I have recently taken to cycling on a so-called ‘fixie’—hipster speak for a fixed-gear bicycle. These racy little numbers tend to be the vehicle of choice for couriers in many a traffic congested big city. These so-called bike messengers elect to use these bicycles because of their simplicity and speed. Especially the low maintenance required to run a fixie is what has made them so popular. With the appropriate technique, it is possible to ride a fixie without any brakes for example. In fact, the great thing about fixies is that they possess only those elements of a bicycle that are essential: a frame, wheels, pedals, a chain drive and steering bar. That’s all.
It is this fundamentally minimalistic aspect of the fixie that defines its style. As such, fixie owners want to add as little as possible to the bike. More is less and less is more. Keep it simple; all things require maintenance, so adding things to the bike means adding maintenance. No bell, no brakes, no lights. And definitely no fenders.
No fenders? Yes, that’s right. So when you ride your fixie on a rainy day, you will invariably end up with a sticky wet stripe along your spine from the water spray coming off the rear tire. And for all but the most staunch fenderless cycling spartans, this aspect of cycling sans fender is undesirable to the extent that it becomes prohibitive of pedaling a fixie on any but the driest days. Yet at the same time, adding a fender to the bike is of course also not an option. Well, at least not a permanent fender…
So what about a removable fender then? Now that would be an ideal option. And indeed, you can easily find detachable fenders in any half decent bike shop. But do they also look good? No, not at all. You have to imagine, if you will, some kind of big plastic flap with a clunky strapping mechanism attached somewhere to the frame of the bike, usually just below the seat. I would almost prefer a wet back. The main problem with these systems is that I find them difficult to exactly align to the back wheel and that, unless fastened with enormous force, they may ‘swivel’ during use and thus become misaligned. Which looks ridiculous. Sure, I will grant you that a fender doesn’t have to be mounted perfectly straight to keep your back dry. But there is also something to be said for not looking like an idiot. And then there is one other, more important, drawback to these removable systems, which becomes apparent when you ask yourself what to do with the fender when it stops raining or when you park your bike. Upon disconnecting the fender from the frame of the bike, you will find that there is no place to leave the detached item. It is simply too big for a coat pocket, or even a regular backpack. So unless you don’t mind replacing stolen fenders on a regular basis, or looking like an idiot carrying your fender with you every where you go, then you will have to find a different solution.
And here is the better solution I have found: the Fendor Bendor. This nifty contraption is a foldable fender that you can just slip in your backpack when you don’t need it and just as quickly strap it to the frame when it starts raining. It will definitely keep your back dry, it’s impossible to misalign and it is quite lightweight. It also integrates nicely with the bike, so it doesn’t look as much like a loose attachment as other detachable fenders do. The genius thing about this device is that it is actually nothing more than a rectangular sheet of black plastic with some folding lines precut in it. You just unfold it, shape it, install it and go. At around 15 euros, it seems a bit expensive for what it is—just a piece of plastic with some folding lines cut in it and a velcro strap—but I think it is money better spent than those other detachable fenders. Highly recommended! Check out the video below.