Should I take off my fenders yet?

The removal of fenders is a decision that involves as much mysticism and soul searching as it does weather forecasts and allen keys. Portland had it’s first beautiful balls-to-the-wall sunny weekend last weekend, and we spent it outside with the rest of the city. And as we pedaled home from our Saturday ride, Austin asked me in sun-drunk optimism “Think I oughta take off my fenders?”

In years past, I might have been able to answer with confidence. You just do a gut-check: yup, feels like summer. So you take them off. Or you look to outside indicators: Fleet Week, Pedalpolooza, Rose Parade… and you take them off. But this spring it has rained like gangbusters, and it just keeps coming. It has soaked my intuition and drowned my faith. Times like these call for a new methodology. See if you qualify for fender removal below:

From → Bike Love, Checklists, P-Town, Pacific NW, Postcards from the Edge


  1. Really, why take them off? Especially if you have them on a bike you primarily use for errands and whatnot? It can randomly rain all through the summer as well, and for a bike that you’re just riding around the city (not for speed) I’m sure they’re hardly weighing you down enough for you to care.

    Don some sunglasses and/or shorts instead to celebrate the coming of the sun :) (noting that it’s cloudy outside, still)

  2. perhaps the checklist also needs to ask if they are STYLISH fenders. You know – Honjos, Berthouds, etc? Leave ’em on. That’s my methodology (2-going-on-3 with semipermanent fenders, 1 with those almost-worthless SKS Raceblades :-) )

  3. I feel fortunate to have a few bikes, and my city bike really seems more like itself when it has its fenders on. In fact, I’m upgrading to Honjos that are going to be painted and pinstriped to match! Since you can’t chose the weather, it is fun to be able to chose to make the fenders classy.

  4. Melinda

    I love it! Even if I never take mine off.

  5. pcr

    I painted my SKS fenders the same color as my Gunnar Sport frame. Looks so nice I just leave them on.

  6. That is hilarious. I never take mine off. Only the roadie and the mtb go naked.

  7. Never never never take your fenders off. Honestly, why would you?

  8. Rad diagram. I leave mine on all year in Tacoma. It took too much work to get them to fit perfect and look so damn hot. Fenders = the hot.

  9. I think it is a completely reasonable question why you’d even want to take your fenders off. For me, there are two reasons, both a bit irrational.

    1. I like marking the change of the seasons, even if it is only a 2 month “dry season.”
    2. It also seems to be the bicycle equivalent of shaving your legs. Makes you feel fast.

  10. Yeah, a true Portlander wouldn’t bother asking this question — or waste time on removing fenders (and later re-attaching them) that could be better spent riding to the pub & drinking a pint.


  11. LOVE the decision tree, Natalie. Delightful. If it’s any comfort, we’ve had the weirdest spring I can remember here in Mass, including a ton of grey, rain and wind that has blown down trees and power lines over and over.

    Keep the faith, there will be sun.

  12. PeterH

    I will take the fenders off my bike at the same time I take the fenders off my truck.

  13. I love that folks have strong feelings about fenders – keep it coming.

    I made the cyclist leg-shaving analogy as one of my admittedly irrational reasons why I like to de-fender my road bike in the summer. But I think the analogy goes a bit further. When I was in college at UC Santa Cruz, no self-respecting feminist was allowed to shave her legs without first proving that you had un-packed the freighted baggage of cultural norms and only then made an independent choice.

    Same with fenders, Portland.

    I get it. Bikes are transportation. Functional vehicles, not toys… And I still wanna take them off!

  14. Rita

    I got my first set of fenders earlier this winter – previously I just ignored the spray (and the rack on the back caught the rooster tail). It has been nice not having my shins get wet & goey.

    But I can’t wait to take them off.

    They are noisy, they require adjustment to keep ’em off the tires, and when a stone gets picked up it rattles under the fender for a few revolutions before flinging like the Star Ship Enterprise doing loops around the sun, and I don’t need holes in the space time continuum on my conscious. Besides, the naked bike looks better.

  15. This is awesome. My favorite is the “elsewhere” punch line.

  16. Melinda

    I think you might have actually just made me relieved about the social atmosphere in engineering school for once.

  17. Pingback: Osprey Packs Bike Blog » Should I Take My Fenders Off?

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