Bikes ridden on wet roads need fenders. With “mudguards” (as the Brits say) you don’t get a grimy stripe up your back, your drafting friends don’t get sprayed and your feet have a fighting chance of staying clean, if not dry. Fenders
can’t do much about water falling from above.
But modern road bikes, their design heavily influenced by racing, rarely have enough clearance for conventional full-length fenders and almost never have dropout eyelets for attaching them. Often you can’t even run tires as large as 700x28C. They’ll rub
the fork crown and squeeze past the chainstays with millimeters to spare. Fender clearance? Forget it.
The solution? These elegant quick-release fenders from SKS, German-designed for bikes with tight clearances and no eyelets.
Raceblades attach to the seatstays and fork with brackets and rubber straps. The brackets have a rubbery coating so they don’t slide. (They stick like an Oakley nosepiece sticks to your nose.) Fit can be customized by bending the metal stays slightly
so the fenders follow the curve of the wheel. They take just a minute or two to mount or remove.
These fenders are good enough to leave on your bike for the entire rainy season. Simply replace the straps with zip ties for a more permanent installation.
The mounting bracket is rounded where it contacts the stays or fork so it won’t fit as snugly on some shapes. For instance, the bracket works fine on the conventional steel fork gracing my Rivendell Rambouillet, less well on a carbon Reynolds Ouzo fork.
On the Ouzo, I moved the bracket to the outside of the fork’s sharp trailing edge. Tightening the strap “squashed” the bracket slightly and provided a better fit, though with more fussing.
Don’t Expect a Miracle
These aren’t full-coverage fenders. They shield only about 20-30% of the front and rear wheel, respectively. Coverage starts at the brake and goes toward the rear of each wheel, so neither brake is protected. Grimy road spray can still clog the pivots
Because the front wheel isn’t shielded forward of the brake, your face and chest can get sprayed even as your feet, the drivetrain and the down tube are fairly well protected. Behind, the rear wheel isn’t covered forward of the brake, either, so while
you don’t get a stripe up your back, some spray is flung forward onto the seat tube, front derailleur and your calves.
Of course, SKS can’t design a fender that fits under the brakes when bike designers haven’t left enough room. Given that starting point, these minimalist fenders do the best job imaginable of protecting you and the machinery. They’re great for weekend
group rides when you want to take your lightweight bike rather than your beater with full fenders. They’re also ideal when on a tour or at a cycling camp and can’t switch bikes on a wet day.
I wish I’d had them for my Serotta Ottrott at the PAC Tour Midwest Cycling Camp in Wisconsin last July. We rode in showers a couple of times. I could have clipped on the Raceblades before rides when
rain was forecast. You can bet I won’t be going to future camps without them.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.