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SKS Black Alley Cat Fenders Preview

Isn’t black the new pink, which was the new brown, which was the new black.  Even though hands down my favorite fenders are the Velo Orange Alumnium Fenders, I can embrace a subtle matte look for the ninja commuter..  If you keep a low profile, or simply want to match the rest of your components the new SKS Alley Cat Fenders in matte black are for you.  At the bike shop SKS fenders were something we kept in stock due to the various available widths to fit every type of bike you can imagine.

SKS Fenders

The details

SKS Alley Cat Fenders
MSRP : $44.99-49.99
Notes: Matte Black All Over, Available to fit 700 x 20-28, 700 x 28-38 & 700 x 38-47 wheel
sizes & comes with mudflaps.

From the Company

SKS is introducing a NEW Limited Edition Matte Black Fender, available in
stores September 1.

The new Alley Cat Fender, features a cool matte black finish and blacked
out profile hardware. Because of the underground finish/color, SKS USA
has coined this new product as the “Alley Cat” and each fender will come
with a reflective alley cat decal that can be applied to the fender or bike.

The Alley Cat comes equipped with front and rear mudflaps, and offers
extended splash coverage to keep the rider drier.

Full Review to Come

We have a set that just showed up and these will be installed, then tested to make sure the finish and hardware are up to par.  Do you have an SKS fender story? Let us know!

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Types of Fenders

A mini series on Yearly Bike Fenders, today we will be discussing the different types of fenders there are and the benefits of each.

Full Coverage Fenders

One of the best systems of fenders are called full coverage as these cover up the most of your tires. The rear fender mounts at your bottom bracket and wrapping up around your tire. In some areas you add a buddy flap which adds distance to the fender and can even drag on the ground, keeping the spray off your buddy riding on your wheel. Make sure you purchase the right width for your tire and frame clearance.

Clip On Fenders

The easiest way to install fenders are the clip on style. They can be attached in the morning if its raining, or fairly quickly prior to a ride. The downfall to this style is they aren’t full coverage. This means it will keep the spray off your back and face but may not keep your bike and feet clean.

Other Types

There are other types of fenders, such as stubbies, fork mount, seatpost mount and such. All these help keep the roster tail off, or the spray out of your face but to me don’t make the cut. If you are going to rock a fender, rock it full and proud.

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The Perfect Commuter Bike : Fenders

Velo Orange FendersOur group build is about half way through it’s original phases. After many discussions about bicycle type, exact frame set, the type of shifting and finally the component type. We’ve determined the Long Haul Trucker with a stock build is the bike we are going with.

We’ve moved on to accessorizing and the important question now is fenders, what type, style and such. I’ve used various fenders over the years, and had great luck with SKS, Planet Bike and Velo Orange. For personal lust I have a set of Velo Orange fenders I’ve been saving for a moment like this. The idea of all silver/chrome parts on this bike with the blue paint makes me giddy!

As I’m leaving this as a sounding board for all of you to tell me your favorite fender and WHY, I’m not making this a poll but instead an open forum.

Planet Bike is a Commute By Bike sponsor, this doesn’t sway my opinion for them but by law I have to tell you this.
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A fendered bike is a happy bike

This is Levi Leipheimer’s carbon fiber, 18 lb custom built rain bike.

Levi Leipheimer's 18 lb rain bike -- fendered, disc brakes, SRAM Red

Road geometry, disc brakes, SRAM Red components, SRM wireless PowerMeter and
, of course. Check out the multiple mount points for the fender stays front and rear.

Professional race cyclist Levi Leipheimer rides around the hills of Santa Rosa, California. It’s often warm enough to ride during the wet winter months, and many California cyclists — even recreational racing cyclists — opt to mount fenders on their bikes during the rainy season. Fenders are a good idea on any kind of bike in the rain.

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Commuting 101: Keeping footwear dry

In the wake of the tropical storms, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past week. My cycling shoes have gotten so wet that they don’t get a chance to dry out before it’s time to leave for work in the morning. Here are some tips for keeping your footwear dry in monsoon season.

