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macdonwald 09-13-07 08:07 AM

fenders vs. wider tires on a road bike
I'm riding a 2001 Jamis Quest--no rack, no fenders, 23 mm tires. My medium term plan (within the next year or so) is to get a cyclocross or tourer, but in the meantime I'd like to make the Quest more suitable for commuting. Here's my commute: 1.75 miles on pretty quiet residential streets, 3 miles on gravel (Forbidden Drive in Philly), 7 miles on a paved MUP, followed by 1/4 mile or so on busy downtown streets. (BTW, I love that I have a 12 mile commute entirely within Philly proper, 10 miles of which is entirely free from cars.) I can take an alternate route that avoids the gravel path, but my preference is to ride on it if I can--I've done it with my current setup and its workable, just a bit bumpy and dirty and I have to ride pretty conservatively for fear of skidding out.

I can add a rear rack no problem as the Quest has eyelets for it. But there's not a whole lot of room for wider tires + fenders. I gather the consensus here is for Gatorskins or Marathon Plus tires--are those good for gravel as well? I imagine I can get at least 25 mm or maybe 28 mm tires on my Quest, but is it worth doing if that sacrifices my ability to add a fender? Anyone have experience with wider tires and fender setups on a Quest? I don't mind getting a bit dirty as I shower and change at a gym before work, but is not having a fender going to screw up my bike?--once I get more of a commuter, I'd like to keep the Quest around for weekend rides, triathlons, etc.


bsyptak 09-13-07 08:21 AM

Does it have a carbon fork like my 03 Quest? If so, I doubt there's enough room for 25s and a front fender. I would think the rear would be OK from a frame perspective, but not so sure about the brake clearance for both.

It really seems like the bike is meant for a rack and 23mm tires with fenders. Personally, I'd go with fenders before bigger tires. You'll just have to take it easy in dry weather. If the gravel path is wet, I'd go for that alternate route.

You could go buy a 25mm tire from Performance and try it out with the fenders. If it doesn't fit, just take it back.

dalmore 09-13-07 09:32 AM

In my very limited experience with gravel, going from a 23 to 25 is not going to make much difference. I doubt going to a 28 will effect handling on gravel much either. So if handling on gravel is your reasoning for the wider tires, I'd forgo the new tires and vote for fenders.

As for fenders, I don't think you will damage your bike to skip fenders but they do make it easier to keep the bike clean.

MichaelW 09-13-07 10:51 AM

28mm tyres vary hugely in their actual width. Im pretty sure a marathon plus 28 wont fit under tight clearance bikes but a racier 28mm such as vittoria may well do. I would concur that given a choice between fenders and wider rubber, fender are the better option for daily commuting.

macdonwald 09-13-07 12:36 PM

Thanks for the responses. To answer the one question, it is not a carbon fork--I think those started in 2002 or so. Sounds like I should choose fenders over wider tires if I have to make a choice.

jbmadtown 09-13-07 03:21 PM

I've had really good luck with the SKS Clip-on "race blade" fenders for my road bike (a Jamis Satellite). They aren't quite as good as full coverage fenders but they work better than any other clip on I've used. They also don't require any additional clearance because they don't actually go under the brake calipers. You could go to larger tires AND fenders with this setup.

skylla 09-13-07 10:38 PM

Forbidden Drive with no fenders after rain will put a lot of junk all over your bike. Even when it hasn't rained, it's kind of messy. I just got fenders, and riding in today I appreciated how my water bottle didn't get covered in grit. Presumably my drivetrain will also benefit.

I've done Forbidden Drive on 700x28 and 26x1.6 (smooth tread), so I can't speak to 23 vs 28mm. My guess would be that it wouldn't make a huge difference--that 23 would be fine on the dark gravel and 28 still wouldn't feel very good on the patches of white gravel. Those bug me even with my 1.6in.

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