Fenders must be one of the most finicky accessories for a bike to set up correctly, and the thought of even finding fenders that would fit a 29+ (three inch) wide tire seemed fruitless. Let’s just call it what it is: somewhat of a niche market. There are a few fat bike fender/mud guards available, but they’re huge and heavy, and actually too wide – like these offerings from Portland Design Works, for what I want.
Finally, I found on Amazon these puppies: FIFTY-FIFTY Adjustable Mountain Bike Fender. Never heard of this company (fifty-fifty is a skateboard trick… right?), so I’m sure it’s just so rando Chinese brand. But, the price was right, and it seems like it would fit, so I ordered two, and gave it a try, on my last bikepacking trip.
Installation was simple – these are pretty much a clone of the SKSFlap Guard Front/Rear Fender (which I also have installed on my Surly Ogre) except you know: huge. Zip tie these to your fork + fork crown for the front; your seat stays on the back. Each fender comes with six zipties, and I used four for each fender.
I was happy to see that these also fit around my Surly Bikes 24-Pack Rack on the front, and my Bolder Bikepacking seat bag on the back. I added a coroplast top (it’s right after elections, so you can use political signs people are now throwing away!) to the front rack to keep things like backpack straps from wandering into my wheel’s spokes. This should work doubly as an extension of these fenders. On the back, my Bolder Bikepacking custom seat bag should also help extend the coverage from these fenders (the fenders should help extend the life of the pack itself, as less crud is now hitting it!).
If the clearance for these don’t fit your bike, just get a regular pair of scissors and cut them down to size – there’s already dotted line patterns to follow, printed on the fender itself.
Some things I was worrying about with these fenders:
Zip ties are going to break off.
So, I brought along a few extra, easy enough. These fenders are so small, if they became too problematic, I could just stow them in my backpack. They weigh almost nothing. Back home, I could sort it all out. Thankfully, this was never a problem, I didn’t even realize these things were even there. A perfect accessory.
Fenders will impact tire clearance
Hasn’t been a problem. The Surly Bikes ECR doesn’t have very narrow constraints – especially on the front fork, and I haven’t experienced a buildup of mud/snow that kept my wheels from turning. These fenders are very thin themselves – less than a millimeter.
I could see problems happening if you get into some major peanut butter mud – the kind that even the bike frame’s set stay brace is something that gets clogged up. In that case, just pop off the fenders for those few miles of slogging hell, and zip tie them back up afterwards!
In snow, I have absentmindedly found myself into a 3+ mile hike-a-bike walk of shame in snow. Even though the route wasn’t rideable, it wasn’t because of snow buildup in my fenders. Every so often, I’d stop my never-ending walk to spin the wheels, and they spinned freely.
These aren’t full-coverage fenders. They’re not even trying to be, so this isn’t a demerit. Splash coming up is certainly minimized; splashing hitting your down tube of onto your feet will still happen a bit. Outside of ordering a custom wood fenders (or making full-sized fenders DIY style out of coroplast), I don’t know if there’s really any ready to buy options. The FIFTY-FIFTY Mudguards are still going to help you keep a little cleaner.
These things stay on the bike. They weigh almost nothing, there’s utility, and they stay out of the way. I’m hoping to get out on another short trip in a few days, and we’ll see how well they keep working.
What do you think? Have you tried these fender/mudflaps, or something similar? What’s your solution to dealing with sloppy conditions?