It makes sense that the easiest way to keep your footwear dry is to not let it get sopping wet in the first place. On wet roads,

Fenders work wonders at reducing the amount of water that gets splashed onto your feet from the road. If it’s raining, however, you’re going to get your feet wet. Fenders will potentially lessen it a bit.

Once your shoes are wet, though, the most obvious choice is to use the clothes dryer. Cycling shoes with cleats can damage the inside of a dryer, though, and shoes bouncing around in the dryer not only make a lot of noise, but it can harm the shoes as well as making them “Kick” the door of the dryer open, stopping the cycle before they’re dry. One way to take care of this is to use a rack inside your dryer (some new dryers come with a shoe-drying rack that fits inside) or simply untie the laces, tie a knot in the very end of the laces, and allow them to hang with the knot keeping them suspended against the dryer door. This is how I do it at home. Alternatively, twine or a re-purposed metal clothes hanger can be used to hang your shoes on the inside of the dryer door. This way, your shoes don’t make a lot of noise. Be careful with racing shoes that are made of stiff plastic or carbon fiber. Excess heat can damage them.

Newsprint, wadded up and stuffed into the shoes is another suggestion I’ve seen “kicked around” lately. If you get the newspaper and never seem to come up with a good creative use for the newsprint after you’ve read it, now’s your chance to re-purpose it. If your shoes are quite damp, you may need to remove the old newspaper and repeat the process a few times. I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, so I haven’t been able to try this theory myself.

The last suggestion I got from several friends of mine was to use a good pair of cycling sandals. These clipless cleat-ready sandals, when worn with wool socks often remain comfy year round, even in the cold season. There isn’t a lot of material to get soaked. Sandals dry quickly. Wool socks do as well, but also retain much of their insulating value even when wet.

One trick I use occasionally at the office is to place my wet socks and/or shoes on top of my computer monitor after I’m sure they won’t drip water into the sensitive electronics within. The heat from my computer monitor isn’t too extreme, but over the course of my entire work day, it’s often warm enough to dry out a few articles of soggy clothing.

Got more cool ways to keep your toes dry? Drop us a line in the comments!

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Natalie Ramsland on city cycling

Natalie Ramsland is one of the principles of Sweetpea Bicycles and one of the few female framebuilders in the American bicycling industry. Earlier this year, Natalie participated in a panel discussion about City Bicycles in Portland, OR. Though “Women Specific Design” bikes are more available, many of these are either recreational sport bikes for athletes, or they are mountain bikes and hybrids that are too heavy for many women.

I caught up to Natalie to ask about transportational cycling from the perspective of a woman.

Are most women shopping around for bikes even aware that lighter options are available outside of high end racing bicycles? I would imagine that the Portland population sees a wider selection of what is available because there are so many cyclists trying to solve the same problems. Still, I think one of the bigger hurdles for women looking for a bike outside of high end racing bikes is raising their own expectations about what they deserve to be riding. I can’t believe the number of ladies I hear say things like “oh, I am not really fast, I am not really a cyclist,” and yet they commute to work, carry kids and groceries, etc. The bike industry could certainly do a better job of acknowledging the diversity of athleticism and building that in the way women’s bikes are designed and sold.

What is a city bike to you? The bikes I have built reflect the varying interests and riding styles of my customers. That is the joy of custom building, no? But some of the bikes I am most proud of are those that are honest-to-goodness vehicles. The cyclocross commuter I built for my brother’s daily SF commute certainly looks different than the Farmer’s Market bike. And both of those are different still from my around town bike. But what they have in common is the ability to carry a load (rack) and the ability to function comfortably all year (fenders). I think that the more subtle feature that these bikes have in common is perhaps the most important though: 1) they each fit their rider as comfortably and uniquely as their favorite pair of jeans, and 2) they each indulge personal quirks or preferences. My bike for example has a longer top tube than most bikes that size because of my unusually long torso, which makes it more comfy than any other bike I have ridden. In terms of reflecting my aesthetics sense, I opted for 650c wheels rather than 700c because to my eye the smaller wheels look more proportional and more beautiful.

