I want to buy a bike. The road bikes look very gorgeous. However I noticed that they come without fenders to protect from water! I was really surprised for that actually and that made me wonder about how do people protect themselves when driving on wet roads.

When one drives on a wet road then you get smashed by water and your clothes get dirty. So how do people protect themselves when driving a road bike?! Are the tires somehow made that they prevent water? Or what is the secret?!

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    See Rule #9. – andy256 Sep 13 '15 at 15:08
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    @Rilakkuma - you still get soaked on a road bike if you ride without fenders. Bald tires still pickup plenty of water. faster rotational speeds also picks up more water. – Rider_X Sep 13 '15 at 16:06
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    A rider of a road bike has the very straightforward mentality that if it rains, they will get wet. So what? Fenders add weight, road riders don't like that. And they'll only deflect a fraction of any rain. It's just a matter of priorities, no secrets involved – PeteH Sep 13 '15 at 17:18
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    When it rains you get wet. Fenders, and, to a lesser degree, details of bike geometry can make it a little better, but if you're out in the rain for an hour or so you will be wet through and through regardless. (I have standard fenders on my touring bike, but racers sneer at them, and they're a handicap in mud or snow since they get clogged.) – Daniel R Hicks Sep 13 '15 at 18:14
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    How do people ride road bikes without fenders? They pedal. What is the secrete when it rains? They get wet. – paparazzo Sep 13 '15 at 20:04

Most road bikes are the equivalent of an open-top racing car. You just don't ride them in the rain. And if you do, you are expected to be hard core enough that a little rain isn't worth the weight and aerodynamic drag that the fenders would cause. And there's also a reason that hardcore racers wear sunglasses during the day or transparent glasses in the evening -- they help keep bugs and rain out of your eyes. And as many people note, you'll be soaking wet from sweat anyway if you're riding hard.

That being said, there are some slim fenders that can attach to some road bikes -- although many/most road bikes currently being sold come without fender eyelets and are so aerodynamic that there isn't enough space between the wheel and forks/stays to put a fender that would work a darn. If you want fenders but like the road bike drop-bar style, look at expedition/touring bikes or cyclocross bikes.

Or, if you're like many people, you instead have a beater commuter with fenders that you ride in the rain and you keep your gorgeous carbon fiber racer for sunny days. One can never have too many bikes.

  • Surprisingly, nobody has mentioned Rule #12. At least not for a week or two :-) – andy256 Sep 13 '15 at 23:37
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    On most club and group rides in the Pacific Northwest (temperate rain forest) fenders and mudflaps are mandatory on every road bike. Most also own a dedicated rain bike too (n + 1). No fenders by late spring/summer. The no fenders threshold varies by region me thinks. – Rider_X Sep 14 '15 at 3:39
  • Of course people who have road bikes ride them in the rain! – user1207758 Sep 14 '15 at 19:47
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    You could buy an ass-saver but I'm not sure it's worth it. You should already be wet from sweat when in rains... – Aron Sep 22 '15 at 3:12

You will get wet if you ride at speed on a wet road without fenders. I think you can find fenders to fit almost any road bike if you want them, but otherwise I can think a few things that mitigate the problem:

  • Change clothes shortly after the end of the ride, and wash and dry yourself if facilities are available.
  • Wear tight cycling clothes. You will still be wet, but you won't have the sensation of repeatedly touching wet fabric.
  • Wear clothes made with fabrics designed not to hold much water and to dry quickly.
  • Wear waterproof / water resistant clothing, ideally breathable to allow water vapour from sweat to escape.
  • Put lots of energy into cycling. This will generate heat.
  • Without fenders, you'll get wet even if you don't ride at speed. – David Richerby Apr 9 '17 at 13:59

Some road bikes have fender eyelets on the fork and near the rear dropouts (newer eyelets are a bit hidden to preserve the aesthetic on some models). You just buy the fenders and put them on. I'd say most non-race bikes will have them, and ones which are commonly used for commuting or touring will almost definitely have them. Then you buy a set of fenders, and bolt them on.

You can also use clip on mudguards and fenders (e.g. to the seatpost), like the SKS X-board and SKS X-tra dry.

This style clips onto the downtube in lieu of a front fender:

enter image description here

This style clips onto the seatpost as a rear fender:

enter image description here

Another style is this (from Planet Bike):

enter image description here

These don't provide all the benefits of a proper fender (e.g. protecting the drivetrain) but block some of the mud and water and can be mounted on any bike, even a mountain bike:

enter image description here

Finally, some people just get wet and dirty or don't take their road bikes out in the rain. Note that road bikes generally don't throw up as much crud up as mountain bikes since their tires are smaller.

My road bike has a SKS X-tra Dry seatpost rear fender, and the front is just plain. It uses 700x28 tires, and I find that the front doesn't throw all that much up that I care about it too much. The rear is pretty well covered by the seatpost fender, so I don't have skunk stripe.

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    Two of the three bikes pictured are definitely not road bikes. :-) – RoboKaren Sep 13 '15 at 23:28
  • +1 For the skunk stripe. I didn't know normal had a name :-) – andy256 Sep 13 '15 at 23:41
  • @RoboKaren - sure. But I'd have to take pictures of my bike otherwise, and I just can't be bothered. – Batman Sep 14 '15 at 0:39
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    Most of those fender options would get you kicked out of a wet club ride due to the rearward spray. – Rider_X Sep 14 '15 at 3:41
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    Note that the last set of fenders shown will do precisely eff all to protect you from spray. Notice how there is a straight line from the rear tyre to the back of the seat that doesn't pass through the fender: water will arc up from the back of the tyre and hit you on the back. And the only thing the front fender is protecting is the steerer tube: notice how any water thrown up even slightly backwards from the front tyre will miss the fender entirely. – David Richerby Apr 9 '17 at 14:02

This is a big issue here in the UK, where it rains rather a lot. And on the minor roads particularly you don't just get wet, but covered in mud, de-icing salt and other gunk - not great for you or your bike. Fortunately at least some manufacturers are waking up to the fact that mudguard mounts on road bikes are a really good idea. Some such as the Specialized Roubaix, use very discreet "hidden" mounts that are almost invisible when mudguards are not attached. The Focus Paralane even comes with a set of 'guards included:

Focus Paralane

For bikes without dedicated mounts there are two main options: SKS Raceblade long SKS Raceblade long

Crud Roadracer Mk3 Crud Roadracer Mk3

You will need to make sure there is enough frame clearance to fit them.

So to answer your question - you don't have to!

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    +1 for the examples on fenders for (road) bikes whitout mounting points for them. – Jahaziel Apr 11 '17 at 3:39

"Well-mounted metal fenders do not affect the bike’s aerodynamics. The front section of each fender shields the tire and reduces the wind resistance, while the rear fender increases the aerodynamic drag. The two effects cancel each other."

Source: https://janheine.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/aerodynamics-of-real-world-bicycles/

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    Of course, real world bicycles have front fenders that cover only the rear of the wheel. Once again we run into the old Jan Heine problem: measurement results with unintuitive results and no explanations on how they were achieved. – ojs Apr 9 '17 at 14:13
  • Actually, there's one photo that shows a Jan Heine fender under the thing that's either fairing or handlebar bag. I have never seen one like that in real life. – ojs Apr 9 '17 at 14:15

Not everyone will agree with this but here's goes... Riding, for me, is a means to get out of the sanitized daily grind and thus rain, mud dirt are all welcome. Fenders are ugly and if I can avoid them, I always choose to.

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    It's a fair point but I think most people would say that this applies more to mountain biking than road biking. – Chris H Apr 11 '17 at 10:39

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