While fenders are definitely useful for daily bike commuters, we've always had a problem with the clunky aesthetic of those big metal covers that shield your wheels and add weight to your ride. And snap-on plastic mudguards that stick out like a sore thumb are even uglier. Of course the downside to this pickiness is pretty bad: When the road gets wet, we get that unsightly strip of dirt on our backside. Not anymore. Since we've been riding with the Plume recoiling mudguard the clean lines of our single speed commuter and our clothes have both been preserved.
The Plume is made of stainless steel and a flexible polymer and when it's not in use it rolls up neatly and sits under your seat. (Installation is as simple as slipping it onto the seat post.) When the weather gets dodgy, you uncoil the Plume and it snaps into place like a thick tape measure. When extended it provides enough protection to keep you grime free. And when the clouds disperse you just give it a bend and it rolls back up and tucks neatly under your seat. You'll no longer sweat threatening skies when you head out on your bike. [$35; plumemudguard.com]
Days Tested: 6
Area Used: Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan commute
Conditions Encountered: Rain, wind, potholes, angry cabbies
Nitpick: When the Plume is affixed to your seat post it leaves no room for a rear light (although we were able to attach one to the bike frame).