the like to the chainstay bridge. Or it can be drilled to bolt through (but this isn’t my bike and I wasn’t about to do that). Complicating this is the fact that the bike has horizontal dropouts, so the axel most likely has to sit near the front of the dropouts to maintain a decent fenderline.
I alluded to this earlier, but if you squeeze the fender together, it will make a localized shorter radius. Spreading apart will make a localized longer radius. If your fender line is out of whack, it may require some squeezing and/or spreading to get the line back in shape.