Honjo Madness

If you’re a non-professional mechanic and you’ve installed Honjo fenders on a bike like a Rivendell Sam H. that has generous clearance, all the appropriate fender mounting points, and cantilever brakes, congratulations; you’ve been awarded a merit badge.

If you’re a non-professional mechanic and you’ve installed Honjo fenders on a bike like an IF Club Racer with not-quite-enough clearance, not-quite-right fender mounting points, and “long reach” dual-pivot brakes that are really mid-reach dual-pivot brakes, congratulations; you’ve been awarded the Home Mechanics Badge of Honor for surviving (hopefully with your sanity intact) one of the most frustrating, patience-testing, bike-wrenching tasks you’ll ever undertake.

And if you’re a non-professional mechanic and you’ve installed plastic fenders on any bike and you’re under the delusion that installing Honjo fenders and getting a nice fender line can’t be that much more difficult, wake up and smell the coffee; you’re in for a big surprise, bucko. ;-)

32 Responses to “Honjo Madness”

  • mike says:

    hmm… same frame. but i went with the narrow and smooth fenders. i think that ridge in yours robs you of just that much more clearance. what tires you running under there? 30’s or 28’s?

    yes, it takes time and patience, for sure.
    the if fork design doesn’t really work that well with fenders – esp with the shimano ‘long’ (ha!) reach brakes. i’ve debated moving to the tektro big mouth’s that are supposedly flatter across the top (riv site) – but haven’t had the need just yet. i can squeak in 30’s on mine – and conti gp 4 season 28s (that are really 26’s) have ample clearance and a decent line.

    the most frustrating problem i had was the daruma bolt was not drilled large enough for the shimano brake bolt. i ended up drilling this out by hand, and then found out the nut and extra threads on the bolt can really mess with your tire. trimmed all that down with the dremel. i’ll probably be swithching to a sliding bridge and sheldon fender nut up front. would make popping them on and off that much easier.

    did you use the sliding bridge for the rear? i had a fender fail on my rear when using the bolted on angle clip. too little metal with holes too close together. be wary of this – esp if you ride gravel / dirt and anything but smooth roads. after 2 years of use mine gave up. switched to the slightly less sightly bridge tucked under the brake stay and it is working well – if a little squeaky on the rough stuff. might have to blast some clear silicone in there and shave off the excess to quiet it down.

    congrats though. you are on your way to…. eagle scout? chief of ecovelo fender operations? guru of the grime line?

    and – did you shoot a dozen high quality and stunning pics of the process? the world wants to share in the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory!

  • bongobike says:

    And if you get something caught between that fancy, expensive Honjo and your front tire, and you get all that aluminum crumpled into a fancy, expensive mess, you are going to be a very pissed-off merit badge holder… :-)

  • beth h says:

    This professional mechanic “dressed up” her 1999 custom Rivvy for its tenth anniversary (with an overhaul, new fenders, grips and saddle) and discovered that she should’ve asked for more clearance when she ordered the frame.

    My bike could just barely handle 32mm tires with fenders and still roll. So when the time came to select replacements for my cracked plastic fenders, I chose Velo Orange’s pre-drilled model (http://www.velo-orange.com/veor45an.html), knowing that they’d be less aggravating to install. At least a little. I STILL had to replace the brake calipers becaue they wouldn’t clear the fenders. And I’d forgotten about leather washers so I had to make some of my own. But all in all it worked out, and I’m happy with the result:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethness/sets/72157620722408661/

    Honjos ARE lovely, and they DO dress up a bike; but I think in select cases they’re too annoying to be worth the effort. If my Rivvy was a showroom perfect, maybe. With all the touch-ups and scratches and dents, the VO fenders actually seem more appropriate.

  • Lush says:

    As soon as my Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen arrives I’m putting these on from VO:

    http://www.velo-orange.com/vo45ststfe.html

    Pray for me now and at the hour of my death. Thank you.

    – Will

  • Elliott @ Violet Crown Cycles says:

    I guess this is puts another notch in the cantilever and drum brake columns for not having to worry about caliper clearance. Fat tires and fenders don’t play very well with caliper brakes without some real compromises.

