SKS BLUEMELS FULL-LENGTH REFLECTIVE MUDGUARDS
580g 35 B x28” profile Black (as tested) £41.99
Whether you regard mudguards as a seasonal luxury or an all-year courtesy, SKS Bluemels is likely to be a familiar name. The Reflective mudguards come with all you need for a variety of mounting options, and whilst not the longest around, they’ve been spot on as autumn has progressed. Then, there’s the added benefit of the eponymous reflective stripe, making these spot-on for commuters and those involved in long winter day rides, Audax events, and such like.
Pros: well-made, with reflective presence.
Cons: Not as long as some. Be nice to have some more colour options.
The SKS Bluemels Reflective Mudguards come in a variety of sizes. Our 35Bx28” should fit between 700x20 to 700x28.I’d be tempted to go a bit higher for 700x3, clearances allowing, although there’s really no need. We tested ours on 700x28 and 700x32 tyres, with no problem. Bigger profile models are available, up to 37mm. SKS also produce longer mudguards, but that’s another story.
Also available in silver, they are rigid plastic and aluminium construction, with two reflective stripes, and a rear reflector. Fundamentally, superfine aluminium strips are “sheathed” within the plastic, adding strength through a “sandwich” of materials – Chromoplastic. This has proven durability and flex.
The front guard has a stainless steel fixed-bridge; plastic slide-on bridge for rear. Stainless stays, front with plastic “ASR safety release” system on front. Re-assuring, but I’d expect these at this price point. A rubber flap lends additional coverage on the front guard. Cleanly finished though the front guard is, there’s no end sleeve make it dandy – not a deal-breaker as I always seem to lose them, anyway.
The package comes with fittings and fitments for drilled chain-stay bridge, or to mount a clip. Then there’s the nuts, bolts and slide on caps for the stay-ends. These can be a bit fiddly to amateur mudguard mechanics, such as yours truly, but I quickly caught on. Mind you, as, at least, one always manages to ping itself into the distance, I’d love them to be generous and include a spare. Still, there’s always the spares bin to search. Finally, there are a variety of hex head bolts and nuts, to aid fitting. In our case, the oddities of the bike and personal preference rendered most of these redundant, but you should find all you need to get started.
Generally running 700x28c tyres on the Supergalaxy tourer/commuter/ beast of burden, I decided to upgrade its effective but shorter Oxford ….. to offer a bit more autumn/winter protection. Occasionally running 700x32c on, there was plenty of clearance for a larger guard, but the 35B should accommodate both. Chunkier-tyred more modern takes on tourers and hybrids will need to go larger.
You won’t need all the bits provided, so you’ll have some useful spares.
It is worth taking a little while to get things sorted properly. This isn’t a five minute job.The main task is to get the stays cut to the right length. If you run proper 28” tyres rather than 700c’s you may find things fit spot on. I found it necessary to take about a centimetre off each stay. Measure twice, event three time and cut once. Given the vagaries of rear triangle geometry and space between drop outs/braze-ons, it is best to do this by trial and error rather than guess-work. Having said that, we are not talking precision engineering; the stay caps give a good deal of flexibility.
I opted to use one of the longer bolts, and a couple of additional washers, to fix the rear guard directly to the chainstay bridge, rather than by assembling the clip.
With everything in place and wheels turning smoothly, nip up the nuts. Don’t forget to repeat the nipping after a few miles; in my experience, the little devils are master escapees. Maybe dab on a touch of thread lock.
First and foremost, do they protect? Well, commuting down twenty miles of wet country lanes, often flooded, I’ve been pleased to find I’ve arrived at work with SPD shoes warm and dry. That lengthy rubber flap does a good job, and, although the gently curved profile doesn’t shout defence in depth, it certainly does the job. Socks, with trousers tucked in, have been dry, too.
Folk who have found themselves hot on my heels, say that the rear guard does a pretty good job of keeping spray down. SKS Bluemels make a longer guard for those with sensitive cyclists in their group, but these seem to do a decent enough job.
As ever, there’s a tendency to collect rural muck, but the snug profile is no more prone to this than other mudguards. Indeed, it is less so than when stays are bolted under the guard, as on many retro models. Likewise, I have taken home fewer leaves than usual.
However carefully placed, mudguards seem to find a way of getting misaligned when propped against the rest of the fleet overnight. These are on the more robust side of things, and seem to keep their place pretty well. I’ve been a good boy and checked nuts and bolts regularly, which probably helps, but there’s also the relatively slim profile to bear in mind.
How useful are the reflective stripes? From the rear they undoubtedly add to road-user awareness of your existence. On the front, of course, they really offer most when cornering. I’d say that is definitely handy around junctions and roundabouts.
Significantly more expensive than Oxford’s Full-Length Mudguard set, the SKS Bluemels Reflective are a significant step up in terms of materials and adjustability; length, too. Similar guards come in at a similar price, with more specialist makes offering a wider choice for colour coordination enthusiasts. Even so, the appear considerably cheaper on some well-known on-line retail websites
Having said that, their Longboard siblings offer even fuller coverage, whilst Tortec’s similar Reflective Mudguards retail, officially, at a couple of quid cheaper.
Very well-made, presentable mudguards for the commute, Audax type rides, and the winter trainer. Size seems the perfect mix between snug and clearance.