Stripe or No Stripe – It’s Your Choice! As we move from winter into spring, the weather gets warmer – and wetter too. OK, so this isn’t the case everywhere; some places have dry springs and wet summers, but everywhere I’ve ever lived it’s the other way around. And, with rain in the air a good part of the time, I always find myself wondering, as I ride around town, just why it is that only a small minority of cyclists have fenders fitted on their bikes. There’s only one reason I can think of for this, which is that people think they don’t look cool. In fact, a colleague said as much to me a good few years back, having seen me arriving at the office on one of my bikes with fenders attached. My response? I asked him if he thought a dirty, wet stripe up the butt and back would look cool. He said no, it wouldn’t, so I guess he saw my point; but he still didn’t seem convinced that having the fenders there was a good idea. But what other way is there to stop that nasty stripe appearing? Bear in mind that this gray/black embellishment is formed of water and road dirt, so not only is it unsightly, it’s also hard as hell to get out of your clothes. True, you could always choose not to cycle if it rains, but I don’t much like standing around in the rain either, or scampering about the place in a vain attempt to dodge the drops. And what if you ride to work in bright sunshine, only for the clouds to descend just before you leave work for the day? No, for me it’s always best to be prepared for whatever the weather will do – and that means fenders on a bike if I’ll be riding in the rain. I have four bikes, three of which have fenders on them. The fourth is a race bike (I’ve never done any real racing, but it’s great to ride). This bike doesn’t get used in the winter, and I wouldn’t ever ride it in everyday clothes either – it’s for exercise, and I’ll ride it to work knowing that I’ll shower and change when I get there, and can do the same when I get home. So, if it does rain at least I don’t bear the marks for the whole day. If you’re racing on the road, or riding out on the trail, you won’t want any fenders on your bike; they increase weight and they’ll most likely get in the way too. But it’s city riding I’m talking about here. Looking at what’s around in cycle stores and on the internet, it does look like the tide may be turning where fenders are concerned, at least in the world of city or urban bikes. Several of the big manufacturers offer bikes designed for city use which come complete with fenders – in fact, they make a point of mentioning that they’re (a) on the bike and (b) color-matched to the frame. So, maybe it’s only a matter of time before people are telling me how cool the fenders on my bike look – I won’t be holding my breath though!