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!


  1. RL

    My Redline 925 has fenders which avoids the stripe. My daughter also uses her Torker CargoT with Fenders and last night she was caught up in the rain. Though she was soaked, she didn’t have the stripe!

  2. Matt

    The bikes I like to ride most don’t have fenders… and I don’t have anything that has permanent ones. I like my set of soda pop clip-on fenders from PDW for when it is nasty though.

  3. Dustin

    My roadie/commuter has Planet Bike Cascadia fenders mounted up full time, too big of a hassle to bother with taking them off when it’s sunny out.

    I have clip on fenders for the MTBs when going on a rainy day dirt road ride, or doing a race when there’s a chance of rain. On the MTB’s I’m mostly worried about the spray coming off my front wheel, I hate getting muddy water sprayed into my eyes…contacts don’t like that!

  4. Everett

    I’ve used both SKS fenders and Planet Bike Longboard fenders, and have not had any issues with them coming out of adjustment. The only time I’ve ever had to adjust them is when I changed tires. I would highly recommend either set.

  5. bigbenaugust

    I have full front fenders on both of my CX bikes. The racks do most of the job of a rear fender, as both frames have some fender mounting issues back there. When I noticed I was still having skunk-stripe issues, I made a lovely beaver-tail on the multi-speed from a piece of a 1/2-gallon milk carton. Hey, polyethylene is polyethylene.

  6. Danny Abalos

    See my commuter profile and the awesome aluminum box fender i rocked till it fell apart

  7. Ghost Rider

    I used to be very resistant to fenders…but once I got a pair that really worked, I love them. I have 4 be-fendered bikes now…from Planet Bike Cascadias to vintage GW stainless fenders from France and everything in between.

  8. Hermes

    I bought these clip on fenders that were like 10-25 bucks msrp, Avenir Brand. It’s not for road bikes, at least the kind that I ride. They front ends up rubbing the wheel.

    Any ideas on what fenders could work for me?

  9. bigbenaugust

    I have a Planet Bike on my multi-speed and an SKS on my singlespeed. The SKS is very nice and goes on sale from time to time at Nashbar, so keep your eyes peeled. The PB one is pretty good, but through general lack of coordination, toe strike is taking the flap off of the bottom. I am thinking another 1/2-gal carton piece will make an appearance there soon.

  10. Mir.I.Am

    @Hermes – I had the Planet Bike Hardcore Hybrid full coverage fenders on my 700c commuter. For my roadie, I dealt with the stripe since I was riding in a bike clothes anyway. This article seems to have some good clip-on options for your bike if you don’t have mounts (they use zip ties to connect to the fork):

    I haven’t tested any personally, but looks like the Tortec Razor Guard fenders could be a good bang for your buck!

  11. Elizabeth

    I prefer fenders for commuting. When I ride in the rain on a roadie bike sans-fenders, I can’t stand the filth that gets all over me and my clothes. I especially hate the rooster spray from folks riding in front of me without fenders – worse than the skunk stripe. I picked up a set of the Crud Road Racer MK2 Mudguards for the road bike.

  12. Elizabeth

    +1 on SKS and PB fenders.

    Plus I like fenders with mudflaps. Helps that much more with the front fender to keep the spray off your feet and BB.

  13. listenermark

    SKS P45’s with homemade mudflaps. My buds make fun of me but they secretly covet my bike nerd street cred. I’m sure of it.

  14. Ghost Rider

    Oh yeah…DIY mudflaps. I bought a roll of rubber “stair tread” at the hardware store — enough to make about 2 dozen mudflaps. Ziptied to the bottom of the fenders, the front one hangs almost to the ground and prevents 99% of the filth from getting on my bike.

  15. Melissa

    Do you give yourself different points for the various biking sightings?

    Fenders = Planet Bike
    Mudflaps = previous LBS water bottle upcycled (1 bottle makes 2 flaps) + zipties

    Although I’m sure there are reasons a person might not want fenders, I think a bicycle looks sort of naked without them.

  16. BluesCat

    No real need for fenders in Phoenix.

    If I happen to encounter a spot where yard sprinklers have overrun onto the pavement, I either (1) bank around the puddle, or (2) zip through it quickly, knowing that the rear rack will prevent a skunk stripe and the droplets thrown up by the front wheel will evaporate in the dry air before they even reach back to the handlebars.


    Yes… I love all the milk jug:waterbottle DIY skunk stripe preventers.
    @Melissa – bike watching points go like this: 10 pts for a common skunk stripe, 15 for an umbrella crest, and 20 for a yellowtail.
    This would be a 30 point sighting!!

    Ahhhh, costa rica en bici…

  18. Raiyn

    @ Mir I Am
    You might want to note that the fenders shown on my bike are intended to be removable – best of both worlds.

  19. Thilo

    The first pic is the best! A very beautiful bike.

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