Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coach’s Tip/Crud Roadracer MK2 Fenders Review

It’s a funny time of the year to be thinking about fenders (well, maybe not this year). It’s now spring, but that’s no guarantee that the volatile weather of late will settle down. It’s been tough enough to just ride, let alone follow a training plan of any kind. Recently I started using Crud Roadracer MK2 Fenders (purchased at Cycle University) and I now have one more little motivation to get out there more often. To use a much overused phrase; the Cruds are a game changer.

It’s great to have a dedicated winter bike on which one can mount full fenders to minimize cleanup of the bike. Don’t get me wrong, I love my winter bike and that is one reason I just can’t bring myself to call it a “rain bike.” But I love my summer bike more, and I’ll gaze fondly at it as it sits for a month or longer at times because I don’t want to trash it. It’s not that I think a little water will hurt my bike; it’s the cleaning up afterwards that really bugs me. Up until Cruds came along there really weren't any full fenders that worked well on a racing bike with the inherent tight fork and brake clearance.

After I mounted a set of Cruds on the winter ride, it didn’t take long to realize that Cruds provide the best coverage of any fenders I have tried. At less than 7oz. (193g) total weight, they are also by far the lightest. Forget those worthless clip-on fenders that do nothing to keep you or your bike clean; the Cruds work better than conventional fenders and weigh less than the clip-on versions. I removed a set of bolted on Planet Bike Cascadia full fenders from my winter bike to install Cruds. Not only did the Cascadia fenders weigh nearly a pound and a half, they would rattle at times. The Cascadia fenders made my bike feel slower as they have the aerodynamic properties of a brick wall. I hit 45mph dropping down Village Parkway the other day, so I don’t think the Cruds are slowing me down. The Cruds are sleek and aerodynamically clean.

The Cruds are the quietest fenders I've used, and they simply disappear while you are riding. They almost disappear when you are off of the bike as well, especially if you have black spokes. The Cruds are by far the best and least obtrusive looking fenders I have seen on any type of bike. So good looking that I threw a set on my summer bike with no regrets.

I treasure those rare winter days where I can get out on my Numero Uno bike. Something just feels different when I am on the best bike, and it makes me excited to go and ride. Being excited about riding means I not only ride more, I am more likely to ride with a plan. If the plan involves doing some climbing at Cougar, Tiger, and Squak Mountains it’s just so much more fun on my summer bike.

Anything that gets one out more is a good thing, and I’ll ride more often now that I know I can ride my best bike on wet roads and not have a major cleanup post ride. Of course, if I know I am likely to get caught in the rain I’ll ride the winter bike. There is nothing you can do about the beating your wheel rims, hubs, and bottom bracket take from really wet conditions. But how many times have I grabbed my winter bike because the roads were damp when I left on a 3 hour ride, only to encounter dry roads 20 minutes into the ride? I’m just a little more likely to ride if I know I’ll be on my favorite bike, and I will be riding it more often now thanks to the Cruds.

Crud has been making fenders since 1991 in the UK, a country where they know a little bit about riding in wet conditions. Depending on the bike as well as type of brakes, the Crud fenders may slip right on or may require a little tinkering. The fenders were designed for racing bikes, but not all bikes are the same. After I figured out a few mounting nuances, the fenders on both of my bikes mounted easily. See the Crud site for info on whether the fenders will work on your bike, as well as several videos with installation tips:


The Cruds even come with two interchangeable rear fender tail pieces. I use the short tail when riding solo to deter the hangers-on from latching onto my rear wheel. I go to the longer tail when I’m riding with friends and don’t want them to catch the Mud Measles. Seems to me like they have "covered" just about everything with the fender design.

Bear in mind, light weight means the Crud fenders are not indestructible. It’s possible to break one if you get your foot snagged in a walking speed turn as a result of not paying attention to “toe overlap.” If you live in the UK, Crud will send you a replacement part for the cost of a postage stamp. Mailing the part to the US will cost you 6.50GBP. How do I know this? Yes, indeed; I did carelessly snap a fender in two shortly after I mounted my first pair.

I wasn’t thrilled about the product at that moment, but Mr. Crud (Peter Tomkins-the owner of Crud) mentioned in an email that the Cruds were designed to break away if something were to jam up in the fender. As Peter put it, “We figure it’s better to break your fender than break your head.” I agree, and I’ll gladly be more careful with the fenders in exchange for not worrying about what would happen if a stick lodged itself in between a bolted on fender and my front fork. Crud even has the confidence to post a video featuring a happy ending after just such an occurrence. The “video” I used to have in my head was a little different than the one on the Crud site, being an image of my bike stopping abruptly as I catapulted forward over the handlebars.

Rarely do I feel so positively about a product (especially after an initial bad experience), but I am convinced that the Crud fenders are simply the best fenders around. For a racing bike, it’s a no-brainer. Even if a bike has provisions for full bolt on fenders, I don’t know why anyone would use them if they tried the Cruds.

How is this article a coaching tip? Now when I look out at damp roads in the morning, I no longer try and calculate how long it will take to dry out enough to ride my summer bike. I just get on and go. Sometimes I would vacillate long enough that I ended up not riding either bike. Anything that gets a cyclist out on his bike more is a coaching tip in my book.

I got my Crud fenders at the Cycle University West Seattle store:


I’d call first to make sure they still have them in stock. After all, it’s a funny time of the year to be thinking about fenders…I hope.

I hope to see you on the road, be it wet or dry.