I am a very proud and happy owner of a Focus Paralane AL 105 and I ruddy love the thing. At a price point of £1,499 it ticked all of the necessary winter bike boxes, as well as being a great commuter and all-round good performer for everyday riding. If I’d been a little more decisive last year I would have bought it ahead of the Fred Whitton, where its 11-32 would have been right at home.
While pretty much all of the reviews out there rave about it coming fitted with bespoke mudguards, it unfortunately doesn’t take long to uncover a pretty crucial flaw: rear mudguard rattle. On immaculate tarmac you’d never know, but on British roads or any sort of gravel it became clear very quickly that a small change in the surface results in an ungainly clatter of metal. Cue sideways glances from passers-by – for all the wrong reasons.
I wrote to Focus and they said there was nothing they could do, but a Google search presents this as a pretty common problem. As a result, we had a crack at a solution and I’d go so far as to say it improves the issue by about 80%. Unfortunately it doesn’t eliminate the problem entirely (feels like only removing the mudguards may do that), but it definitely helps.
You will need:
- a ruler
- a hacksaw
- a drill (not essential, depending on whether you need to follow step one)
- enough doweling rod for both mudguard mounts (we went for 9mm diameter)
- black electrical tape
- cable ties
- black permanent marker (if you’re a purist)
We found that the mudguard sat quite high above the rear wheel, meaning that the tail of it extended out a fair way to make the bounce impact quite strong. The first job was to move the mount point further up the arch of the guard, which we judged to be around 1.5cm up towards the top of the arc. This meant taking a deep breath and drilling a new hole into the guard. Definitely take the wheel out for this to avoid an embarrassing puncture!
Note: You may not need/want to do this. The steps below will make a bigger difference.
With the mudguard fixed in its new hole, measure the length of the two wire stays and cut the doweling to size. It’s a good idea to measure each independently, rather than presuming they will be the same size. You will also need to take into account where the doweling will end and therefore cut it a little shorter than the overall length of the stay before it starts to bend around the end.
Starting from the hub end of the stays, line up the doweling and use the electrical tape to wrap it tightly to the stay – as though you were wrapping handlebars. There might be an argument into the angle of the dowel giving aerodynamic benefits, but I will leave that to another blogger.
Be sure to follow the line of the stay so that you don’t end up forcing this out of place and causing more problems. You will need to be patient and make small adjustments to the dowel as you go, plus there is a noticeable difference in the angle of the two stays to account for the cassette sticking out.
We fastened a cable tie where the end of the dowel was nearest to the hub. This was to future-proof it as much as possible where wet rides and regular washing could cause the tape to unwind. You may also need to reinforce the other end nearest the tail of the mudguard.
This one is for the purists, but we scribbled in the ends of the dowel with a black marker to make them a little more inconspicuous. You can check this out in the image above, plus I’ve made a small cut to the tape to show the dowel.
And finally… time for a road test!
Would be interested to hear whether this worked for you. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve given it a try.
Full credit to my partner’s ingenious thinking on this hack. After working in a bike shop for years, he had some clever engineering up his sleeves.