Flaps

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.

Dirty Eagle

Does your bike ever look like this? Then you need to read on. Seriously…

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…

Dave L rear

Dave L's rear mudguard with inner tube DIY flap. Dave couldn't (or should that be wouldn't?) reveal the precise tube diameter of his solution. It appears to be held in place by the elasticity of the tube, and friction

Brian

One of the job lot of DIY flaps made by John D, fashioned from DPC membrane. Interestingly, this one appears to be fastened on by a strip of metal crimped and folded to fit the profile of the rear guard

Dave L

Like those of us who prefer to pair road chainsets with mountain bike cassettes, Dave L uses a different method for his front flap. It needs to be wider than the skinnier inner tube rear flap. Here we see the first tie wrap pulled tight around the mudguard stay

Dave L front 2

Here Dave L has another take on the front flap. More tie wraps, but purists may perhaps be unsettled by (a) the length of those uncut stays and (b) the manner of their puncturing the flap. A little left field there, David

Jeffery rear

Jeffery's see-though rear flap shows both the muck and his eco-friendly credentials: it's an 'ecover' washing-up liquid rear flap. Tantalisingly out of shot is the securing method, but knowing Jeffery it will be a structurally satisfying nut and bolt arrangement

Athena

Athena is another of our overtly eco-friendly members and has gone for a wider 'ecover' rear flap than the one put to use by Jeffery. Note the double-pop-rivet-securing-method variation used here

Jeffery front

Back to Jeffery and his front mudguard. The memory fails so I can't report on the material used in this affair, but note the esoteric securing mechanism. A hole is punched through the flap but crucially – unlike Dave L's alarming set-up – we have a metal eyelet used to prevent splitting, and some sort of shoelace or elasticated cord providing belt-and-braces fastening. Fascinating…

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.

Roger

Roger has gone for an understated, minimalist approach. I believe this carefully sculptured svelte effort started out life on a supermarket shelf. Roger's instructions start thus: "Buy a bottle of Morrisons car shampoo. Throw the car shampoo away…" The more attentive reader will have spied Roger's double-nut-and-bolt securing method. We expected nothing less, Roger

SAM_3578

While there are no formal rules governing the crafting of the DIY mud flap it must surely go against the spirit and principles of such an undertaking to fit a length of actual mudguard to the end of your mudguard. This rider, who shall remain nameless (largely because I have forgotten who he was), has put function before form to create a frankly soulless confection

SAM_3763

Speaking of confection, there are no prizes for guessing what these flaps have been made from. Scott, a (relatively) young upstart has playfully cropped the top and bottom of a tub of chocolates to give a slightly startled world his twin flaps. Double hole through the mudguard and tie wrap to finish off the job. Quality. However, the garish colour of these bold offerings means that the flaps should probably have been trimmed at the top and fastened to the inside of the mudguards. Nice try, young man (is there rather too much cross-chaining going on too?), but you have a lot to learn…

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).

Morrison's own brand

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.

RAW mudflap and Morrisons toilet cleaner

My DIY front flap alongside the commercially available RAW Mudflap.

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.

11 Responses to “Flaps”

  1. Admin wrote:

    Via Twitter:

    Ronnie_flaps

    Ronnie Fletcher wrote:

    @eyctc 'Flaps on Chaps' Monday morning ride to work

    Nice work, Ronnie, and thanks for sharing.

    Not sure if that's a reflection of the worth of High5's product line, but thumbs up for the double whammy flappage going on there. 8/10.

  2. Jeffery Tallerman wrote:

    Thanks for a really good article, Chris. Think my flap was from a toilet cleaner bottle. I was caught by what appeared to be the 'Wednesday Crowd', although it was on a Friday recently. There were 9 riders and every one had a proper rear flap! If they can do it, why the dickens can't the CTC? Seasons greetings to you all.