  • mike says:

    fat tires and fenders can play well.
    a friends a homer hilson with 650b and the extra long reach tektros (or silver’s or whatever riv calls them) can handle some grand boise hectres with fender.

    but – for a 700c bike, yes – i often debate (after 3 years of having my frame) why i didn’t go calipers or paul racers… but to be honest – i was living in a roadie world and thought i was out there going dyno lights, fenders and ‘gasp’ 28s!

    i also had plenty of bad experience setting up canti’s… and the squealing… just didn’t work for me.

    disc or drum would be cool, for sure. but they add weight and their own issues. drums (as on a Nexus internal) are a pain to do a tire change on – and the IF is more sport touring than it is pure commuter, so a more performance oriented choice of equipment makes sense. but i do love the drums and IGH on our bakfiets, and would consider them on a utility / cargo bike. but bring a can of tire slime if you get caught on the road… (at least with a dutch city bike or bakfiets…)

    as to ‘crumpled’ – i’ve seen it happen once, a friend got a stick into the tire / fender and it mangled a VO. it would probably crack or break a plastic fender… so either way you are replacing them. you can get pb cascadia’s (love em) for nearly the same $$ as vo fenders…

  • Robert Frith says:

    I’m in the third category. I think I spent about 4 hours over two nights putting SKS fenders on our new secondhand Cannondale Los Dos tandem. I did stop occasionally to check the flavour of the ’06 Shiraz.
    I am duly warned re Honjo!

  • Dottie says:

    Ha. I have the same hammered Honjo fenders on my Betty Foy. I took it straight to my local bike shop and let them deal with it.

  • Alan says:

    @Mike

    “hmm… same frame. but i went with the narrow and smooth fenders. i think that ridge in yours robs you of just that much more clearance. what tires you running under there? 30’s or 28’s?”

    @28mm Paselas..

    “i’ve debated moving to the tektro big mouth’s that are supposedly flatter across the top (riv site) – but haven’t had the need just yet.”

    We tried them. Beware that on the Club Racer, the arms are nearly too long and the pads have to be jammed all the way to the top – not attractive.

    “i’ll probably be swithching to a sliding bridge and sheldon fender nut up front. would make popping them on and off that much easier.”

    I ended up with a Sheldon nut and an L-bracket up front, sliding bracket in the rear. I tried reversing the sliding bracket to clear the brake but no go without surgery, and by then I had already been fussing round for a week, so I flopped it over where it’s visible and said “good enough”.

    “and – did you shoot a dozen high quality and stunning pics of the process? the world wants to share in the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory!”

    Ha! I should have, but I was too busy cussing and swearing… LOL.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Beth

    That’s a beautiful bike!

  • Alan says:

    @bongobike

    “And if you get something caught between that fancy, expensive Honjo and your front tire, and you get all that aluminum crumpled into a fancy, expensive mess, you are going to be a very pissed-off merit badge holder… :-)”

    Yeah, I know. The clearance on the IF is not enough – little pebbles get up in there are bounce around for seconds (literally). A twig would be ugly..LOL. The Riv has plenty of room and shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Bill Lambert says:

    I’ve crumpled my front plastic fender, but shudder at the thought of crumpling an expensive aluminum fender. At first I was pretty upset about my plastic fender, but I felt better after I popped it back down and got many more miles out of it. Of course, the cracked fender eventually broke.

    I like to think of myself being “mechanical”, but since I was challenged with my plastic fenders, I will not be experiencing a fender upgrade for some time.

    By the way, I really like your new Sam Hillborne. That is one beautiful bike. I hope you get many, many happy miles on it.

  • Erich Zechar says:

    I think of myself as pretty good with kludging things to fit, but my wife’s Mixte with the VO undrilled alu fenders gave me fits. It didn’t have drilled chain or seat-stay bridges, so no way to easily mount the rear. Even more fun, the fork and chainstay both had a bit too little clearance. I ended up using P-clamps to mount the rear fender to the stay bridges, and crimped the front and rear where it was too small. Took me some time to measure, drill, mount, and polish the fenders, but I think it worked out well.

  • Leaf S. says:

    Alan, when will we see full pictures of the SH? These teaser photos are killing me. But then again, maybe it’s best I don’t see photos as I might end up placing a call to Rivendell…

    As for fenders… I put some Berthouds on my Rambouillet last winter and really like them. They came pre-drilled and went on easy enough. The daruma bolt that came with the Berthouds wasn’t so great and I replaced it with a Honjo daruma bolt. The brakes–Shimano standard reach (mid-reach)–do pinch the fenders a bit but it doesn’t interfere with the braking or cause the fender to touch the tire. The coverage is certainly better than on SKS fenders. I’ll probably put Berthouds or maybe even pre-drilled Honjos on my Hilsen later this winter.

