In praise of the humble mudflap

When I sang the praises of my SKS P45 Longboard full-length fender set back in the day, one noticeable feature they had were extra-long mudflaps. Their length looked comical at first, especially up front, where they were inches away from brushing the ground, but it was this exact length that made them so effective at keeping riders’ feet dry from standing water.

While Bino, my Dahon Vitesse folding bike, had SKS fenders of his own, he had no mudflaps – only molded plastic end plugs. Hence, I distinctly remember getting my feet wet from the spray off my front wheel as I first pedaled through the puddles along Paseo de Roxas Avenue at night.

Currently I’m on my second set of Longboards, after my original pair developed one too many cracks from road vibration. The mudflaps on those are still good, though, so I figured – why not reuse them on Bino?

As it turns out, it’s a very simple job. It does require a bit of drilling because of the mechanism SKS uses to mount the mudflap in place.

If you’re familiar with the clips used to hold plastic dashboard pieces to your car’s interior, SKS uses a variant of that. It’s essentially a fat two-part plastic rivet with its pointed end able to expand. You then drive a thinner plastic pin through the center of this rivet from behind, which will expand the pointed end prongs. Finally, a washer goes over the prongs to lock everything in place.

I broke out the pin vise from my plastic modeling toolkit and put on its biggest 3 mm drill bit. I then drilled into the plastic of Bino’s fenders. Even then, I had to make the hole a bit larger, scraping away more material by “drilling” with my hobby knife, to make sure the rivet fits into the hole. I’d say I made a 4 mm hole in the end.

The stock end plugs just slide off the end of the fender, so on went the mudflap.

The finished product is a front fender with increased utility and effectiveness. Less of the rear of the front tire is exposed, so there’s less potential for water spray to get flicked up from the road and onto your feet, the front derailleur, or the bottom bracket shell.

A cheap, cheerful, effective modification. Lovely!

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