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skunk stripe

The common variety of this bike commuter species is known as a "Skunk Stripe"

Buenos días de Costa Rica once again lindisimos Bike Commuters! In honor of Friday and my stream of consciousness blog-barfing, I decided to muse on the unusual phenomenon that is the Skunk Stripe – prevalent throughout the downhill aguacero commutes of Turrialbeños.  As I am (gasp!) shamefully still bikeless for over a month now, I’ve been forced to commute by foot.  However, I’ve turned each bout of foot commuting into an opportunity to practice my new hobby… Similar to the popular hobby of bird watching (a.k.a. “birding” for short), I like to call my newfound sidewalk speculation bike watching (a.k.a. “biking”).

bike watching

Bike Watching - on the lookout for Skunk Stripes!

In my biking adventures here Ive spotted a resurgence of skunk stripe bikes in this rainy season! It seems that fenders here area luxury not afforded by most Turrialbeños… Other varieties of skunk stripes can be seen migrating through the Central Valley this winter such as the yellow-tail poncho, and the umbrella crest.

Bike rider in yellow raincoat

Costa Rican Yellow-tail poncho bike spotted by flostof.

Bike and Umbrella, Costa Rica

And the Umbrella Crest variety captured by gimblett.

We’ve reviewed quite a few different types of fenders on our site, (see herehere, and even here for rooster tails).  So let’s put together a basic breakdown of all things fender fantastic for any rookie winter riders – ticos or otherwise- who want to say adios to the skunk stripe.  Let the winter bike commuting begin!
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DIY Fenders – for the third world countryman in you!

For those of us with more time than dimes, check out Ghost Rider’s DIY po-boy Fender project here.  DIY Fenders can be customized to fit your needs and can washed away that skunk stripe with some bent aluminum, corrugated plastic, a can of spray paint.  This tutorial is a great option for some road bikes that don’t come with fender mounts built into the frame.

Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender

Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender

Clip-on Fenders – great for muddy commutes

Clip-on fenders could be a good option for muddy commutes or bikes without fender mounts build into the frame.  The idea is to protect the rider from the water or mud from the top of the bike: front fender can mount via the steer tube and rear fender can mount via the seat tube.  Since there is plenty of clearance between a clip-on fender and the wheel, you won’t have a problem with mud jamming up underneath.  Prices can range between $20 -$50 for a set.  They also make removable clip-ons like these in case you’d like to groom your fender plume regularly.  To do away with the skunk stripe on your roadie, take a look at this article for other clip-on options.

clip-on fenders

rendoza's commuter clip-on fender setup

Full-Coverage Fenders – staying high and dry

Full coverage fenders get the best coverage for any rider who is encountering lots of rain this season.  They mount onto fender stays that are usually built in to the frame of touring, hybrid, or bike frames targeted towards utility cycling.  I used to commuter on my Kona Dew with a pair of yellow planet bike full fenders.  They kept me dry through the Seattle winter and I was never caught with a skunk stripe like those tricksy hipsterses on fenderless fixies…  The only problem with full fenders is they can require frequent adjustments to keep from rubbing on the wheel – if you will be cramming your bike into car trunks or cinching the front wheel on a bus rack, you may be better off with the clip-ons and wet legs.

Raiyn Storms fender setup

Raiyn Storm's full-on fender setup

So, dear Bike Commuters, do you rock the skunk or do you skip the stripe with a pair of fenders?  Why or why not?  Post to the comments box if you have any DIY tips for readers, or other fender ideas to share…!  Muse on and enjoy your weekend!