21 February 2013

Gear review: SKS Long Blade mudguards

Mudguards (or fenders, for our American/Canadian readers!) are a common thing in the UK. When I first moved here I was shocked at how many people had them on their bikes. But it wasn't only commuters that had them, also roadies, tourers and of course, mountain-bikers.

It has taken me a while to admit that perhaps they are a good thing. We all know what happens to your back and butt when it rains if you don't have mudguards. But most importantly, perhaps, is that if you ride in a pack you will be spraying all the road grit to the rider immediately following you behind. Although this could be ok if that was your best mate or partner, it really isn't pleasant when riding in a group.

However, being used to more fair weather countries, none of my bikes were fitted with the eyelets that you normally attach your mudguards to. A few companies have already thought about that and have designed mudguards that do not need such eyelets to be installed. The ones I know of are listed below:

- Crudracers
- SKS Race Blade mudguards (clip-on)
- SKS Race Blade long mudguards (clip-on)

I decided against the first two because 1) the crudracers had almost no clearance and looked too flimsy and delicate, and 2) the Race Blade mudguards clip-on system with rubber bands did not convince me, plus they do not reach below the hub axle meaning riders behind will get all the spray anyway.

I went for the third option, which had just been released into the UK market. The fact that they were long (below the axle) and easily removable appealed to me. I went and ordered them online for just under £30 and a short review of these is the aim of this blogpost:


If you fancy installing this yourself, this should be pretty straightforward. Basically, you put the metal clips on both the hub axles (removing the springs first) and in between the frame and brake bolt.

Rear mudguard attachment to the rear axle

Front clip for front mudguard, attached to the brake bolt to the frame

Detail of rear mudguard attachment to the brake bolt to the frame
Following that, you attach the mudguards and adjust them to give enough tyre clearance by loosening-tightening of a very small allen key bolt on either side of them.

Allen bolt to adjust mudguard to the tyre
Performance review

I have had these mudguards for over a year now, and have put in more than 10.000 km on them. SKS initially released a very raw product into the market, which was not only badly designed (especially the metal bits that attach to the hub axle) but also of debatable quality. My rear mudguard simply snapped in two whilst I was removing it from the bike. Not a good sign! Also, the mudguards keep coming off at the slightest of bumps, not a good thing on the UK bumpy roads...This was, again, due to a poorly designed attachement system (as shown on the picture above) and too much plastic. The long-flap attachment was also faulty, coming off while just riding.

After a quick email correspondence with the dealer, they agreed to send a new set of the same mudguards, so I hold on to them before throwing them out.

The problems with the spontaneous detachments continued, and I now got in touch with the dealer again, who was very sceptical of what I was saying. They suggested various things, such as bending the metal attachments and so on, which never worked. Just I was about the ask for a full refund on this very crap product, they got in touch with me saying SKS had re-designed them and were sending a brand new batch to me, free of charge.

When I got the new mudguards I was pleased to see that all my points had been looked at and re-designed. Surely, I was not the only unhappy customer who provided feedback?!

Now the mudguards have been performing ok for the last 8 months. Here are their good points:

- Quick attachment/detachment to the bike
- No need for eyelets
- They are long, good for riding in a group
- They seem sturdy so far

Clearance is minimal at some points, even using 23 mm tyres

Long mudflap, not much clearance
Now the bad points:

- The clearance even with 23 mm tyres is pretty minimal, meaning that if the roads are muddy you will get mud stuck on to the brake bride. This will cause rubbing and you need to clean it frequently, involving removal of the wheels. If your tyres are already tight without mudguards, you will struggle putting these on!
- Not the best system if you need to mend a puncture, as you need to remove them from the bike first.
- The extra mudguard sections that compliment the long sections are just too short and don't do much, plus, they rattle a lot. I removed them.
- They are way too pricey in my opinion (£40 nowadays!)

Useless section of mudguard: it rattles and doesn't do much anyway
Another useless section of rear mudguard - your frame will get sprayed anyway!

Full rear mudguard - good length, not so good clearance

Even though I had a very bad experience with the first set of mudguards I was sent, I believe most issues have now been solved and I have had these on for a while, without any problems. 

However, be aware that their clearance is pretty low. It's ok on wet roads, just not so good on wet AND muddy roads (typical of the UK lanes in winter!) as they get stuck with mud. I like the fact that they can be easily removed if you expect a dry day ahead of you, and that it's just about one of the very few options you have if your bike does not feature eyelets on the frame stays and fork. 

If I were to give them a score, it would be a 6/10, which is ok but just not great. I realise it's not that easy to give enough clearance to these type of mudguards as bikes like mine were just not designed to be ridden with them. But some of the things I discussed above could be improved in future versions.

Disclaimer: we do not receive any incentives nor discounts on any products unless otherwise stated, so these reviews are our own and completely unbiased.


  1. Um, I'd just like to note that spraying road grit onto the rider behind you is NOT nice, even if that rider is your partner!!

  2. ^ ha ha Lucy BP

    I have both crud racers and race blades (fitted to different bikes). I prefer the crud racers - they do a better job of keeping mud away from rider and the bike frame and cover more tyre than the race blades. Have not found them flimsy either. But, crud racers do not allow a lot of clearance and prevent me running tyres fatter than 700 x 23c

  3. Yes, I too have noticed that about the crudracers. They go all the way down to the bottom bracket and past the hub axles. I see the problem with clearance, probably even worse with the crudracers as they leave little clearance. I do not think you can run anything bigger than 23 mm on the SKS Race Blade longs either...

  4. I am running 700 x 25 mm on my sks race blades with no problem. What I don't like about these is that a lot of mud still sprays up the frame. They are ok, but I too would score them 6/10. I would score the crud racers 8/10

  5. Are yours the ones with the rubber attachment to the frame or the long ones featured here?

  6. Mine are the ones with the rubber attachment to the frame (I have zip-tied mine).

  7. That's what I thought - I very much doubt you can fit anything bigger than 23 mm on the ones I own (the long blade version) as the fit is already very tight!