29 August, 2006

Honjo-Koken Fenders


Since 1945 Honjo Koken of Tokyo Japan has produced some of the finest and most beautiful bicycle fenders in the world. Honjo fenders, as they are commonly called, were the favorites in Vintage Bicycle Quarterly's recent fender comparison. In fact, they are the choice of virtually every custom builder and constructeur today.

Did you know that there is no such thing as a stock Honjo fender? Each run of fenders is made to order. There are three pages of fender profiles to choose from and at least 10 possible radii. The fenders can be hammered, polished, or painted. Then there is a large variety of mounting hardware. Of course, each run of fenders ordered must be at least 100 sets.

Like all high quality metal fenders, Honjo fenders are not pre-drilled; one could never get a proper fit with a pre-drilled fender. So the customer must mark and drill the holes in each fender to perfectly suit his bike. It's not hard, but it will take about an hour.

We have ordered a custom run of extra long hammered 43mm fenders for our new Randonneur frame. These fenders will fit many other bikes as well. Unfortunately it'll be several months before they arrive. In the meantime we'll stock a 43mm smooth and a 43mm hammered fenders imported by a parts distributor.

All the fenders we sell have complete hardware kits for mounting on bikes with proper fender bosses and on bikes without them. This is important since Honjo hardware is sometimes sold separately. The price of our Honjo fenders is $75 per set. And yes, they really are lighter than plastic fenders.

As Yukio Shimamura, President of Honjo, says: "Our goal is to provide people "great cycling life"".

What sort of fender would you ask Honjo to make?

27 comments:

C said...

"Great cycling life"? That'll go great with Ostrich's "Excellent equipment of pack and carrying gear for all cyclists at heart"! How can you not like this??

Olyfixie said...

I was quite surprised to heft a packaged set of Honjos recently; they're suprisingly lightweight.

I'm pleased, too, to hear that you're stocking an extra-long version. Jan often mentions in his Vintage Bike Quarterly stories that the only thing wrong with his is that he has to add extensions.

I'll pick up a set as soon as I stop riding parts-box mongrels (usually short-coupled racing bike frames) that require major fender butchering to get the fenders to fit.

Jim G said...

Completely random/curious question: Is it possible to make *titanium* fenders?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Olyfixie,
There are 35mm Honjo fenders that fit racing frames without butchery. We will stock them as soon as they are available from our importer again. Since racing bikes are not our focus, I didn't want to order 100 pair of those.

A lot of people, as you say, are suprised to find that Honjos weigh less then plastic fenders. And, if properly installed, they will last a few decades.

Andy said...

I'd like to see:

-an extra-long fender with a flared end (i.e. a built-in mudflap). Hammered, but then maybe the flared bit has a different pattern or is smooth. Or vice-versa.

-an extra deep version that wraps further around the tire, that's drilled at the edge all the way around. Like a drilled chainring or the lace holes at the bottom of some leather saddles. It would be completely time and labor stupid, but could produce a beautiul object.

-or a rolled-edge version

-and a flat spot on top for mounting a vintage fender ornament

C said...

Yes you can make titanium fenders but they would cost substantially more than aluminum and also weigh more.

buck-50 said...

I'd love to see a set of fenders where the front fender is short enough not to hit the ground when the front wheel is taken off.

I've got a set of berthoud fenders on my bike right now, and that's the one thing that bugs me- it's great to have the coverage, but not so great when you want to take the front wheel off to lock it up or when you want to put the bike on a car rack.

Andrew said...

Kudos for managing to organise a run of Honjos - I helped someone here in Sydney line something up via my Japanese girlfriend as translator. It wasn't easy.

Incidentally I managed to score ONE pair of fenders from Honjo for my Atlantis when I was in Japan back in February (same as the ones in your pic at top left). For some reason they were very accomodating. It helps having a persuasive local doing the talking for you.

Neil M Berg said...

