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C&O Canal trail - fenders vs. tires

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C&O Canal trail - fenders vs. tires

Old 05-04-14, 07:50 AM
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tarwheel 
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C&O Canal trail - fenders vs. tires

What's more important for riding on the C&O trail -- tires with treads or fenders? I've been running Vittoria Rando Hyper 32s on my bike and they clear my fenders fine but have no treads. However, I felt more tread was important for the C&O, so picked up some Clement LAS 33s, but they are much wider than billed (36 mm) and won't clear my fenders, not even close. My fenders are 45mm Planet Bike Cascadias, but I also tried some SKS Raceblade 45s and they didn't fit either. So if you had to choose one tire or the other, which would you use, knowing that you couldn't use fenders with Clements. I also have some Ritchey CrossMax 32 tires that seem to be narrower than the Clements, so I could see if they will fit, but I kind of doubt it because the main clearance problem was height rather than width of the tires.

Our trip is planned for the week of June 15. We are riding the entire GAP-C&O from Pittsburgh to DC, staying at inns along the way. Hopefully the weather will dry out by then.

Last edited by tarwheel; 05-05-14 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 05-04-14, 08:48 AM
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I vote fenders. You probably need some tread, but not really aggressive. I did the Pittsburgh to Washington DC ride during Hurricane Irene, and as a result, encountered a lot of rain. The C&O was very wet and muddy and I did fine on the Continental City Contacts that came with my LHT. I wouldn't have liked riding it without fenders. The fenders will help considerably in keeping your drivetrain clean.

If you are going on the GAP as well you drivetrain will pick up a lot of fine dust from the surface that will coat your drivetrain. My wife and I ride it often, hers had no fenders until I got tired of cleaning her drivetrain. The stuff is very hard on it.
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Old 05-04-14, 10:11 AM
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I have Vittoria Randonneurs on my new Aurora. While I have yet to use them on the C&O, I did use my Trek with similar tread.

You have no tread at all on the Hypers? You don't really need anything aggressive just some tread.

IMHO fenders are a must on the C&O if it is raining and plan on it to be raining at least one day. That region is extremely rainy, more rain than England from what I understand. Fenders are both a blessing and a curse. They keep the mud off of you but that same mud builds up inside the fenders. You will need to seek out mud puddles to help clear the mud.

June 15th is my birthday! Stop over and wish me happy birthday! Seriously, if you want a tour of Pittsburgh, SAG from the rental car drop off at the airport or a place to crash the day before just PM me. That is a weekend and I should be home that weekend. I live close to the Pittsburgh airport.

I would plan on giving just a little time to see Pittsburgh. If you have not been here there is a lot to see. We have the bicycle museum, Mexican War Streets, the inclines, the bridges, rivers etc.

If you stay at or near my place, you have 2 options to get to the GAP. There is the Montour Trial. IMHO much of it rivals the GAP in beauty.

Then there is going through the city. From my area you could use a bike trail part of the way would go right past all of the highlights that I mentioned. It would sort of give you a quick built in tour without going too much out of your way.


The trail is nearly twice the distance to the GAP than the city option.

A third option would be to take the Montour to Library, PA then take light rail into the city. A bit time consuming so it might not leave much time for sight seeing in the city.

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Old 05-04-14, 04:28 PM
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Thanks for the offer, Spin. We are taking the Amtak from DC to Pitt on June 14, with train not arriving until 11:30 pm, if on time. Then we are hitting the GAP the following morning,so not much free time unless you want to meet us for breakfast. We are only riding 3o-40 miles the first day, however, so no big hurry.
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Old 05-04-14, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Thanks for the offer, Spin. We are taking the Amtak from DC to Pitt on June 14, with train not arriving until 11:30 pm, if on time. Then we are hitting the GAP the following morning,so not much free time unless you want to meet us for breakfast. We are only riding 3o-40 miles the first day, however, so no big hurry.
Maybe I will take you up on that. I will PM you and we can trade details.
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Old 05-04-14, 05:41 PM
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The last two times I rode from Cumberland to DC, it was raining one day both times and very muddy. I was thankful for fenders, which kept me clean from the knees up. I had to stop and rinse the mud out every so often. OTOH, I was riding on 60 mm Big Apples, and the volume of the tires was excellent for the rough terrain. Traction is not really a concern because it's pretty darn flat. Just ride through any mud puddles for the best traction. On the whole, I'd go with fenders first, and then the widest tires you can fit. Here's how clean fenders kept the bike. PM me if you need anything when you are in the DC area

