Honjo… Ok wait. This is actually a real story. Not something I made up because writing product descriptions is both tedious and odious. Right. So Honjo is a high end gutter factory in Japan. Their main gig is making gutters for temples and other rad historic buildings. Because they have the machinery to extrude aluminum, and because the owner is a bike nerd, he decided to knock off old French fender designs. Like most things the Japanese knock off, he didn’t just copy old designs. He copied the spirit of them, but made them way better. I love this about Japan. Honjo fenders are tougher, prettier and easier to work with than old finicky French fenders. Plus, they come in more sizes. The finish on these fenders is unsurpassed. The hardware is simple but perfect.
Honjo fenders take forever to put on. If you are a good tinkerer, and you have rat tail files, awls, a vise, a tennis ball, a drill with tiny bits, calipers, and loads and loads of time and patience, and you actively seek out frustrating things because you like ‘a good challenge’, then you should install them yourself. If not, when you take these to a shop, scout it out first. Talk to the mechanic and bring up Honjo fenders. If they cringe, run away or don’t know what you are talking about, you are at the wrong shop. Don’t have those folks install your fenders. Aluminum fenders need a sympathetic, not antagonistic installation. Expect to pay at least 50 bucks for install, but up to 150.
There is a plethora of Honjo Fender profiles out there. Smooth, hammered (strongest hammered fenders we’ve used), fluted, fluted and hammered (together at last!). The general rule is: if your bike is super bling, consider hammered fenders. If it’s not, the hammered fenders are so bling that they’ll rob the rest of your bike of any cool factor it might have. I’ll note right here that the first time I typed bling, spell check didn’t flag it. The second time, it did, and now the 3rd time, right in that last sentence, it did again. WTF, as the kids say.
Other notes: "French fender lines" are all the rage. A French fender line just means the fender is mounted really close to the tire, and there is minimal clearance betwixt rubber and fender. It also means there is obsessively even fender clearance all the way around the tire. That latter part is fine, no gripes there. Although don’t get too hung up on it, there’s more important things to obsess over out there. But back to fender clearance. More is better. A higher fender might not be Heine’s idea of a sexy look, and it might make ole J.P. shutter with rage, but damn it, it’s functional. You want mud clearance with any fender. If you don’t have it, looking cool AF isn’t gunna be worth a zinc nickel when you hit that dirt road at the end of March. We shoot for at least a centimeter of clearance, but more is better. You want height and width. Usually your frame will limit you in some way here. I.e. your fork has less clearance than the rear triangle, check that first and then mount it as high as you can on the limiting factor and match it on the other fender.
Aluminum fenders have rolled edges. These take up a bit of clearance on the sides. Whatcha want, whatcha really really want is about 15mm more fender width than tire width. Remember to measure your tire on the rim, don’t just say: oh I have Gravelking 32’s so therefor they’re 32mm wide and I should get a fender that’s 57mm wide. Nein! It is not that simple. Labelled tire size is a guideline, a sort of guestimate as to what it might look like when inflated on a hypothetical rim at a hypothetical pressure. To wit: A 32mm Gravelking on a ‘normal’ 17mm wide (internal width) rim at 44 psi is 31mm but at 72 Psi it’s 32mm. Not a huge difference, but it gets more dramatic when you change rim size. Go up to a 23mm rim, and that same tire at 72 psi is 34.6mm wide. Woah nelly! That’s why it’s worth measuring.
Part of what makes these fenders so tedious to mount is that they aren't pre drilled. A blessing and a curse. You theoretically can get a perfect mount for your particular bike, but you more realistically are gunna mess something up. The hammered and fluted models are a bit easier to drill, only because the fluting and/or hammering lay out a kind of grid or guideline that aids in finding the centerline on the fender. The big ol smoothie fenders require cahonas and calipers and a good eye to drill out. One of these days we'll do a big write up on mounting metal fenders, maybe a video too.
Since there is a dizzying array of styles and sizes and you have to make sure you clear your particular tire and rim combination, we highly recommend you CONTACT US before placing an order for fenders.
We'd love to install them for you! We're open on the weekends and available for appointments pretty much any other day of the week.