Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders

I've always had a fondness for the company Planet Bike. First off, it's a cool name. Second, they make good stuff. Third, they donate a percentage of their proceeds to bicycle advocacy. For example, Planet Bike supplies lights at a very reduced price to various "Get Lit" programs across the country.

Last week I got this note from Dan Powell who works at Planet Bike:



Kent,

Last year you wrote review of the Redline 925 for Dirt Rag. That bike comes spec'd with a set of our Hardcore Freddy Fenders. You liked the fenders but stated that you didn't like the mud flaps. We've heard that from others, especially folks like yourself who live in the Pacific Northwest. Well, we listened, and since then we've been working on a new fender, The Cascadia. You can check it out here:

http://ecom1.planetbike.com/7026.html

I know you ride a ton, and was wondering if you'd like to try out a set, and give us some feedback? Let me know.

Daniel Powell
Sales/Marketing/Warranty
Planet Bike



Now of course I consulted my handbook of bloggers ethics and said "no way, man. You keep your fenders." No wait, I didn't do that at all. Instead, I replied with this note:



Hi Dan,

Those look like some nice flaps. It's nice to see you incorporating user feedback into your designs. You probably also know that I'm semi-infamous for my ugly home-brew fenders, see:

http://www.carsstink.org/peterson/FendForYourself.html

but I'll be more than happy to review your fenders on my blog. These days, most of what I write starts out there ( http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/ ) but sometimes it gets picked up by other print publications. BTW, the guys who you should really get to check out your fenders are the fellows at Bicycle Quarterly. They are fussy, but they know their stuff. I've cc'd a couple of them on this note.

If you want to send me a set of the fenders, send them to my office address which is:

Kent Peterson
Bikestation Seattle
311 3rd Avenue South
Seattle WA 98104

Thanks for thinking of me and all the work you guys do. We'll be placing an order shortly for a bunch of your LED lights for our Bicycle Alliance Get Lit program.

Kent Peterson
Commuting Program Director
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
P.O. Box 2904
Seattle WA 98111




A few days later the UPS man shows up with this box that contains this:


Note that in addition to the fenders, Dan included a nifty Planet Bike beanie. Here's a min-review of the beanie: it's warm and acrylic and fleece-around the ears and it's probably a mind-control device designed to make me write nice things about Planet Bike. Oh wait, maybe it's the nice products and responsiveness to customers that's making me do that.

I haven't ridden the fenders in the rain yet but I did cut the coroplast fenders off my bike and install the Planet Bike Cascadia fenders and I've ridden them on a couple of commutes. So these are my initial, fair-weather impressions.

The fenders are nice and solid and they look great. I'm currently running huge 700*40 Specialized Hemisphere tires on my ancient Novara CX cyclocross bike and the fenders clear those tires. The Hemispheres have the same rollout size as my winter Schwalbe 700*38 studded tires, so the Cascadia fenders should clear those tires as well.

The stainless steel mounting hardware is solid and I really like the fact that both the front and rear fenders use V-stays for extra stability. The rubber mud flaps are stiff enough to stay put and do their spray-deflecting job but flexible enough to bend if you catch them on a curb.

While the flaps are long, I wish the fenders themselves were just a bit longer. I used an old randonneur's trick to make the rear fender extend further. Instead of adding material to the mud flap, I cut a four-inch long section of coroplast and added it to the front of the rear fender with a zip-tied. This coroplast piece keeps road spray off the front derailler and I zip-tied the bottom of the coroplast piece to the chainstay bridge. The top of the coroplast piece and the front of the fender are held to the seat-tube and away from the tire with another zip-tie. This rotates the whole rear fender back and puts the mud flap into a position where it should do a good job of keeping road grime off of any following riders.



I mounted the front fender with the bracket on the back side of the fork crown. Mounting the fender this way puts the rear of the fender and the flap about an inch and a half lower than mounting the bracket on the front side of the fork crown, so the flap should do a better job of keeping my feet dry.


The fenders are nice and rattle-free and they certainly look better than my home-brew coroplast fenders. As my friend Jan has pointed out on several occasions, while coroplast fenders are light weight, in terms of aerodynamics, a nicely shaped fender is much better.

