The SKS Speedrocker mudguards are easy to fit, provide room for really fat tyres and are free from rubs and rattles. Their only significant fault is that riders following you will wish the rear guard was a bit longer.
SKS has done a bang-up job of the Speedrockers. They'll fit around tyres up to about 38mm, as long your frame has room for them. The front comes in two pieces to avoid the perennial problem of squeezing a guard under the fork crown and the rear has a sliding component to fit against the seat tube.
The front guard is long enough to keep your feet dry, though it's not as ground-tickling as SKS's Longboard guard, and the rear does a decent job of keeping the wet off your bum. However, it only extends round the tyre to about the 10 o'clock position, so spray off the lower segment of the wheel is thrown up at anyone following your wheel.
SKS bills the Speedrockers mostly for gravel/adventure/touring riding so it's perhaps not entirely fair to criticise them for being less suitable for group riding, but they're intended for road bikes too, and that means group rides. I hope SKS has a longer version in the works.
The details of the Speedrockers are mostly really well thought out.
They mount to your bike with plastic mouldings at the ends of the stays. These hold Velcro or rubber straps that wrap round the seatstays or fork tubes. The fork crown and seatstay bridge aren't used as attachment points at all, so it doesn't matter whether they have holes or, in the case of the seatstay bridge, even exist at all.
The Velcro straps are for the fork, and they're quite long. Make sure you fit them so they finish on the outside of the fork blades or they'll flap around in your spokes, which is really annoying…
Undo a 3mm hex screw and the anodised aluminium stays slide in and out to adjust the length. At the shortest setting there's still a good 2cm of clearance over a 28mm tyre, so you really can pretty much go as fat as your frame will take.
The stays go over the top of the guard and they're covered by a plate that fits in a moulded recess. That means the outer surface of the guard looks very smooth and tidy, but there's a lump protruding from the inside of the guard toward the tyre. Inevitably, mud accumulates here if you ride in seriously messy conditions.
To be fair, mud always accumulates somewhere if it's sufficiently thick and sticky, which is why full mudguards for mountain bikes have never taken off; mudguards should really be called rainguards or wetguards. The Americans have it right: fenders, because they fend off spray.
Anyway, this lump on the inside of the guard means you have to run it further away from the tyre and for the front guard that means you can get a lot of toe overlap. Very low-speed manoeuvres have to be ratcheted carefully to avoid snarl-ups. The stays are aluminium, so it'd be fairly easy to cut them shorter, unlike the hard stainless steel stays of some SKS guards, but that would only get you a few more millimetres.
The front guard comes in two pieces so you don't have to deal with that awkward space under the fork crown. The front piece has a little upward kick at the back that looks like an aerodynamic spoiler on a 1990s go-faster saloon car until you realise it's there to stop any spray that gets through the gap from being thrown up into your face. Clever.
The rear guard has one main piece that goes between the seatstays, with an adjustable extension to the seat tube where it's held in place with another rubber strap.
This is the only place where clearance might be constrained by the guard itself, and if there's not enough room under your seatstay bridge, you can always route the guard over the top of it. A bit of trimming might be necessary in that case.
Fifty quid is a lot of money for a set of mudguards, though they're a fiver less than the Kinesis Fend Offs that Dave tested earlier in the year. I'd say their quality and ease of fitting – and that they'll fit virtually any bike – makes them worth the money.
The SKS Speedrocker mudguards are just the job if you have a go-anywhere bike and don't want to get soaked when it rains. They're dead easy to fit and work very well. My criticisms are minor. I've lived with the toe overlap for several months without serious incident and got used to it, though my riding mates have made it very clear they'd like the rear guard to be longer.
Very good wet protection for fat-tyred road and gravel bikes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SKS Speedrocker mudguard set
Size tested: One
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?
"The SKS Speedrocker has been specifically developed for compatibility with gravel and adventure bikes, cyclocross bikes and road bikes with tyres exceeding 32mm.
"Proudly made in Germany, the Speedrocker offers incredible stability over the roughest tracks while also providing optimum protection in all weathers.
"At the front, protection is enhanced with a new dual-height front spoiler, which deflects water and mud onto the wheel and downwards, away from the rider's face. The rear mudguard utilises an innovative telescopic extension for greater coverage near the seat tube, and everything is held firmly in place with an all-new rubber fastening system to suit a multitude of frame designs, including integrated recesses for brake or gear cables as required.
"The Speedrocker also showcases an update to SKS's stay design, the ESC Vario Safety System. The sturdy but lightweight black anodised aluminium stays have been designed wider than normal, to run over the top of the mudguard, and covered by a protective plate. This not only gives the Speedrocker a sleek overall appearance but also maximises the available clearance between the tyre and mudguard."
Can't really argue with most of that, though the final claim is a bit flawed. Yes, the stays go over the top of the guard, but they're held by a recessed fitting that reduces the clearance between tyre and guard.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
weight: 408 g
tyre width: 42 mm
length front fender: 500+210 mm
length rear fender: 950 mm
Everything is very tidily made and moulded.
For mudguards like this, performance has two major aspects: ease of use and keeping the wet off.
They get full marks for ease of use. They're easy and quick to fit and remove. The shortness of the rear guard means they lose points for spraying water in your friends' faces.
They keep you dry. That's a big comfort-enhancer in my book.
Fifty quid is a lot of money for a set of mudguards, but the Speedrockers are sufficiently well designed and made that the price is justified.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. They keep the wet off your feet and bum, and fitting them is a doddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of fitting.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Spraying water on friends from the rather short rear guard.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Fifty quid is at the high end of the range for mudguards, but I'm not aware of anything else that has quite the Speedrockers' ability to fit anything, so for that and the quality and finish, the price isn't unreasonable.
Did you enjoy using the product? Insofar as mudguards are something to get excited about, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The SKS Speedrockers just miss being 'exceptional' by dint of their toe overlap issue and rear guard length, but their ease of fitting and effectiveness at keeping you dry merits a 'very good', so an 8 it is.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.