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Old 02-28-11, 10:12 PM   #1
himespau 
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aluminum to plastic fenders?

When I bought my bike from craigslist, it had a blue frame and mostly silver components (except the crankset and cogs, which were black - so stem, seatpost, bars, fenders, rack, wheels...). Through some upgrades (new seatpost/saddle, brake levers/hoods, bars, stem, tape, rack), the accessories are pretty much now all black except the rims and fenders. I have a new front rack coming tomorrow that's also black and I'm starting to think that silver fenders with everything else black looks a bit dumb and have been considering switching over to some black fenders. I'd probably want to do that before I put my front rack on, so I only have to put it on once. The thing is, the fenders I have now are aluminum and in pretty decent shape; they just don't match the color scheme. The fenders I've been looking at are the planet bike hardcore plastic fenders with mudflaps.

So I'm debating whether it's worth the $30 to make the change for purely cosmetic reasons and if switching to plastic fenders from the metal ones I have on there is going to be a serious downgrade in quality/durability. I'm not at all concerned about weight as I just put a handlebar extension on and clamped on my Wald collapsible baskets to the rear rack this last weekend and the front rack is going to weigh a couple pounds (Jandd Extreme rack).

And yes, it's probably stupid to worry about the looks of a purely utilitarian bike, but it's the only one I have, so it's my do everything ride (recreation, exercise, occasional commute - I'm car free and mainly take public transit but want to get more into bicycling for most things) and I'd like it to look as nice as possible. I've bought new derailleur cable/housing I'm going to put on at some point because the current derailleur housing is a dirty gray and looks odd with everything else (including the brake cable housing) black, but I haven't gotten around to making that particular switch yet as the shifting is quite nice and I don't want to screw it up (my wrenching skills aren't all that yet).
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Old 02-28-11, 11:03 PM   #2
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I have the ones that are one level up from the hardcore fenders. They are ok but I would have liked to have gotten something with the breakaway feature. Check SKS and Axiom, I think all of the ones they sell have this feature
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Old 02-28-11, 11:17 PM   #3
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after having my sks plastics, I would absolutely pay twice as much to not have to have have the Planet Bikes on there. Love the mounting of the SKS's, including the one-piece stays.

Also consider getting a mudflap for the front fender, as it'll likely be too short to stop water from getting to your feet no matter what brand.
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Old 02-28-11, 11:21 PM   #4
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SKS P-series fenders are really well made, and a step up from the PB offerings, in my experience. The quality, rigidity, etc are all improved in my experience with 35-45mm fenders. There's nothing wrong with the PB's, mind you, but they are a bit flimsier and a notch lower in quality (hardware, construction, finish).

I haven't used the Axioms, but the look like a solid option on par with SKS, or perhaps somewhere between the PB's and the SKS.
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Old 02-28-11, 11:48 PM   #5
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SKS P-series fenders are really well made, and a step up from the PB offerings, in my experience. The quality, rigidity, etc are all improved in my experience with 35-45mm fenders. There's nothing wrong with the PB's, mind you, but they are a bit flimsier and a notch lower in quality (hardware, construction, finish).

I haven't used the Axioms, but the look like a solid option on par with SKS, or perhaps somewhere between the PB's and the SKS.
The axioms are top notch. The 3M reflective strip is a nice touch. The frame mounting is slightly more polished on the SKS.
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Old 03-01-11, 12:25 AM   #6
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Paint the fenders.
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Old 03-01-11, 06:36 AM   #7
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Paint the fenders.
I'd been thinking about that. Unfortunately, I live in a small one bedroom apartment without much outside space. Still condidering it though. Would I need to prime it first? If not, what kind of paint would I need to use to stick to the metal? It is nice that these do fit well above my 26" tires with lots of clearance.
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Old 03-01-11, 08:35 AM   #8
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What are these aluminum fenders you don't like, just out of curiosity?

If you're going to paint them, bear in mind that you can do it with a brush, which is more efficient, better for the environment, and you can do it at your kitchen table without making a mess.

Yes, you want a primer.
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Old 03-01-11, 09:38 AM   #9
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I don't know what they are (and am really just assuming they're aluminum) as they came with the bike when I bought it off a dude on craigslist. Could be some other metal with a chrome-like (or other shiny silver) finish. Whatever they are, they feel like they're solid metal (but aren't pounded), just formed aluminum. They fit well (maybe were made for 700c or 27" tires as there's quite a bit of clearance over my 26x1.25 - probably could go to 26x2 and still get good coverage). They had a reflector attached to the rear fender, but that got knocked off and I couldn't easily reattach it so that it'd stay. Tried a bunch of things. Fortunately, the holes that it was attached with fit the rack mount of my radbot 1000, so I've got that in there. I like how they work, just don't like the shiny chrome look with everything else going all black. Here are a couple of pictures from when I'd just started converting it. Looks pretty different now, but I don't have new pics, but at least here you can see the fenders.




