SKS Germany is the first name in fenders in my eyes. From their classic full-coverage Bluemels to strap-on Raceblades to many clip-on versions in between, they have a mudguard solution for pretty much every bike. I’ve spent the last year of wet riding & winter commutes protected by a set of the extended Longboards, and my dry feet & butt couldn’t be more happy.
SKS Longboard extended full coverage Bluemels fenders
The Longboard fenders have been around for a few years, but a spate of cold & wet weather reminds me of the usefulness of proper full coverage fenders. In fact it was an unexpected flat tire last week that had me commuting on a carbon bike without full fenders that really made me appreciate the Longboards anew.
Tech details & setup
The 30-40€ Longboards are the extended version of the classic SKS Bluemels mudguards – and are available in 35 or 45mm widths for 700c wheels. That means that they use the same plastic coated, aluminum core for the fender itself and fixed stainless steel V-stay struts. They do require traditional fender mounts, so you need a set of bosses at the rear dropout, plus seatstay & chainstay bridges drilled for fenders or not if you use SKS clips there. In the front you need drop out bosses (or like in this installation, mid-blade rack mounts work too) and a drilled for crown. If you don’t have those, you are probably going to need to look somewhere else.
The key to the Longboards are their extensions. The biggest part of that are the replaceable extended, flexible plastic mud flaps. Both extend 10cm below the fender proper and expand to 8cm wide wrapping around the lower edges of the tires. Also on the tip of the front fender is a sturdy plastic reinforcement tab, which is nice since I had cracked a similar fender in the past that left the tip unprotected.
Setting up the Longboard fenders takes some time to get it right. First, you have to loose fit all the hardware and then adjust them to balance tire clearance & coverage. The tighter fit between tire and fender, and you get less spray. But at the same time I ride in a lot of wet grit & muddy tracks, so I opted for a bit more space to limit rubbing. So then it was time to fix the fender tabs to the fork crown & bridges, then individually adjust each V-stay for uniform clearance, and trim the ends of the stays with some strong cutters.
I’m mostly using the 35mm Longboards with 28c Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tires mounted to Mason x Hunt 4Season Disc wheels with a 17mm inner width. Those tires measure about 29mm wide, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable riding anything much bigger than that without going for a wider fender profile.
The Bluemels-style fenders do everything you expect from full coverage mudguards. They contain the bulk of road spray, keeping water, mud & debris from being flung off the tires into your face and up your back. The longer mud flaps did make them a bit harder to deal with, though.
The front mud flap especially extends down to just 7.5cm (3″) of the ground. That meant anytime I wheeled the bike down a single step the flap would hit. Of course that is why it is flexible, and in a year’s riding it is still in great shape and works perfectly. But on one occasion riding slowly down an especially tall curb it did pop the quick release ‘Secu Clip’ tab off at the fork, which required me to stop and pop it back into place before riding on.
The rear mud flap also extends a bit further than normal, here 25cm (10″) off the ground. It never really was a real problem, but when I have to put the bike in a tight Prague elevator, it does drag the ground and requires a bit of attention. In the end, both issues related to the longer mud flaps are something I quickly adapted to. And they certainly are outweighed by dry feet. So far the flaps are still in perfect shape, but even if they get damaged, SKS sells replacements that are easy to bolt into place.
The extended Longboard mud flaps really do a great job at containing more road spray. In the back the difference isn’t very noticeable (probably more so to my winter riding buddies.) But up front these managed to keep my feet much more clean & dry than my previous full-coverage fenders, no matter if I was slowly cruising to work & back or hammering along putting in winter base miles.
Winter commutes became a bit more enjoyable, because below freezing I don’t ever have to worry about wearing special waterproof pants or shoes to work. And for rainy spring & fall road rides I no longer have to worry about road spray on my glasses, or ending up with a soaking wet chamois by the end of the ride.