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Fenders on gravel roads

Old 10-20-13, 07:54 PM
  #1  
mtnbud
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Fenders on gravel roads

I read somewhere that gravel and such can stick in your tires, roll up and jam in fenders.

If a tour is going to include a large amount of gravel roads and/or trails, is it a good idea to take off the fenders for that trip?
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Old 10-20-13, 08:07 PM
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I believe that would only happen on very hot days and when tar is involved. At least that's the only time I've ever experienced that. But I don't ride that many gravel roads with fenders on.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:08 PM
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Just me, but I did 44 miles, gravel on and off Friday with fenders; no issues. Went through a bunch of puddles along the way as well so was glad to have them.

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Old 10-20-13, 08:13 PM
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I've heard that concern as well. But as long as there is reasonable clearance, I'd rather think that gravel would not be an issue. Sticky mud, sure, but not gravel.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:18 PM
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I have been using fenders for off pavement tours for over thirty years without this problem arising on a single bike or tandem. I can only imagine a problem if the supports are too few and too flexible allowing a thin fender to buckle and jam against the tire.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:33 PM
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Thanks for all your input!
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Old 10-20-13, 10:55 PM
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Another here reporting zero problems with fenders on gravel. I haven't done a Ton of miles on gravel, but certainly a few hundred, in wet and dry, and never once had an issue. You will hear random pieces of gravel zipping through the fender, but no jamming.

Also, in my experience, riding gravel is dirty business. My bike usually gets a good coat of dirt and grime even with the fenders. I wouldn't want to go without them on gravel. And surely a good coverage front fender will help keep some of that crap from your chain and front derailer.
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Old 10-21-13, 06:49 AM
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As long as you have several mm of clearance the chance of gravel or mud on a rural road actually jamming a tire is slim. If you are going after serious off-road mud, then some kind of off-road fender with greater clearance might be in order. I like having some kind of fenders on my gravel grinder to prevent stone knicks and mud buildup on my downtube and to prevent the muddy stripe up my back.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:12 AM
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Sheldon Brown recommends increasing fender clearance from back to front. That way mud or debris can be ejected instead of compressed.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:22 AM
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I've needed to clear mud build up, but never gravel. When the mud starts making noise against the tire and slows you down, time to srcape it out or find a hose or other water source. I've made good use of a water bottle to squirt out mud.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:24 AM
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No issue here and I live 1/2 mile down a gravel road from the paved road.

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Old 10-21-13, 09:44 AM
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I frequently hear the sound of a bit of gravel slide along my fender when it is picked up but it has not been an issue.

I like to have a large clearance for this reason. In this photo you can see a gap between fender and rear tire.



I however would like to have more gap in my front than rear, locking up a rear is unlikely to cause as much damage as the front could. And manufacturers usually have a tighter fit at the fork crown than they should. On the bike in the photo, I can fit a 57mm tire in the front but I do not like the tight clearance that would result so I only use a 50mm (or smaller) tire to get the clearance that I think I need for safety.

Some fender manufacturers include a release mechanism for the front fender stays, but I do not use them. I think that the bigger danger is something that could be so large that it could get caught in the fork, something like a stick. If a small piece of gravel was picked up that was large enough to consume all space between the fender and tire at the fork crown, I suspect that the tire would deform enough to let it pass in almost all situations.

Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
Sheldon Brown recommends increasing fender clearance from back to front. That way mud or debris can be ejected instead of compressed.
This is a very good idea.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:47 AM
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I have a bike that has fenders that I ride on gravel roads. Occasionally pebbles kick up and get trapped under the fender. They simply rattle between the wheel and fender and get spit back out at the front. If you read Yehuda Moon online comic, he's made mention of that.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:50 AM
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I have a couple CM of clearance between the tires and the mudguards..
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Old 10-21-13, 10:02 AM
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I have a bike that has minimal fender clearance and I have never had any problem with gravel clogging. I have had an issue with mud and snow but not to the extent that the bike was unrideable or that I would flip over the handlebars. I suspect that the release device on front fenders is more about manufacturer liability concerns than for real safety concerns.
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Old 10-21-13, 11:39 AM
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I have enough clearance that I never hear pieces of gravel click through the fenders but a couple of years ago I toured on a well used rail trail with a crushed surface in a drizzle and had both front and rear fenders clog up on me. There was enough clay in the mix that it stuck to everything. Normal sandy gravel probably won't be an issue but beware if there is clay.
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Old 10-21-13, 02:29 PM
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I would probably wait until I was on the trip itself. I've had this issue twice.

First time was cycling the Dempster Highway in NWT. It had rained and the road near the MacKenzie river was muddy. Mud clogged up into my fenders. However, it wasn't extreme enough, so I was able to stop and remove the wheels and then worst mud to keep going.

