S-Blade Review Summary $20
After limited testing, the S-Blade seems easy to attach, durable, solidly designed, and a practical solution for keeping most mud and debris away from your back. It also remains in place while riding, comes with an ultra-competitive price, and is widely available in bike shops and online retailers.
Unlike more robust fenders, though, doesn’t expect it to keep mud and debris off of easily damaged parts like the drive train.
- Easy to set up
- Can add and remove as needed
- Competitive price
- High level of online customer satisfaction
- Strong manufacturer reputation
- Great (although limited) firsthand experience
- Widely available from popular online and in-store retailers
- Can only accommodate tire widths up to 47 mm
User Review( votes)
Hesitant to buy a rear bike fender? Me too! Here’s what I learned after testing out SKS’s S-Blade racing rear mudguard, and whether or not it’s worth the money.
About the S-Blade Mudguard
Made from high-quality, impact resistant plastic, the SKS S-Blade is designed to help prevent water, mud, and other debris from dirtying your backside while spinning on your racing bike.
S-Blade vs. Other SKS Rear Fenders
However, it won’t work well in all instances. Why? SKS indicates that it can only accommodate tires up to 47 mm wide. Any wider, and you’ll need to size up their large X-TRA-DRY or X-TRA-DRY XL fenders. Here’s a quick table for comparison:
|Max Tire Width||47 mm||2.5”||2.5”|
|Weight||4.1 oz (117 g)||4.9 oz (140 g)||5.7 oz (162 g)|
|Length||18.3” (465 mm)||15” (380 mm)||18.5” (470 mm)|
|Tire Size(s)||700C||26”||27,5″, 28″, 29″|
S-Blade Attachment & Adjustment
In addition to sharing the same plastic construction, the SKS S-Blade and its brethren use a rubber-lined, length adjustable ‘powerstrap’ to attach the mudguard to seat posts up to 35 mm in diameter. At the other end, you’ll find a quick release mechanism for easy on and off.
Once in place, unless you opt for the Fixed model, you can adjust the S-Blade’s angle and maximize its coverage using a few turns of a 4 mm Allen wrench.
My Experience-Based Opinion About the SKS S-Blade
In my opinion, there’s a lot to like about SKS’s S-Blade, including its $15-$20 price tag from third-party retailers like Amazon, REI, Chain Reaction Cycles, Jenson USA, Evans Cycles; its award-winning design, its allroad functionality, mostly positive online customer feedback, along with its five-year manufacturer warranty. But, should you buy?
Here, I’ll discuss what I’ve learned during my firsthand testing, so you can decide whether or not it deserves a spot on your bike.
Let’s start by quickly take a closer look at its unique fastening system.
Instructions: Securing the S-Blade Rear Mudguard to Your Bike
SKS’s designers ensured the S-Blade is easy to install. In fact, other than your hands, the only tool you’ll need is a 4 mm Allen wrench for adjusting the fender’s angle. Here’s how it works:
- Unlock the side strap lever.
- Wrap the strap around your seat post. Pull to adjust the length.
- Put the hinge’s rounded portion into place.
- Lock into place with your thumb.
- Latch firmly and verify everything remains in place.
- Loosen the hex bolt (unless you have the Fixed model), located behind and opposite the latch. Then, move the fender into the appropriate position based on your preferences.
- You’re ready to ride!
Sure, attaching seems relatively straightforward. But, what about real-world use? Here’s everything I discovered.
What I Learned After Riding With the SKS S-Blade
I enjoy riding gravel.
So much, in fact, that I’ve spent a fair amount of time creating a relatively affordable setup that maximizes my riding fun. This includes everythingfrom choosing my bike’s model to specific details like its bar tape, tires, and even its smartphone mounting system.
But, despite the fact that riding gravel frequently involves kicking up dirt, mud, and other debris at my backside, I’ve remained hesitant to implement a rear fender. Perhaps because I wasn’t fond of how I perceived it might change my bike’s lines, or how much it might increase weight or drag.
In the end, though, I’m glad I decided to give the S-Blade a try, which I picked up from my local REI for $20, plus tax. Why?
I’ll take it step-by-step:
Setting Up the S-Blade Rear Fender
As covered earlier, the S-Blade’s overall setup process is simple and straightforward. The rubber lining inside the strap provides solid grip against about 75% of your bike’s seat post, while the foam padding on the V-shaped section (which attaches directly to the fender itself) covers the remainder.
I’ve found that this padding works great to help keep everything firmly in place when riding (more next). During the initial setup, though, I’ve learned the strap ‘flexes’ about 1/16th of an inch when clamping the side lever into place, which can mean the difference between a snug fit and one that allows for movement when riding.
Bottom line: During setup, it might take a bit of trial and error before achieving the perfect tension on S-Blade’s strap. Afterward, though, you can remove and re-add it within seconds.
Gauging the S-Blade’s Performance
So far, I’ve taken the S-Blade on a 40+-mile gravel ride through Boulder County, Colorado, in relatively dry conditions, which also included a fair amount of rolling singletrack mixed with pavement.
I didn’t notice any movement whatsoever, other than when my leg inadvertently grazed it while dismounting, or when navigating an especially technical section. And, despite my initial hesitancy regarding its width in relation to my Panaracer Gravelking SKs (as well as its sturdiness), it seemed to remain firmly in place and provide fantastic coverage for the little bit of mud I encountered.
I’m riding the 100K Old Man Winter rally coming up on February 10, 2019, and I’ll make sure to update this review once I’ve logged a bit more saddle time.
Just keep in mind that unlike a full rear fender with a mud flap, the S-Blade’s minimalist design won’t keep grit off of your drive train and frame.
Bottom line: Not only was the S-Blade easy to set up, but during my initial testing, I’ve also found it works great in the real world. So far, it largely seems like a set-it-and-forget-it solution.
My First Impressions About the S-Blade’s Quality
Since I’ve yet to encounter any movement during riding, I’d say that SKS’s powerstrap keeps everything firmly in place in relatively rough conditions. With its padding, you probably won’t have to worry about damaging your bike’s finish, either.
It also comes with a sturdy polypropylene construction that, if it flexes at all while riding, does so unnoticeably.
Bottom line: The S-Blade seems thoughtfully designed and solidly constructed to deliver on its promises of slimline protection from mud and other debris.
Coming to a Conclusion About the SKS S-Blade Rear Fender/Mudguard
With a little more than 40 miles of mixed terrain riding so far on the S-Blade, my first impression is that I’ll probably get much more value out of it than the $20 I paid.
Like most of their other products, it appears that SKS put a lot of thought into its design, which should work well for most cyclists, without damaging their bike’s finish.
Is it a long-term solution, or one meant for daily commuting and maximum protection from road sludge and debris? No.
But, if you ride a 700C road/gravel/whatever bike with tires no wider than 47 mm and are looking to minimize how much gunk ends up on your backside, this mudguard’s combination of widespread availability, competitive price, mostly positive online customer reputation, and durable construction might be difficult to overlook.
Be sure to bookmark this page, and I’ll update with my impressions after riding the 2019 Old Man Winter Rally.
Do you have experience with the SKS S-Blade? If so, leave your thoughts in the comments below. Make sure you also give the fender a star rating at the top of the page!
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Keep rolling: Panaracer Gravelking SK Review