Now all I have to do is wait for a rainy day. Given where I live, I don't think I'll have to wait too long.

16 comments:

Jill said...

I have a pair of planet bike fenders on my touring bike. I love the little mud flaps. They really keep the road grit spray to a minimum.

Perry said...

For the reasons you cite, I am also a huge Planet Bike fan. Planet bike makes good products and is also a good corporate citizen. I have several sets of Freddy Fenders on various bikes. When I needed a set for my recumbent with a 406 front and 622 rear, they had them. I also also like their bike computers and I own several sets of their blinkies. I buy most of their stuff directly through their website and get free shipping because I belong to a bike advocacy group.

Me said...

"Word" to the PB. Hey, people thought I was nuts when I put a pair of their fenders on my wife's 'Big-Bucks' BBC Custom... but, like I always say, "If the fender fits, you must equip".

Kent...

that last shot of you, HOT. Like one big slice of Pacific N.W. Beefcake.

You oughta do a calender, Brother. Go large.

-Me

beth h said...

Kent -- please tell me that's employee barking at work and that those aren't all YOUR bikes. Please.

Seriously, I like PB products most of the time -- sensible, reasonably-priced stuff. Their fenders last a good long time and they support bike advocacy causes. What's not to like? I've asked our ordering manager to bring in a few airs of these new fenders for us to try out.

Kent Peterson said...

Beth,

You have to stop by my office some time. We'll have a place for you to park your bike. See:

http://tinyurl.com/25otry

Chris said...

Kent that picture of you in the hat made my morning :)

Maybe one day I'll stop playing racer and put some fenders on a dedicated commute bike.

alex wetmore said...

These fenders look like a nice evolution in the design and implementation of plastic fenders.

I'd like to see them make the fenders a little bit longer. I'd also like the fenders to use stays which wrap around the fender and are adjusted at the dropout, like Berthoud fenders. The PB/SKS style stays cause water to drip off anywhere that they contact the fender. French stays that are on the outside of the fender are more effectice.

Doug said...

I've been using PB stuff quite a bit the last few years. I have Freddy Fenders and PB computers on my two commuters. I also use the Alias as my main nighttime headlight. It's a good company. Coming up with some extended mudflaps has been on my "to do list" for some time now. Looks like PB has solved that problem for me.

Kris said...

Thank you to PB for shipping those pre-assembled....that's money in the bank for a service dept. Saves you at least 20 mins over SKS fenders!!

Kent Peterson said...

On the SIR 200K this past Saturday, we good some good "fender testing rain" for the final couple of hours of riding. The Cascadia fenders worked great both in terms of keeping road spray off of me and keeping crud off my companions. I had my pal Wayne ride right behind me on a particularly wet bit and he reports that the fenders and flaps were definitely doing the job.

Bengt-Olaf. said...

I have had the Cascadia Fenders on my brevet bike for about a year now. They work very well, keeping the bike and the riders behind me clean.

The downside, the front portion of the front fender has broken off 3 times so far. PB customer service was quick to replace them every time. They stand by their products!

I now used a piece of an old fender to reinforce that portion of the fender. So far, so good.

Ken said...

Dear Kent,

Can you tell me how wide those fenders are? I'm new to touring and have just bought some 700 x 32 Schwalbe tires, but I can imagine I might want or need even wider tires at some point. How wide should my fenders be? Will I be content, do you think, with the Cascadia "hybrid/touring" fenders, or should I play safe and go for wider? Thanks! Ken

Prime Online said...

Nice looking fenders, I am after a similar pair and came across your site via google. I enjoyed reading your blog.

Jim said...

I've had the Cascadia fenders on my Cannondale for ~2 years and am pretty happy with them. Last fall, the mounting clip for the rear fender worn down by the tire (my fault for not noticing this earlier). Not only was a replacement clip available, it was very reasonably priced. Kudos to Planet Bike!

(Nice seeing you this morning; it's rather unusual for me to be biking from Seattle :)

ance said...

I made my own fenders and it is an easy method that works despite looking too skinny to work. I posted photos and parts list here:

http://www.ancilnance.com/bikefenders/

Anonymous said...

Have Sks fenders front fit fine but they sent me a too small size for the rear looking for replacement for the rear only Hope these work on the rear!