    –Leaf

  • Alan says:

    @Erich

    Great work, Erich. Pretty bike…

  • Alan says:

    Hey Leaf,

    We’ll be out-and-about on the bikes this weekend, so I’m sure we’ll have a few snaps to share. So you have a Rambouillet and a AHH? Maybe I’m not the only bad one around here… ;-)

    Alan

  • Jeff says:

    “In my heart I prefer metal, but on my bike I have plastic”– Grant Petersen
    I love that quote!

  • Alan says:

    @Jeff

    As much as I respect Grant Petersen, I always say, “Follow your heart.” ;-)

  • Leaf S. says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty fortunate when it comes to bikes–a Rambouillet, a Hilsen and then for my commuter a Surly CC that for a time was set up with Albatross Bars inspired by your LHT. More changes to come for that frame later this winter.

    Have a great weekend. Looking forward to the pictures of the SH. And thanks for all the effort that goes into this site.

  • Doug R. says:

    Alan, you have forgotten the basic tenets of the wrencing game : (cussing, broken knuckles, and broken parts equal a good mechanic) Murphy invented more than just his law,
    he invented mechanics too! He is still laughing at us from his grave! If only we were smart enough to have stayed in caves and trees! Ratman. P.S. my Ventana El Saltamontes has arrived, now I get to have Murphy fun too! You done good kid!

  • tdp says:

    After several attempts to mount my Honjos on an old Trek and then a Surly Pacer, I hacked them into race blades:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/twodeadpoets/sets/72157622167328337/

  • Colin says:

    In a moment of foolishness, I decided it would be fun to install Honjo fenders on my beater Giant Bowery (track-ish frame). It took a few hours of cursing and kludging and a pile of p-clamps, but now it’s great, even with the short-reach brakes. Now it’s my rainy day commuter. Definitely worth the initial frustration.

  • beth h says:

    @ tdp: Honjo “race blades” — Wow. Not a solution I would’ve considered for fenders that spendy.
    But I have to say that it works on your bike. Pretty.

  • tdp says:

    @beth h:
    “Race blades” weren’t my first choice either but after several attempts to install them on two different bikes (with little wheel clearance) and consequently them started to take a beating, I decided that the only way to save them was the race blade idea. Not my first choice but I think they look nice under the circumstances.

  • Barbara Kilts says:

    That’s another sweet bike!

    I scored an incredibly good deal on a set of hammered Honjos a few years ago and figured them all out (drilling, punching holes & tinkering) on a cool Sunday afternoon in November in my driveway. My bike is a 32 year old custom touring bike built by Sam Braxton in Missoula, Montana. The fenders are a pretty narrow model, so I can’t use 1-1/4″ tires… but, damn, they’re sooo pretty! They really keep the spray off since they ride so close to the tires – yes, I hear the little pebbles rattling around them. They’re quite sturdy, hope no crumpled fender is in the cards.

    Barbara

  • david p. says:

    i had planned on installing some honjos on my bike in the near future, but hadn’t anticipated such strain. at the risk of crushing my naivete, could someone enlighten me as to why they are so difficult to install?

  • Alan says:

    Hi David,

    If your bike has plenty of clearance and all the necessary attachment points, it should go relatively smoothly. If not, things can get complicated pretty quickly. The fact that Honjos are metal means it’s nearly impossible to adjust the fenderline with force as is possible with plastic fenders. Consequently, all of the brackets, spacers, etc. have to be placed precisely. Also, there are a number of different ways to mount the fenders, and depending upon where you purchase them and what your bike requires, you may need to order parts that are not included with the fenders to make it all work — the problem is that you may not know this until you actually get to mounting the fenders. It’s certainly doable (if I can do it, anyone can), but just be aware that it’s likely to take more effort than mounting your typical Planet Bike or SKS plastic fenders.

    Good luck!
    Alan

  • david p. says:

    alan,

    thanks for your response.

    my bike has ok clearance i think – not a race bike, and it does have brazeons for fender mounts, so i think i shouldn’t have too much problem. but yes, i have realized that my plastic sks fenders do allow a little more forgiveness when it comes to alignment. i’ll prepare myself for a less than svelte installation with the honjos.

  • soapscum says:

    Hi Alan,

    I want to put some hammered Honjo’s on my new Sam and I’m curious as to the width you chose. Are those 35mm?

    Thanks!

  • Alan says:

    @soapscum

    Those are 45s on my Hillborne…

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Stuff We Like: Plastic Fenders says:

    […] love Honjo metal fenders. I’ve had them on a number of bikes over the years and the classic look they impart is […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders says:

    […] fenders (the process took less than 30 minutes – compare this to the typical 2-3 hours for a Honjo installation). The hardware comes pre-installed and everything was straight and where it was supposed to be. […]

 
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