Well, it had to happen some when… the weather has turned. As late as last Friday down on the south coast of Blighty we were lucky enough to experience a sunny 20c day. Pretty unusual for late October and I pounced on the opportunity to get the bike out for the morning:
However as I write this it’s dark, raining and struggling to hit double figures temperature wise. This sort of weather change calls for a fresh approach if I’m to keep pedaling over the winter (my first winter proper as a road cyclist). Some people buy another bike – a winter one – that gets used and abused and has proper big mudguards to protect you from the winter muck. I love this approach and I do like the idea of a winter steed. I need more bikes (everyone does). But I can’t really justify getting another bike and I also have my eye on getting something more aero and possibly carbon to replace my Canyon Roadlite next spring/summer. Or, if funds can’t stretch to that, I’d like to at least get some aero wheels for the Canyon. Do you see the problem? Everywhere you turn there’s expensive goodies to entice you in… And I am being enticed.
So considering all the options and my lust for getting some go faster goodies next spring I thought a minimalist plan for winter was the way to go. Mudguards for the Canyon were obviously the cheapest route to staying dry and keeping the miles under the wheels. However having a road bike at the sportier end of things means you’re a bit hamstrung for options guards wise as there’s no mounting holes for regular mudguards. Removable clip on style jobbies are what’s needed and in reality you’ve only got two choices – Crud Roadracers or SKS Raceblade Longs. Either would probably do a good enough job but a few people had mentioned that the Cruds rattle around a bit and the fittings can tend to break after a season or two. So I was up for some Raceblades in black to limit the detrimental effect guards have to a bike’s aesthetics (I’m a tart I know). Luckily some barely used items popped up locally on gumtree and I swooped in for a bargain. The guy was selling because they didn’t fit his bike. This worried me as what makes the Canyon Roadlite, and most other newer road bikes these days, particularly difficult to fit guards to is the minimal clearances between tyres and brakes. The Roadlite runs 25mm tyres rather than the usual 23mms. You get a more comfortable ride and a better roll on the bigger tyres but obviously it makes things difficult when you’re trying to slip some guards in there. After searching around on the net I found a few incidents where people had tried to fit Raceblades to bikes on 25mm tyres and failed. I was thinking these guards might have to go straight back on gumtree but decided to have a bash first since as they were sat there in the box, looking at me.
There were no meaningful instructions in the SKS box but that didn’t matter. Dan Lloyd at GCN came to the rescue and his vid is better than any instruction set. This is all you need if you’re fitting a set of Raceblade Longs.
Basically I followed Lloydy’s advice to the letter and despite some issues with a lot of tyre rub on the rear I eventually managed to get them fitting snug and rub free! Result. The clearance is really tight and you need to allow a good 5-10 mins per wheel of faffing with the guard stays until you get the allignment right so there’s no rubbing. At one point I thought the clearances were too tight and I’d have to give up but all was well in the end. The whole thing took me just under an hour so it’s not really a quick job, but these badboys will be staying on until spring so I’m sure my bike and backside will thank me. I don’t reckon they look too bad either.
Some more advice I took from the GCN video was applying some tape to the back of the seat tube to protect the frame. If you take a look at the pic above you can see the rear guard touches the frame and I didn’t want any scrapeage. Some 3M electrical tape looks like it will do the job.
After all that faffing I was really looking forward to a test spin. I headed out on a 35 mile local loop this morning and was well pleased at the protection the Raceblades give. I went past Beaulieu River when, after the tide had come right up and partially flooded the road, it was an ideal chance to do some wet testing. I sailed right through a fairly deep section and was amazed to find I didn’t actually get wet… like not even a bit. Enjoyed. They do rattle a bit over rough roads and I can definitely feel some extra drag at higher speeds to be honest but I don’t mind that as a trade off.
So if you’re wondering whether you can fit SKS Raceblades to a racey(ish) road bike with 25mm tyres… the answer is… bloody well yes.