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Verdict: 
A timely update to a classic with better security/longevity, but the lack of disc frame mounting options needs addressing
Weight: 
498g
Contact: 
SKS Raceblade Long Mudguard Set
8 10

The SKS Raceblade Long is a highly-regarded accessory, and this latest version (called the Mk II in some quarters) is an evolution of an instant classic. In 2012 Dave gave the original Raceblade Long (RBL hereafter) four stars, saying they were “absolutely miles better than nearly every other solution for your road bike”. I agree.

For the last three years I've clipped the RBLs on the moment it got remotely misty hereabouts. I've had them on and off my steel bike literally hundreds of times, and recently added mounts to a new carbon disc-braked acquisition.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy these online here

I've broken several bits, generally through being an idiot. SKS customer service always came through, replacing broken parts free of charge every time. There's a five-year warranty for manufacturing defects as well. The great customer service makes SKS owners fiercely loyal to the brand and its products – pretty much everyone in my local club now runs RBLs, and whether or not they can be mounted is a key consideration come new bike time.

Technically, RBLs are meant for tyres of 25mm or under, but I've run them with 28mm for years with no issues. SKS says 25 because that can mean 28mm on some rims. I've found fitting them over 30mm Schwalbe G-Ones was possible if the stays are bent outwards just a smidge.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - clearance on 30mm tyre.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - clearance on 30mm tyre.jpg

The RBLs reward a healthy willingness to fettle, especially on modern disc-braked bikes. The ability to bend and cut the stays to required lengths and adjust their position on the mudguard (or even remove one stay completely) means, with a good eye, they will go onto pretty much any bike. (A few years ago I wrote an article detailing how to fettle the original RBL to work on a 650B-wheeled bike – it's pleasing to note this hack is still relevant for the RBL II.)

Evolution cycle

Many modern frames cater for at least 28mm tyres and often come with mudguard mounts, making clearance underneath calliper brakes for the mounting brackets less of an issue. But with evolution comes unforeseen challenge, and this is where SKS needs to do a bit of homework.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - brake.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - brake.jpg

RBLs are attached at two points – the brake bridge/fork crown using horizontally threaded bolts, and the hub. But with the advent of disc brakes and thru-axles, some bikes now lack a brake bridge or fork crown mount hole, or the brake bridge/fork has vertically-threaded holes, and thru-axles killed off the idea of slotting a metal bracket over a traditional QR skewer.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - rear mount.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - rear mount.jpg

Forks in particular are challenging, with many of the threaded bosses being mounted partway up the legs, on either the inside or outside, and the fork crown hole often being recessed. The ace up the RBL sleeve is the high quality and strength of the metal hardware. Both the brackets and the stays can be bent into whatever shape you require, and cut/drilled provided you have access to a decent hacksaw or, ideally, a Dremel tool with a cutting disc.

New face, same DNA

The most obvious change to the RBL is the bulk of the clip that the brake brackets click into – what was previously pretty svelte is now chunky in order to accommodate a new enclosed metal clip mechanism. SKS advises that the change to metal was made as some users had experienced unintended disconnections and premature wear of the clips. The mechanism is now much stiffer – it's generally a two-finger/thumb job to release – and being metal the clips should withstand many more removals/fittings before wearing down.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - rear disc mount.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - rear disc mount.jpg

The underside of the clip is now covered over to prevent ingress of crud, a failing of the previous design that meant, if you left them on for any period of time, they could become welded shut with cack.

Because the clip area is noticeably chunkier, the new metal brackets have a more pronounced vertical offset to lift the guard clear of the tyre. The upshot is, if you have multiple bikes with RBL brackets you can swap the guards between them, but putting new guards on old clips will require some bending to add the requisite 5mm of extra space.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - old vs new profile.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - old vs new profile.jpg

The clips at the ends of the stays are also now metal. In the pack you get one long, one short and four medium brackets; for bikes with disc brakes this means you end up with large gaps where brake-bridge callipers should be, so it would be nice for SKS to include two or three more of the short brackets.

Another notable change is that the mudflap at the end of each guard is now riveted on and made of a flexible rubber material instead of being a screw-on affair. The plastic compound of the mudguard itself has also been updated to be stronger and less brittle in cold weather.

