Aluminum Fender Installation Tips

Installing rigid aluminum fenders is a process that differs more than you would think from the installation of plastic mudguards, whether they be of modern variety or vintage.  In fact, setting up fenders and racks can take more time than ALL of the other steps involved in making a bicycle mechanically sound and rideable, or building up a frame from scratch.

There are only a few resources on the web that will help with this process, and one of them is from the Jitensha shop in San Francisco. The guidance at Jitensha is helpful to anyone setting up aluminum fenders.  While Jitensha’s advice deals specifically with Honjo fenders, it translates across most other aluminum fender installations.

In addition to the other tools you might need (drill, punch, hacksaw or dremel, and file), a deburring tool shown above is also helpful.  You’ll also need stays and a set of fender hardware, plus you’ll need to consume a few bottles of Belgian Ale or Champagne (see below).  Yes, this is a very difficult task.

  

If you are working on a bike with newer dropouts, they may not be designed to allow for the fender stays to clear the wheel axle nut. The eyelets on the dropouts shown above are from my new Rivendell Appaloosa frame.  While these eyelets look robust, and it is nice to have two on the front and the rear, their position is in stark contrast to dropout eyelets on vintage bicycles, as you can see from the example below.

Properly positioned dropout eyelets allow the fender stays to clear the frame, thus making set up of the fenders much easier.  Such eyelets allow the rider to change tire widths without having to replace the stays.  In the case of my new Rivendell, it was necessary to cut the stays to the exact length necessary to accommodate the tire size I’ve chosen for this bike.  That means that if I want to change tire width, I’ll have to install a new set of stays.  That is just one example of the difference between modern plastic fenders and their aluminum counterparts.  Plastic fenders have the stay adjustment at the fender, and not at the dropout.

Recessed brake nut instead of 10 mm lock nut – adds additional length to the daruma bolt

Plenty of room for a large cork spacer.

My Rivendell is the rare bike with HUGE clearances front and rear. I will be using 38 mm tires for my build on this bike frame (which can accept up to 55 mm tires). That means that my fender line is going to need some large spacers (of the Champagne and Belgian Ale cork variety – life is hard!).  Even on a bike with regular clearances the front fender daruma bolt is often too short to provide the length needed for the width of the spacer at the fork crown.  The solution is to use a recessed brake nut to extend the length of the daruma bolt.  The photos above show how this works.

For the front fender installation, it is easiest to turn the bike upside down.  You can see from the photo above that the cork spacer consumes almost the full length of the daruma bolt.  That’s where the recessed brake nut comes in handy.

The champagne cork spacer is shown above, as installed.  The extra width helps to set up a proper front fender line for my chosen 38mm tire size.

I also used a Velo Orange leather flap on the front fender, as shown above.  The flap sits low to the ground and will help to keep debris off my frame and bottom bracket.

Rear fender line in excellent shape, thanks to the cork spacers.

Champagne, anyone?

Porteur rack has fender attachment – a nice feature.

Belgium Ale cork spacer

With the front fender now properly spaced, the rear fender set up proved easier.  Again, because of the positioning of the eyelets on the dropouts, it was necessary to cut the stays to the exact length needed for my 38 mm tires.  Champagne or Belgium Ale corks respond well to a metal file, so they can be shaped to follow the curve of the fender.  My porteur style rack allows for a fender attachment, as shown above.  I’ll wait to set that up until I’ve test-ridden the bike and adjusted all of the accessories and components.  Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy a glass of Champagne!

1897 Oregon Bicycle Guide & Map

Visiting my local Powell’s bookstore involves a normally direct route to the back of the store where the cycling section resides among the other sports related tomes.  I am always on the hunt for vintage cycling repair manuals from days of yore.  On this recent jaunt, nothing of interest emerged from the crammed bookshelves.  So, I did a visual 180 to make sure I had left no book unturned, so to speak.  That’s when I spotted this out of place manila envelope which was “sealed” in a clear cellophane package.  I picked it up, turned it over, and saw that the cellophane was closed with a piece of white cloth tape of the kind which can easily be gently unsealed. Temptation number one.  As I gazed upon the lettering on the front of the envelope I handled the envelope to feel the heft of the packet and to surmise what it might contain.  I thought:  is this a hoax?  Could there even be a cycling guide to (my) Oregon, complete with map, which was published back in the late 1890’s?

The manila envelope was clearly not 100 years old, so I was suspicious.  The cloth tape seal proved irresistible, and soon I had the contents in my hands.  I had decided I would buy the merchandise regardless of what I discovered, so undoing the cloth tape and removing the contents was just part of my “due diligence”.

Neither the publisher nor the distributor of this 1976 reprint are in business today.

As it turned out, this was a 1976 reprint of the Road Book of Oregon, first published by the League of American Wheelmen in 1897.  This organization is very old, having been formed in Rhode Island back in 1880. Yes, you read that correctly.  As hard to believe is it may be, this organization which originated from the late 19th century culminated from the need to unite cyclists of this era in the burgeoning cycling movement of the time. This was before the first automobile was invented, and long before paved roads and highways were in place.  This was America, with its huge distances from place to place – a seemingly great obstacle for cyclists of the time to surmount.