  3. Admin wrote:

    Via Twitter:

    Philip Myers - @themyaz - guest front flap

    Philip Myers wrote:

    @eyctc @rawmudflap Homemade is satisfying, maybe less practical. Here's mine, past it's sell-by date 🙁 …

    Ketchup bottle…

    Pop riveted, bottom part of the guard had been in a smash 🙁

    Good effort, Philip. To be fair your flaky flap does seem to have seen better days. I don't think it can have grounds for complaint if it is replaced by a younger, fitter model. 7/10.

  4. ChrisB wrote:

    Jeffery wrote: Think my flap was from a toilet cleaner bottle.

    I would have put money on it being an 'ecover' bottle. Speaking of which…

    There were 9 riders and every one had a proper rear flap! If they can do it, why the dickens can't the CTC?

    Our Athena was out on my last CTC ride. She got a face full of road spray from a certain person (clue: he has a bicycle shop in Cottingham).

    Must catch up with you soon, Jeffery, and not just to see the current incarnation of your flappage. TTFN – Chris.

  5. Admin wrote:

    Via Twitter:

    Philip Myers - themyaz - guest rear flap

    Philip Myers wrote:@eyctc @rawmudflap and another ketchup bottle, but modern lightweight rubbish. Erm… see the design lines?

    It is reassuring to read that this take on the DIY mudflap went through a process of "design" and wasn't rushed. "Good things come to those who wait", as Heinz once put it. Perhaps the proprietary sticker could have been removed prior to assembly – or does it remain as a knowing wink to its humble origins? Loving the rakish diagonal formed by the fastening mechanism. Pop rivets again, we must presume. Nice. 7/10.

  6. Garry Booth wrote:

    Just a note to say how much I enjoyed this research on improvised winter wear.

  7. Admin wrote:

    Via our Facebook photos page:

    Mal_flap

    Mal Kilvington wrote:

    My contribution to the mudguard extension debate – I have called it a Dudley after he complained about the odd spot of water that escaped.

    It is tempting to forgive this abomination on the grounds that it – almost – kept Dudley dry. On reflection, though – and after initially thinking for a moment that the earlier judgment on a bit-of-a-mudguard-as-mudguard-extension was rather harsh – it is right to condemn this Frankenstein's monster-like unholy contiguity.

    Fair effort, but justly downgraded to 5/10 for lack of imagination.

  8. ChrisB wrote:

    Garry Booth wrote: Just a note to say how much I enjoyed this research on improvised winter wear.

    You're welcome, Garry. I hope the ideas here and your enquiries on the CTC forum have given you and your club mates some ideas for your flaps. It also prompted me to visit Poundland following the advice on the forum. Watch this space… 🙂

  9. Admin wrote:

    Via Twitter:

    Andy_Warby_flap

    When asked what it was made from, this flap aficionado replied thusly:

    Andy Warby wrote:

    @eyctc Just some spare plastic, and a couple of M4 bolts. Happy to join your cause!

    Further prompting on that throwaway "spare plastic" comment brought this response:

    Andy Warby wrote:

    @eyctc I'm not sure to be honest, it's some stuff that architects use apparently, my gf's Dad gave it me.

    So, thanks, Andy, for agreeing to share your flappage with us. Like some solitary, teasingly see-through flared trouser leg this mysteriously made flap nicely complements the colour of those pencil-thin seat stays and is surely a welcome sight for your ride buddies on wet and wintry days.

    6.5/10 – the exact provenance of the material would have yielded a higher score, but the nice detail of the M4 bolts prevents any further penalty. Nice work, Andy.

  10. Admin wrote:

    A considered comment to follow, but for now:

    tpink_flaps

    Via Twitter.

  11. Admin wrote:

    For those who don't fancy all this flappage faffage RAW Mudflap have created custom flaps for East Yorkshire CTC. You may have seen the reflective rear ones tested by Dudley, John D etc. More on this vital topic to follow…

    RAW_flaps

    NB – these are the yellow non-reflective flaps. The rear flap testers are darker, reflective and about £1 more each.