Admittedly, I don’t love the idea or look of (what is essentially) a sophisticated plastic fender and mount, and I was at-first dubious if the juice would be worth the aesthetic-compromising squeeze after receiving a Win Wing to review. In reality, my experience has proved quite the opposite: the Win Wing utilizes a smart and capable design to serve as an easily removable fender, ideal for riders like myself who don’t live in locales that warrant heavy and complicated-to-install permanent fender solutions.
While the Win Wing is no Velo Orange curve of hammered beauty, it’s also not trying to be. As the Ass Savers’ website says, “we believe that mudguards are actually a necessary evil that should be ditched at the slightest glimpse of sunshine.” No words have rang more true for me when it comes to riding in my home of Boulder, CO, where said “slightest glimpse of sunshine” quickly works wonders in drying up the dirt and disappearing puddles.
Boulder, and Colorado more broadly, is heralded as getting 300 days of sunshine a year (there’s a reason I have chosen to live here) and, even in the summer “monsoon” season, the routine afternoon showers are short-lived, and (of late) less substantial all around. As such, I’ve never felt the need to outfit any of my bikes with permanent fenders, though they do lend a certain utilitarian panache to a classic skinny-tubed steel steed, imo. Sure, it would be nice to have on my commuter but in my current location it’s far from necessary and I recognize that half of that desire would be motivated purely by the aesthetic glint of hammered alloy.
Recognizing that their ideal product should excel at its purpose then go hide out in your garage as soon as the weather shifts is fundamental in the Win Wing design: it’s remarkably stable while riding, very light, protects riders from the embarrassing spray streak, and is a cinch to take on and off the bike.
While the product actually consists of four parts—the Wishbone Mount, the Blade, and two straps—the straps are already attached to the mount upon delivery, so in practice it only feels like two parts upon first install. The Wishbone Mount is designed to be attached to the seat stays at an upward sweep in relation to the wheel. The ends of the Wishbone legs are slightly curved, to seat better against the seat stays and directly above each is a slot that the strap intuitively feeds through. It is then fastened tight by securing via one of the holes to the nub on the arm. The Blade then snaps onto the “U” of the Wishbone through mated holes punched in the Blade and small knobs on the Wishbone.
During the R&D phase, Ass Savers found that water does not spin off the wheel through the full radial cycle but rather comes off at a tangent that, of course, is aimed right at the saddle. As a result, it’s only the rear half of a full fender that guards against moisture and dirt. With this in mind, the Win Wing is intended to be mounted very close to the tire and angled up (there are three center holes on each blade to aid in achieving this angle). The Wishbone mount comes in two sizes, a Gravel size and a Road size, with each model corresponding to category Blade widths.
Before the Win Wing, my mudguard use only extended to Ass Savers Regular guard, and similarly designed competitor products. I always found the various saddle rail attachments to be finicky and annoying at best and, at worst, flimsy and lacking durability. Without any real tension holding them in place, I found that such plastic tails tended to slouch and bend especially on rougher terrain.
While the two-part Win Wing install takes a few seconds longer, I was already more confident in the rigid strut-like mount design before I even had it on the bike. I found the install to be straightforward; whereas soft, saddle-mounted fenders just feel like a token-but-ineffective solution to wet rides, the Win Wing feels confidently made and well thought out. And, even for plastic, its profile is sleek on the bike.
After many a-snowy and slushy ride, I can report back that the Win Wing is an impressive addition to any spin through wet conditions. During several rides with it, I rode with my partner who also had one attached to his bike for me to observe. While riding on pavement and dirt, I wasn’t able to detect any movement in the Wishbone mount itself, with the Blade scarcely moving either. At the end of each ride, we’d each do a cursory up-and-down of the others backside only to find that no one would be the wiser if we skipped laundry day.
Pro’s & Knocks
I’ll start with the knocks. My first knock against the Win Wing is the fact of the two Wishbone sizes, which I could also make an argument in favor of. The Road size claims to clear up to 38mm tires and the Gravel size up to 60mm (2.36”). I recognize that my tendency to run wider rubber is a bias at play here, but, to me a slight shift wider for each of these clearances feels more useful. If, say, the Road size became an “All-Road” size and cleared up to 42mm tires, you’d have most of the gravel camp taken care of already. That would leave the larger size to run a bit wider, too—let’s get crazy and say 2.6”—and overall offer a broader appeal. But, more so than simply providing a wider range of compatibility, I think an “All-Road” size would allow more riders to get away with purchasing just one size. Again, as the reviewer, I’m thinking about my own use case here and if an “All-Road” size up to 42s were on the table, I would be significantly less inclined to purchase the wider size, especially given that I’m mostly using this product in winter, on either pavement or dirt that’s not prohibitively snowy and doesn’t warrant wider proper trail tread.
With the current exchange rate, the €25.00-27.00 price tag of a full Road or Gravel set up (you can also buy each part separately, for replacement purposes) comes out to $27.00-29.00, which isn’t breaking the bank. But, Win Wing only offers free shipping over €30, so at minimum for one fender setup, you’re shelling out $31.00-34.00 (including shipping). If I were paying full retail for a fender (I received both sizes for free to review), I would only buy the larger size and just be fine with the extra coverage on skinnier tires.
Moving on, to deploy the same idiom that Ass Savers uses in describing removable fenders in general, the ubiquity of plastic feels like a current necessary evil. And it really bums me out. In the case of the Win Wing it is technically made from polypropylene (Blade), glass fiber-reinforced polyamide or nylon (Wishbone) and thermoplastic polyurethane (straps). It is what allows the Win Wing to be so remarkably light; for the bean counters, the Gravel setup is 72g and the Road a mere 64. Still, on a very cold day I very easily, and accidentally, snapped one of my Wishbone mounts. Plastics become more brittle at a molecular level when the mercury dips below freezing and, in a split second, the mount became done, finished, finito—trash. I was disproportionately annoyed and angry that this is the best material we have at hand to make light and relatively affordable offerings. Of course, I don’t blame Ass Savers for this but while there may have once been a “great future in plastics” I hope it quickly becomes a material relegated to the past. In terms of the Win Wing, I’d caution you to use care if/when swapping out the blades so as not to test the limits of the Wishbone’s lateral flexibility.
It’s funny how calling out a product’s shortcomings, even if they are disproportionate to its overall successes, takes up much more of the word count than calling out what it gets right. Because, to be clear, I think the Win Wing gets nearly everything right. The design is far and away the most effective temporary fender I’ve seen, the silhouette is sleek, Ass Saver’s offers replaceable and interchangeable parts, and the complete package delivers on exactly what it promises: keeping the road bidet at bay. With winter nearly behind me and the ensuing spring shoulder season ahead, having a readily-available mudguard to turn to feels like a win, mostly.