Tag Archives: winter

Fitting SKS Raceblade Longs to Road Bikes with 25mm Tyres

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.

SKS Raceblades on Canyon Roadlite
Snug and not too ugly. Ready for some wet roads!

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.

Canyon Roadlite AL 6.0
This morning’s spin in the New Forest

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.

One Month In: Cube Aim Disc 29er

So a couple of months in and I thought it was about time I reported back on how I’ve been getting on with the Cube Aim Disc 29er. It’s been among the wettest couple of months on record here in the UK in Jan and Feb which has resulted in limiting my off road mileage. However I’ve still managed to notch up over 100 miles on the Cube so I’ve definitely got to know it a bit.

A hardtail 29er is ideal for The New Forest where most of the stuff you come across is undulating fire road and the bits of single track here and there are not too technical. As I had hoped the Cube is great on this kind of stuff, fast, responsive and agile enough to deal with 30mph descents on bumpy gravel. The hydraulic disc brakes are really good for a bike of this price and you’re thankful of their presence on wet and muddy rides. They really inspire confidence and I think it’s the brakes and the comfort levels that are the standout features of the bike. The Scape saddle hasn’t given me a single ache even when riding more than 20 miles without padded under-garmentry!

The Aim Disc comes with Schwalbe Smart Sams as standard and I’ve found these a good cross country tyre, suited to the tracks around the forest. They’re not incredibly grippy so when the going gets very loose and slidey you will lose traction but the trade off is they’re pretty quick on the road. The smooth line of nobbles down the middle meaning that connecting forest enclosures isn’t too much of a chore. As the weather’s been so bad recently I’ve actually ended up doing a fair few road miles and I’ve enjoyed them for the most part. It’s no road bike but for an entry level hardtail it copes with the tarmac pretty well.

WP_20140121 1
The soaking wet winter has made a right mess of van and bike…. I hate cleaning.

The only downer is the fork, it’s a Suntour XCM jobby, which isn’t great at damping when traveling quickly. Often failing to rebound quick enough to catch the next bump or dip that’s in front of you at speed. Although to be honest, for crashing about the forest and having a laugh on, it’s something that you can happily live with and perhaps something that a lot of people wouldn’t notice unless you rode something much better equipped side by side. You can actually get this exact bike for £379 now at Hargroves – at that price it’s a blooming steal (I have nothing to do with Hargroves, this is just where I bought mine – other bike shops are available).

Cube Aim Disc 29er Fork
Forking good enough for me.

I’m now looking forward to spring creeping in and the chance to get out in the forest a bit more on this thing, I’ve already been planning a few routes with my better half that involve a few pub pitstops.

Saunton Rollers

A few really fun little waves at Saunton yesterday, the weather was terrible with a lot of rain and wind pushing around the air however the waves were waist and a bit high on the sets (photo is not a set wave!) and most of them were really peeling down the line giving some fairly long right handers. Feel like I’m getting a lot better at surfing pro-actively now rather than just reacting to the wave face I’m now looking for sections more and making more premeditated carves – looking forward to some more clean waves now to continue improving and by the looks of the forecast I shouldn’t have to wait long!

Wild, Winterry Widemouth

Widdy11022013

Widdy11022013b

Widdy11022013c

Widdy11022013d

This was Widemouth Bay yesterday – dark, misty, moody and damp, sums up North Cornwall quite well I think! Waves were big and thumping in, difficult to judge size but the bigger sets were getting on towards double overhead on the face I reckon but the swell was lumpy and disorganised hence no-one out, may have been a few spots down the coast handling the swell a little better though.