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If you're looking for full mudguards that you can slip on and off at will then the SKS Raceblade Long is about as good an option as you've got right now. They're not perfect but they're certainly a class above most clip-on 'guards.
We were pretty excited about these mudguards when we first saw them at Eurobike. Essentially it's a full mudguard system that's easily removable; it's in the middle ground between clip-ons and 'proper' mudguards. The Raceblades mount at the brake callipers on L-shaped connectors that slip up behind the brake; just loosen the brake bolts and slip them in, there's no need to actually remove the brakes. At the dropout they attach to another connector that's held in place by the quick release so there's no need for any mudguard mounts at all, you can fit these 'guards to a full-on race bike and because they don't sit underneath the brake callipers (save for the very thin mounting bar) clearance genreally isn't an issue.
They won't fit on every bike though. My first effort at fitting them was to my Genesis Equilibrium, which has cowled Ritchey dropouts at the rear, and there was no way to squeeze the Raceblade mount in. It wasn't an issue in this case since the Genesis has mudguard mounts too, so a bolt and a washer was all that was needed. If you have a frame without mounts and deep dropouts – steel or titanium bikes are likely to be the ones to look out for – then you might struggle. SKS have amended the mount since we took these pics and it now features a double bend to afford more clearance, but it still wouldn't fit some frames.
Once the mounts are fitted it's just a case of clipping the mudguards on and off. In reality it's easier to leave the axle mounts attached to the 'guard and fit the whole thing at once. The Raceblades effectively offer full coverage; they're proper long mudguards with flaps at the bottom and they sit close enough to the wheel to protect you from nearly all of the spray from the tyre. Aside from the fact that they're open at the brake calliper, meaning they don't really protect your brakes, and they don't reach all the way down to the bottom bracket at the rear, they're as good as a conventional 'guard.
If you need to fix a puncture at the side of the road then obviously taking the wheel out means that the mudguard has to come off too, so it adds a minute to a tube swap. But it's no great hassle and getting the 'guard back in place is pretty simple. If the sun's out then removing the Raceblades takes no time at all. Just unclip the four sections and bung them in the shed. You can leave the dropout mounts fitted and just remove the guards, if you want. You won't want though, because those mounts are pretty ugly. The ones under the brakes are much less noticable, which is good as they're harder to get rid of.
The front section of the front mudguard can bounce against the tyre on bumpy surfaces, so you'll probably end up bending it up a bit like I did. At the rear, the short inner section can rattle against the frame; I fixed that with a bit of sticky Velcro.
So are these the perfect clip-ons to protect your best bike from the ravages of the unpredictable British weather? Well, nearly. Functionally they're pretty much there, but I think there's some work to be done on the presentation before they'll be on every sportiviste's list. The dropout mounts especially are pretty crude, and there's no way you'd leave them on your posh bike. The brake mounts are less obvious but could still do with a bit of tidying up. The under-brake section is the other issue; some bikes won't have clearance for a guard strip there but many will, so it's a shame SKS don't offer some kind of under-brake guard as an option.
When all that's said though, they're absolutely miles better than nearly every other solution for your road bike. The other full length option worth looking at is the Crud Roadracer and it's horses for courses. These 'guards are much more sturdy and easy to take on and off if you like to make a mudguard decision on the day. The Roadracers are lighter but fiddlier to get fitted, though they do protect you brakes from spray and extend further down behind the rear wheel. If SKS do some work on making the mounts less obtrusive then they'll be even better.
Sturdy full-length guards to keep your road bike and your riding mates free from spray.
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Make and model: SKS Raceblade Mudguards Long
Size tested: Black
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?
With this fender, the name says it all. Our extra long RACEBLADE LONG protects you, whether you're riding your racing bike in a warm summer rain or on solitary winter trips. The end of each fender extends to below the hub axle. This length ensures that you, and also the cyclist behind you, are spared from splashing. The RACEBLADE LONG can easily be mounted on almost any racing bike and perfectly adapted to the radius of the wheel by adjusting the length of the stays. The clip connections ensure that the RACEBLADE LONG can be removed very quickly from the racing bike when not needed, leaving
only the metal mounting brackets.
Nicely made, the brackets are a touch crude
Very good full-length protection, although brakes can still get wet
Feel very nicely made, have lasted well with no issues
Not as light as other clip-on options but they're more hardy
Worth it for the happy faces behind you on the club run
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Feel like proper mudguards, easy to fit and sturdy
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Mounts are a bit crude, brakes aren't protected
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.