Second time was cycling across Russia. There was ~1500km of gravel on my route. I had done fine in earlier sections, but at some point I got to eastern areas with a lot of gravel and had not much clearance (Trek 520) with my front fender. After several rounds of stopping and clearing the encased mud/gravel, I decided to remove the fender for good.

However, if I have an upcoming tour, I'd probably start out with fenders unless I knew to expect a lot of mud/rain on gravel roads coming up.
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Old 10-21-13, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I have a bike that has fenders that I ride on gravel roads. Occasionally pebbles kick up and get trapped under the fender. They simply rattle between the wheel and fender and get spit back out at the front. If you read Yehuda Moon online comic, he's made mention of that.
He aimed them at car tail lights....
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Old 10-21-13, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
Sheldon Brown recommends increasing fender clearance from back to front. That way mud or debris can be ejected instead of compressed.
That's how I did it:

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Old 10-21-13, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
That's how I did it:

Very nice. We thought long and hard about a Fargo before going for a Troll.
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Old 10-21-13, 04:37 PM
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I commuted for over five years on gravel roads, and have done a fair amount of touring on them.

There aren't any significant issues, and I haven't been in much mud. But fenders are great for keeping you and the bike cleaner in wetter conditions on gravel roads.

The issue still remains the front wheel locking up with a larger item (not necessarily a rock) being caught between the wheel and fender and sending you over the bars. As pointed out earlier, this is more likely to happen with a large twig/branch getting caught in there. I don't think I would, however, use a bike that didn't have a release system on the front fender.

Interestingly, the only time I have had an issue with something getting jammed was when I got a backpack draped down the back of the rear rack, and got caught between the wheel and the SKS fender. The fender broke, so it wasn't really a major incident.
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Old 10-21-13, 06:03 PM
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I think sticks, and fallen branches from trees present a bigger hazard than gravel, but maybe I am just lucky. I did switch recently to SKS Velo55 fenders which do no require stays (although stays are available for them). They provide a lot of clearance and the absence of stays prevents things from getting caught up in them.



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Old 10-21-13, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
... ...

Interestingly, the only time I have had an issue with something getting jammed was when I got a backpack draped down the back of the rear rack, and got caught between the wheel and the SKS fender. The fender broke, so it wasn't really a major incident.
This past summer I was out for an exercise ride and encountered someone that had crashed her bike. When I saw her, she was lying in an intersection in the road and someone was standing nearby with a cell phone calling for help. I went over to see if I could help. I picked up her bike so that she did not have one leg over and another under it, she was trying to get up but was a bit shocky. There was a tennis shoe stuck in the front wheel and fork. Apparently she had a pair of sneakers hanging from the laces from her handlebars, one sneaker got into the spokes and jammed in her front wheel and locked it up. Trek Madone. Once again I was reminded that that having an expensive bike does not make you any smarter.
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Old 04-27-21, 04:29 PM
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I know this is an older thread but I thought I would add my two cents. The first of this year I put on Portland designs full fender. There aluminum I also put on new tires scwalbe marathon plus tour 700x40mm. I rode on pavement slushy roads with anti-skid. They were great. I have a fingers width the whole way around. Yesterday I finally got a few days off work and went out for a two day trip on the C&O canal tow path. The gravel in this section is very small. There isn't much mud. After 3 miles I stopped and removed the fenders as they were driving me crazy. Little pieces of gravel would get caught between the wheel and fender and rattle like shaking a paint can. After bouncing around a while the gravel would usually come out from on top hit my pannier and bounce into the spokes. As a was sitting along the path several people went by who had fenders and I never heard a sound. So maybe I should of went with plastic or a smoother tire.

Fenders are hard to pack in an ortlieb ha ha

This is the gravel quarter is to show size

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Old 04-28-21, 08:16 AM
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Eight year old thread. I still concur with the comments I made eight years ago.

Originally Posted by Thruhiker View Post
I know this is an older thread but I thought I would add my two cents. The first of this year I put on Portland designs full fender. There aluminum I also put on new tires scwalbe marathon plus tour 700x40mm. I rode on pavement slushy roads with anti-skid. They were great. I have a fingers width the whole way around. Yesterday I finally got a few days off work and went out for a two day trip on the C&O canal tow path. The gravel in this section is very small. There isn't much mud. After 3 miles I stopped and removed the fenders as they were driving me crazy. Little pieces of gravel would get caught between the wheel and fender and rattle like shaking a paint can. After bouncing around a while the gravel would usually come out from on top hit my pannier and bounce into the spokes. As a was sitting along the path several people went by who had fenders and I never heard a sound. So maybe I should of went with plastic or a smoother tire.
...
I hear that often on my plastic fenders, but have gotten used to it. Most of my bikes have fenders.
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