I need some fenders. I use 26x1.75 Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires right now, which would require the largest size fenders if I went for the seemingly well-liked Planet Bike Freddy Hardcores. However, I was thinking about switching to 26x1.35 Schwalbe Marathon Plus next season for a little bit of added performance, and those would just sort of look silly under that fender size. The hybrid size would be a better fit... but I really can't afford to buy two separate sets of fenders. Seems like a good way to split the difference would be SKS P50 fenders, which are supposed to go up to 26x1.95 (as opposed to 2.25 for the largest Freddy HC), and also look quite a bit classier, which is important to me for some reason. So, the P50's would have me covered before and after the tire swap. Problem solved... except that I also wanted to get a pair of 26x1.9 Nokian studded tires so I can commute throughout the winter. They're under the maximum tire size for the SKS P50's, so the tires themselves would fit without problem... but what about snow clearance? I will be riding mostly on salted Chicago streets, which don't have much snow but sometimes have black slush. And every once and again I'll probably find myself taking a detour on a snowy sidewalk. My question: Is it severely problematic for me to be running tires that are only .05" under the maximum tire size for the fenders, in those conditions? How advantageous, hassle-wise and safety-wise, is it for me to just go for the ATB-size Freddy HC instead of the SKS fenders, even though they will look ridiculous when I eventually switch to 1.35's?
Two reasons: A. because I essentially learned how to ride a bike only a few months ago, so fatter tires make up for my oft-inept handling, and B. because my only bike at the moment happens to be a hardtail MTB, and although I'd like a more graceful bike sometime in the future, I'm determined to get the most out of what I've got. You can't get that much narrower than 1.35" on 26" wheels anyway, and the added flat resistance and traction over unexpected dirt detours is worth the slight loss of efficiency for me.
I don't think it would look any more ridiculous than my Freddy Fenders hybrid with 28c tires. The ATB fenders are wider but 1.35" is much wider than 28mm too. I've seen the ATB fenders at the LBS and don't remember them being hugely wide. Anyway, wider is better.
I'm in the same position as you. I have a pair of 26x1.35 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I use for commuting and touring. (I highly recommend them as I approach 4000 miles with ZERO flats). I just bought some P50 fenders and a pair of Innova 26x1.9 studded tires (the sidewall actually reads 26x1.75/1.9) for my new LHT. The snow tires are a bit narrower than the fenders and the LHT frame (54cm) allows plenty of gap between the fenders and the tires. I haven't ridden in the snow yet, but I'm hoping this combo will work ok. The fenders look great with my Marathon Pluses. I had wide mountain fenders on my old commuter (a hardtail mtn bike) and they were much wider than I ever needed, even for snow tires.