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Old 04-28-11, 09:25 AM   #1
MTBMaven
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Fenders: Metal vs Plastic

I am planning to purchase a set of fenders for a dedicated touring rig I am building. I have little experience with fenders and am in need of a little advice: metal or plastic? Looking at something from Planet Bike (plastic) or hammered metal fenders from Velo Orange (think lower cost hammered Hanjo).

Pros / cons of metal versus plastic?

Looking for easy to install/remove, durable, easy to adjust, ability to accept ~38 tires.
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Old 04-28-11, 09:37 AM   #2
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The plastic fenders tend to crack, nick, scuff and otherwise become dingy and gross over time, and aren't really lighter than alloy fenders. Metal fenders can be cleaned and polished, and look good with a little "beacausage" denting here or there. Some people complain about the "rattle-ting!" of pebbles sucked up into a metal fender, where I don't like the "klickety-kluck" of plastic, but that's just picking nits.

In terms of aesthetics and longevity, I gotta give the nod to metal. (I actually have stainless steel fenders on my ride... no weight weenie I!)
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Old 04-28-11, 09:40 AM   #3
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opposite opinion, I have had a pair of plastic fenders on my old touring bike for nearly 20 years, they can be twisted, bent a bit and still have retained their shape (ie, putting bike in car etc), all theyve needed is a tweak of the metal support rods sometimes and they are fine.

not for weight, but for flexibility, I prefer plastic (but I would assume they are lighter too, but who knows)
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Old 04-28-11, 09:43 AM   #4
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Carbon fiber: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fenders.asp
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Old 04-28-11, 09:43 AM   #5
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Wood http://www.woodysfenders.com/store/
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Old 04-28-11, 11:13 AM   #6
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there is a how are you going to mount them, question.. Honjo, are a DIY..
esge/sks have the struts mount riveted in place, so quicker to
install

I have packed and flown my touring bike several times with my sks chromoplast
fenders, and I don't worry about dents.

Have only 2 bikes without .. chromoplast mudguards, they don't have any.
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Old 04-28-11, 12:18 PM   #7
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Metal fenders from Honjo or VO are probably better, but they are more complicated to install and remove.

I find SKS chromoplast to be satisfactory. The new SKS Longboard fenders are better than the older models in that they have mudflaps installed and are longer. It isn't complicated to make mudflaps from rubber or leather or just duct tape. The Longboards only come in 45mm width for now.

A flap on the front fender is necessary to keep your feet, bb, chain and rings clean. So if you are going somewhere it rains, put on mudflaps.
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Old 04-28-11, 12:51 PM   #8
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The VO fenders are pre-drilled, and fairly straightforward to install. The only modification needed is if the struts are too long, and shortening them is more of an aesthetic thing. On the plastic fenders, they just stick up past the fender, on the VO fenders, they stick out past the eyelet mount.
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Old 04-28-11, 01:56 PM   #9
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I've got a set of hammered VO metal fenders ready to install as I rebuild my trusty LHT. I put a set on my GF's commuter Cross Check and she loves them.

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Old 04-28-11, 07:06 PM   #10
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Twenty plus years ago I found what I still believe are the best fenders and installed them on my BG RNR and Fat Chance Mtn. tandem. They were made by Syncros in Canada for only a brief period in the late 1980's.
The rigid plastic composite of unknown material has proven easy to mount and extraordinarily durable for over twenty years of off pavement touring including the Divide Ride. They easily handle 700x47 tires on the RNR and 26x 2.1 on the tandem. The supplied mud flaps have also been effectuive and durable.
I have not found any current fender offering plastic, wood or metal to even come close. I only wish Syncros still made them.
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Old 04-29-11, 01:08 AM   #11
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I have had good expereience with SKS mudguards. Ultimately, the question is how much non-riding travel is the bike likely to do. If it is to be boxed and sent via airline, or even on a train, or in the back of a vehicle, then I would strong suggest plastic. It took a lot to break my SKS guards (and it was while I was riding, atlhough the story is a bit complicated to go into).

It's also amazing how much close-quarters manoeuvring I have ended up doing with a loaded touring bike, often in crowded situations. It's then the foregivingness of plastic (or in the SKS case, plastic-aluminium sandwich) comes to the fore.

If the bike is only for local touring, or you are fine with carefully packing, then metal guards might be OK.
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Old 04-29-11, 04:10 AM   #12
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My SKS chromoplastics lasted about 10 years of daily use before a crack appeared.
The modern metal hardware is a lot softer than they used to use so if you have older stuff, hang onto the metalwork.
They are as good as you need for touring or commuting.
Any tough unbreakable fender MUST be fitted with a safety quick-release at the front. Mine has activated once when some wire got jammed up. SKS come with a QR as standard.
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Old 04-29-11, 07:16 AM   #13
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My Planet Bike Cascadias look like metal but are lighter, dent-proof and very quiet. They were very easy to install and have built-in mudflaps. I'm not hating on metal fenders if that's your preference, but I don't see any downsides to quality plastic fenders like PB Cascadias and SKS.

