Raceblade Long fenders: improved wet weather protection for frames with tight clearances

by Raymond Parker on October 25, 2012

in Cycling, Technical

SKS Raceblade Long

Here on the northwest coast of North America, one of the most critical parts of preparing your bike for winter is the installation of mudguards, AKA fenders, if you bother to uninstall them for summer.

As I have noted in a treatise on randonneur bikes, long chainstays, generous bridge clearances (employing medium- to long-reach brakes), and braze-on eyelets at fork-ends and dropouts, make the installation of full-coverage mudguards a snap (though über fenders like aluminum Honjos may require a bit more time and expertise).

If you have a bike for all seasons, albeit with tight clearances and without eyelets, the fender of last resort has been the SKS “Raceblade.”

I’ve often looked down my nose at the original blades, usually at the same time as I’ve been breathing road spray from the back wheel of a bike partially (I stress, partially) covered by them. In my judgement, they were hardly worth bothering with, and the way they wobbled around in crosswinds—due to the fact that the attachment points for the stays lie high up on the fork and seatstays—made me nervous every time I found myself behind a rider using them.

Last Thursday, I joined my friend Laurie Upton for a much-truncated version of the Wednesday ride, a rainy ramble on the Galloping Goose/Lochside Trail, followed by a rather longer stay at a café, warming up with coffee and pizza.

I was impressed by the improved version of the SKS Raceblade fenders he’d recently installed: the “Raceblade Long.” In particular, I noticed the commodious mud flaps, with the rear extension looking like it might actually endear one to, rather than enrage one’s paceline partners.


On Laurie’s 2004 Look KG386, these accomodate 23C tires with reasonable clearance, though not the addition of the fender section designed to fit forward of the rear brake, behind the seat tube—the super-short chainstays don’t leave room. Perhaps some judicious cutting (of the fender, that is) may help.

My friend has kindly made a list of the pros and cons of the product.

Pros:

  • Well designed, light, sturdy and relatively easy to install.
  • Need only 2 Allen wrench sizes for install—one for brake calipers and the other for final adjustment of fender stays near axles.
  • Attachment points are axles and brake calipers not the bike frame.
  • No rattling—even on wooden-deck bridges.
  • Extremely easy to remove for those sunny, dry winter rides (but why bother?)
  • Mud flaps supplied for both front and back. Front seems to control spray that would otherwise soak feet (have not tested rear flap in group ride).
  • Made in Germany, not you-know-where (matters to me).

Cons:

  • Fixing a flat is a bit fiddly in that the fender must be removed and reattached.
  • No back wheel coverage for most of seat tube.
Laurie October 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

Great pics Ray. Shows we really were out in the wet.

Last Wednesday it wasn’t really raining so the roads were just damp. I asked the riders beside me if the fenders were giving any back spray and they both said no. I had just been splattered by the rider in front of me with a short rear mudguard so I suppose MY fenders are working well.

Raymond Parker October 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Laurie: I’m guessing there will be plenty of chances to see how well they work in the months to come. At least you didn’t have to test them in a tsunami yesterday! :-)

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