The other day I was walking the dogs with Mrs B near the in-laws' home. An old dog had gone missing and a group on Facebook had been mobilised to help find this poorly old creature. Sadly, I think it is still missing, but we spent a couple of hours traipsing around in the rain doing our bit. The only positive thing that seemed to come of this soggy venture at the time was the discovery of a pile of discarded thin floor tiles (I think). I took them home and left them propped against an outside wall before deciding whether they could be put to good use. On reflection I think they are probably too thick for the job I had in mind. But that won't deter the mudguarded cycletourist from the perpetual search for that Holy Grail: the DIY flap.
In the olden days you would secure the bridge of your front mudguard to the rear of the steel fork crown. Nowadays your bike may have a deeper fork crown if the fork is made of carbon fibre. The recessed bolt at the rear of the fork crown will mean that the bridge of the mudguard will have to be fastened in place at the front of the fork crown. Crucially, this will move the mudguards perhaps a couple of inches forwards on an arc and so the trailing edge of the guard will be raised that much more. If you take your bike out in the rain with a shorter front mudguard then your feet, front derailleur, chainset and bottom bracket will get a bit of a pasting. But you already know that don't you? No? And if you are riding in a group you will probably need more than just a shop-bought mudguard to keep spray out of the face of the following cyclist.
So here is a rundown of the homebrew flaps fitted to the mudguards of a number of our members…
I recall a front flap that Jeffery had once tested. It was enormous and was reminiscent of an inverted Dracula collar. A few inches longer and it would surely have doubled as a Heath Robinson snow plough. The material used was some sort of rubberised thing, or was it PVC? Anyway, Jeffery discarded it, perhaps because it acted as an air dam. It was impressively huge.
I went to Morrisons and couldn't find the same car shampoo that Roger had described. However, my attention was drawn to the tempting curves of a bottle of limescale remover (I did, however, follow Roger's other piece of advice and just poured it down the toilet).
As is so often the case, the process of finely tuning my DIY flap involved a degree of trial and improvement. During my first attempts I discovered I had left too much of a curve at the bottom of the flap. At speed or in a crosswind it chirruped like a demented finch, so a little trimming proved necessary. It's still not quite perfect.
I haven't had the opportunity for a 'head-to-head' test between the RAW Mudflap pictured above and my Morrisons special (okay, I have to give the eBay purchase back so that Father Christmas can present it to me properly), but it is something to look forward to between Boxing Day and the New Year.
Is it cheating to buy a fully formed flap? Yes, probably. But I felt the need to show support to the chap who makes these – in a range of colours. For £10.00 plus 73 pence postage you get pre-drilled front and rear flaps, with reflective logo, adhesive strip and the nuts, bolts and washers you will need. Some of my fellow 'brisk' riders would doubtless balk at the price, certainly, but just as much at the idea of giving up on the self-guided journey of finding that perfect flap. But should we spend what remains of our lives scrutinising every two litre milk carton, bottle of anti-freeze or washing-up liquid, margarine tub lid, bleach container and whatever the hell it is that Jeffery presses in to service when we could probably use that time more profitably?
I don't know. But if you want a pair of these (they can also be bought individually) before Christmas you need to get your order in by Wednesday at the latest.
If you think you have a better solution or would just like to share words or images of your own mudguard flaps then add your comment to this post or reply to this tweet.