Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Product Review: SKS Commuter Fenders

Back in March, I bought a set of SKS Commuter fenders, and pretty much fell in love with the function. The look took a while to get used to, but it's slowly grown on me.

The SKS Commuter is supposedly a full-wrap fender, but as you can see to the left, it covers about 40% of the rear, leaving plenty of room to throw a sizable rooster-tail onto whoever happens to be riding behind you. As I'm pretty slow, no one's usually behind me so that's not too much of a problem. The rear fender does keep you from getting a butt-stripe, and the front fender keeps your feet pretty dry through all but the deepest puddles.

About a month ago, you may recall I did some rather unsavory, hackish repair work to a fracture in the rear fender. I examined the fender for other signs of damage and nothing really caught my eye. The initial repair job from August is still holding up great, by the way. I figured that the fracture was from the time it got mangled in May. Now, I'm not so sure.

Yesterday, I noticed some rattling from the rear of the bike and saw that the fender had indeed cracked all the way through right where it attaches to the rear brake caliper. Upon further inspection tonight, it's also about ready to crack all the way through in a third spot.

While they're relatively attractive, moderately priced, functional and come with decent installation hardware/instructions, I can't help but be pretty disappointed that they lasted only six months. I've ridden The Twelve about 2000 miles since I put them on.

In the heat of the summer, my bike was hidden in a somewhat cool parking garage. I never left it locked up in the sun. I can't blame UV degradation or excess heat/light exposure because the only time it was out in the heat was when I was riding it.

Overall: They worked really well while they lasted, but I'm not impressed. I am, however, a believer in fenders now.

Some people I was talking to when I got these fenders expressed a lot of good remarks about the Planet Bike Cascadia fenders -- both in looks and form, with massive mud-flaps that make it less likely you'll rooster-tail riders behind you. I suppose I'll give those a shot when I can afford it. For the time being, I've yanked the fragmented corpse of a rear fender off of my bike.


Jennifer said...

Uh oh, are the Commuters the same as the Chromoplastics?

Noah said...

They're not identical but they could be made of the same stuff. Mine were actually a really deep, deep red plastic (you could only tell in bright light) covering what seems to be an aluminum backbone. That aluminum strip is what cracked, I think. It's been gradually taking the rest of the fender with it.

Sirrus Rider said...

I've got Cascadias on my 700c Sirrus Hybrid and I'm extremely satisfied with them. I've had Hardcores on the Alpine for almost 4 years now and they're rock solid!

Ken Harris said...

I'll second the Hardcores. I've got them on my mountain-bike/commuter conversion and they do work well. I think the front ones are a little far away from my tires though, as my feet tend to get soaked when going through a puddle. I put some 1.5" coummuter tires on they have a much lower profile than the mountain tires that the Hardcores are meant to cover...

Doug said...

I have PB Cascadias on the three bikes I use for commuting. Prior to the Cascadias coming out, I used their regular Freddy Fenders. After many thousands of miles in extreme weather conditions, I've never had one crack on me. Back in the early 90's I used to use some Zefal fenders. I cracked several sets of those fenders.

Sairen said...

I bought a set of fenders only to find that I don't think they'll go on my suspension fork. Do you know of any fenders that work with front suspension?

Noah said...

I'd think the Planet Bike SpeedEZ ATB fenders might work. The SpeedEZ's get zip-tied to the fork if you don't have eyelets.

What fenders did you get and where are they having problems? The upper brake boss mount?

Apertome said...

I have the "Chromoplast" fenders and have had no problems with them. I tend to think maybe you just got a bum set, or maybe something hit your fender, cracking it.

Or maybe the Commuter fenders are just weak. I don't know. I can understand your desire to go with something else this time, though.

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