Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: SKS Longboard Fenders

SKS Chromoplastic fenders are great. They're stylish, lightweight, and durable. The only problem was that they are too short and they don't come with mudflaps. If you're riding your bike year round, in any kind of weather, the longer your fenders are the better. A couple of weeks ago, ecovelo pointed out that Rivendell was selling a new model of SKS fenders, the Longboards. The main distinguishing feature is that they are longer and they do have mudflaps in the front and in the back -- perfect! Thus I ordered a pair from Swan Cycles and picked them up today.Of course, I couldn't wait to put them on and I wanted to share some pictures and give an initial review.
Before: front wheel with DIY Fructis mudflap

Before: rear wheel

The fenders come with minimal, functional packaging

Step one was to remove the old fenders. This was largely unproblematic, but requires taking off the rear wheel in order to get to the screw next to the bottom bracket. To give you a direct comparison between old and new fender, I've put them on top of each other. Clearly, they provide much more coverage, especially the front fender. (I bought the old fenders in 2008; I've heard that in the meantime the regular Chromoplastics have become a bit longer, but I'm not sure about this.)
Difference in length is not that significant

Much better coverage

Installing the new fenders took an unexpectedly long time. The main issue was cutting the struts to length. Now the older fenders, in addition to the coverage issue, had the problem that the end caps provided for covering the potentially sharp ends of the struts tended to get lost quite easily. I think I lost three of them within the first week of mounting the fenders. SKS has solved this issue by making the end caps longer and wedging them between the mounting hardware of the struts and the fender. While this may sound like a neat solution it comes at a cost: the struts have to be at exactly the right length for the system to work. Therefore, you first have to mount the fenders without the end caps, mark the struts, unmount the struts, cut the fenders to length, and then reinstall everything with the end caps in place. Cutting the fenders took me a bit, since I don't have the proper tools (read: bolt cutter); and fiddling the struts into the caps also was quite tricky. Well, fortunately you only have to do this once and now the fenders look really nice:

The end result

The coverage looks really good, even though I would have like then to extend a bit further to the front on the front wheel. The mud flap is made of a flexible material and is close enough to the tire that it shouldn't be an issue when riding down a curb. Now I'll just need a good downpour to confirm the Longboards' function.

SKS Longboard Fenders
45mm wide
available in black, silver, and creme
around USD 40.-

Edit 2011-04-02: After using the fenders for a few days, I noticed that the front fender does reach down very far -- maybe a bit too far. Therefore I have moved the fenders from being mounted at the rear of the fork crown to the front. This slightly increases the ground clearance of the fender and also extends them further by maybe 3 cm. I've ridden in light to medium rain a few times by now and the fenders work very well!


  1. Have you had any problems with front fork shimmy? When I put Longboards on my bike, I could see the front flap oscillating back and forth. If I pulled my hands off the handlebars, it set up a hell of a shimmy. I finally took the front fender off...

  2. Nope, shimmy hasn't been a problem for me. But I guess they are always very specific to each bike's geometry, weight distribution, resonant frequency etc. Did you have them mounted in front or in the back of the crown fork? Sometimes small things like that can make a big difference.

    1. Replying to myself: On a multi-day tour a couple of weeks ago, I did encounter shimmy problems. I first attributed them to the rear-heavy load, but after the tour the problem persisted. It turned out that one of the Secuclip mounts on the front fender had come just a little bit loose and that seems to have contributed to the problem (I can't say for sure because the headset was slightly loose, too). So I think it would be good if SKS used less flexible struts on these fenders.