Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Review: SKS Raceblade Pro XL

Winter riding in California is mostly dry, except for the occasional rain. As a result, there's no need to run full fenders that are permanently mounted to your bike. For the back, I usually use a clip-on fender that I bought one year during the tour of the alps, but for the front, I usually have nothing. I had a pair of SKS Raceblades, but they were finicky to install.

SKS recently upgraded their clip-on fenders to the Raceblade Pro XL. The marketing literature claimed that these fenders are much improved and easier to install (no more need to bend the fender struts). Furthermore, the XL model supposedly supports 32mm tires, which I'm skeptical of, but since I rarely run tires wider than 28mm anyway, it seemed like a good fit.

Over the holidays, ProBikeKit had a set of Raceblade Pro XLs for around $33. They took more than 2 weeks to ship, but we had a nice dry spell while waiting for the fenders, so that was just as well.

I first tried to mount the rear fenders on my Strong road bike. To my dismay, the fender struts didn't extend long enough for the fender to fit! My guess is between the slack seat tube and the 44.5cm chainstays, my custom touring bike was just too different from standard road bike geometry for the designers to bother. (Most bikes have a steep 73 degree seat tube and short 41-42cm chainstays) Fortunately, the rear fender did fit on my Co-Motion Periscope tandem, so it wasn't a waste. The fender did clear the 28mm tires on the tandem, but I'm skeptical that it would fit a 32mm. I don't think there's 4mm of additional clearance, and the struts aren't stiff enough to keep the fender from bouncing around.

The front fit nicely on my custom touring bike. The mounting mechanism is definitely much more adjustable and secure than the old SKS Raceblades, making this a worthy upgrade. If you intend to ride in the rain, but don't live somewhere where your fenders deserve to be permanently mounted (or if you tour and need to take the fenders  on and off when transporting the bike on a plane), then these are the ones to get. Buy them on Amazon so that if they don't fit the bike you can return them.

Recommended.
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