Can You Put Fenders on a Mountain Bike? And Why You Should Do It!

Putting fenders on a mountain bike is a good way to protect you and your bike from the rain. Riding with fenders will prevent the rain from spraying a streak of muddy water up to your back, over your shoes, and on your face as well as on your cycling mates. In this article we’ll discuss why you should put fenders on a mountain bike and how to install mountain bike fenders quickly. 

Put fenders on a mountain bike when the trail is wet or muddy and uninstall them when the trail is dry. Mountain bike fenders keep the rider dry, prevent dirt from entering mechnical parts, and reduce visibility challenges in wet conditions.

Are Bike Fenders Worth It? Yes, and Here’s Why

Bike fenders are worth it when the mountain biking trails are wet. They protect riders, bikes, and cycling buddies from mud and dirt. 

You can put fenders on a mountain bike to:

Reduce Grit Getting into Rotating Parts

If you’re riding on a wet and muddy trail, your bike is bound to get full of mud. The best way to avoid this is by installing fenders. Fenders shield your bike and help to reduce the amount of grit that enters its moving components, brakes, and pedals.

Viranomainen, a Helsinki-based brand, which sells tactical gear, has launched an improved version of its most loved product known as the Bender Fender. This fender is very flexible and can easily be accommodated by your bike. The Bender Fender allows your movements not to be hampered due to its lighter weight and the flexibility ensures that the bike's forks and stanches are better protected from grit and gravel.

Keep You Dry and Clean

In rainy weather, a mountain biker’s trail is often filled with water and muddy puddles, and it becomes really hard to stay dry and clean during the ride. Fenders can minimize that. When fenders are in use, you can rest assured that your face and back will stay cleaner and drier.

Most bikers ride around with bike-packing bags or tool bags attached to their bikes. If you are one of those bikers, and you keep your bag somewhere on the rear frame of your bike, the fenders will help keep your bag clean. Check out our article to learn more about the different kinds of mountain bike tool bags and also how to choose a mountain bike tool bag that locks to keep your tools clean and dry.  

Reduce Visibility Issues

Fenders make sure that mud and water don't splash into the riders’ eyes making it hard for them to continue their ride. Getting a splash of mud in your eyes when you are taking a dangerous turn or bypassing a vehicle can lead to a serious accident that can even be fatal. So, installing fenders on your bike can be a lifesaver. Don’t forget that wearing mountain bike armor is also a lifesaver. In our article, mountain bike armor pieces, you can learn more about the different armor pieces and how using them can lower the risk of serious injury. 

Another way in which fenders can help you increase safety is by making your bike more visible to other riders and motorists at night. This can be done by investing in fender stickers that glow in the dark or using fender lights. An article published by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Services suggests investing in fluorescent material for the fenders to increase the visibility of your bike at night and reduce the chances of rear accidents. Be sure to check out our article about the different mountain bike fender accessories and how to choose between them.   

Make the Bike More Interesting to Ride

Bike fenders come in all sorts of designs, which means that as much as the fenders have a protective value, they also add to the beauty of the bike. If you have a very particular aesthetic sense, it will be a good idea to invest in fenders like these that agree with it. Giving your bike a personalized look will make you fall in love with the biking experience even more. If you cannot find fenders that go with your style or have already bought very plain-looking fenders and are now regretting your choice, there is no need to. You can always spice up the look of your fenders by adding fender accessories like reflective tape, fender stickers, and fender lights. You could even construct your own to look exactly the way you want them to as we explain in our article about how to make a mountain bike mudguard.  

If you put fenders on your mountain bike you could add funky stickers like these to give them a unique look.
Personalize your mountain bike’s look by adding cool stickers to your fenders. Image Source: Amazon.

Be sure also to read our related article explaining some key mountain bike fender parts along with their functions and pictures. You'll be happy to learn more before moving forward.

When Not to Put Fenders on a Mountain Bike?

Now the question is, are fenders needed on a mountain bike all the time and under all conditions? And the answer is no. Although fenders are extremely useful in certain conditions that we have discussed earlier, they are not always a must-have.

It's unnecessary to have fenders on a mountain bike when riding in dry summer and winter months. Mountain bike fenders increase the weight of the bike and are optional accessories.

It’s not necessary to put fenders on a mountain bike when:

It’s the Summer Season

In the summer months, you can easily do without having fenders installed on your mountain bike as you are less likely to ride on muddy trails or encounter any puddles on your way. This is especially true if you live in an area where the climate is dry. In other words, if you ride in an area that experiences very little to no rainfall, fenders are not a necessity. 

Moreover, the summer heat may even damage fenders, especially if they are made out of plastic. If you have fenders installed on your bike during the winter season, it would be a good idea to remove them during summer to protect them from damage. Though this shouldn’t be much of a problem if your fenders are made of metal. If longevity is one of your concerns, it is a good idea to invest in aluminum or alloy fenders like these because it doesn't wear out that easily.

Put aluminum fenders like these on your mountain bike if you need more durability.
Aluminum fenders provide excellent corrosion resistance and their durability helps ensure long-lasting reliability. Image Source: Amazon.

There are No Available Compatible Fenders

There could be a possibility that your bike isn't compatible with fenders. In that case, you can install a rack like this first and then the fenders onto that. Some bikes don’t have drilled holes in the racks for the mounting of fenders. However, zip-ties like these can be used to install the fenders. 