I am liking the painting idea as it should be cheaper and better for the environment than the waste of a new set. Is there a type of paint that's good to use? I don't have much painting experience other than house and interior walls and a couple of models when I was a kid. A glossy finish at the end would be nice, but I'd likd something that's not going to chip all the time.
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Old 03-01-11, 09:41 AM   #10
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On a totally unrelated note, I like my trunkbag, but when I have it on the bike, it pretty much covers up the superflash I have attached to my seatpost. I was thinking of getting one of those reflective ankle straps that protect your pantleg from the chain and sewing it onto my trunkbag to make something for my superflash to clip onto. Does that sound like a decent idea?
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Old 03-01-11, 09:56 AM   #11
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^yes sounds like a good idea Ive had to do that on seat bags before worked out very good.
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Old 03-01-11, 05:12 PM   #12
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Yeah, that seems easy enough. Now I just need to find the right paint. Do I need to steel wool them to rough the fenders up or will a primer (and if so what kind of primer and is there a special all-weather paint for metal I'd want) be enough to do the trick?
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Old 03-02-11, 06:29 AM   #13
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I'm amazed at what people can charge for a piece of plastic these days.

Get something with a breakaway mount.
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Old 03-02-11, 06:59 AM   #14
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I've seen a couple of people post about getting a breakaway mount. Given that this is a heavy duty commuter with front and rear racks and bolted on wald baskets, what's the benefit of a breakaway mount (I'm assuming this makes it removable, not really sure what a breakaway mount is to be honest).
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Old 03-02-11, 07:12 AM   #15
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Yeah, that seems easy enough. Now I just need to find the right paint. Do I need to steel wool them to rough the fenders up or will a primer (and if so what kind of primer and is there a special all-weather paint for metal I'd want) be enough to do the trick?
You should rough them up slightly to get rid of the smooth surface and 'key' the material so the paint will stick. Give it a few coats of primer, sanding lightly between coats with fine wet-and-dry paper. You should be able to find a general purpose grey metal primer suitable for aluminium. Many spray paints are suitable for almost any primed surface, or use a suitable exterior paint- it should say which surfaces it's suitable for on the tin. If you wish, you can finally add a couple of coats of clear to give a more durable finish.
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Old 03-02-11, 07:38 AM   #16
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Black paint would be difficult to get a decent finish with

Just one of those things. Gloss black shows every defect, every run. every dust partical and every brushstroke. Not something I`d recommend to anyone with no experience painting and a color thats best sprayed anyway.

As an alternative, in the automotive section of the large hardware stores where I live, its possible to buy reflective tape in 10ft rolls in red, yellow, blue, white and (believe it or not) BLACK.

The stuff is about 2 inches wide and so may not cover the fender completely, but maybe a silver accent down the sided would look pretty good anyway.

This is a peel off / self adhesive product that works best if the surface is cleaned with alcohol, but its extremely durable. In fact its very difficult to get off once installed. I`ve used this on bicycles and snowboards and the preliminary applications are all over 12 years old and still look as good as new.

Cost is about $8 and cuts with sissors or a razorblade and straightedge.
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Old 03-02-11, 09:10 AM   #17
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Just one of those things. Gloss black shows every defect, every run. every dust partical and every brushstroke. Not something I`d recommend to anyone with no experience painting and a color thats best sprayed anyway.

As an alternative, in the automotive section of the large hardware stores where I live, its possible to buy reflective tape in 10ft rolls in red, yellow, blue, white and (believe it or not) BLACK.

The stuff is about 2 inches wide and so may not cover the fender completely, but maybe a silver accent down the sided would look pretty good anyway.

This is a peel off / self adhesive product that works best if the surface is cleaned with alcohol, but its extremely durable. In fact its very difficult to get off once installed. I`ve used this on bicycles and snowboards and the preliminary applications are all over 12 years old and still look as good as new.

Cost is about $8 and cuts with sissors or a razorblade and straightedge.
That's a good idea to consider, thanks.
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Old 03-02-11, 09:23 AM   #18
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I dunno though I like the look of a bike with mostly black comp. and chrome fenders, thats what ive been rocking for a while now
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Old 03-02-11, 09:30 AM   #19
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I'll have to put my rack on take some pics and think on it for a while. Glad to hear of several options other than just buying new fenders. Don't like generating waste when I don't have to.