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Old 05-04-14, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Just ride through any mud puddles for the best traction.
That is what I would do to clear the mud. The one issue is you don't know how deep the puddle is! I hit a couple of deep ones and it was a real surprise!
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Old 05-04-14, 06:36 PM
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What about clip on fenders? Would that be sufficient? I really would prefer the Clement LAS tires, which measure about 37 mm wide on my Dyad rims and have a good tread for trails as well as pavement. The Vittoria Hypers measure 35 mm wide but are totally smooth with no tread.
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Old 05-04-14, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
What about clip on fenders? Would that be sufficient? I really would prefer the Clement LAS tires, which measure about 37 mm wide on my Dyad rims and have a good tread for trails as well as pavement. The Vittoria Hypers measure 35 mm wide but are totally smooth with no tread.
I think 37 mm is over doing it. But if your Vittoria's have no tread ad all then I would go with the 37 mm.

What do you mean by clip on fenders? Not sure if I have seen them.

As long as the fenders are mounted securely to the bike you will be OK. You will get a lot of mud built up between the tire and the fender. I would be afraid that a fender that is not securely mounted would get ripped away due to friction from the mud.
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Old 05-04-14, 07:02 PM
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For sure you will want a full fender for the rear. A full fender would be best on the front too but one of those milk jug fenders could suffice for the front fender if you don't have the room.

Last edited by spinnaker; 05-04-14 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 05-04-14, 07:05 PM
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You could also pick up yet another set of tires between now and then. 32 mm with just some tread will be plenty wide and leave enough room for your fenders.
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Old 05-04-14, 08:33 PM
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Here is what I'm talking about with clip- on fenders:

Fenders Clip-Ons Hybrid/Touring

My tires are nominally 32s, but the Dyad rims are so wide that the tires spread out. They are very strong rims but make for tighter clearance. I tried fitting some Ritchey Crossmax 32s this afternoon, and they rubbed the fenders too. My fenders are 45 mm hybrid style but the frame just doesn't have enough clearance between the fork crown and tire in front, and brake bridge and tire in back.

Last edited by tarwheel; 05-04-14 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 05-04-14, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post

Apologies for not having anything to add to the topic,just wanted to say (to alan s),loving that Troll,my friend

Also,The C&O and GAP are on my bucket (and "within the next 24 months") list(s)
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Old 05-05-14, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Here is what I'm talking about with clip- on fenders:

Fenders Clip-Ons Hybrid/Touring

My tires are nominally 32s, but the Dyad rims are so wide that the tires spread out. They are very strong rims but make for tighter clearance. I tried fitting some Ritchey Crossmax 32s this afternoon, and they rubbed the fenders too. My fenders are 45 mm hybrid style but the frame just doesn't have enough clearance between the fork crown and tire in front, and brake bridge and tire in back.
Those might work OK. Depends on the strength of those upper clips.

Last edited by spinnaker; 05-05-14 at 06:17 AM.
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Old 05-05-14, 06:39 AM
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I'll probably buy some clip-on fenders and try them out since they are inexpensive. I'm not looking for a permanent solution, just something to get me through the week. After the C&O trip, I can easily reinstall the Vittoria Hyper tires and full fenders.
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Old 05-05-14, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I'll probably buy some clip-on fenders and try them out since they are inexpensive. I'm not looking for a permanent solution, just something to get me through the week. After the C&O trip, I can easily reinstall the Vittoria Hyper tires and full fenders.
Maybe try jamming something in between the tire and fender to test? Tape some paper or something up in there so it stay in place.
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Old 05-05-14, 08:50 AM
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I did the GAP and C&O last year. We had a lot of wet weather. We carried a full camping load of gear. One of the three of us did not have fenders.

