Nathan Friedman specializes in living the good life and making it look easy. Mountain biking all summer and skiing all winter, Nate is a rock star of the outdoor opportunities in the Southwest. To get some inspiration on living life to the fullest, check out his blog, Handlebar Sandwich.
Over the last couple weeks, I've been doing some of my commuting with a new fender on my fixed gear. That new fender is a Fold-n-Fix fender from Full Windsor.
Full-Windsor is a London-based company that currently offers two products. One is the Fold-n-Fix fender that I tested; a fender that was created out of a flat plastic sheet which is folded into the fender shape and then attached with zip ties to the bike frame. The other item they currently make is a similar product called the "QuickFix" which has some more temporary attachments in the form of clips versus the zip tie attachment that was on my test fender.
The Fold-n-Fix is made for bikes with paired seat stays, which means that if your seat stays look like a single rod coming off the back of the seat which then splits around the tyre, it won't fit.
[Note that I will be using the British spelling of "tire" for this review, since this is a London-based company. It just seems right.]
I also found that the fit will be affected by where the brace or brake bridge is located in relation to the tyre on a paired-seat-stay bike. In the end, I had only two bikes in the garage that actually worked with the fender, one of which was a tandem. This is quite a feat since the number of bikes I have to choose from is on the verge of hitting double-digits.
The company Website also notes that in addition to forked seat stays, the fender also will not fit if you use cantilever brakes.
Once I got the fender on the bike, I adjusted it according to the directions and tried to get it sitting a couple inches above the tyre. I immediately noticed that it didn't seem to be all that stable unless it was butted up against the top of the seat stays. The zip ties didn't provide enough friction against the frame to keep it from migrating up and down the seat stays after going over a few bumps on the bike, and it has a lot more side-to-side rotation than I would like if it's not butted against the top of the seat stays.
At this point, the muguards were much more stable (albeit much higher above the tyre at this point).
Once they were on, they seemed to deflect a large portion of the water well — although there was a bit more spray around the sides just because of how high they were off the tyre.
I also felt like the small patch of plastic which was against the seat tube of the bike didn't really do much to deflect water, so the only protection you were getting was from the top fender piece. I have had more traditional fenders on this bike in the past, and when adjusted correctly, I can make it to work without the awkward skid mark on the back of my trousers.
Initially, I was drawn to the idea of a temporary fender, especially one that could fold flat, but since this particular model is attached with zip ties, it somewhat negates the fact that it can be folded.
There may be some value in a temporary fender if it folds flat to put in a bag and attaches easily. I could see leaving one at work in case it turns into a rainy day for the commute home.
Looking online, I found these mudguards for around $20-$25 which puts them in a very similar price range to other fixed fenders, so you don't really get any benefit on price over any other fender option.
In the end, I could see some value in the concept of a quick-to-attach, small and light fender for those caught-in-the-rain situations, but I'm not convinced that the zip-tie version of this fender is worth it, more than a traditional fixed fender.
If it's a rainy time of year, I usually am willing to take the extra five-to-ten minutes at the beginning of the season to attach a more permanent, more stable, more protective, and less finicky fender.