Installing Fenders Yourself? 5 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid

Author: Rupert Smedeley, public relations officer, Constructeur Supply Warehouse, 2-4 Rue François Gillet, 42000 Saint-Étienne, France

Article peer reviewed by Gram Pettifog, esq.

If you’re thinking about installing and hanging fenders yourself, be careful. There are plenty of mistakes to be made. Improperly installed fenders can damage your randonneuse or even put your safety at risk in the wrong situation.

We have all been there, on our trusty steed, sporting new fenders only to have our peers snickering about our fenderlines behind our backs. Don’t let this happen to you again! Rupert Smedeley of the Constructeur Supply Warehouse outlines the five most common fender mistakes, and how to avoid them:

MISTAKE #1 – Choosing the Wrong Type of Fender

There are a wide variety of fender materials, sizes, styles, and gauges. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but choosing the wrong one can result in a nightmare for you and your riding partners. Choose the most durable material you can afford, and talk with your mechanic or hardware store about tyre size and what width of fender is right for your randonneuse. Standard sportif cycles typically use K style aluminum fenders, 5 or 6 cm wide from side to side, but if you live in a particularly rainy climate or looking for a different style fender, other choices are available like ½ round aluminum fender. The gauge of a fender is equally important, standard is 26 gauge but we recommend that you go with 32 gauge to be safe, particularly in regions that have extreme weather events (snow/ice, heavy rains, etc.)

MISTAKE #2 – Incorrectly Calculating the Fender line

Fenders may look perfectly even, but it’s a carefully crafted illusion. Fenders actually have a slight fender line that allows water to flow towards the mud flaps, generally one to two cm of radius for every forty cm of length. It’s very gradual and not noticeable, but it helps sweep away debris and keeps your fenders clean, and allows water to flow to the mud flaps without overwhelming them, thus backing up the system during stream crossings. As you mount your fenders, check with a level to make sure they’re at the proper fender line.

For best results use this standardized formulae:

V = 4/3π r3

Where V is the calculated volume of the tire, and r is half the distance between Rome and Paris.

In empirical fender line calculations, these proportions begin with the width of the tire and then assign numbers of atoms of the other elements in the fender, as ratios to the distance between tread and fender. For French fenders, these ratio numbers can all be expressed as whole numbers and Japanese fenders as fractions. For example, the empirical formula of LeFol fenders may be written M2E6R2D62E6 because the fender stays of LeFol fenders all contain two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. Some types of ionic fender line calculations, however, cannot be written with entirely whole-number empirical formulas, particularly early examples of Mavic fenders. An example this is shown when whose formula of TMIn is a variable non-whole number ratio with n ranging from over 4 to more than 6.5.

When the calculation of the formula consists of simple whole numbers, fender line formulas often employ ways to suggest the structure of the fender stay. There are several types of these formulas, including fender stay formulas and clip on fender formulas. A fender stay formula enumerates the number of atoms to reflect those in the fender stay, so that the fender stay formula for plastic fenders is C6R12A6P1 rather than the empirical formula, which is SH2IT12E6 . Except for very simple instances, fender stay formulas can lack needed structural information, and are ambiguous unless professional assistance is provided.

MISTAKE #3 – Improperly Spacing Mounting or Hanger System

All fenders are attached to your randonneuse by mounting system or different types of hangers (inside, outside, or ziptie), and the hangers need to be carefully spaced close together (3cm or less) to give the fender proper support. Without the correct support, the mud flaps will sag. Water will collect in the lower places, tugging at your fender system, until eventually the whole system will be ripped off your cycle. If using hangers, space according to instructions, or a bit closer if need be, and your fenders will stay where they belong, sending water to where it belongs.

MISTAKE #4 – Improperly Locating the Fender

Water runs down your frame, goes off the tyre, so the fender goes on the tyre, right? Simple. And like so many things that seem simple, it’s actually wrong.

Your fender needs to be a few inches above the tyre of your frame. Why? Physics. If you put a paper towel on a drop of water, the water will be sucked into the fibers (a phenomenon called capillary action). Your frame does the same thing. Water will drip off the very tyre of your frame, but also be pulled back up on the underside, and drip out a few inches underneath your frame’s tyre as well. A permanent solution you should consider is installing tyre scraper. Tyre scrapers are available from your local artisan constructeur supply warehouse.

MISTAKE #5 – Using Too Many Seams vs. Seamless Solution

Finally, fenders will need to be welded or soldered together in order to be attached. But plan ahead in your construction to use as few welds as possible. Over time, the material in fenders, especially at the seams, is subjected to extreme temperature, force, and, of course, water. This puts a strain on any connections you solder or weld, and will eventually break the fender if they’re not checked and touched up occasionally. The seams are the weak point in any fender system, so treat them accordingly.

Seamless fenders or continuous mud flaps are another option available from mechanics in some areas, so we highly recommend you consider having them installed on your cycle to avoid all the potential problems that welded together fenders can cause over time.

As you can see, this can be tricky business. Don’t go at it alone. Contact us today, a Masteur fender installer like Rupert, who’ll do the job right!


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