How to make a mess: mix snow, rain, sleet, and some more snow. Vary temperatures wildly. Add a heaping dose of cars and a dash of city grit. Voila, a mess.
The stage is set for cyclists to become victims of the unattractive skunk tail. If you want to avoid this fate (and you do), make sure your bike is outfitted with fenders. Mud flaps are great, too, and keep your shoes clean.
Once your bike is outfitted with those classy and utilitarian accessories, you’ll be ready to take on all sorts of city messes. Lay to rest your puddle fears and enjoy the view (just make sure the puddle’s not hiding potholes!).
Technically, this should have been categorized as a DIWYF — do it with your family! Without my dad and my brother, there’s no way these Velo Orange Fluted Fenders would have made it onto Le Peug. I had read about fender installations before purchasing mine, and the one thing that all the stories had in common was the potential to get into something difficult–something that required special tools or customization. As luck would have it, mine required both.
Twas the week after Christmas, and we wheeled Le Peug into my Dad’s garage.
Le Peug enters the garage . . . he doesn't know what he's in for
First step was to clean the bike and touch up the 30-year-old paint job. Dad promised that his 3M compound could take out all but the deepest scratches, and that Wenol, an extra-strength German metal cleaner, could make the dull aluminum rims shine.
cast of characters
As usual, he was right. Check out these before/after shots. That compound cream worked miracles. If you think your bike needs to be repainted, try this first — but keep in mind that it does remove some of the paint, so be cautious.
portion of seat tube near bottom of photo has been cleaned
stay at top of photo has been cleaned
After cleaning the frame with compound, we touched up the scratches with some white paint. Once that dried, it was time for wax. Now, the frame is back to blinding white and looks almost like new.
The clean, touched-up frame — like new!
That took a couple of hours, and a lot of elbow grease, but it was the easy part. Next, we had to figure out how to install the fenders. Le Peug’s brake and stay clearance was tight, so we had to reshape both the front and rear fenders a bit.
And because the screw on our brake bolt wasn’t long enough to attach the fender, too, we had to come up with a makeshift L-bracket. Luckily, right about that time my brother wandered into the garage. He scrounged up some scrap metal and got to work.
Charlie drills the custom bracket
One fender down! I study the instructions for our next step.
The other major modification? Shaving down the front sides of the rear fender so that it would fit better between the chain stays behind the bottom bracket. Sorry, but I did not take pictures of this process since flying sparks were involved.
We replaced the wheels and cut the extra length off the stays (more sparks!).
Both fenders on, we replace the wheels.
Then we wiped the frame down again, removing some of the marks we had made with wrenches, etc, during the installation. And here’s the finished product!
front fender with custom bracket
Charlie wasn’t happy with the L-bracket was, since it was so visible and made of two different colored metals, but I like it — the gold matches the decal on the bottom tube and it is distinctive.
my finished beautiful bicycle
While I don’t really enjoy day-to-day bike maintenance duties (refilling tires, yawn), projects like this feel different. Taking the bike apart, cleaning it, installing the fenders and putting it all back together gave me a better sense of how my bike works. And seeing the finished project was oh-so-satisfying: Le Peug looks better than ever, and our painstaking custom installation means a perfect fit with no rattling. I’m now saving my pennies for the next upgrade on my list: a Brooks saddle.