I love the way they look, I love the way they work: fenders are a perfect combination of cycling form and function.
Properly installed, fenders are an elegant visual compliment to the overall design of a bicycle, a classic accent to the structural lines of a frame and a compliment to details such as lugwork (especially when the lugs are chrome, and the fenders a shiny, polished mirror finish as well!)
But arbitrarily adding weight (and potentially rattle) to a bicycle negates the overall simplicity of cycling travel. Fenders, while lightweight, are additional cycling luggage. And metal-against-metal rattling can be an affront to the peaceful pleasure of the ride. Fenders serve a very real purpose, which is to keep rain water and road muck off of the rider and away from bottom bracket and chainstays and other components that simply don’t respond well to moisture over time.
I have a pair of “shorty” fenders on my Follis that are attractive and present well from an aesthetic point-of-view. But when it comes right down to it, they are almost entirely decorative – their ability to shed water and shield the rider and bicycle from road grime is pretty limited.
I have “full” fenders on my P8, Shogun, and Touraine – and soon to be installed on the Falcon as well. These are really quite incredible. Once properly installed and all the rattles and buzzes eliminated – admittedly a task that sometimes takes time, ongoing adjustments and riding to iron out – it’s amazing how quickly I forget the fenders are on there. While riding a bike sans-fender I find that my riding style following a rain shower tends to be fraught with the perils of avoiding puddles. With a fendered ride my uber-caution disappears and I adopt a much more carefree style of riding. I can be a more casual cyclist: I don’t worry about mud-coated bottom brackets or mud-slickened, skunk striping dividing my jersey back into two symmetrical halves. Ten minutes into a ride I’m not suddenly aware of moisture permeating the fabric of my cycling clothes, nor am I left to wonder what that slow dribble is, trickling down my back and into my ass crack, the aftermath of tire spray. My after-ride clean up, too, is absolutely minimal.
So yes. I really do love fenders.