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Verdict: 
A winning redesign – you'll be clean and dry for decades to come
Weight: 
355g
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SKS Raceblade Pro/Pro XL
9 10

The 2016 SKS Raceblade Pro sets a new benchmark for temporary mudguards. Infinite adjustability and solid mounting make for an excellent package.

The previous incarnation of the Raceblade dates back nearly a decade, and in 2010 Shaune gave them four stars. I've bought two sets over the last five years and fitted a fair few more for friends and clubmates. They were by far the best option for bikes with limited clearances, no eyelets or no traditional brake bridge mounting points – increasingly common now disc brakes have allowed seatstays to evolve beyond calliper-bearing duties.

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There were always two issues with Raceblades: the lack of adjustability and the length. Adjustability was limited to bending the stiff steel stays into exactly the right shape – and once you had all eight arms just right, you did not want to go changing. The length was what it was – short. These guards were for keeping mud and water off you, not anyone following – and the very short front guard was only protecting your face, not your lower legs much.

The 2016 update has been a long time coming, and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the redesign. There are now two models of Raceblade: the Pro and Pro XL. The Pro (355g) is shorter and has skinnier tyre clearance than the Pro XL (365g), which once fitted comes pretty close to replicating the coverage of a fixed mudguard. 

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards - rear.jpg

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards - rear.jpg

Both share the same hinge mechanism, and this is the magic of the 2016 update. Fundamentally the old model was a one-bike setup, whereas the new one can be swapped between geometries in a few minutes. Also there's a new fixed flap design instead of the old too-fragile rubber bumper lip.

The process of fitting is to slacken off all eight of the 2.5mm hex bolts, so the guard can move in and out, and angle up/down. You then position the mount, secure the rubber strap, adjust the guard so it clears the tyre by 15mm, then tighten all eight bolts. The guard can be slid in/out to adjust length and coverage of brake callipers if wanted. In practice this is a quick and easy process, one that I did a few times in pre-ride anger when I realised the skies were darkening and the guards were on the wrong bike for that day. Certainly a huge improvement on the previous model.

SKS Raceblade Pro mudguards - fixings.jpg
SKS Raceblade Pro mudguards - fixings 3.jpg

Fitting to carbon or steel forks presented no problems, including aero profiles, and unlike the old model it's now impossible to lose the tiny rubber bumpers or strap as it's now all one thick piece attached to the mount. If you want you can zip-tie the mounts in place, but I found the rubber straps to be perfectly stable even over a 200km all-day effort, including a section of pretty rough gravel track. In the box you get four clear plastic strips to protect paint/carbon finishes – I'd recommend using these, as even the tiniest bit of grit under the rubber will start to eat paint if left.

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards - fixings 3.jpg

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards - fixings 3.jpg

Dimension-wise, the Pros (pic below) cover 519mm front and 680mm rear, fitting up to 25mm tyres, whereas the Pro XL is 565mm front, 730mm rear, and will take 25-32mm tyres.

SKS Raceblade Pro mudguards.jpg

SKS Raceblade Pro mudguards.jpg

In practice it is perfectly do-able to run the narrower, shorter and 10g lighter Pro over a 28mm tyre without rubbing. You might need to bend the steel stays out a wee bit, but that's been a common tweak of the classic SKS Raceblade Long full-cover mudguard for years. 

The Pro is available in silver, black or 'carbon look', the Pro XL (below) in just silver or black.

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards.jpg

SKS Raceblade Pro XL mudguards.jpg

Over a month or so of short, long, dry and soaking wet rides on old steel and new carbon bikes, both the Pro and Pro XL worked flawlessly. They hang on tenaciously, don't move of their own accord, and are easily adjusted back into place if knocked.

> Survival tips for cycling in the rain

The quick and simple adjustability makes for long-term cost-effectiveness, without the frustration or time re-bending difficult steel stays. And the new rubber strap design is fast, faff-free and can't get lost, unlike the old double-strap design.

All in all this is an exemplary update to an already venerable product. Well worth the wait – and the 40 quid price tag.

Since this review, the RRP has gone up to £44.99, and another sibling has joined the Raceblade family: the Pro XL Stealth – the colour is the main difference, the other is the price – £49.99, due to the specialist painting costs involved.

