Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tight Squeeze Fenders with Reacharound Brackets

Life is good when your bike has fenders in the rain. Life is bad when the your favorite bike doesn't take fenders. Until recently, I was considering selling my favorite bike, a Gunnar Street Dog, because it lacks the clearance for full fenders - I can barely squeeze a 28mm tire in there, and a full fender is out of the question. I tried the clip-on race blade fenders with some success, but they really don't provide the protection of full fenders. Things get pretty soaked every time I have to commute in nasty wet weather. Google found a solution. Rivercity Bicycles in Portland, Oregon makes Reacharound Brackets which allow the fenders to be interrupted where the frame clearance is tight, at the rear brake bridge and the front fork crown. It's explained here.

The Rivercity Bicycles website says to call on the phone, so i called. The conversation went like this:

Me: "Hi. I saw those reacharound brackets on your website. How can I get some?"

RB: "Oh yeah, hold on.....Hi? You're looking for brackets? Sure we install them here in the shop."

Me: "Hmm. I'm in Massachusetts, could you mail me some?"

RB: "Well we're almost out right now and don't know when we'll be getting more. You could make them out of some rear rack stays, just bend them here and there."

Me: "OK, uh...that doesn't sound too hard, do you know where I would get some rack stays?"

RB: "You know what, I'll just make a set for you and mail them out. No problem."

Me: "Wow! Great. Thanks!"

A neat little package of perfect brackets and simple directions soon arrived in the mail. I picked up some SKS fenders - these are supposedly the best for this because they resist cracking when drilled or cut because there is a metal strip embedded the plastic. I cut the rear fender in two and, after a little trial and error, managed to fit the fender to the rear reacharound brackets. The front fender installation was more complicated. The bike's front fork doesn't have fender eyelets, so I used some P-clamps to substitute. Additionally, the lower stack of the headset is really close to the brake hole, so there isn't enough room for the front reacharound bracket to clear the front brake OR room to attach the original fender bracket to the back of the brake hole without hitting the lower stack. I used a set of Sheldon fender nuts to provide the right spacing for the original bracket and attached the portion of the fender behind the front wheel. I left off the front portion of the front fender for now, but I'm going to fashion a special bracket for the front half soon. Very complicated, but worth it. The Gunnar is now rain worthy. Wouldn't you know, it hasn't really rained yet, but I've gone through almost every standing puddle and the preliminary results are good. More pictures are here.

On a related note, I visited Rivercity Bicycles recently. I was visiting some good friends who live in Portland and we were driving by the shop. We stopped in to check it out. The shop is bigger and fancier than I expected, having every variety of bikes... the usual racing and MTB stock, but also ton of CX, several touring rigs, nice steel bikes, and a thoughtful selection of bags and clothing. The staff is as friendly as they were earlier on the phone. I finally got to try out a Surly Long Haul Trucker, terrific bike. It's worth noting that the shop was serving free espresso. I found this a little odd given the context and my grouchy east-coast sensibility, but I imagine it fits nicely with the progressive cycling Portland scene. Whatever, it's free coffee and that's great. In all, the shop has a nice wide variety of gear and helpful staff, that's rare these days. I couldn't bring the Surly home, but I got a funny t-shirt. Check it out if you are ever in Portland.


kbarron said...

not a question about the fenders, but a front brake question instead. i'm building a street dog, today i bought a shimano ultegra front brake, and have discovered the post is too short for the fork. what brake did you use? or any recommendations are appreciated. thank you.

kbarron said...

i got it. silly me and my ignorance. i see now that the post fastener fits inside the rear hole.