Bicycle Skirt Guard




A skirt guard on a bicycle keeps your skirt, or coat, or child's feet from being flayed by the rear-wheel spokes.

My kids are big enough that I no longer ride them on the back of my bike, and I can't remember when I last wore a skirt and that's not just a memory problem, either. But I do commute on a bicycle, shine or rain. For rain I wear a rain parka. For heavy rain I wear a rain parka plus rain pants and overshoes.

The parka is long enough that it used to get caught in the rear spokes, which tended to mess it up.

Bicycle skirt guards are sort of under-represented on Instructables. 1lenore has a good one using tulle, which seems to be a type of fabric. I wanted something a bit sturdier.

There is now a YouTube video that is sort of a survey of Japanese skirt guard designs. Full disclosure: I did the video, and it's based on photos I took during my recent Japan trip, which came AFTER doing this instructable. If I redo my skirt guards, I think I may go smaller.

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Step 1: Tools & Materials

What you need:
1 bicycle
netting material
zip ties
side cutters (nippers)
metal snips (to cut the netting)

Step 2: Quick Run Through

The diagrams tell the story.

I chose to have the netting ride outside the mud guard and its stays, but inside the stays for the rear luggage rack. I did not want the netting rubbing on the rear wheel or interfering with the brakes.

One thing I might point out is selecting the places for attachment points. You want the zip ties to pull the netting tight when they are snugged up, so choose attachment points accordingly. 

Step 3: Details

Hold the netting material up to the wheel and mark a rough outline, leaving plenty of extra around all edges.

Rough cut the netting, making sure it is plenty big.

Position the netting and attach firmly with a couple zip ties.

Trim the netting in the places where it will ride INSIDE its attachment members. In this case that meant just above chainguard and just above the lower mudguard stay.

Select additional attachment points. Keep in mind that these points need to be close enough to the structural members that the zip ties, when closed, will bridge the gap, yet far enough so that when snugged up the ties will pull the netting. Netting does not need to be tight as a drum; that would probably distort the mudguard. But the netting should be under a bit of tension.

Bore holes in the structural members to accommodate your intended attachment points. Be careful not to bore into your tire. You can protect the tire by holding a some metal just below the mudguard when drilling.

Insert the zip ties. If you put a bend in the tail end of the zip tie, it makes it easier to thread it into its hole.

Gradually snug up the zip ties all around till the netting is looking good.

Snip off the ends of the zip ties.

Cut off the extra netting. Side cutters work well for this. I cut out around the brakes, and also made a diamond-shaped hole for the bike lock.

When one side of the wheel is done, do the other.

Step 4: Finale

In dealing with the realities of life in the big city, I've found that it is best if a bicycle does not draw attention to itself or look too good.

When the skirt guard was done, it looked awfully bright. But black and brown spray lacquer fixed that problem in a couple minutes and blended in well with the overall uglification program.

Skirt guard is done. Don long clothing; ride safely.

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    21 Discussions

    Sounds horrible. My son's foot got caught once, and ... at least we got it out without cutting spokes.
    But it was bad. Bad.
    Prevention is definitely to be preferred.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is just what I was looking for. I started biking with my dog and I was trying to think of a way to keep my dogs from drifting into the tires. I think I will be trying something similar to this but make a frame so it can go down lower. Thanks again

    1 reply

    Link to "Skirt Guards of Japan" was broken, but now it's fixed, as of 13 May, 2013.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the detailed reply. I suspected, but hate to assume. Your solution is much better than the few commercially available solutions for derailleur equipped bikes.

    I volunteer at a bike coop where I have been able to salvage a few single speed chain guards. I've been pondering what would balance "Good/Quick/Cheap" and you've give me some great ideas.



    5 replies

    Can't say that making a chainguard from a cookie tin was quick, but I'm happy with the result. Cookie tins are thin, so the guard is actually a sandwich of two layers of sheet metal throughout. The layers are 'bonded' with double-sided tape. Edges are pretty well sealed with epoxy putty to keep water out. Whole thing was treated with Ospho rust killer, then painted. I welded up the one bracket that is screwed to the downtube. The other brackets are just two-piece clampons.


    Here's a pic of a minimalist chain guard I saw in Japan. A ring covers the front sprocket, and a short, wire cage covers the chain back about as far as the front of the rear wheel. Elegant, eh?


    Nice. I did some thrift-storing this weekend, was keeping my eyes open for wire screen office supply stuff to play with. 35 years ago I was in Tohoku, when were you in Japan? I cried when the tsunami hit, thinking of people I'd not kept up with.

    I was in Japan for a few days in August, 2012. I'd passed through the airports before, but this was my first actual stop there.

    The idea behind Good/Quick/Cheap is you can have two, and the third pays for the other two. I'd say you went with Good/Cheap in the spirit of the site. Thanks for the drawings. I'm going to be at the COOP tomorrow night teaching basic maintenance, I'm going to take a look at derailleur hangers too.

    Yeah. Thanks for your interest! This bike came without a chainguard, or mud guards--it was designed more for speed. I like the speed, the efficiency, but I need the practicality of guards. Mud guards were no problem; the bike shop outfitted me. But when I asked for a chainguard, they had nothing to offer. I ended up taking a couple of large cookie tins and some angle brackets and fabricating one. It is about the least convenient in the world when it comes to mounting and removing, but it is sturdy and it DOES NOT RUB on anything, such as chain, sprockets, or cranks. And, bottom line, it keeps my socks and pants a lot cleaner. I finished it in the same chocolate-for-rust uglification style as the rest of the bike, so it blends right in. I have pictures of the chainguard around somewhere. Will try to post.

    This is great! As I was riding my bike home today, I thought of doing pretty much exactly this. On top of that, It's great for the "extreme sport" my friends and I made (AsphaltSki, as opposed to waterski). This, combined with the carrier attachment, keeps the rope from getting caught in the spokes when the boarder lets go.

    2 replies

    I am, in fact, working on said Instructable right now! Here's a little 'preview' picture of the bike component of the "sport."


    I'm not sure if the "sport" would be better if the skier used a longboard or a mountainboard, or possibly either/or. Ideas?

    Current notes on project:
    -Anti-spoke trap (this 'ible)
    -retractable tow-rope