SKS Raceblade Pro XL Stealth - front.jpg
SKS Raceblade Pro XL Stealth - rear.jpg

Verdict

A winning redesign – you'll be clean and dry for decades to come

road.cc test report

Make and model: SKS Raceblade Pro/Pro XL

Size tested: Pro: 700x23-25 Pro XL: 700x25-32

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?

For people who don't want to or can't fit fixed mudguards, but don't want to get wet or filthy.

SKS says: "The ultimate clip-on mudguard set for road and cyclocross bikes for tyre width between 25 and 32mm. Its smart, double hinged quick release fitting system also fits aero forks and is also compatible with disc brakes, direct mount brakes and thru axles. Mudguards can be perfectly adapted to the radius of the wheel by adjusting the length of the stays. Its superlight extra long mud flaps give additional spray protection. In addition to using the quick release rubber straps it can also be fixed in place with zip ties. Includes adhesive protection kit to avoid damaging the paintwork. * Disc brake compatible: Please be mindful of the brake wire."

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

Pro XL:

weight: 365 g

wheel size: 28 "

length front fender: 565 mm

length rear fender: 730 mm

available from: January 2016

Pro:

weight: 355 g

wheel size: 28 "

tyre width: 25 mm

length front fender: 519 mm

length rear fender: 680 mm

available from: January 2016

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

For what they do, the level of performance, they are excellent. But £40 is a lot of cash.

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

Excellent. Didn't move or make a sound over 200km of rough, fast riding.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The hinges. It's all about the hinges.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing, really.

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

For many, £40 will come across as a lot of cash for temporary mudguards, but the design works perfectly and there's very little else to mark them down on.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  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: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

17 comments

Avatar
kil0ran [355 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Sounds like they've finally perfected these - I could never get the front to fit my forks securely despite extensive bending.

N+1 will probably have clearance and mounts for proper guards but these will do until then.

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mylesrants [376 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Old ones were know on our club on as the "rattlers"

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pockstone [107 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Nice bike! EB's old shop has a dent in the window the same shape as my nose!

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stevenagesteve [19 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Just got them (XL version). They are brilliant. And only paid £19.99 from Mantel.

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me [76 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I had the original raceblades and they were great - for protecting me. Out of consideration for others I tried raceblade longs and they were a pile of shit. What a dumb design to fix around the skewer as any time a wheel needed removing I had to take the skewer out and lose the springs and curse.
These look promising. But now my winter bike has fixings and clearance for 'proper' guards

Avatar
Bobbinogs [250 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
me wrote:

I had the original raceblades and they were great - for protecting me. Out of consideration for others I tried raceblade longs and they were a pile of shit. What a dumb design to fix around the skewer as any time a wheel needed removing I had to take the skewer out and lose the springs and curse. These look promising. But now my winter bike has fixings and clearance for 'proper' guards

 

Raceblade Longs were designed to be used without the centering springs and the accompanying info clearly advised removal prior to fitting but I noticed that the latest version has little pics with the springs back.  I don't find it a big deal either way.  The new Raceblades do look a lot better than the original version but that coverage at the back is still not up for group rides, better than nowt though which a lot of riders still think is acceptable, for some reason.

Avatar
drosco [295 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

My raceblades sheared on the front after a couple of months. Then the rear sheared at about 2/3rds length, was glued, broke again, then last month another section broke in exactly the same way. Now in the bin and have cobbled together frankenmudguards out of assorted bits.

 

The fittings might have been redesigned, but unless they start making them from out of a material that doesn't snap after a few months on real world roads, then they're not getting a thumbs up from me.

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Anthony.C [230 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

They dump muck all over the bike.

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cdean [22 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Anthony.C wrote:

They dump muck all over the bike.

In my experience, they don't keep as much muck off the bike as full guards, but the bike will be a lot less mucky than if you use no guards, and the convenience of being able to take them off and put them on in a matter of seconds (particularly given the changeable nature of our British weather!) more than makes up for the shortfall in performance.

Avatar
cyclisto [212 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Not long enough for 4.5 stars

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KiwiMike [1291 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
drosco wrote:

My raceblades sheared on the front after a couple of months. Then the rear sheared at about 2/3rds length, was glued, broke again, then last month another section broke in exactly the same way. Now in the bin and have cobbled together frankenmudguards out of assorted bits.

