Portland Design Works Full Metal fenders / mudguards review – blissfully silent, beautifully designed
Well made fenders / mudguards that keep the worst weather off and they do it silently
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$129 / £100 for a pair of fenders / mudguards is quite a lot, especially when you can get nice ones for $65 / £50 or so. However these were the easiest to setup, looked great, were well made, stiff once on the bike with no rubbing, making them the best fenders / mudguards that I've ever had the pleasure to fit or use.
Easy to fit (for fenders / mudguards)
Fantastic instruction booklet
No tyre rubbing
Breakaway clips on both fenders / mudguards
A little pricier than some others
Can't manoeuvre on the back wheel in tight spots as mudflap gets in the way
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The Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders / Mudguards provide full-wrap coverage from rain and road spray for you and your riding buddies.
The low set reflective mudflaps reduce spray further, even shielding your shoes. It comes with a variety of fixings to help bikes without eyelets as well as those set up for traditional fenders / mudguards. They come in an anodised matt black finish and looked really stealthy once fitted.
Well built, stiff once on the bike and completely silent when riding, these are best bike fenders / mudguards that I've ever had the pleasure to fit or use.
Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders: construction
The Portland Design Works Full Metal fenders / mudguards are made from anodised aluminium and feature laser graphics on the rear and an embossed alloy head badge on the front fender. The size on test are 37mm wide and can accommodate up to 30mm tyres, although there are other sizes available. I used my Genesis Equilibrium frame which has eyelets and deep drop brake calipers already, along with 28mm tyres. The mudflaps are made from plastic and are reasonably flexible. They both have a large reflective panel too.
About fitting PDW says that: "if time and patience are two things you are a bit short on, have your local bike shop do the installation" These are wise words in the world of fenders / mudguards. However these have to be the nicest installation of any mudguard that I have fitted ever! A really straightforward fit which, with their beautifully thought out instruction booklet, was a joy to do. I'm sure that the single legged stays and stiff mudguard helped in this respect.
Probably the least easy aspect of the build was the fitting of the Omega shaped bracket that sits over the stay legs. There are two small bolts that need to go through the bracket, through the mudguard into a threaded plate, and trying to get both threads to catch was a bit fiddly. Once engaged it was easy.
I weighed the components thus:
Fitting kit used: 165g
Left over parts not used: 55g
This made my setup 446g, which was 100g less that my previous M Parts fenders / mudguards.
Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders: the ride
Once fitted I was pleased with the stiffness of the setup, there was no wobble, and consequently no tyre rub. It was really easy to adjust the stays to sit close enough to the tyre, but still with room to stop rubbing. I also really liked the matt black anodised finish, I thought that this looked really stealth and understated.
So, on to riding... Basically they didn't wobble and buzz the tyres, also they didn't make any noise apart from a small 'donk' when a particularly large drop in the road was hit. Coming out of the saddle on a hill and pushing hard by rocking the bike side to side is normally a test for a mudguard stiffness but again silent...
There is a little toe overlap (which is more due to the bike than the mudguard) but whereas before I would catch the stay end cap with my shoe, here I couldn't as the stay is higher up and curved around the 'guard. In slow speed manoeuvring I found that I wasn't catching the mudguard either.
One downside, which is a result of the long mudflaps, is that you can't pop the bike onto it's rear wheel (and make it upright) to move the bike in tight spaces.
Tested in medium rain I couldn't see any overspray from the sides of the fenders / mudguards, only from the end tips as you'd expect. Obviously I did get wet but it was primarily from the rain, not the road spray.
Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders: value and conclusion
$129 / £100 for a pair of fenders / mudguards is quite a lot, especially when you can get nice ones for almost half the price. The well-built Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards cost $65 / £60, for example, and also provide a rattle-free experience.
However Portland Design Works' Full Metal Fenders were the easiest to setup, looked great, were well made and, most importantly, provided excellent protection.
Unless you like looking like you've ridden the Paris-Roubaix and ended up filthy or your riding buddies like a face full of spray then fenders / mudguards are a winter riders friend. They also keep a lot of the grime off your frame and components. Before buying any fenders / mudguards though be sure to check which type can be fitted to your bike.
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Over 40 years cycling in a variety of disciplines including road riding, commuting, a self-supported Land's End to John o' Groats trip, XC mountain biking and several Polaris Challenge two-day events. Adventure, escape and fun are the motivations for my riding. I also love bike and kit design and have fillet brazed a couple of framesets using Reynolds 853 steel tubing for myself. A very satisfying experience to ride your own bespoke bike!
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