Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Portland, Oregon
With fall comes change and with fall comes fenders.
For those of us lucky enough to live in an area of the country where season change means the awe of the changing landscape, with it also comes the residue. Although I take nothing but pleasure in riding among the golden fall leaves that litter the streets, sidewalks and lawns, they also signify that Portland is now in its rainy season. A season that lasts from October/November until roughly July 4th. By the time seven months roll around, the Portland residents have earned their summer sun and at that point, in July, the fenders can then safely come off.
This season has also brought other personal changes for me. The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles has woefully and regretfully taken a back seat to a new shift in my life. This fall, I resigned from my job of over four years to embark on a graduate program at Portland State University. I will be pursuing a graduate certificate in transportation while focusing on cycling, mass transit and pedestrian related issues. But mainly, I am focused on bikes. It is at the core of my being and what I believe in. It’s what can save us…in many ways.
So, for those of you reading, I apologize for the lack of regular posts. They will be scaled back for the time, but the program is quick. I should be back to full force and regularly posting around the end of the summer.
But, I digress, what I mainly want to write about, and why you clicked, is because of the fenders. Fenders that will save our backs from the sad “skunk stripe” other unfortunate cyclists are forced to wear because of inevitable road spray. The bicycles that became the test subject are my 1985 Raleigh Kodiak and my wife’s 1983 Univega Specialissima.
The fenders that were purchased, for both bicycles, are crafted by Velo Orange. Both fender sets are smooth models with the only difference being the material. The Univega received aluminum while the Raleigh sports a beefier, stainless steel version because it will be commuting more often.
As Velo Orange promises, the fenders are of high quality and are reminiscent of the beautiful alloy French fenders of the past. The rolled materials are well done on all areas of possible contention and all pre-drilled holes were fairly accurate for both bikes. Mounting hardware for different styles came with the bike. The directions describe many different methods for setup, which was helpful because both bikes were set up just a touch differently.
Setup was straightforward but it was tricky to tweak, adjust and bend the materials (which is encouraged in the directions) to get them just right. The process wasn’t perfect the first time, however, but after multiple test rides and adjustments, I massaged them into place to what I would consider dialed in.
The fit and finish are good, not perfect, but very good. Some areas could use just a touch more adjustment but it’s challenging because when you push one area in, another buckles upward. It is a delicate dance, but, with patience, satisfaction is achievable and for fenders of such quality, time should be taken to get them on properly.
I have had my fenders installed now for several weeks and after many rides, with exception of my first commute to school/work, they have been functioning flawlessly. I was told that this type of fender is one that takes extra effort to set up accurately, but once it is locked down tight, they stay properly fit without rattling lose. So far, I would agree with that statement.
With metal fenders, however, you cannot expect them to be silent. There are little noises here and there. Mainly, it is the sound of thin metal resonating. Perhaps it’s the steel chainstay bridge and fender connection flexing while I power up a hill or maybe the reverberation from accidentally riding through an extra large pothole. Another common one is the clang of a rock that shoots up and bounces around inside, between the tire and the metal. Either way, to me, these are simply nuances of having this type of fender and nothing to be alarmed at.
One item I feel would be worth altering is the addition of a Velo Orange leather mud flap. Luckily, I haven’t felt I needed the flap, although I still haven’t been in a real downpour yet. Even if I don’t need it, I do like the aesthetics of the leather. I feel like a black flap would mate especially well with the Univega and its black leather Brooks saddle.
So, even with all this change in the air, I still wouldn’t have it any other way and I certainly would not go with any other style of fender.