 

The fittings might have been redesigned, but unless they start making them from out of a material that doesn't snap after a few months on real world roads, then they're not getting a thumbs up from me.

Drosco, my anecdote is that in five years using RBL's and RB's, probably 30k miles in all weathers, I have only managed to break one guard, it was a front one, and it was my own stupid fault for backpedalling whilst turning a corner.

Also SKS have the most amazing customer service. In my experience, if you have broken anything, they will replace it for free. I have helped a number of clubmates that like me have been clumsy, and SKS customer service has always come through. 

 

YMMV. 

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carytb [101 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Would the XL's be able to be tweaked to run a 35mm tyre?

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KiwiMike [1291 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
carytb wrote:

Would the XL's be able to be tweaked to run a 35mm tyre?

 

Just fitted them over tyres measuring 34.3mm with no drama and a few mm clearance at least. That's without bending the stays to further spread the plastic mudguard U-shaped holders, doing so allowed me to get 30mm tyres under the 25mm theoretical max of the non-XL version.

So I'd say yes. 

Avatar
Anthony.C [230 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
cdean wrote:
Anthony.C wrote:

They dump muck all over the bike.

In my experience, they don't keep as much muck off the bike as full guards, but the bike will be a lot less mucky than if you use no guards, and the convenience of being able to take them off and put them on in a matter of seconds (particularly given the changeable nature of our British weather!) more than makes up for the shortfall in performance.

 

In my experience they direct the muck all over the rear caliper in particular, until it gets so  gunked up it sticks, and also  down the seat tube and on to the front mech area so, for the bike, they are worse than nothing. They keep your back reasonably dry, though. 

Avatar
KiwiMike [1291 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Anthony.C wrote:

In my experience they direct the muck all over the rear caliper in particular, until it gets so  gunked up it sticks, and also  down the seat tube and on to the front mech area so, for the bike, they are worse than nothing. They keep your back reasonably dry, though. 

 

Anthony, please note: there are no guards that cover brake calipers and are also quick-release. You seem to be wanting the benefits of full mudguards without the 15-minute faff of removing then reinstalling them. Noting the mudguard cannot 'direct' muck - only stop it. Where there's no guard, it's free to fly off the wheel.

Also, I don't use full mudguards - it's either quick-release Raceblade Longs (which don't fully protect the caliper) or the even-quicker mount-free Raceblades (above) for me. I've never had a rear caliper or front mech come close to sticking - but then I clean my bike every week, or after a particularly muddy ride, or one where corrosive cow poo was on the road. If you do this, you'll be fine. 

Avatar
Anthony.C [230 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

They "channel" the watery muck if you prefer, to the first point of exit. Maybe I am expecting too much, I know there are none that cover the caliper completely and are quick to mount  although the Topeak ones I tried are better than  the raceblades in that regard  (I clean my bikes occassionally too, it still sticks). I have tried them all and had most success with Cruds which really do work well without rattling and keep the bike clean but obviously take a lot longer to get on and off if that's a concern.. Unfortunately, they also rub until they wear through and with my new wider rims clearances that were always tight are now just too tight so that's enough faffing about for me and FWIW I will be buying a proper winter frame that takes full guards in time for  next winter.

Avatar
simonofthepiemans [17 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Anthony.C wrote:

They "channel" the watery muck if you prefer, to the first point of exit. Maybe I am expecting too much, I know there are none that cover the caliper completely and are quick to mount  although the Topeak ones I tried are better than  the raceblades in that regard  (I clean my bikes occassionally too, it still sticks). I have tried them all and had most success with Cruds which really do work well without rattling and keep the bike clean but obviously take a lot longer to get on and off if that's a concern.. Unfortunately, they also rub until they wear through and with my new wider rims clearances that were always tight are now just too tight so that's enough faffing about for me and FWIW I will be buying a proper winter frame that takes full guards in time for  next winter.

I've had the same with Cruds Anthony. I could just get in a 25m tyre with minimal rub and a lot of faffing, but since getting wider 23m rims it's a complete no go.  Raceblades now look like my only option, aside from a new frame.