Have you ever looked at a bike that had fenders, and thought to yourself, “Why do bikes have fenders?”. I mean, they can be awkward looking, and just make a bike bigger right? Well after some recent experiences riding bikes in wet conditions and also doing some further research, I can say that fenders are one of the most important parts of owning a bike, and you probably should add one.

So why do bikes have fenders? Bike fenders keep mud off of you, your back, and also off of important parts of your bike like the chain, gears, and more. While these components can add a little bit of weight to your bike, they are definitely worth it if you ride your bike regularly or use it to commute.

Let’s take a look a little more in depth at the different reasons, and to see if adding a fender to your bike is right for you.

1. To keep mud off of your feet

My feet for some reason are crazy sensitive, and I hate it when they are wet in any way. Fenders keep any water from being sprayed anywhere but within the fenders or on the ground.

This means I can ride my bike whenever, and where I want, without having to worry about my feet.

2. Keep mud from flinging up your back

Have you ever ridden your bike in the mud, and showed up back at home with a giant line of mud up your back?

Even worse, have you ridden your bike in the mud, then went to a restaurant afterwards, knowing everyone else there doesn’t understand why there is brown stuff flung up your backside?

Yeah, rear fenders are going to help you with this! They stop mud from being flung up from the rear tire and onto you. 

This reason alone should convince you to get fenders on your bike.

3. Keep water and mud off of the chain

You probably didn’t know that fenders actually will make your bike from breaking down sooner did you? 

Fenders again, keep water from being sprayed onto important components like the chain, meaning less rust, and lower maintenance intervals for things like oiling your chain.

Downsides of fenders on your bike

Of course there are downsides to everything! Here are some the downsides I have found in my research.

Aesthetics

This is probably on the top of everyone’s minds when they are thinking about fenders! Some people like the look, and others do not.

Of course, make sure to do your full research before making a final decision, as you may find that having fenders, and not mud on your back, far outweighs having some plastic on your bike.

If you remove your front wheel a lot

Some people remove their front wheel a lot, these are people who tend to take their bikes in the back of their car, or are required to put the bike on top of a car.

When you have a fender on the front of your bike, it really completely negates the space savings you get from removing that wheel.

Sticks can get stuck in them

This isn’t something I have ever run into, however I have heard some people report getting sticks stuck in their fenders and causing them to rub.

Of course there are always fenders that you can buy that are farther away from the wheel, making this a non-issue, but still something to think about.

Aligning them can be difficult

Now this IS something I have run into before. Many times if you lay your bike down in a truck bed with another bike, or just lay it down in general, I have found the fender likes to move ever so slightly.

This causes the fender to slightly touch the tire and cause it to rub. Not only does this lower the lifespan of the tire if left alone, it is a pain to get it to align correctly again.

Weight

While fenders don’t weigh a ton, as most are plastic or aluminum, this can be an issue when you are trying to cut down on weight to gain more speed.

People that do touring though, and mainly ride their bikes for the sights likely won’t see this as an issue, and the pros definitely outweigh the cons here.

Why don’t bikes just come with fenders?

While I haven’t been able to find a ton of information as to the specifics of why most bikes don’t come with fenders, these are the reasons I could think of.

Of course many cruiser bikes already come with fenders, but not many other types of bikes do!

Customization

Not everyone wants fenders on their bike, and because of this, manufacturers assume it would be better to not add them, and let people decide later on if they want, or don’t want them.

Most fenders are really easy to install aftermarket, and relatively inexpensively at that.

Cost of bike

When it comes to selling a product, everything comes down to the end cost. Adding fenders to bikes may not add to the value of a bike, but do add cost.

Because of this, manufacturers will likely not add fenders to help with margins.

Should you add fenders to your bike?

So you have read through the article, understand the pros and cons and are now asking yourself if you really should add fenders to your bike.

I think you should add fenders onto your bike, if you fall into the group of people that plan on ever riding your bike in the rain, or in the mud. Not having mud on yourself, and on important parts of your bike far outweigh any downsides that I can think of.

On the other hand, if you are the group that has to transport their bike inside of cars and remove the front wheel on a daily basis, fenders just may not be for you.

How do I choose a bike fender?

You have decided you want to add fenders to your bike! Congratulations! Now how do you move forward? Lets see.

Getting the right width

From my research you want to make sure your fender is wider than your tire by up to 12mm. So make sure you measure your tire before you find a fender you can’t live without, only to find it won’t get the job done right.

Plastic vs metal

This is a personal preference. Upsides of plastic are that they are inexpensive and lightweight. However metal fenders are going to look nicer, and last longer. Although their cost will be higher.

Length of the fender

Fenders come in many different lengths! It is recommended to get yourself the longest fender possible, so that you can utilize all of the upsides we have talked about in this article.

Of course the longer the fender, the heavier it gets, so you will need to weight what is important.

Conclusion

In this article, we have learned a lot about bike fenders! This includes why you may want them, and why you may not.

We also learned about why fenders don’t normally come stocks, and you decided if you need fenders or not.

I hope this has given you a ton of information to think about, and to change up your bicycling experience.