SKS/Esge fender installation how-to

Purpose of this how-to

This document describes how to install SKS/Esge fenders. The German company SKS now produces Esge fenders. The installation instructions were, in my case, non-existent, and some other people who actually received installation instructions with their SKS fenders described them as inadequate. The SKS web site doesn't contain much useful info, and there are no downloadable instructions. So, I decided to capture my experiences and the advice and instructions from iBob list members Adam Tatarnic, Tony Zanussi, Alex Wetmore, and Gregory Malette in a how-to.

Description of the parts

Part Description
Front fender The shorter of the two fenders. It has a fork crown mount and four fender arm mounts.
Rear fender The longer of the two fenders, with a movable seat-stay bridge clamp.
Front fender arms Stainless steel arms with black plastic eyelet mounts, shaped in a V. These are designed so the arms break away from the plastic mounts should something get caught between the fenders and the tire. Note that older Esge models and Zefal 700c fenders have 8 separate I shaped arms, instead of 4 V shaped arms.
Rear fender arms Stainless steel arms shaped in a V, with no black plastic eyelet mounts. Note that older Esge models and Zefal 700c fenders have 8 separate I shaped arms, instead of 4 V shaped arms.
Chain-stay bridge mount This is a separate metal piece that attaches to the front of the rear fender. The metal tab clamps on to the chainstay bridge near the bottom bracket.
Fender arm mounts A metal sheet that is attached to the fender, four per fender. It has two holes on each side: a round hole for the fender arm bolts and a long slot where the ends of the fender arms poke through.
Fender arm bolts These bolts have a hole in them. The bolts go in to the round hole on the fender arm mounts, and arms go through the bolt hole and are tightened down using a nut.
Fender arm end caps Black caps that go over the ends of the fender arms to prevent scratches.
Mounting hardware The hardware for mounting the fenders to the bike is usually not included, as each bike differs in what kind of hardware is required to mount the fenders. The most common mounting hardware is bolts and washers for your dropout/fork end eyelets. If your bike doesn't have eyelets, there are other techniques to mount the fenders, including zip-ties and p-clamps. See the appropriate section for more information on alternate mounting techniques.

Tools required to mount fenders

You'll need the following tools to mount your fenders:

The hacksaw is needed to cut the excess fender arm off. Usually, the fender arms are intentionally too long to accomodate different size frames. If you don't cut the excess arm off, the arms may hit and scratch your downtube. The stainless steel arms are too thick for wire cutters or cable snips.

Installing the fenders

These instructions were provided by Adam Tatarnic.

  1. Attach the front fender at the fork crown, and the rear fender at the seat-stay bridge (but DON'T crimp down the tabs on the sliding clamp on the rear fender just yet). If you can't figure out the chainstay bridge mounting thingy it attaches like this. [Ian: sorry, links are broken now to Adam's photos.]

    It can also point the other way or go on the other side, I drew it this way so it's visible.

  2. Attach the rear fender at the chain-stay bridge with the sometimes-included clip, or a bolt, or zip ties, it doesn't matter 'cause it isn't load bearing. You may have to slide the fender through the seatstay bridge clamp which is why you didn't crimp down the tabs.
  3. Do one side of each wheel at a time. Get one of the bolts with holes in them. Put the bolt through the hole in the fender bracket then stick the stay through the hole in the bolt, and do the nut up tight enough so the stay doesn't slide around and fall out while you're fiddling with the other one. When you have them both done, go find a bolt that fits the dropout eyelet (usually but not always M5). While holding both stays so they don't fall out, loosen the nuts enough to let the stays slide. Then line up the eyes in both stay ends, put the bolt through both stays, and screw it into the dropout eyelet.

    They attach like this. [Ian: sorry, links are broken now to Adam's photos.] I think it is an 8mm wrench.

  4. Do the other side. Then do the back (or the front).
  5. Put the wheels on.
  6. Adjust the fenders for proper clearance at the fork crown and chain-stay, tighten these bolts, then adjust the stays. I loosen all the stays on one fender, positon it at the back, and tighten the end stays while I let the centre ones find their own position. I might move them out a bit if they are too close, once the end stays are tight again. Then I tighten the centre ones, but there might be a better way.

Mounting the fenders using zip ties

It's possible to use zip ties instead of some of the mounting hardware to attach the fenders. On my fixed gear, I used both zip ties and the mounting hardware.

  1. Attach the front fender at the fork crown using the front caliper's bolt. The fork crown mount is bent to avoid the bottom race of my headset.front fender
  2. Attach the rear fender at the chain stay bridge, just behind the bottom bracket. rear fender at the chain stay bridge
    To do this:
    1. Loosely put the rear fender on the bike, making sure the bottom (i.e. the notched end of the fender that sits between the chain stay and the bottom bracket) is all the way down, with little or no gap between the chain stays and the fender. In the previous picture, I have a slight gap, but not enough to allow water and gunk to get through.
    2. Use a sharpie or marker to make two dots roughly the width of the chain stay bridge.
    3. Drill the holes with a drill bit just slightly larger than the width of the zip tie. Note that I was an idiot and drilled a hole much too high.holes
    4. Insert the zip tie from the outside, through the bottom hole, back through the upper hole, around the chain stay bridge, and cinch it down as tight as you can. See the previous picture for what it should look like in the inside of the fender.
    5. Trim the end of the zip tie.
  3. Attach the rear fender at the seat stay bridge. I don't have a rear brake, 'cuz this is a fixie, so I put a zip tie through the hole that ordinarily would have the bolt for the rear caliper using the same method as the chain stay bridge described above. If you have a rear brake, you can use a mount and the rear caliper bolt, similar to the fork crown mount on the front fender.rear fender
  4. Attach the arms. You can use the provided bolts, or zip tie them to the eyelet, or rear dropout and fork arms if you don't have eyelets. Remember the black breakaway mount is for the front fender.arms

Cutting the arms

If the fender arms are too long, as will be the case on most bikes, you'll need to cut off the excess. You can do this a number ways:

I recommend you mark the place where you want to cut and take the arms off the bike before you actually make the cut, particularly if you are planning to use the cutting wheel approach. The heat required to cut through the arms may melt the plastic.

After you are done cutting the arms, put the black end caps on the fender arms to prevent scratches. You can file down the ends of the arms if you want to be particularly detailed.

Putting the front arms on the rear fenders

Greg Malette pointed out the following tip if you mount the front arms on the back fender:

"I guessed wrong, and put the fender arms with the plastic ends on the back wheel. Since the packaging appeared to have been opened, I thought someone had mixed up the pieces and repackaged with two versions of the same thing. Anyway, having the plastic pieces on the back causes the fender to snap out of the way should you accidentally try to flip the bike up onto the back wheel, like when bringing the bike on to an elevator."

How to make mudflaps

Alex Wetmore has a page about how to make mudflaps for your fenders.

This document was assembled by Ian Evans with information provided by Adam Tatarnic, Tony Zanussi, Alex Wetmore, and Gregory Malette.


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