First impressions of SKS’ new mudguard
Yes, I’ll admit it: I believe in mudguards.
One of the leading brands in this often overlooked matter is SKS. Since 1921 SKS have made some mighty fine products that make a lot of sense when living in the northern hemisphere. At the same time, they have also made some not so good products recently too.
Their latest offering is the Speedrocker. It is an interesting take at helping people with a variety of riding needs seek out their adventures without getting a soggy bum through the aid of clip-on mudguards.
I was happy to see the Speedrocker make it to our British shores back in March 2019. The promise of a non-fuss, sturdy, clip-on mudguard does look the business. So often clip-ons can be a compromise for the real thing. But when you lack the fittings, or simply desire an alternative, clip-ons can be the potential answer.
Speedrockers are clearly proud of their German origins:
How does it work?
If you’ve previously owned a set of SKS Race Blades, or Race Blade Long’s, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory when it comes to using the Speedrocker.
The setup is similar: with rubber fittings to attach to a bike’s fork and seat-stays; both the design and application are simple and straightforward.
All the same, avoid tinkering with the bike on the morning of a ride. It can get fiddly. Besides, it’s better to save that energy for the ride and getting at the meeting point on time. I’m clearly speaking from experience.
It’s important to note that the mudguards are promoted as suitable for gravel, cyclocross and racing bikes with disc brakes.
Click thumnail to enlarge images:
Keep your guard up
The grand plan is to build up a proper adventure bike in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, the Speedrockers is to be tested on the trusted steel steed fixie first; out comes the Cotic Roadrat.
With mammoth forks and stays, the Roadrat offers plenty of rubber clearance for rolling on gnarly tarmac, towpath, or the make-believe Rapha Roubaix run. The Roadrat has completed this 3 times successfully. The Speedrocker are setup with up without much trouble. The tacky rubber fittings are strong and long enough to go around even the fattest of tubes.
Up front, protection is provided by a hefty dual-height spoiler that deflects the dirt away. Unfortunately, this only really works if you have disc bakes. With my rim brake up front, I had to forego such a luxury.
The Roadrat can take 700x47mm tyres. I’m running 28mm. This is no problem for the Speedrocker. Both the SKS website and packaging states the mudguards can shield people up to 42mm of rubber.
Once on, it’s time to ride.
Does it work?
We can be often be ungrateful people: we pray for good weather and when we get it, we plead for the opposite. The Speedrocker had to wait a good 2 weeks before being taken on it’s maiden voyage in the rain. Unheard of in the UK. And my, was it wet.
The first thing I notice is the updated stay design. SKS call it their ‘ESC Vario Safety System’. Don’t ask me why. The sturdy, but lightweight black anodised aluminium stays are wider than usual. They run over the top of the mudguard, and covered by a protective plate. This not only gives the Speedrocker a stealthy look but cleverly maximises the available clearance between the tyre and mudguard.
At the back, the rear mudguard hides a telescopic extension for greater coverage that extends towards the seat tube. It looks and feels like something out of Star Wars. As mentioned, everything is held firmly in place with updated rubber fastenings. Moreover, the whole package provides heaps of confidence that it will not budge no matter what is thrown at it. But it is far from perfect.
What can be improved?
Perhaps, this section should be retitled, ‘This should be improved’. The Speedrocker is a solid piece of kit and, with just a few updates, it would come highly recommended. Here’s what I think SKS should do better:
Firstly, it really is short. 50cm up front and 95cm is all there is to protect you and the people around you when it gets mucky. Yes, if you’re riding on gravel or mud, the expectation is that you’re riding for fun. For example, it is accepted wisdom that when on gravel, for instance, rather than draft, it is safer to keep your distance. Thus making short mudguards somewhat acceptable. I beg to differ; mudguards should do their job well.
At the same time, if you’re racing, there’s no obligation to be concerned about the muddy faces of the racers behind you. However, I would argue that most people will be using their mudguards for non-racing events. And we’re all grateful when mudguards do what they’re meant to do.
Secondly, if you’re running disc brakes, the Speedrocker is an excellent option: much better than an ass-saver in terms of coverage and less time consuming to put together than a full setup; you’re tool free. All the same, it still makes the Speedrocker a middle ground solution.
Finally, if like me, you have a rim brake, you may discover the front guard becomes redundant. I for one would welcome an updated front guard option that is adaptable for rim brake bicycles. In this age of inclusion, I can’t see why not.
The Low Down
There’s a time and a place to get wet and muddy. More often than not, it’s not on your daily commute, or club-ride. Enter the Speedrocker by SKS.
Both the SKS website and packaging states it can cover up to 42mm. I don’t have a crystal ball, but no doubt they are bound to be bringing out something more substantial to keep in touch with trends for wider tyres.
The improved build quality is a welcome update. It’s built like a tank, but even tanks run into trouble and, in this case, it’s because the Speedrocker is a tad short. SKS have come up with something worthy and is going in the right direction. I’m looking forward to what they do next with the Speedrocker.
List price £40.99
:: The review is independent and the club does not have any involvement with SKS. We simply like the idea. You can find a range of reviews here ::