Do We Have Clearance, Clarence?

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A few weeks ago I took what I thought would be the final step in converting my Novara Trionfo road bike into a winter bike: Fenders. I knew that due to the racing geometry of this frame, tire clearance would be an issue for me. I located what I believe to be a pair of very low-profile black aluminum fenders from Toba, being sold at The Bicycle Repair Shop downtown. I asked the owner to assure me that I had enough clearance to use these fenders, and he was confident that they could install them just fine.

Four hours later, I learned that the fenders were not at all easy to install. The mechanic did his best, but I would have preferred him to dissuade me from the purchase in the first place. When the fenders were fully installed, the clearance was just a couple of millimeters in some places.

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Not enough clearance. The tires didn’t rub at all in the repair stand, but out on the road, reality took over.

On my ride home on Alaskan Way (the notorious gravel trap), I realized that this whole fender experiment was probably a waste of my money. Every time I rode over a leaf, tiny bit of gravel, or water, I could hear a very alarming banging/pinging sound echoing throughout the entire length of the fender as the particle worked itself out. The wheel would even lock up for a few seconds if a larger pebble got in. So disappointing.

My next move will be to take off the fenders and get a more expert opinion on what product would work best for this bike. They will probably be made of plastic, and not cover so much of the wheel’s curvature. I have heard good things about SKS Raceblades, and Crud Road Racers.

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