We live in a dry climate and don’t have much use for fenders except on rare occasions. But back when I rode road bikes in any weather (over three decades ago), I had a dedicated bike for wet riding with full-wrap ESGE fenders front and rear. That was because at that time, removing fenders required unscrewing the fender wires from the dropout eyelets and removing the brakes. The bike was so slow due to the fenders, though, that I was only willing to ride it if I was sure it would be wet.
Things are much different now. I’m sure that those of you living in Portland and other rainy areas are already intimately familiar with every fender option there is. But new fender options were revelations for me on many days of wet riding I did last year during and after Eurobike, and I’m enthusiastic to discover since some of the quick-attach options now available from SKS (the company who bought ESGE).
On the first leg of a three-day ride from Eurobike to Lugano, Switzerland with two good friends, it was pouring on us the entire afternoon/evening from Friedrichshafen, Germany to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. With the weather threatening during our morning ride in to the show, we had picked up some of the new SKS S-Blade fenders at the show that strap onto the seatpost in seconds.
The S-Blade is the new and narrower version of the X-tra-Dry 3 fender. They adjust down close to the tire simply by rotating them at an articulated joint at the clamp that clicks into position and holds it. It was amazing the difference they made in the downpour and through the numerous puddles on the way along the Rhine River to Liechtenstein.
SKS USA president Mark Burgener is fond of saying, “We change a ride from ‘no’ to ‘go.’” While I had planned to ride from Eurobike to Lugano for too long to abort over a simple deluge, fender or not, I was glad I was able to stay drier, and under those conditions in most circumstances my ride would have been a “no.” For $19, 116 grams of added weight, and a couple of seconds for installation, the S-Blade is a bargain I no longer go without in my bike travel case.
On the prior show days, I had gotten rained on either on my ride in to the show or on my ride back to the hotel after the show, and I already had relied on another fender. Selle San Marco was giving out samples of its simple “Ass Saver” fender at Eurobike, and I was very glad for it. It is a lot less effective than the S-Blade and thus not nearly as good for a multi-hour ride in the rain, but it’s light and easy to fit in a pocket or pack. It clips under the seat rails, and you can trim the nose down to the proper length to fit your saddle undercarriage.
The Ass Saver only weighs 12 grams, yet it makes a big difference to the dryness of one’s butt. I used it on a number of muddy days of cyclocross training this winter, and it was perfect for that. My butt was considerably less muddy than those of my buddies without fenders, and the fender is so flexible that it just bends out of the way if you accidentally hit it with your leg when jumping back on the saddle after a dismount. I would race with this thing; it weighs next to nothing and can’t interfere with anything on the bike no matter how you bang it around.
For those commuting in the rain regularly, neither of these is a realistic solution, but SKS has the solution for that, even if a rider doesn’t have a dedicated rain bike: full-wrap front and rear fenders that snap on and off in seconds. You simply slide little sheet-steel tabs onto your skewers and brake center bolts and tighten them on with the quick release or the brake nut. The $55 RaceBlade Long full fenders snap onto these tabs and snap off with thumb-release buttons. For those who want to keep their feet completely dry and leave the fenders on their bike, the $50 chromoplastic Longboards are even longer and attach to traditional fender mounts.
For mountain bikes, the new $27 X-Blade rear and Shockblade front fenders come in 26-inch/650B and 29-inch wheel-size versions. The X-Blade mounts to the seatpost with the same strap fastening system as the S-Blade, and the Shockblade clips in and out of a mount attached under the fork crown. These are updated versions of the dependable $25 Dashblade and $20 Dashboard.
Finally, for fat bikes, the super-wide $35 Grand M.O.M. rear and $30 Grand D.A.D. front clip-on fenders mount the same way as the Shockblade and X-Blade. The Grand D.A.D. also fits Magura double-arch forks.
As Burgener says, “Fenders extend the riding season. They make it so people can ride more.” That’s commendable. SKS was founded in 1921, and in 1932 it originated the mini-pump for bicycles. Since that time, it has only produced bicycle-related products, and all production (except for Asian production of some soft goods) is done in Germany with the assistance of 600 employees there. In addition to fenders, SKS produces a fast array of pumps, tools, and small bike bags.