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Essentially, the SKS S blade is the road version of the German marque's Xtra dry, which although pitched at mountain bikers, quickly caught on among messengers and new-wave fixer audiences too. This sturdy polypropylene beaver tail is pretty much the same thing, albeit more flattering to road lines.
Designed to entertain seatpost diameters between 25.4 and 35mm, riders using Carradice SQR and similar beam system luggage will be pleased to note the clever pressure fit bracket is equally accommodating of seat tubes, without leaving an unsightly calling card on pretty finishes.
There's no need to shave material from the guard either, since this tapers inboard slightly to prevent it fouling narrower seat stays. Speaking of clearance, it's optimal with 18-26mm rubber, 28mm upwards shows signs of compromise with tell tale spatter congregating along the peripheries.
Getting everything aboard is effortlessly simple but you'll still need a 4mm Allen key for tweaking the angle. I like ours low, hovering horizontally with 5cm clearance, thus allowing twigs, squashed drinks bottles and other detritus to slip by without incident.
In common with its siblings, material density is intelligently applied, so neck and bracket are stiff to prevent unwanted flex, yet the guard goes with the flow, springing back into shape despite pronounced twisting forces. That said, experimentation with lighter models suggests there's sufficient rigidity for mounting blinkies, assuming you didn't want the permanence of stickers.
This type of guard is designed for protecting the rider, rather than bike per se, so I wasn't surprised by the silty mess covering chainstays, bottom bracket and seatstay after a few early season's outings. That said; frame mounting prevents water and ingress being tossed into rear facing seat collars or saturating wedge packs. Low level buzz associated with coarser asphalt saw induce some very minor shimmy (especially on plain gauge 7005 chassis) but nothing I'd lose any sleep over and despite my preference for belt n' braces chrome plastics, I've warmed to the low maintenance design and the aesthetic too.
Well designed, sturdy clip on for those whose priority is avoiding a wet rear.
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Make and model: SKS S-Blade
Size tested: One size
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 S-BLADE is the little brother of our top-selling X-TRA-DRY for the ambitious racing cyclist. With our quick release mounting, the S-BLADE can be fitted on virtually any racing bike and the angle setting optimally adjusted". Interesting turn of phrase but seems true to the claims.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Adjustable pressure fit clamp. Polypropylene construction.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The S blade is a neat option for those who want clip and go convenience with decent longevity. Ease of fitment/alignment offer excellent protection from the racoon stripe faux pas and the materials won't warp or fail anytime soon. However, drivetrains and seat tubes will still get blasted with silty muck.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality materials and ease of fitment.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly for a close clearance road/ fixer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they wanted a super sturdy guard that comes on and off in a trice.
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)