I love Honjos. I've had three sets. I presently have two pair, one set hammered, one set smooth. I suspect the hammered are more rigid. They don't seem to have a much twist in them. They are more forgiving of the inevitable dings and scratches. I'm in the market for some longish 650B's myself, but I think I would stock the hammered, medium width 700's with a little extra length. We can always cut and re-hem the ends if they need to be shorter.
Bruce Gordon sells really nice carbonfibers for those of you who aren't traditionalists. They could look really spiffy painted to match the frame.

C said...

Adding to buck-50's comments, what would be nifty wold be a hinged fender! This couldn't be too hard to do. Just mount the struts a little higher up and add a low profile hinge to the fender. Then you could lock the bike to a rack, mount it on a roof rack and leave the bike upright when fixing a front flat.

Neil M Berg said...

Folding fenders! Who would have thunk? Now this is a constructeur project! Initially I thought it was crackpot, but it obviously is an issue. Maybe we need a fender friendly rack that elevates the axle up 12" to clear fenders. Myself, I have a crossbar in a pickup bed, but not everyone wants to transport bicycles by truck. (For all you anti-Hummer people, it's a small ethanol burning truck.)

Neil M Berg said...

Folding fenders! Who would have thunk? Now this is a constructeur project! Initially I thought it was crackpot, but it obviously is an issue. Maybe we need a fender friendly rack that elevates the axle up 12" to clear fenders. Myself, I have a crossbar in a pickup bed, but not everyone wants to transport bicycles by truck. (For all you anti-Hummer people, it's a small ethanol burning truck.)

david_nj said...

The only problem I have found with the beautiful Honjo fenders is that they are so delicate. They scratch easily and under some circumstances crack easily. The Berthoud fenders, while not quite as attractive or lightweight, are infinitely more robust.

Just for kicks, I even tried rigging up a set of cheapo polycarbonate Planet Bike fenders - their plainest model ($9/set on clearance for the 45mm model) - on my commuter. I bought two sets; I overlaid one pair on the other so that they're much longer and with a flap, the front nearly reaches the ground. It works and looks great. And polycarbonate (i.e., black Lexan) fenders are essentially bombproof. The one drawback is, you can't set the tire line as tight, or they will rattle into the tire.

Ernesto Garcia said...

Greetings from Niigata!

My friends, "folding" fenders do, indeed, exist. Actually, folding is a misnomer - they actually hinge.

In Japan, it is common for people to travel from the city to the country by train, with their bicycles. Unlike in Europe, however, where there is a separate place (or car) for bikes, in Japan one must take the bike into the passenger area. Obviously, a bit of a problem.

The most common way to deal with the problem is with a bike bag (the same Ostrich who makes bar bags and panniers also makes bike transport bags). As the front and rear wheels come off and are put into the bag with the frame/bars/etc., the bag is quite small.

However, the Japanese constructeurs do it a different way. Brilliant constructeurs like Hasegawa-san and makers like Toei use what is called a "rinko" headset. This headset enables the front fork/wheel to be removed very quickly and easily (and reinstalled just as quickly). The fender, which is rolled (and made by Honjyo, of course) is hinged with a lockring and a nut, which allows the easy removal of the fork and wheel. The rear wheel remains attached to the bike. The bike is put into a special bike bag (called a rinko bag) that has a zippered cut-out for the rear tire. Transportaion at the train station is easy: just undo the zipper, move the rinko bag to the vertical position and, using the handles, roll your bike into the train compartment. Viola!

Japan isn't a perfect place to live...but they do know bicycles...

Arigato!
Ernesto

Neil M Berg said...

We obviously need an importer for "rinko" headsets.

Neil M Berg said...

Ernesto,
How do you deal with the stem attachment to the fork? Or does the stem stay attached to the headtube? Can you give us more description of how this works? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant American constructeurs Bike Friday and Dahon handle it a bit differently, but achieve the same end.

Alan Bentrider said...

