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Review: SKS Raceblade Long fenders

Surely you know that we’re big fans of fenders around here…they keep you and your bike happy and dry and clean, even in the worst weather. And, most commuters see them as a “must-have” accessory for a commuter bike. We couldn’t agree more.

Mir’s recent article about her quest for fenders got me to thinking about more fenders for my own fleet. I happen to have a few road bikes I sometimes use for commuting, and on rainy, yucky days I do NOT like to bring them out of the garage. Cleaning my shiny, sparkly road bikes is a chore I do not like. What if I could find full-coverage fenders for one of these skinny-tired roadsters?

First problem: the bike I wanted to add fenders to does not have eyelets on the fork or rear dropouts. Second, there’s not a lot of clearance to work with. Third, some of the other fenders suited for these kinds of situations aren’t full-coverage, and can be fiddly to install/maintain/stay in place while riding. I wasn’t about to have to deal with that, so off I went to the Intertubes to search out a solution.

Enter the SKS Raceblade Long. Full-coverage, easily removeable if needed, good reputation from a company that knows a thing or two about fenders. I took a trip to my friendly neighborhood Performance Bike to spend some holiday gift card money, and they gladly ordered me a set to add to my bike. About $60 and a couple days later, I was ready to install them.

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The SKS Raceblade Longs are made of chromoplastic, with stainless steel stays and hardware. They clip to small metal bridges that are mounted under the brake bolts and to metal tabs that are held in place by the wheels’ quick-release skewers. The concept is very similar to the legendary “River City Reacharound”, but there is no cutting of fenders required. Here are a couple shots of the clips and the way they mount to the brakes:

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Each fender is in two pieces; a longer rear section and a shorter front section. Each fender is supported by a double, adjustable stay set in stainless steel. SKS thoughtfully supplied soft plastic mudguards to screw onto the ends of the fenders:

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Installation is pretty simple: loosen the brake mounting bolts, slip the bridges in and tighten the bolts down. The bridges come in three lengths to fit most bikes. At the wheel, remove the conical springs from the QR skewers, and fit the mounting tabs underneath the skewers:

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The fenders clip directly to those bridges and tabs, and feature quick release buttons to remove them rapidly if desired:

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I installed the Raceblade Longs yesterday, and took them out for a test ride today. The ground is still damp from snowmelt and rain, so I could really see how clean they kept me and my bike. What’s the verdict? They work! No muddy stripe up my back or in my face, and my bottom bracket area is pretty clean.

The Raceblade Longs are not perfect, of course. Right at the brake bridge area, there’s a pretty sizeable gap in coverage (necessitated by the design and lack of clearance on modern road bikes). I found a lot of road spray and goop covering the brakes that will need to be hosed off periodically.

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The rear fender stops short behind the seat tube (again because of the design), so the back side of the bottom bracket shell gets a layer of road “deposits” on it:

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Also, the front stub of the front fender rattles like crazy on rough roads. It’s pretty annoying, and I will try to figure out some way to quiet it down, perhaps with a shim where the bridge enters the back of that stub.

Obligatory Mir.I.Am-style crappy cameraphone pic:
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Dings notwithstanding, I think these are a pretty good solution for people who want to ride their roadies in all weather conditions. They cover enough that maintenance and cleaning are reduced, and mount solidly enough for year-round use.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Free bike safety inspections at Performance Bike thru May 13th

Our media contact at Performance just sent us the following release:

Performance Bicycle® Provides Free Safety Inspections Nationwide

Until May 13, 2012

Helping Cyclists Prepare for National Bike Month

WHO: Performance Bicycle®, the nation’s largest independent cycling retailer, offers free safety inspections to help riders prepare for National Bike Month in May.

WHAT: From May 7-13, 2012 everyone is invited to bring their bikes, no matter the point of purchase, into any of Performance Bicycle’s 100+ nationwide locations to receive a free safety inspection in time for the inaugural Bike to School Day on May 9; Bike to Work Week May 14-18; and Bike to Work Day on May 18.

Cyclists can visit their local Performance Bicycle store during normal business hours to receive a free safety inspection, typically lasting only 2-5 minutes. A Performance Bicycle specialist or Spin Doctor will inspect the main components of each bike to ensure the gears, brakes, tires and wheels are in proper working order.

WHEN: Now- May 13, 2012

PRICE: Free

WHERE: Any of Performance Bicycle’s 100+ nationwide locations

INFORMATION: www.performancebike.com

MEDIA CONTACT: Mandev Khalsa / Blaze PR / 310-395-5050

That’s the deal of the century — ride safe and ride strong throughout Bike Month!

A Trip to Performance Bike

As many of you may know, I left Florida back in April for the wilds and chill of the midwest…Dayton, Ohio to be exact. Just before I left, I asked our readers to recommend bike shops and routes in the area. As I was unfamiliar with the “lay of the land” when I got here, I still didn’t have a good grasp of what shops were local to me.

Enter Performance Bike — I had been a mail-order/online customer of theirs for literally decades (I remember the first printed catalogs in the mid-80s), and I stumbled across one of their retail shops on one of my family’s first forays around town. My local Performance shop is in Kettering and is overwhelmingly the most convenient (and closest) shop to my house.

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I stopped in periodically to chat and to browse the sale racks…desperately scrambling to get a cold-weather clothing set for the winter soon to follow. Heck, Performance even heard about my move and sent me a $25.00 gift certificate to encourage me to stop in more often!

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On the whole, I have been extremely impressed with the staff at my local Performance. I had been to one other Performance shop just after the company started building retail locations…this one was in the D.C. Metro area back in the late 80s. Suffice it to say I was underimpressed at the time. Also, I had heard a variety of horror stories about the quality of the repair staff at the retail locations…many of them on bike forums I frequent.

That’s simply not the case at my local outlet…manager Kevin Sintz is dead-serious about running a tight ship, with trained and certified mechanics and friendly salespeople. They treat me like a minor Internet cycling celebrity when I go in there (ha!)…they even remember my children’s names and help entertain them while I shop. Kevin has some flexibility in tailoring his shop’s wares to reflect local needs, and he and his staff are very active in local cycling events and advocacy initiatives. I have gotten so much good information from the employees there…good mountain biking trails to try, invitations to cyclocross training clinics, suggested routes around the region. It is always a pleasant experience going in there, and I am very appreciative of their nature in welcoming me to the community.

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The retail store here is gigantic…and has examples from throughout Performance Bike’s massive online catalog. There are literally hundreds of bikes racked up, ready to sell, and a huge variety of clothing, shoes and accessories to choose from. The place is always clean and the staff is ALWAYS friendly — never hesitating to welcome my family to the store and answering questions. No matter how busy it is in there, someone is always ready to chat for a while. I like that a lot. Oh, and they have a clearance table back near the mechanic’s station…lots of goodies at rock-bottom prices if one is willing to dig a bit!

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I’ve since discovered other bike shops in the area, but I keep coming back to Performance — with the exception of one tiny bike shop far away from my house, Performance is the only other local place that hasn’t given me a bad experience. I am VERY particular about the bike shops I do business with, and a good shop is worth its weight in gold.

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Don’t be afraid…if there’s a Performance Bike in YOUR area, you might want to give it a try. You might be as surprised as I was!