I've had these Cascadias on my Bob Jackson for over two years and commute on this bike 3-4 days/week, with no visible signs of wear or problems.
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Old 04-29-11, 07:18 AM   #14
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I have plastic fenders on all of my bikes except my foldup has none. I always bought the cheapest options and have always been happy with them. If you are going to run different tire sizes, put your biggest fattest tires on the bike before you install the fenders to make sure you don't trim the stays too short. Some newer fenders are now sold with only one stay instead of two (on each side) on the front wheel. I would look for the older style with the second stay. If the fenders do not include a mudflap, cut one from the top of a Folgers coffee container.

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Old 04-29-11, 08:19 AM   #15
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The trouble with most plastic fenders is that the struts mount with brackets that are riveted to the inside of the fender. Typically twice per fender. As the water run inside the fender on its way to the ground it hits these brackets and some of it runs along the bracket to the outside spraying you and the bike with dirty water. Metal fenders are mounted with the struts running along the back/exterior of the fender and allow the water to run uninterrupted to the ground.

http://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/20...astic-fenders/
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Old 04-29-11, 09:04 AM   #16
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Vik, spoken like a real west coaster! Partly joke, partly true (vis a vis amount you guys ride in rain more than out here)

smartassness aside, good writeup, enjoyed reading it and a good take on fenders in general and what to look out for and to compare for your expectations/needs.
I will have to take a closer look at my old old ones on my touring bike. Whatever brand they are, they really have stood up well and I still like that they can be bent with the bike going iggly piggly into a car and still retain their shape well and I dont have to worry about screwing them up.
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Old 04-29-11, 08:37 PM   #17
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I use both. In my experience, plastic fenders are easier to install and remove. That's about the only good thing I can say about them, though.

Metal fenders, installed correctly, can last more-or-less forever. They stand up better to being banged around, they keep you drier (see vik's explanation above), they're safer - they don't fold up and jam the tire the way plastic fenders (even ones with a quick release) can, they're quieter, and (IMO) they're much better looking.

The only downside is that installing them correctly is a real PITA. Unless you care absolutely nothing about proper fender lines, you really need to have bridges the proper distance from the tire (equipped with threaded bosses, too) as well as proper eyelets on your dropouts or stays. And you'll need to drill the fenders yourself - you can't guarantee that pre-drilled fenders will have the holes in the right places, and the Velo Orange fenders are drilled with single holes for the fender stays. Aluminum fenders twist, loosen, and eventually break if the stays are attached with single eyebolts.

Bottom line, for me: metal fenders have to be considered permanent. It takes me several hours to install them properly, and they don't come off again without an awfully good reason. Plastic fenders - especially the ones sold in the typical LBS - are a lot simpler to install and remove, but rarely work as well or look as good as metal. For that reason, almost all of my bikes have carefully and permanently installed aluminum fenders. Considering that they weigh next to nothing, there's really no reason for them to ever come off!
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Old 05-01-11, 09:25 AM   #18
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Based on the comments I was waffling between metal and plastic. Some good arguments for and against each were presented. I still need to read Vik's post; I have a tab open to read it in a bit. I think Six jours' comments helped seal the deal for me to go with plastic. For my needs plastic seems better. Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments!
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Old 05-01-11, 10:39 AM   #19
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Vic, Yea but .. there is no strut ahead of the fork,
so except for passing Trucks, the spray in your face,
is just clean , slightly radioactive, rain.
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Old 05-01-11, 11:00 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
is just clean , slightly radioactive, rain.
now now, dont get your giant Tarantulas and Praying Mantis's all in a tizzie (bikebob, thats a reference to some 1950s B Sci-Fi movies, I am not sure if you are Dutch so you might not get the joke)

cheers
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Old 05-01-11, 12:11 PM   #21
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Get one with both: SKS chromoplastic is aluminum with plastic lining.
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Old 05-01-11, 12:13 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
My SKS chromoplastics lasted about 10 years of daily use before a crack appeared.
The modern metal hardware is a lot softer than they used to use so if you have older stuff, hang onto the metalwork.
They are as good as you need for touring or commuting.
Any tough unbreakable fender MUST be fitted with a safety quick-release at the front. Mine has activated once when some wire got jammed up. SKS come with a QR as standard.
I got a SKS P45, but I don't remember it having a quick release for the front?
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Old 05-01-11, 08:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Vic, Yea but .. there is no strut ahead of the fork,
so except for passing Trucks, the spray in your face,
is just clean , slightly radioactive, rain.
That's not true. In heavy rain your front tire will continue to carry with it a significant amount of water that has not been shed to that point and some of that will leave the tire in front of a short fender and spray up onto you and your bike.
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Old 05-01-11, 10:23 PM   #24
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I think Vik's post on staying clean in muddy conditions speaks to the importance of full coverage fenders: http://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/20...mud-de-fender/

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Old 05-01-11, 10:53 PM   #25
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jesus murphy, thats a clean bike. I commend you especially on your chain rings! (really, mine does not look that clean that often)

I do like keeping my bikes clean and I am certain that stuff lasts longer with fenders cuz it keeps abrasivey stuff off stuff. (and Im not a clean clean freak at all)
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