March 19, 2011
It is really hard to beat a solid set of fenders that are bolted to your frame and fork, I won't argue that. However, there are a few clip-on fenders that offer great coverage, durability, and versatility. Clip-on fenders are a good option (maybe your only option) if you don't have fender eyelets, or perhaps you have multiple bikes and want to swap a set of fenders from one to the other quickly.
The style of clip-on fender with which I have had the best luck -- as far as function and ease of use -- involve a couple slotted rubber straps that wrap around your fork for the front fender, and the seat stays for the rear fender. The slots in the rubber straps hook up to some tabs on the arms of the fenders, and can be mounted and unmounted to a huge variety of bikes in a quick minute. If you have any interest in this style of fender, two great models to check out are the SKS Raceblade XL, and the Planet Bike Speed EZ fenders.
Looking at the Planet Bike Speed EZ, this model gets the edge for durability and overall protection. The front and rear fenders mount using elastic rubber straps, however, the rear fender wraps all the way down to the bottom bracket area, and can be bolted or zip tied in place. It also includes a brake bridge that attaches the top of the rear fender to the rear brake bolt to prevent bouncing or swaying of the fender. These are available in both road and mountain bike versions, and can fit up to a 700x35mm road tire, or 26.1.75" mountain bike tire, and are priced around $40.
The SKS Raceblade fender doesn't have the full coverage you get from the Planet Bike fender, but if you're looking for something that pops on and off as quickly as possible, this could be your fender. They mount using the elastic rubber straps, and only the elastic rubber straps, so there are no bolts or zip ties needed. They do a great job of keeping road spray off your backside, in addition to your legs and downtube, although the back of your seattube can get messy. The shorter rear fender length also seems to allow it to remain pretty rigid on bumpy roads, considering it has minimal support. These will handle tires up to 700x38mm, and cost around $45.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.