When women come to you for a bicycle, are they looking specifically for a “city bike” — something to commute on? Do they know what to ask for? There’s always a really good reason why my customers are looking for a Sweetpea. It might be that they want a racing bike in a really small size, or a long distance bike with a short enough top tube, or a bike is built completely and unapologetically with all of their dream bike features in mind. The ultimate form of the bike is the result of their intentions for the bike and the custom fitting we do to determine their optimal riding position. Sometimes this makes a bike a “city bike” and sometimes it makes the bike a sunny day, carbon-forked speed queen. But I always remind customers that they are going to love their Sweetpea so much that they won’t want to ride their “back up” bike in rainy weather. As a result, I’ve put a few more fender eyelets on the road.

Do women typically have more safety concerns than men? Besides the usual “5 Es” to promote bicycling (Engineering, Encouragement, Enforcement, Education, Evaluation), are there other things to look at from a woman’s perspective to get more people on bikes? I don’t know if there are more safety concerns for women, but I suspect that the broader scope of women’s responsibilities (work, caregiving, schelppin’) plays some role in female ridership. It’s easier to be the heroic bike commuter if you’ve got somebody else picking up the dry cleaning and shuttling Johnny off to soccer practice. It seems that too often that somebody is female. I think the good work of feminism is part of the solution but the other part is building bikes that are viable and appealing means of carrying groceries and kids and all that good stuff.

Be sure to visit Sweetpea Bicycles in Portland. The blog is cool, too!

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Bicycle Fenders

Fenders are good

or mudguards protect your bike and your clothing from grit and grime when the roads are wet from rain and melted snow. Although they won’t keep you completely dry when it’s actually raining, fenders help tremendously to keep your backside and bottom side dry and clean. Good
also protect your bike by helping to keep dirt and road grit away from your frame and out of your moving parts.

Riding in the rain

Full Fenders allow me to ride in the heavy mist that Californians like to call “rain” with only minimal wetness. I wear a rain jacket and sometimes wear rain pants, but with full fenders and a mudguard my shoes get only a little damp and my socks stay completely dry. My raingear only needs to be water resistant rather than water proof and seam sealed, which saves me money and gives me more options on riding wear.

I’ve cycled through thunderstorms in the U.S. Midwest and Texas and even a typhoon or two in Tokyo. For the Californians on the list, fill a bucket with water, toss in a tray of ice cubes (for the hail) and have a friend throw the contents on you — that approximates about half a second of a typical Midwestern spring storm. In downpours like this you’ll get wet even with fenders, of course, but fenders are still useful to protect driving spray from penetrating your bottom bracket and headset. (I comment a little more about California rain in my personal blog).

Even in these areas, fenders keep you dry when you venture out after the storms, when your tires throw grit, sand and salt up into toward your clothing, frame and moving parts.

Full fenders

In my opinion, if you can’t install full length fenders, you probably shouldn’t even bother installing them. Full length fenders curve all the way around both wheels. The rear fender should extend from the bottom of the seat tube all the way around the top of the tire and back almost to the level of the axle. The front fender doesn’t have a tube to protect in front, but it should wrap from in front of the fork to about the level of your feet when the pedals are horizontal. A mud flap at the bottom of the front fender keeps your feet dry.

Planet Bike SpeedEZ Road Fenders

Fenders for road racing bikes

Many Americans have road racing bikes with absolutely no provision for fenders — there are no fender mounts, and even if you have the mounts there’s no clearance between the tires and brakes to fit a fender. A good compromise solution is Planet Bike’s SpeedEZ Road Fenders. They’re only half fenders so the rear fenders won’t protect your seat tube, but they will prevent the stripe up the back, keep your shoes dry, and protect your downtube and bottom bracket.


Short fenders fads come and go; recently, we mentioned Ezra’s short Fast Boy Fenders. They look beautiful, and though I’ve never tried them I’m dubious about their actual utility. If somebody uses shorty fenders like this let me know if they actually work.

Clip ons

I have used clip on fenders. They’re a useless waste of money as far as I’m concerned. I’m talking about the kind that attach to your seatpost with some sort of quick release mechanism. Even when they don’t swing out to the side, they provide zero protection for your bicycle and almost no protection for your backside.

Stay dry on your commute by bike with
aka mudguards!