Tag Archive: d.i.y. fenders

Friday Musings: Skunk Stripe

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!
Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.16.32 AM

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!

“Po’ Boy” Fenders and Other D.I.Y. Projects

Not long ago, I finished rebuilding an old Trek for my weekend fast commuter. Once I had it all together, I realized that the frame- to tire clearances were pretty tight, and there were no mounting eyelets on the frame or fork for fenders. There was NO WAY a traditional set of fenders was gonna fit on this baby! Normally I reserve this bike for sunny days when I don’t have anything to carry, but I wanted a bit of protection just in case I got caught out in the rain…nobody likes “swamp ass” or a muddy stripe running up their backs!

Inspired by the beautiful wooden works of art that Fast Boy Fenders makes (the “Stubby” series in particular) and also inspired by the wacky and wonderful D.I.Y. creations of Kent Peterson (“The Coroplast King”), I got to work scrounging up some goodies to make my own stubby-style fender.

First, the raw materials:
raw materials

I had a few pieces of aluminum strip stock floating around in my shed, and I “liberated” a sheet of corroguted plastic (“coroplast”) from the myriad illegal signs that litter my neighborhood. Election season is a good time to harvest coroplast…especially before the losing candidates collect their no-longer-needed signs. A can of spray paint and a roll of 3M double-sided foam tape rounded out the materials I needed to get started.

I cut a length of the aluminum stock and bent one end to clear the sidepull calipers of my bike. I then bent the entire length to the same radius as a 700c wheel. Finally, I drilled a hole in one end and mounted this aluminum “spine” underneath the brake arms — the drilled hole needs to be big enough to allow the brake mounting post through.

Here is the “spine” mounted and ready to receive the fender:

Using a utility knife and a long straightedge, I cut a section out of the coroplast sheet, spray-painted it to match my bike’s frame and mounted this piece to the aluminum spine with double-sided foam tape. Here’s the finished product:

finished fender

The entire assembly weighs about 2 oz. I could have made it even lighter by shortening the aluminum spine or drilling it out or by narrowing the fender piece — coroplast is fairly rigid on its own, but until I rode with this attached I wasn’t sure how stable the thing would be. Besides, I wanted good rain coverage. Sure enough, this thing works like a charm…it bobs up and down a little bit, but is otherwise totally stable. It IS a bit “hoopty-looking” (frankly, it looks like a piece of spray-painted cardboard up close), but for the princely sum of $0.00 I now have a little bit of splash protection for my rear end.

Speaking of hoopty-looking D.I.Y. projects, I discovered to my dismay that I have run out of handlebar room on my Euro-style “Grocery Gitter“. The basket mounting brackets took up the last bit of room, and I was struggling with a way to mount some bike lights to the basket. Suddenly, I remembered a few lengths of 1” schedule 40 PVC pipe that live under my house. I crawled under the house and retrieved a dirty, scratched-up length. I drilled a couple holes in the pipe, threaded it through the front of the basket and ziptied it into place. The two Serfas lights I wanted to use now mount to the ends of the pipe using the original handlebar clamps.


The lights are separated just enough that now I’ve got a nice wide patch of light in front of me at night (I just took this bike to the grocery store and back to test the light pattern). Hoopty it may be, but this and the fender project cost me absolutely nothing…that’s the best kind of project at all! Function over form in both cases, too, but a little bit of creativity could make something a bit more sleek and glamorous…

more lightbar