I'd love to see a 622/406 combo in hammered aluminum to fit long-wheelbase recumbents such as the Tour Easy. For us 'bent riders, the only alternative to cheapy plastic fenders are wooden fenders such as the "Full Wood" brand from River City Bikes in Portland. They're nice, but not Honjo nice.. :-)

Regards--

Alan
The Recumbent Blog
www.recumbentblog.com

david_nj said...

Neil, you could make such a setup work perfectly using a YST "GeForce" headset. I was turned onto these headsets by a clever guy in a local bike shop when I was trying to fit a threaded fork with a long steerer into a head tube that was too short for it. The way these headsets work is, you clamp a collar around the steerer, and then you expand a threaded spacer between the upper race and that collar. The point is, everything above that collar is superfluous from the POV of holding the fork/ headset/ head tube together. All you're trying to do in any headset, threaded or not, is apply a bit of preload to the bearings, i.e., squish them together along the steering axis.

Apparently the YST guy -- somewhere in Asia -- is something of a crazy genius and his wares aren't all that common. They're very cheap headsets, too, but you're only talking about using the upper race, which doesn't bear nearly as much weight as the bottom race. So, if you just use a Stronglight or King for the bottom, you can use of of these for the top and all will be well. I have this setup on one of my bikes and it works fine.

Anonymous said...

Last year I put a pair of Honjo fenders on my '83 Fuji touring commuter, and all was well until I ran over a 6" long piece of a wooden pallet. This lodged between the spokes of the front wheel and the front fender stays, and it turned my bike into a catapult with me as the projectile. Luckily, I was OK, but my helmet, fender and a few spokes were history. I replaced the Honjo fender, but I'm more careful about what I ride over, and I use bright lights at night. The wrap-around stays on the Honjo's have the unfortunate effect of creating a perfect brake when a stick is placed between the stays and spokes, since the stays are put in tension and thus have great strength. From a safety standpoint, fenders with stays that do not wrap around the fender would appear to have some breakaway potential, especially if there were cheap plastic involved.

Matt said...

Has anyone tried painting these? I was thinking of having a frame powder-coated and getting a set of plain Honjos (and a Wald chainguard) done at the same time. I haven't heard of anyone doing it. Thoughts?

Chris Kulczycki said...

You can powder coat, or paint, them. Lots of builders have done that.

Roberto said...

I would like them to make a short rear fender which flares or flattens out slightly at the back end of the rear fender. The ida would be something that provides spray protection but allows you to remove a wheel from a bike with track ends (rear facing dropouts)

~Mad Marty~ said...

Anonymous: Yes, fender stays create a perfect brake if something gets stuck in your spokes, but so do your front forks. I have a tentative bid on a very old Raleigh Lenton Sports. If I win it I plan to fit the aluminium fenders. It would have originally had some sort of plastic, but I've heard that these aluminium ones are extremely light, and they are far more durable than plastic.

Martin G said...

This thread mentions that the fenders can be powdercoated or painted - if I choose to paint, could I get away with using an enamel based paint in a spray can and still get a good finish?

tombourque said...

The Original Post states that Honjo-Koken can do custom production runs in at least 10 possible radii. Do you know if that includes a radius suitable for 16" (349mm ERD) wheels?

If so, and if they would allow a tiny run of only 3 sets (I know...dream on) vs. 100 sets, I would be SOOOO excited. I would get 40mm smooth polished fenders and modify them to be mounted on a Bike Friday Tikit with a rear rack (which would protect the rear fender from scratches/dents when folding the bike).

tombourque said...

The Original Post states that Honjo-Koken can do custom production runs in at least 10 possible radii. Do you know if that includes a radius suitable for 16" (349mm ERD) wheels?

If so, and if they would allow a tiny run of only 3 sets (I know...dream on) vs. 100 sets, I would be SOOOO excited. I would get 40mm smooth polished fenders and modify them to be mounted on a Bike Friday Tikit with a rear rack (which would protect the rear fender from scratches/dents when folding the bike).