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I ride an SE Lager fixed. I'm riding on sealed paths and roads pretty much all of my commute.

On wet days my bike picks up a lot of water and also a lot of sandy/silty residue. It coats the frame and also clogs up the chain a lot. I imagine that my chain life will be suffering because of this.

Has anyone tried running mudguards and seen what kind of a difference it makes? My fixie doesn't have a huge amount of frame clearance around the wheels so I'll need something fairly minimal. I've seen these Crud Roadracers and they look like they have good coverage.

PS: I know that putting mudguards on a fixie is sacrilege (to some people... I'm not in that camp). But I'm running it for endurance and reduced maintenance, not exactly for style.

Update: Thanks for a bunch of awesome comments. However the thing I'm really wanting to focus on is whether I'll get a significantly longer lifespan for my running gear. I have waterproofs and don't mind the mess so much, I'm just trying to reduce my maintenance load and expense. The major areas I see that might be improved is chain (and therefore cogs) and maybe the bottom bracket, if I can reduce the amount of water hitting the seat pole and running down into the bracket.

Update 2: I bought a pair of the Crud Roadracers and, wow, they make such a difference. I rode on quite a wet day, but my running gear and clothes all stayed completely dry. I'm concerned they might not be durable for a commuter, but I'm certainly sold on mudguards/fenders for now.

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Mudguards in the UK sense? (i.e., what Americans call "fenders".) If so, they help a lot with mud and water. (Not so much with sand.) Even those dinky raceblade fenders help a little bit. –  Neil Fein Jun 3 '11 at 5:55
    
Hi Neil, I'm from Australia so I'm not 100% sure what the terminology is in the UK and the US. Check out the Crud Roadracers I linked to and you'll see exactly what I'm considering. Do you find that they help with extending the life of parts, or just help with keeping you cleaner and drier? –  Mac Jun 3 '11 at 6:38
    
If you don't have mudguards you can clean your chain after each ride. But mudguards can (depending on the various things like the shape of the guard, etc.) even help to keep it clean during the ride. –  ChrisW Jun 3 '11 at 13:00
    
Yeah, we're talking about what I think of as fenders, same terminology as in the UK. Can't speak to prolonging parts life, but they do decrease the amount of time you spend cleaning the drivetrain. –  Neil Fein Jun 3 '11 at 15:59
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7 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I have a pair of SKS Race Blades (e.g. from Wiggle). They clip on and off really easily, for washing, security or just for the long days of summer when rain is decidedly unlikely. They are reasonably small and should fit all but the tightest of clearances.

For all the reasons you mention, I use them - cleanliness of my legs, back, bag and chain - but also because I like to at least play at being a good citizen. On my commute there are lots of other cyclists. Would you prefer to ride in the wet behind someone with or without guards? So the fact I'm being nice to my fellow cyclists is a really cool side benefit.

And if you think mudguards are sacrilege then, to be honest, you're probably not going to be reading this; style-over-substance hipsters are only dimly aware of the real reasons for cycling, only doing it because they think it's cool. And while it is cool, only not for the reasons they think ...

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Good point about looking after our fellow riders. I've been splattered by plenty of other bikes rooster tails. I should clarify that I don't think it's sacrilege... I was just heading off any potential comments in that direction :) –  Mac Jun 5 '11 at 3:43
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I know you youngsters don't like mudguards - I spent a decade before I learned how wonderful they are. Full length, with the flap at the bottom is what is needed, to keep your feet dry too.

You can ride through the puddles and that has a speed advantage. Put them on and you won't want to take them off.

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Simply, mudguards are useful keeping the mud (or similar) off the bike, and the biker. So keep them if you don't like muds and dirt attached to you and your bike. @Mathew, said youngster don't like mudguards. And he is right, I don't like them at all. They are unnecessary obstruction. I am not concerned about the style though. For me they are the most fragile part in my bike. They just break way too easy. So for the concern about cleanliness, I clean my bike regularly, so I don't need an extra peripheral to keep my bike clean.

Besides, whenever I get chance, I try jumping with my bike, pull of some tricks too and by chance if I fall off, I might break the mudguard in pieces. There goes your 20 bucks.

Not to mention on rough terrains, when you drop your bike from a place , the fork suspension come up and hits the frame and breaks the mudguards, also the rear mud guards hits the tire so hard due to the momentum and breaks again. I have gone through this cycle for many times, now I wear a thin wind & water proof jacket on me, ride the bike without mudguards and just give a small wash to my bike after I am done.

I would like to see some tough rubber mud guards... I would the first one to install them on my bike.

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The question is about a fixie on a commute - no suspension, no balloon tyres, just a bike pared down to minimalism. A good fixie rider has no need to take to the pavements and is unlikely to take fixie bike cross country, maybe a canal path but not much more. I am agreed that pure mountain bike experience is best with globules of mud in one's face and up one's arse. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Jun 3 '11 at 13:14
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I have mudguards on my (geared) commuter bike: they're tough enough (a combination metal/plastic, apparently, which bends a lot without breaking). But I'm commuting: the bike has no suspension, I'm not falling from high places, I'm not dropping the bike, and I'm riding a couple of hours a day in any/all weather (including winter when they're sanding and salting the road). –  ChrisW Jun 3 '11 at 13:22
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Agreed; this answer is fun to read and makes some good points, but is out of place here. -1. –  Neil Fein Jun 3 '11 at 16:02
    
@Neil Fein, the first part of my answer I have related with the question, other part are just some extension. –  Starx Jun 5 '11 at 7:39
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@Mathew, @ChrisW, @Neil Fein, I also commute, I also ride atleast about 2 hours every day, but I personally never am less passionate about cyling on commuting than mountain biking. I consider every ride as oppurtunity to push myself, so ride type is hardly any factor. I am sorry, you guys found my answer unrelated, but I am relating to the OP's question on my answer's first part and on others I have given my opinion. –  Starx Jun 5 '11 at 7:59
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Over the years, I tried many types of fenders, mud guards, etc.