Racist membership – “whites only” – a sad and maddening legacy

The organization started as a racist one (which was not officially remedied until 1999), and excluded its membership to whites only.  When I read these words I felt sad, enraged, and a number of emotions that are hard to describe.  The cycling industry has a deep rooted history of sexism and racism, and reading the “membership requirements” made me experience the stupidity and inhumanity of our racist past.  I would be grateful to hear how other readers of this blog respond.

Reprint of 1895 Oregon road map. You can see the precursors to all the major roads and highways of today.

Close up of the Southern Oregon section of the 1895 map. It includes topographical info as well as identifying by name every small town or rural outpost of the time.

In Union Creek, Mr. Woodruff “keeps travelers”.

How to get from Ashland to California over the mountain passes.

The little booklet contains route descriptions for bicycle adventures over the entire state of Oregon, Including charming references to local folks who “take in travelers” when cyclists might arrive at their rural farm unannounced while en route to distant environs.  The road conditions, mileage, and estimated difficulty are included in each route description.  The mysteriously labeled envelope also included a large fold out map of the available roads in Oregon in 1895.  When you consider that wagon trains were headed west on the Oregon trail just 50 years earlier (wherein many white settlers died on the way and wherein many resident Native tribes were displaced or wiped out by diseases or combat) it’s fascinating and sobering to take in the extent of the road development by this time in history in the Pacific Northwest.  The booklet contains 59 routes, covering the entire state of Oregon, as well as passage to the bordering states of Washington, Idaho and California.

At the back of the booklet are advertisements from American bicycle manufacturers of the late 19th century.  There were some companies that I hadn’t tuned into before, such as Wolff-American and Sterling Bicycles.  But, I especially enjoyed looking at the drawing of the Eagle Bicycles “Disk Bearing Hub as seen by the Xrays”.  These are described as self locking hubs, which never need adjustment.  I would surmise that these components are an early example of cartridge bearing hubs, proving once again that many cycling “innovations” have been around for a long, long time.

SunTour Components

SunTour, (which began as Maeda Iron Works in 1912) was considered the most important Japanese manufacturer of cycling components up until 1988. At that time, the company was bought out by SR (Sakae Ringyo, which itself was bought out by Mori Industries around the same time), and from that point forward SunTour lost its dominance in the marketplace to Shimano.  The forces which brought about these changes involved too-low pricing, less than insightful management decisions, R & D missteps, and just plain bad luck.  The lovely Cyclone rear derailleur pictured above is an example of SunTour’s prowess in its heyday.  This mid-70’s derailleur weighs 175 grams, and features SunTour’s patented (in 1964!) slant parallelogram design with a spring on the upper pulley. The outer pulley cage is broken for easy chain replacement.  SunTour’s patent expired in 1984, and the rest is history.  Shimano copied SunTour’s slant parallelogram design, and became the dominant supplier of derailleurs for many decades since.

The quality of SunTour components has always impressed me.  I have used SunTour components in many vintage rebuilds.  So, I decided to equip my new Rivendell Appaloosa frame with a full SunTour gruppo.  First up was the crankset and bottom bracket, for which I decided upon the Sprint lineup, which was competitive with Shimano 600 at the time of its introduction in the mid-80’s.  I was fortunate to source a NOS bottom bracket, plus a gently used crankset with useful 48/40 rings.  The gold /bronze lettering will pick up nicely on the Rivendell’s frame colors.

For the front derailleur, I selected a Superbe model from 1981, according to the date code on the back of the cage.  This derailleur is so light weight that it doesn’t even register on my weight scale, which is calibrated in pounds and ounces.  SunTour’s catalog lists its weight at 90 grams. One of the goals in building up my Appaloosa is to save weight where possible, and this derailleur is part of that plan, not to mention its purported excellent performance.

The Appy is equipped with canti bosses, and I really puzzled over the right cantilever brake set for this bicycle.  Once I narrowed in on SunTour, it was a no brainer to look for the best SunTour cantilever brakes, all the while knowing that these brakes were manufactured after SunTour was taken over by SR.  These are the “champagne color” brake arms, and I was looking forward to seeing how they would look on the Appaloosa frame.  I was not disappointed.  While these brakes, with their internal springs, can be a little challenging to set up, I’ve used them a few other times and have gotten the hang of it (Paul’s cantis are similar in design).  These brakes have a useful toe in washer, shown above, plus a ratcheting mechanism on the brake shoe shaft which makes fine tuning easier than other cantilever options.

I had already planned on using SunTour’s bar end shifters (aka “Barcons”) for this project, but just in case, I also sourced some ratcheting 22.2 bar mount thumb shifters, shown above.  SunTour’s friction shifters are some of my favorites from this era.

But, I fully expect to use these SunTour Barcon’s, shown above mounted to a porteur style handlebar.  While I have used Shimano’s bar end shifters on many of my bikes, I really do like the feel and subtlety offered by these amazing pre-indexing ratcheting shifters.  They are another example of the quality and reliability of SunTour components.