SKS BLUEMELS SHINY MUDGUARDS
450g 26” 60 Black set (as (tested) £ 39.99
The SKS Bluemels Shiny Mudguards 26” 60 Black set are full-length mudguards designed for older mountain bikes. Made to stereotypically high German standards, dirt tracks and forest trails are the design limits. However, they are good choices for older mountain bikes. Ones serving as mixed terrain, four season’s workhorses.
Pros: Classic styling, solid construction, sensible length, comprehensive fitting kit.
Cons: Plain compared with others at this price point.
These are a sandwich design with an aluminium skeleton reinforcing the beefy, UV resistant plastics. From the packet, lateral stiffness is impressive. They don’t flex, or warp very easily and form a pleasing arc. The rear bridge is a sturdy, yet malleable composite, the front fork crown mount neatly riveted.
In terms of coverage, the front measures 65cm, the rear 115. They’ll swallow tyres up to 54mm wide and I’ve had no problems running Schwalbe Marathon Mondial.
Rich glossy sheen aside, they are slightly spartan. No reflective detailing, or similar refinements. Not an issue for me, or others who like to customise. Models like the Tortec Reflector (previously graced my tubby tourer, for ten years) are more comprehensive packages, in that respect.
Mind you, SKS chrome plastics are very hardy and tolerant of customisation. The rear features a serrated r/h panel, which is deigned to be easily cut away, should the guard foul, or inhibit a front mech. After a couple of weeks testing them stock, Raw mudflap sent us a rather swish looking pair, which I wasted no time fitting.
Stainless steel stays and fasteners are what we’d expect of this price point, and uniformly good. ASR (quick release) system is designed to eject the stays, in the event of a twig, or similar getting stuck between mudguard and front tyre. I might add these are suitably thick, so ensure you have a decent set of bolt croppers, or junior hacksaw handy, before you start.
Ditto P-clips, if your intended doesn’t sport eyelets. The soft composite end caps are a notch or so better than most. True, they add a couple of minutes to fitting but won’t vanish during the first couple of rides.
Very straightforward thanks to those high-quality chrome plastics that form pleasing arcs, which add to a bike’s lines. Uniform clearance is easier to achieve too. Aesthetics aside, this reduces the likelihood of a dead rat getting caught between rear guard and tyre.
Blessed with the full compliment of eyelets, my Univega still has a few quirks. Most notably, the Gusset Uni Head, which replaces the humble SFN (Star Fangled Nut). Aside from being slip-free, its reckoned to offer greater security, in the event of a fork steerer failure. Not something I ever want to put to the test.
However, these rule out mounting anything via the fork drilling. Therefore, I had to carefully amputate the front mount, using a hot blade. At my own risk, since doing so invalidates any warranty. Mind you, I’m not overly concerned, since the T nut achieves strong and reliable union between guard and fork crown. Otherwise, just remember a lick of stout grease to the fasteners.
Impressive overall, with some minor compromises. No hint of rattle, when tackling unmade roads and more moderate bridle path, let alone washboard tarmac. Obviously, they’re not meant for tackling churned boggy stuff. However, on the rare occasions where I’ve come close to clogging, the ASR stays have done their thing.
Aside from nipping them tight, after the first 60 miles, fasteners have remained snug, although I always carry the odd eyebolt, nut, bolt and zip-tie, just in case.
The wide section chrome plastics have also done a decent job of protecting the frame from stones, and other sharps, thrown up along dirt roads. That said; in common with the Tortec, moderate length meant the bottom bracket shell, chainstays and my feet tended to get basted in dodgy looking muck.
Some riders also remarked on the amount of spray being funnelled their way. I’d suggest retro-fitting some generous flaps, if you regularly ride as a group, or dislike overshoes. DIY versions can be made pennies, using offcuts of suitable tyre, and a rivet gun.
Tyre choice plays a part. The Schwalbe Marathon Mondial are my default but slimming down to a 1.75, or even 1.6 section improves coverage. Asphalt disciples might find their 700c counterparts an upgrade in this respect.
700c guards will work just fine and don’t look out of place, on bikes built around traditional, rigid mountain bikes. V brakes can present a few minor challenges. However, in my experience, these are easily overcome, with patience and lateral thought.
Aside from some very superficial swirling and my own, personal touches, six weeks in, the Shiny look packet fresh. I’ve treated them to a light helping of Naked Bikes Pro Wax Special Edition since I was already treating my Univega and its components but that’s been the extent of my pampering.
£35 is pretty much the benchmark for decent full-length chrome plastics. Tortec Reflector guards (£39.99) offer some welcome refinements-reflective detailing and a rear reflector. Axiom Rainrunner 360 Reflex mudguards are a bit dearer, at £45 and any width you like, so long as it’s 50mm. However, they also have a very comprehensive fitting kit, and generous mud flaps come as standard. Arguably the SKS Bluemels Reflective might be a better choice if you wanted the refinements as standard.
Ultimately the SKS Bluemels Shiny are solid, work well and should stand the test of time. I tend to customise mine with bespoke stickers and mud flaps and rear light, so an obvious choice for me. However, these incur additional costs. Their reflective cousins might represent better value, as a “ready to go” package.