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - mudflap.jpg

SKS Germany Raceblade long Mudguard Set - mudflap.jpg

Fundamentally, once they are on and adjusted, they work very well indeed. The strong multiple stays hold the guards firmly without any rubbing, and should they get severely knocked, a bit of bending/use of a 2mm Allen key gets things back in shape.

> Check out our guide to the best mudguards here

SKS advises it is 'working on concepts' to mount RBLs to frames with thru-axles, elevated fork mounts or non-traditional brake bridges. Hopefully these will come later in 2016 in the form of aftermarket mounting kits so your RBLs can be rehomed to a new frame mount layout.

In the meantime, if you want quick-release mudguards that are solid, offer full coverage and can be fitted to just about any frame type, you still cannot beat the Raceblade Long.

Verdict

A timely update to a classic with better security/longevity, but the lack of disc brake frame mounting options needs addressing

road.cc test report

Make and model: SKS Raceblade Long Mudguard Set

Size tested: Wheel size: 28in (700C)

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

SKS says: "This ultra long clip-on mudguard set for road bike tyres up to max. 25 mm width protects you, whether you're riding your road bike in a warm summer rain or on solitary winter trips. The end of each mudguard extends to below the hub axles. This length ensures a full coverage, meaning you, and also the cyclist behind you, are spared from splashing. They can be perfectly adapted to the radius of the wheel by adjusting the length of the stays. Once the metal mounting brackets are fitted to the bicycle the mudguards can be clipped on and off in seconds making them ideal in case of need. Brackets attach at brake bolts and skewers."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

color: black

weight: 493g (incl. fittings)

wheel size: 28 "

tyre width: 25 mm

length front fender: 525 + 150 mm

length rear fender: 805 + 150 mm

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Only the pressure required to unclip lets them down.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

They last ages, if you don't abuse them.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

They aren't the lightest, but they aren't built to be.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Given the longevity, adjustability and functionality, the value is very good.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The solidity of the new clips.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The effort required to operate the new clips.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

It's a very good set of mudguards fully deserving of an 8, and would be closer to 10 but for a couple of things: it would be good if there were extra fittings in the box for disc-braked bikes, and for less pressure needed to release.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Charge Juicer  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, and Dutch bike pootling

10 comments

Avatar
Bobbinogs [254 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I have these and they are very good...BUT in fixing the previous problem when the guards tended to become unclipped they have made the fixing a bit too good.  I have one guard that will come off but the other one will not unclip for love nor money.  I must have spent an hour last night (with assistance as well) and we simply could not remove the front wheel longer guard from its clip.  In the end I had to resort to removing the clip (with guard attached) by carefully unscrewing the brake bolt and then threading the clip through the bridge (which was all a little awkward with the guard in place).

 

I may simply use these now as a permanent fixture on my 'winter' bike but it would be nice to unclip during nicer spells.  I also wanted to have just the one set for two bikes but cannot do that now.

 

The little flaps are fairly useless and I certainly don't bother with them.  Forward of the front wheel/brake the little flap just does exactly that, flap around uselessly.  Same goes for the rear wheel in that the little flap just adds weight without offering any protection as the majority of spinning water gets dumped at the brake bridge.  

 

These are a very good idea (and probably one of the best solutions to the problem of minimal clearance frames) but the lack of cover for the brake blocks means that one still needs to clean that area regularly to maintain reasonable winter wear on rim brake wheels.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [668 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I try & avoid riding behind people with anything SKS on their bikes as I always seem to get a facefull of crap off their back wheel!  They're simply not long enough.

Avatar
MercianPro [4 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Fully agree with Bobbinogs. They are very effective mudguards only let down by the design of the clips at the brakes and the flapping front section. On club spins over the winter, they were voted the favourite mudguard to ride behind! BBB have recently launched a very similar design that seems to be as effective but I don't know if they have some design flaws as well.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1323 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I must disagree with those saying the front extensions are of no use - they prevent water exiting the tyre at anything above horizontal and then being blown back onto the bike/rider. Yes, they bounce around a bit, and so need to be angled upwards to avoid rubbing on the tyre. Get over it folks - the alternative is a full mudguard or a face full of crap. I have vivid memories of the one soaking wet fast ride I did on newly-harvested lanes where I forgot to put the front extension on - I was absolutely filthy, handlebars too - to the point I couldn't read my GPS and had to keep wiping the light lense clean. 

 

Agreed re the strength of the new clips - there is a definite knack to them, involving two thumbs and getting just the right angle/amount of pressure applied.

