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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review: SKS Race Blades

I've always used full fenders, because my bike had plenty of tire clearance. But the Ti bike, because of a geometry that was designed to maximize handling feel rather than fender clearance or toe clip overlap, could not take a full fender without interference with the downtube, so I ordered a set of Race Blades XLs from BikeTiresDirect, which ironically doesn't actually sell tires I like.

Since my rear could handle a full fender, I only tried the front. The mounting scheme is very easy, with rubber grommets that wrap around your fork. The fenders stays are designed to be bent, and the instructions say to bend them gently, but it turns out that you can't bend them gently and expect them to stay --- you have to bend them pretty hard! When I was finished, I had just a little bit of clearance for my down tube mounted pump, and quite a bit of a gap between the fender and the fork. This made me quite skeptical of how effective they would be, since I use a rain cape, and spray thrown up from the wheels would be like spraying water from under a tent.

These work surprisingly well, however --- I commuted in the rain all this week, and while my feet got wet (easily solved by a mud flap), my knees stayed dry, indicating that the gap is not an issue at all. I did notice quite a bit of dirt and other gunk sprayed onto the crown and fork below headset, so one of the big benefits of a fender (protecting the bearings from the elements) isn't a feature, but on the other hand, that's why I run Chris King stuff (and to be honest, in all my years of touring, I've never had a headset failure --- they're one of those perpetually working items on the bike, like caliper brakes).

Since I usually tour without fenders anyway (fenders are no good if you do even a little bit of off-roading, and I've had a number of fender failures over the years just from commuting), these are a good compromise, and the easy-on/easy-off nature makes them quite practical as my primary ride. Recommended with the above caveats.
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Victor said...

Piaw, How wide are your tires? How wide do you think the raceblades will support? Could I throw one on over 35s? I like the easy-on/easy-off for the exact reasons you specified, but I'm afraid wide tires will kick things up around the edges and they'll make tons of noise.

Strangely shops won't let me mount them on a bike and ride around the block throug hpuddles to see what happens :)

Piaw Na said...

I am currently using 25mm tires, and I can assure you that race blades will not work for the 35s, even the XL size. They will barely work for 28s as is.

Unknown said...

Hey, the fender slides through the plastic fitting that attaches them to the stays - just slide it forward to close that gap and meet your fork. It's much easier to slide when they're off the bike. Hope that helps!