If you are not carrying a camping load of gear, I see no reason that 32mm tires will not work. When we did it the narrowest tires of the three of us was 35 or 37mm, and I thought that was a bit narrow. (I had 50mm wide tires.) But our 50 plus pound loads of gear for camping mean that we have a completely different experience than you will have.

That said, the GAP trail can be a bit soft if wet, 32mm tires might feel a bit slower than wider tires. But it is not a race, so don't worry about it. I thought that the C&O trail had a better base than GAP, the soil mixture they used seemed to form a more solid trail surface. I would expect 32mm tires to be just find on the C&O.

First photo is the bike without fenders, second photo is my bike with fenders. Both were pretty messy but the fenders helped somewhat.

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Old 05-05-14, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Singlespeed92 View Post
Apologies for not having anything to add to the topic,just wanted to say (to alan s),loving that Troll,my friend

Also,The C&O and GAP are on my bucket (and "within the next 24 months") list(s)
You'll love it. I live just off the C&O (near Swains Lock at Mile 16), and really enjoy riding it year round. It's also part of my daily commute. Just pick your camping sites carefully due to the train traffic. As shown, my bike is optimized for the towpath, but I have other wheel/tire combinations for paved surfaces.
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Old 05-05-14, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
You'll love it. I live just off the C&O (near Swains Lock at Mile 16), and really enjoy riding it year round. It's also part of my daily commute. Just pick your camping sites carefully due to the train traffic. As shown, my bike is optimized for the towpath, but I have other wheel/tire combinations for paved surfaces.
OP is B&Bing it but you are right on the trains. When in Cumberland at the Y, I thought was was going to have to get up and open the tent door to let the train go through!

And mosquitoes on the C&O, yikes! I had already intended to motel it along the C&O portion. The rest of the group changed their minds real quick once they got to the C&O section.
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Old 05-20-14, 04:53 AM
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You could try a 700x30c tire like the Kenda Kwik or Michelin Jet. They are both similar to the Ritchey Max. I think you will prefer them to the Clement LAS if the C&O is muddy. It sounds like you dont have a lot of frame clearance. I'd make sure that the fenders aren't already seated against the fork crown and chain and seat stay bridges, even cutting some fender away if needed. If the rubbing is just cat whiskers I would ignore it. Are the mounting bolts sticking out? Are you using pan head screws to mount the fenders?

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Old 05-20-14, 07:02 AM
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Different strokes, but I have yet to see conditions where I couldn't get along without fenders. Also I have see conditions where fenders constantly clogged with mud making riding impossible or at least nearly so.

Fenders can be nice in some conditions and I have them on one bike, but I don't really miss them when I am on my bikes that don't have them. I figure that most mountain bikers, including me, ride in mud a lot and get by without fenders. So, for me at least, the bottom line fenders can be a nicety in some conditions, a major hassle in some, but never a necessity.
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Old 05-20-14, 07:45 AM
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Fenders are a must for the first 20 miles out of Cumberland heading east... after that, they aren't so important.

Last time I was on the C&O I was miserable with 28mm tires. My riding partners were all OK with 32mm tires.
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Old 05-20-14, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
What's more important for riding on the C&O trail -- tires with treads or fenders?
I have a set of 700x35c Conti Cyclocross Race tires that you're welcome to try out. I'm in Durham. If they work for you throw me a couple of bucks or whatever. I did 3 or 4 CX races on them 2 years ago and they've just been sitting around since.

Continental Bicycle -Cyclocross Race
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Old 05-20-14, 11:25 AM
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Thanks for the offer, Benda. I've got plenty of tires, just trying to decide which ones to use.
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Old 05-20-14, 01:59 PM
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My wife rode the GAP and C&O last summer on Rando Hyper 700x32c tires with fenders. They worked fine for her. I was riding Conti Sport Contact 700x37c, which have even less tread than the Hypers and actually measure about 33mm in cross section. They worked fine, but I am pretty heavy and would prefer something just a bit bigger. This summer we are riding the Erie Canal and plan to use 26x1.5 Rando Pro tires, but I plan to have fenders on both bikes again.
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