Regarding the length - there's no pleasing anyone. I've ridden behind hardened Audaxers with flaps almosrt down to the ground and still gotten spray in the face. Speed, depth of water and proximity all play a part, so it's a pointless exercise. I use mudguards primarily to keep me clean/dry, and to prevent the need for excessive washing of expensive outer layers.

Avatar
NeilXDavis [124 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

""some users had experienced unintended disconnections and premature wear of the clips"" How about every single person Ive ever ridden with who has used them myself included.  Weve all had to fabricate (over and over again) our own replacement for that clip - tape it down, glue it, new bolts etc.

Once Id modified mine they were perfect - lets hope the new ones have overcome this...

Avatar
drosco [415 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I bought a set of these based on the reviews and I've had no end of problems. The clips worked briefly, with the rear now superglued on to keep it in place. Both the front and the rear broke in half mid rides, it seemed due to fatigue. I've now got two halves of mudguards minus the end covers.

Theyweren't cheap, so not impressed really.

Avatar
mike the bike [980 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Being out early I often find things at the side of the road and I once found a complete rear 'blade, in excellent condition and complete with all metalwork, on a grass verge.  It obviously hadn't fallen off a bike and wasn't hidden for someone to collect later.  So I kept it.  In fact I've still got it, somewhere.

If you think it might be yours, quote the 16-digit serial number and I'll pop it in the post. 

 

Avatar
KiwiMike [1323 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Just so we are clear here on the plural of anecdote not being 'data', I wasn't lying when I said

"For the last three years I've clipped the RBLs on the moment it got remotely misty hereabouts. I've had them on and off my steel bike literally hundreds of times, and recently added mounts to a new carbon disc-braked acquisition.

I've broken several bits, generally through being an idiot. SKS customer service always came through, replacing broken parts free of charge every time. There's a five-year warranty for manufacturing defects as well. The great customer service makes SKS owners fiercely loyal to the brand and its products – pretty much everyone in my local club now runs RBLs, and whether or not they can be mounted is a key consideration come new bike time"

Some things to bear in mind:

Companies that stand behind inherently rubbish products go broke, fast. Hence, as SKS seem to be doing well, I postulate RBL's aren't inherently rubbish

I nor any members of my club get paid to use SKS RBL's. I have paid for the three sets I own, prior to this set for review.

There will always be people who:

  • Don't RTFM
  • Are rough with kit
  • Are unlucky

RBL's are a quick removable mudguard. This brings inherent design compromise trying to cater for every possible bike and combination of use cases out there. They will never offer the same security or coverage as a fixed mudguard. Nor should they. Because then we'd loose all the benefits of them being quickly removable for putting into cars, onto workstands, or onto sunny dry roads. 

Avatar
Mountainboy [98 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I've always liked the look of these, but having a dedicated winter/commuter I have the luxury of going with SKS Longboards.

Love them, although I've managed to snap off the front mudflap without noticing it happening.

The things are so long it hardly matters, and is an easy fix.

Avatar
Bobbinogs [254 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
KiwiMike wrote:

Just so we are clear here on the plural of anecdote not being 'data', I wasn't lying when I said

"..."

 

Mike, I didn't see anyone accusing you of lying, at least that was my reading of the responses.  

Surely you have to accept that a review is always going to be subjective to some degree and therefore anyone else who comments is equally entitled to do so.  In my club (~300 members) the RBLs are probably the most highly regarded solution for low clearance bikes but it is also fair to say that the vast majority of those using the mk1 version have had to deal with the unclipping issue in some way.  I used cable ties and I have seen others do this, some used superglue, rivets, etc.   This does not mean that the mk1 version was bad, it just had some flaws.  IMO, the mk2 is a lot better but it is also flawed to some degree.  I know 4 people who have the mk2's and 2 of us have one of the guards that cannot be removed.  I do not believe it is about technique since the sets that have an issue both have a guard that can be removed...and a guard that cannot.  Let's face it though, removing a guard should not be something that I struggle with for over an hour given the relative simplicity of the removal operation. Since you do not have a problem then I can only deduce that either you have been lucky or myself (and my cycling buddy) have been unlucky.

I agree that the SKS post sales support is excellent so I may get in touch with them, then again I may simply accept that the guard is simply fixed which is somewhat ironic given the failings of the mk1.

Ultimately, products are only as good as an individual finds them.  I look forward to the mk3 version  1