Oh and I guess I'm not a complete newb when it comes to painting stuff as my wife and I grabbed some old display shelving from a crate & barrel to make a coffee table. First we started with 3 shelves that we used as a basic form to make this:
which we then sanded, masked, painted and stained to turn into this:


To see the steps in between, check out my blog.

Last edited by himespau; 03-02-11 at 09:38 AM. Reason: formattihg - I can't post pictures well
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Old 03-02-11, 10:19 AM   #20
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That's a good idea to consider, thanks.
I was going to suggest the same thing. I've bought it from this website:
www.identitape.com
You might want to call them, though. I got some white reflective tape from them that was really stretchy, so it was pretty easy to apply to curved surfaces like your fenders, but other colors --the yellow, in particular-- didn't stretch at all, so wasn't as easy to apply.

They also have sew-on reflective tape you can sew to your trunk bag if you're so inclined.
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Old 03-02-11, 10:29 AM   #21
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The sew on stuff might be a way to go. I was just thinking about using the ankle straps because they're a cheap thing I can get from the lbs and I haven't been down there in a while to check in with them. With a 2-week old in the house though, it's definitely easier to just order everything online whenever possible. She's also the reason I'm sort of leery to do much painting in the apartment (maybe a stairwell though).

Painting question, does spraypaint primer (say rustoleum) work with brush painted paint, or do I need to get the same medium for all coats (including a clear finish if I go that route)? Just curious because online I'm seeing quarts as the lowest size of primer (when I'd only need like a half pint or less) running $15 vs $4-5 for a can of spray. Now this is just a preliminary googling so I'm sure there's other stuff out there, I just don't particularly feel like spending more to paint the fenders than it would cost to replace them.

Last edited by himespau; 03-02-11 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 03-02-11, 10:33 AM   #22
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I was going to suggest the same thing. I've bought it from this website:
www.identitape.com
You might want to call them, though. I got some white reflective tape from them that was really stretchy, so it was pretty easy to apply to curved surfaces like your fenders, but other colors --the yellow, in particular-- didn't stretch at all, so wasn't as easy to apply.

They also have sew-on reflective tape you can sew to your trunk bag if you're so inclined.
For some reason my work is blocking the identitape link, but I've seen other sources. I'm sort of concerned about the seams being super obvious if I went the tape route, but it does seem a lot easier than painting.
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Old 03-02-11, 12:16 PM   #23
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I'm amazed at what people can charge for a piece of plastic these days.
I'll play devil's advocate here. If we were literally talking about a simple piece of plastic, I'd agree with you.

I would guess that difference in raw materials cost of plastic versus metal is not significant enough to make a big impact on the final price that we see at the LBS/online. I'd say $4-5 at most, and that's a huge stretch IMO. Also consider that most "plastic" fenders are actually sandwich composites with other materials. PB is an exception, and is a possible reason that the PB's cost less than SKS.

Regardless, fenders of any quality have been engineered, designed, tested (R&D), tooled for manufacture, yadda yadda yadda, before they ever become a fender.
Add to that the extensive use of stainless steel hardware, stays, etc, plus overhead, shipping, and then the not insignificant LBS markup.

All of that considered, $40-$50 seems reasonable value to me, partucularly from the quality that I have seen in this price range (SKS, etc).
If they wanted $100 or more, then I'd be prone to agree with you.
I have used 5-6 different fenders from different manufacturers, metal and plastic, and can see merits to using either, and frankly feel they offer similar performance and quality for a given price point.
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Old 03-02-11, 12:24 PM   #24
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I've seen a couple of people post about getting a breakaway mount. Given that this is a heavy duty commuter with front and rear racks and bolted on wald baskets, what's the benefit of a breakaway mount (I'm assuming this makes it removable, not really sure what a breakaway mount is to be honest).
It makes it so that when your foot pushes the flexible plastic into the tire that the fender doesn't get sucked up under the bridge, causing you to endo.

Don't ask me how I know this.
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Old 03-02-11, 01:21 PM   #25
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It makes it so that when your foot pushes the flexible plastic into the tire that the fender doesn't get sucked up under the bridge, causing you to endo.

Don't ask me how I know this.
Ah, one of the benefits of the metal fenders if I've never experienced this. With all the stupid stuff I've done on the bike, that's one thing I've avoided.
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