But if your bike doesn't need fenders and you don't live in a place where there's much rainfall, you can easily live without installing fenders.

The Winter Days are Dry

You might not want to install fenders if, in your area, the winter season is not that wet and snowy. If it doesn't snow where you live, and you don’t experience much rainfall either, you can choose to not go through the hassle of installing your fenders because they might prove to be useless in such situations since their main purpose is only to keep off all the dirt and mud from you and your bike.

How to Put Fenders on a Mountain Bike

To put fenders on a mountain bike, first check if there are pre-drilled holes on the bike. Install front fenders by positioning the fender under the fork crown and attaching fenders using zip ties or bolts. To install rear mountain bike fenders use zip ties or bolts to secure the fender to the seat stay.

If the bike already has pre-drilled holes or eyelets for fender attachment, you might opt for the bolt-ons because they would be so much easier to install. If not, you can go for clip-on fenders or attach them with zip-ties. In our article on how to install a mountain bike fender, you can learn more about the different types of fenders and how they are installed. 

Step 1. Installation of Front Fenders

For front fenders, like these, your mountain bike should have a chainstay bridge installed on it for easier mounting of the fenders. When you've taken all the measurements and drilled the necessary holes or installed the rods or racks needed for the mounting of fenders (depending on if your bike has disc brakes or not) start installing the fenders. To do that, position the fender under the fork crown. Next, attach the fender by securing zip-ties or bolts to the crown but don’t tighten them completely yet so that they can be repositioned if necessary. When the fender is positioned over the center of the tire, secure the two sides to the left and right forks. Finally, tighten the bolts or zip-ties.

Put a front fender like this on your mountain bike by attaching it by way of a chain-stay bridge.
This front fender is attached with a chain-stay bridge. Image Source: Amazon.

Step 2. Installation of Rear Fenders

When installing rear fenders, like these, on your bike you might also have to remove the rear wheel. In some cases where you have disc brakes installed or some other pre-installed systems on your bike, you might have to install an extra rod to make sure there's enough gap between all the parts of your bike as they should not be in contact with each other to avoid any kind of friction. To install a mountain bike rear fender with bolts, align the holes and then secure the fenders with the bolts. If using zip-ties, thread the zip-ties through the holes and then position the fender under the seat stays. Finally, secure the sides of the fender to both sides of the seat stays or the chain stays that attach the rear wheel.  

Check out this video tutorial by Mucky Nutz on how to fit a rear fender on a mountain bike.

Do Mountain Bikes Have Fenders When You Purchase Them?

Most new mountain bikes don’t have fenders when purchased. Mountain bike manufacturers prefer to concentrate on the quality and style of the mountain bikes and leave the fender designs to the accessory specialists.

While most mountain bikes don't have fenders, they do have pre-drilled holes for fender installation.

Although mountain bikes usually come without fenders, many have pre-drilled holes in them for a quicker installation. There is a wide variety of fenders a rider can choose from. There are even some DIY options. To learn how to make a DIY mountain bike rear fender, make sure to check out our article. 

The four reasons new MTB don’t have fenders are:

MTB Manufacturers Prefer Fenders as Accessories

Mountain bike manufacturers prefer to treat fenders as an accessory. This is because although fenders may be an absolute necessity for one biker, they may be of no great use to another. By treating mountain bike fenders as an accessory, mountain bike manufacturers make sure that they are catering to customers with all kinds of preferences. Fenders like these or mudguards like these, although very useful in certain conditions, are not suitable for all kinds of terrain. Having fenders permanently installed onto the mountain bike takes away from its versatility. Having the option to install the fenders yourself and being able to remove them at any time offers greater choice for different kinds of circumstances and terrains.

Instal fenders like these are designed to fit onto most mountain bikes.
Mudguards like these can fit onto most mountain bikes. Image Source: Amazon.

MTB Manufacturers Prefer to Leave the Choice of Installing Fenders to the Buyers

The manufacturer usually prefers the cyclist to have the choice of installing fenders because you could better decide whether you want plastic or aluminum fenders and what style of fenders you would prefer - classical mudguards, bolt-on, or zip-ties. Mountain bikers who avoid extra weight would more likely prefer fenders that are lighter in weight and for some, the durability of the fenders can be a bigger priority.

Manufacturer's Desire to Maintain MTB Original Design

Like any other product design, a mountain bike's manufacturer would want to preserve the specific design of the mountain bike. Two common designs for a mountain bike are usually the hardtails and the full suspension bikes. Depending on the design, fenders can be installed. Most bikes usually have pre-drilled holes or eyelets for the attachment of the fenders or racks.

Mountain Bike Aerodynamics May Be Affected by Fenders

Mountain bike aerodynamics is maintained through the design of the mountain bike. The fender coverage angle can affect the aerodynamic drag of the bike thus manufacturers tend not to add fenders to keep the aerodynamic aspect simpler. Although some myths suggest that fenders affect the aerodynamics of the bike negatively, research has shown the opposite. A study conducted by Delhi Technical University to investigate the effect of fender coverage angle on the aerodynamic drag of a bike found that bikes with fenders decreased the drag coefficient by 4.6%, 4.5%, and 4.6% at the respective speeds of 6 m/s, 8 m/s, and 10 m/s, as compared to bikes without fenders. This implies that it was easier for bikes with fenders to pick up speed as compared to the bike without fenders.

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