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:


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:

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
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:

but I'll be more than happy to review your fenders on my blog. These days, most of what I write starts out there ( ) 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.

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