It really is all about fenders (aka mudguards) with vintage bicycles, whether its a ladies or gents frame. They’re an important accessory to any bike. They look good and they keep you clean and dry in the rain.
Ive seen a lot of vintage bikes for sale without fenders, with painted fenders and sometimes they dont look right and sometimes they’re heavily over priced. I think its much more worth while waiting for a nice bike with a nice set of fenders than wasting money on a not so pretty bike. But hey thats just me and im very pedantic.
Heres a bike without fenders, its a good looking bike but its just not yet complete.
Fenders ought to be metal. Plastic, wooden, even carbon fibre fenders exist but on a vintage bicycle, a shiny metal fender reigns supreme. There are a number of styles avaliable from a variety of aftermarket makers. Honjo, Gilles Berthoud and Velo Orange are all very good brands.
Wooden fenders (via VeloBusDriver)
There are some generic fenders for sale on ebay at the moment, however unlike these good brands the attaching hardware is sometimes not adjustable. You can generally adjust fender stay length which is important in getting the fender lines to match the wheels. This is an example of not so great fender lines. The bike sold for 350 bucks, thats a lot, and those fender lines are not very elegant.
Heres an example of perfect fender lines. How sexy is that.
The Honjo Gilles Berthoud and Velo Orange fenders are all extra long as well which means they provide more coverage when riding on when roads and just look nice too.
Hand hammered fenders cost the most, some people love them, Im not that big a fan. They do look cool but I think Smooth or Fluted fenders just look more classy. Heres some examples. You be the judge.
hammered fenders (via hrbiel)
smooth fenders (via ericm)
fluted fenders (via jon is secretly a scientologist)
Very very classy Honjo fluted fender tip (via EcoVelo)
Painted metal fenders are nice too, especially when the colour either matches or compliments the frame. Ive seen a couple restorations where the fenders just look too contrasting and just quite not right. A painted fender with a nice white ducktail is very elegant. Also be wary of fenders which have just been painted to cover up rust. Light surface rust can usually be removed from fenders. If a fender is only lightly rusted, I cant see why anyone would want to respray it. I can only imagine it would be resprayed because it was very heavily rusted. For example the fender below definately can’t be saved with steel wool. This is one of my bikes, so I have to consider either getting new fenders, which is probably impossible since the wheel size is a very ancient 28 inches, or repainting it, along with the rest of the bike. But the problem is that all fenders must endure a lot of flexing and bouncing as you ride and even brand new metal fenders will eventuall crack and break. Plastic fenders are even less durable but rusted fenders have to be seriously weakened even if its underneath a new coat of paint.
Below is bike with white painted fenders. Its not too bad looking. But something just doesnt look right too.
Heres a lovely Raleigh with matching painted fenders and a classic white tail.