The humble zip tie in action
Nearly indestructible they may be, but SKS mudguards do have their weak point. The stay brackets, two of them on each ‘guard plus the bracket for the front brake bolt, are secured to the plastic part by aluminium rivets. The brackets are stainless steel, as are the stays, nuts and eyebolts.
Of these, the plastic moulding is corrosion-proof and the stainless steel higher in the galvanic series than aluminium. The salt present in the road grit spread so liberally during the recent cold spell makes the perfect electrolyte and the interface between bracket and rivet the perfect location for the galvanic corrosion that takes place when said electrolyte links two metals in said series.
Result: the rivets corrode away and, usually at some inopportune moment, give way, allowing the mudguard to rattle annoyingly. Is there any other sort of rattle on a bicycle? For some reason, the bracket for the pair of stays closer to the frame tends to go first, perhaps because it is subjected to vertical vibration during riding.
When this happened to the rear ‘guard shown, I repaired it the proper way with pop-rivets and washers, creating a repair that should outlast the ‘guard itself. It is not, however, the prettiest of repairs and it took a few minutes that were not available when the other bracket “let go”.
Nothing for it but to resort to zip ties. A couple of these wrapped judiciously around the ‘guard and bracket did the perfect job but, it has to be said, look even less attractive than the pop-rivets and washers. Trouble is, the repair is almost certain to become a permanent feature of the cycle, or at least of the mudguards until they are replaced. It works and does not look so bad that it needs to be done again as soon as possible – so it won’t. Only the demise of the ‘guards themselves will see them consigned to the bin and, although they are battered and insightly, they aren’t bad enough to be thrown away.
This, of course, is the bane of the not-very-neat cyclist. Fit a computer, cadence monitor or anything else with a small, easily ignored bracket and it will probably still be there when the frame is in the skip or on eBay, simply because, while unsightly, it isn’t unsightly enough to be worth taking off and throwing away. And don’t get me started on bits of insulating tape…