Cyclists who only ride in good weather may never need bike fenders. But for everyone else, bicycle fenders are a great way to continue to ride, and stay clean, in less than ideal riding conditions. Bike fenders don't add much weight to a bike and they will allow the rider to continue to exercise or commute when others either have to stay home or drive their car.
Bike Fenders Protect the Rider
People don't like to ride a bike in the rain because they don't want to get wet. Sometimes the rider can wait until the rain ceases before getting out on the road, but it could take hours for the roads and puddles to dry. Without bike fenders the hours of potential riding in a day are limited if there is any rain at all.
Even when it is actively raining the cyclist with bike fenders can ride without getting filthy. Rain falling from the sky is clean water. The problem is that the water coming from the road is filled with sand and grime. Bicycle fenders protect the rider from these elements.
Without bike fenders the rider will get the front of their legs covered in dirt and petroleum grime from the front tire of the bike. The rear wheel will provide the same filthy coating for the rider's back. A simple pair of bike fenders (costing less than $10) will provide great protection for the rider.
A bicycle traveler cannot control all weather conditions, but he can eliminate some of the frustration by installing bike fenders.
Bike Fenders Protect the Bike
On top of providing protection for the rider, bike fenders protect the bike. A bike is a machine. Dumping gallons of gritty, sandy water on any machine with exposed moving parts is harmful. Couple that with petroleum products that coat the road and are released during the rain, and the bike get stripped of the good lubrication it needs.
Bicycles have their chains, chainrings and gear sets exposed to the elements. Clean water falling from the sky in the form of rain isn't going to do much damage, but the grimy water being kicked up by the bike tires strips these items from the good grease and oil they need. If the bike has multiple gears, then there are even more moving parts that can be damaged by sandy water being sprayed into them. DÃ©railleurs are amazing in their ability to change gears with fine tolerances. Strip out the lubrication that makes them work and a bike won't be as enjoyable to ride. Bicycle fenders can eliminate a huge amount of water from the road ever reaching these sensitive parts.
One of the least considered parts of a bike is the headset. That is the part of the bike that connect the forks and the stem inside the head tube. There are a couple of sets of bearings that are almost never seen that make this system work smoothly. These bearings are protected from the top by covers that shed water away from them. But water coming from the bottom up (the gritty, grimy road water) can cause those bearings to cut the fork's tube into two parts. When this happens the results are catastrophic, even at slow speeds. This problem can be completely mitigated by a pair of bike fenders.
The cables that are used to work the breaks and dÃ©railleurs are often exposed. By exposing these cables the bike makers have found they cause fewer problems with rusting and becoming impossible to use. However, these exposed cables also provide more points for dirty water to enter the system. These are usually protected from the top by running the cables under the top tube and down tube of the bike. Bike fenders are what are used to protect the cables from damage by the water coming from below.
Bike Fenders Need to Become Popular Again
Bike fenders are not that popular in the United States. Most bikes that are bought in discount stores, and even many bikes from specialty bike shops, are sold without fenders. Bicycle fenders aren't sexy. The purchaser may think that because the spandex clad riders who are seen on TV winning bike races don't use fenders, that means they don't need them either. However, professional riders have many advantages over the average rider at home. The professional can afford to ride without bike fenders because they are already at work when they are riding, they don't have to take a shower and change to get ready for the office. They also have a team of mechanics who are cleaning every inch of their bike protecting them from the harmful effects of dirt and grime. Most commuters and casual bike riders don't have those advantages.
Bike fenders are a great investment in the ability to ride a bike in many weather conditions. They are also an investment in keeping the rider's clothes clean and bike working with less maintenance. There are many different types of fenders to choose from for different types of bikes. Everyone who rides a bike for commuting or for exercise will have a better experience when riding with bike fenders installed.