28 April, 2011

On Fenders and Perceived Quality and the Blog

Regarding fender installation, we still get a lot of questions about this and will soon have a video that should help. One of the most common errors in assembly that we see is folks putting the cup shaped washer on the eyelet draw bolt upside down, which allows the fender to rattle. This applies to Honjo and to VO fenders. Here is a photo of how everything fits together; notice that the bolt-head with the hole fits inside the cup:


As we get new production runs of fenders we are switching to two eyelet bolts per stay (except on the narrowest models since they won't fit). This is being done for a rather odd reason. Honjo fenders use two eyelets because they occasionally crack at the eyelet with only one. VO fenders have never had this problem, but so many customers equate two eyelets with better quality that we are adding a second. For what it's worth, if a fender cracks it's almost always at the seat stay or at the fork crown and usually because there is some built in tension.

This reminds me of those little diamond-shaped reinforcements plates you see at the seat stay bridge on some bikes. No one here has ever seen a seat stay bridge fail on a well-built frame, except for one that had those little plates (the brazer probably cooked the joint). Maybe they were needed for some super thin tubing or some frame builders added them for looks. Now many cyclist seem to think they are a hallmark of a quality frame. Perceived quality.

On another subject, The comments on the VO blog are surprisingly civil, at least compared to a few other blogs I read. We do very occasionally reject comments for the following reasons:
  • Obvious spam or less obvious spam, like linking to another store or blog without it adding value to the conversation.
  • General rude tone in a comment.
  • Repeating an answer or explanation that has already been posted in another comment. It's simply polite to read the existing comments before posting so future readers won't have to read the same thing over-and-over.
  • Containing information or advice that I know to be totally wrong or dangerous, doesn't happen often.
Overall, though, I'm really pleased with how nice most folks who reads this blog seem to be. I also wanted to mention that I meet, or at least have e-mail correspondence, with some really neat individuals who read the blog. I'm always surprised when I find out that a writer or entrepreneur or artist who's work I admire reads my ramblings.

14 comments:

WickedCold said...

My understanding is that two eyelets are preferred because of the triangulation, making it far more secure and sturdy. This makes perfect sense to me. Do you disagree?

Chris Kulczycki said...

But they are triangulated with three attachment points, the one drawbolt and the dropout two eyelets? Good point though, having two drawbolts does help keep things from vibrating on rough roads, but I don't think that's why it was originally done.

somervillain said...

I agree completely with WickedCold:

I have been drilling two drawbolt holes in all my VO fenders as of late, hiding the original centered hole either by relocating the VO sticker over it, or by using it for a taillight.

My personal experience doing this is that there is improved lateral stiffness. Here are some pics of the finished product, which IMHO looks quite nice:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/5519821654/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/5638702539/in/set-72157626542404830

somervillain said...

I should add, that aside from the single versus double drawbolt design difference, I do find VO fenders to be of very high quality, and I am very pleased with them. I also appreciate that they come with all the necessary hardware (including leather washers!).

Another minor point about Honjo versus VO fenders: Honjo pre-stamps the indentation in the front fender to create a right angle with the steerer tube (and therefore fit flat against the fork crown when installed). VO does not do this, and unless one creates his own form to "notch" the fender, the fender is automatically placed under tension when secured at the fork crown by the daruma bolt.

Garth said...

Having only ever used SKS plastic fenders, I can't speak to the durability of one hole versus two. (I can say I've cracked a set of plastic ones drilling holes for mudflaps...) Personally I've always thought the single eyelet made yours much more elegant than the Honjos; between that and the price, VO was always the clear choice for me.

I'll take this as a sign I should finally get some decent looking fenders, before you run out of the current stock.

WickedCold said...

The fender itself can still twist with one bolt. The stays will flex to allow this. Using two draw bolts prevents the fender from rotating on the axis of a single draw bolt, which would put stress on the other mounting points.

alex said...

I've set up VO fenders with one eyelet and two. I started drilling two holes in my fenders, not because Honjo does it but because a single eyelet will rotate if a side load is applied. To counter this, one can tighten the eyelet more, but early VO (asymmetric) eyelets would crack when tightened too much. The better solution is to install two eyelets, so that's what I started doing.

Also, I agree that two eyelets improve triangulation as only the straight portions of the stays support the fender.

Adding another eyelet and changing the symmetric eyelet address my two complaints of VO's fenders.

Janice in GA said...

::runs to check fenders to be sure I installed them correctly::

Fred Blasdel said...

The biggest problem with the single eye-bolt is that it lets the stay rotate on the fender, which throws everything out of alignement and works the nut loose. This is impossible with two, it stays solid.

Really the whole "historical reenactment" design of using eye-bolts at all is pretty much technically bankrupt. The Berthoud design of bolting the stay directly to the fender is a full order of magnitude better — it's far stronger, impossible to set up wrong, has the best possible foot clearance, and the M4 nuts inside the fender obstruct less schmutz.

Kyle said...

@Fred Blasdel yeah... those berthoud stays are pretty cool. I imagine they're more expensive to produce than the bent 5mm aluminum rod used on both Honjo & VO fenders, which is probably why Berthoud's only come in 40mm, 50mm, or 60mm widths. They are also only made in the smooth finish, but I guess a hammered or fluted fender would probably fall into the "historical reenactment" category you mention (although I'm not quite sure what you mean by it).

Either way, I think you can get close to the same thing with VO fenders. About a year and a half ago, Chris had a post about decreasing toe clip overlap by using R-clips instead of eyelet bolts. I wonder if, with the two-hole fenders VO is doing now, you don't get something close to the Berthoud stays but without the limited options.

Chris Kulczycki said...

We can easily make the style of stays that Berthoud and some of the Chinese manufacturers use; they would be a lot cheaper too. In fact we tested them a few years ago. We found they are weaker and the factory even warned us of this when they made the prototypes. More importantly they can stress the fender since they can't swivel in the draw bolt. That's not a problem with steel fenders, but could cause serious problems on alloy fenders. There is good reason that the better French fender manufacturers, as well as Honjo and VO, choose to use draw bolt-style attachment.

Roy said...

+1 on WickedCold's observation that two bolts prevent fender rotation.

Also, I can add that when I installed my VO fenders a year or two ago, I remember trying to puzzle out how the bolt goes. The blog photo would have really helped.

Tom said...

Rotation of single eyelet bolt mounts don't seem to be an issue for anyone on narrower fenders like 37mm VOs or 35mm Honjos or the ultra narrow narrow carbon fibre Berthouds.

Anonymous said...

I prefer two bolts on the fenders because the fender (near the mudflap) tended to sway side to side when riding on dirt roads, and the CO towpath. The leather flap acted as a sort of pendulum to make this worse...

Is this what above posters mean by rotating?

I retrofitted VO fenders using 2 additional R-clips at the fender, since they were cheaper and lower profile. I got rid of the draw bolt and just used R clips (total of 4 per stay) The added benefit was less toe-clip overlap.

This came after a year of commuting with an initial one-bolt asymmetric drawbolt (the oem setup) of 60mm aluminum VO fenders on my allroad bike. there was rattling due to fender "sway" and the fender hitting the tire or frame.

I drilled two more holes, used the R clips, and had nary a problem again, on the very same commute via georgetown branch and CO trails...

I have set three more sets of fenders up this way as well, they are all ROCK SOLID.