I do not know if it is me, or the tires I would buy, but almost without fail I still got wet at the front, at my feet, at the back. I had the reasonably cheap plastic 2-3 inch wide ones on MTB's, I had the aluminum set for a road bike, and I tried one of those seat mounted ones that are a bit high.

I always get wet regardless. So I wore water proof clothes instead.

I agree they help, but never completely.

Conversely my colleague who also biked in year round, would ride in some days where I was soaked, and not even have a stripe on his back, without fenders. I never could figure out how he did it.

On my racing bike, I would not bother. On my commuting bike, absolutely recommend them. But they are not perfect.

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For commuting, I just pack my work clothes in a waterproof panier and if my cycling clothes get wet, so be it. If I'm going out riding for recreation, exercise, or even an organized ride, I really don't care if I get wet, as I usually end up back home afterwards. My mother always used to say. You aren't made of sugar, you're not going to melt. –  Kibbee Aug 16 '11 at 16:17
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If you're riding in the wet, you'll need full coverage fenders, no question about it. I have 35mm wide "Honjo's" on my rando bike. Those crud roadracers look like they could be the ticket too. The hard part for you is finagling enough clearance to install them (likely without screw holes in the right places).

Since you're riding single speed, there's no reason why you can't also have have at least a half-chain case. Finding one after market is kind of tricky as is attaching it to your bike. Here's one that I fancy a lot. In Europe full coverage chaincases are quite common, but don't know if this is possible with your fixie. In any case, a full chaincase will be the ultimate protection for your drivetrain and it looks cool too.

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I also have an SE Lager which I ride single-speed with brakes :-)
I commute every day, no matter the weather, so I run mudguards (fenders if you're in the US).
I've got the Planet Bike ones because that's what Cheeky Monkey, my LBS sell.
On the SE Lager it meant I had to run a small tire on the back (23-622 ETRTO) for it to fit under the brakes. On the front I kept the 28 that comes with the Lager. Sometimes I had to fiddle a bit with the front mudguard / fender to stop it rattling. Cheeky (my LBS) used clamps to fix the mudguard / fender to the fork since the fork has no eyelets but they did a good job and the clamps work well. I never had to adjust the clamps, just where the mudguard / fender fixes on the brake mount.

If you're ok running 23-622 tires on the Lager then mudguards / fenders will work. My Lager came with 28-622 tires, and so those tires had clearance problems on the rear with the Planet bike mudguards / fenders. The problem I have now is that I bolstered my back wheel by getting a Mavic A719 with some DT Alpine III spokes but the 23 tire is borderline too small for that rim, and going to a 28 tire won't fit with the rear / mudguard fender. I got the mudguards after the wheel.

Great things about mudguards though

  • A full mudguard on the front contributes a massive amount to keeping your shoes dry. Your shoes mostly get wet with the water coming off the front wheel where the wheel contacts the road.
  • The same way a full front mudguard / fender keeps your shoes relatively dry, it also keeps most of the gunk out of your drivetrain when it's wet. Since I ride whatever the weather I find the wet can degrade your drivetrain much quicker (when you ride without mudguards / fenders) and so a full front mudguard / fender does help quite a bit in this regard. The LBS agree. Some of them have courier backgrounds and so are all-weather too.
  • Great for keeping the spray coming off the top of the front wheel from going straight in your eyes if you don't have glasses on. Glasses often fog a lot in the wet so I often take them off, and the last thing you want is road spray full of grime and oil in your eyes.
  • Handy for keeping that stripe off your back. Hey I've ruined perfectly good t-shirts when riding without mudguards in the rain. Some oil stains just don't come out.

About your Bottom Bracket filling up with water, Cheeky Transport actually drilled a hole in my frame underneath the bottom bracket to let the water out. If you're going to do that you'll want to remove the bottom bracket first, or get a pro to do it. Otherwise, since your SE is steel you may want to apply rust inhibitor to the insides of the tubes. Surly has a post about it.

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Hey another Lager rider! The roadracers fit amazingly well, although I'm running 23mm front and back so I don't know how they'd go with 28s. –  Mac Aug 17 '11 at 0:53
    
Sweet! Which version of the Planet Bike guards are you using? They look a little more robust than the roadracers. –  Mac Aug 17 '11 at 1:49
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I would recommend the Fendor-Bendor by WIT Industries. This is a foldable fender / mudguard (^_^), that you can keep in your bag, folded completely flat. Whenever you need it, you take it out, fold it out and put it on your bike. It works especially well with traditional steel road or track frames. www.witindustries.nl/products/fendorbendor

Best regards,

Olaf Wit (Yes, I made it! ;))

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