Well, the installation of the mud guards apparently appeased the weather gods at this year’s Georgia Tandem Rally.
The triplet was fitted with an SKS 28mm “Longboard” mud guard over the rear wheel and an SKS Racerblade Long mud guard had to be used over the front wheel in order to pass through the Shimano DuraAce caliper brake.
The rear mud guard fit well and stayed in place without any interference throughout all three days of riding. However, the front Racerblade Long was a little problematic. Admittedly, the Racerblade Long is designed for a 25mm tire and I was using with a Schwalbe 28mm Ultremo ZX. That made for some tight spaces where the tire passed through the mud guard supports. I bought myself some extra room by extending the support arms a bit so that the thickest part of the plastic molded fender carrier at the end of the support was positioned beyond the tire sidewall.
However, the bigger interference issue was where I expected it: that little front fender that clips to a support running under the brake caliper. Despite all kinds of adjustments, once under way on Friday I could hear the little fender piece rubbing on the tire during braking so I reached down and removed it for the majority of the ride: it wasn’t raining, so why deal with the interference?
Before Saturday’s ride I modified the bracket a bit but it proved to be only a marginal improvement and the fender was rubbing again. However, I made the mistake of leaving it out there too long and about 5 miles into our ride while descending a rather “swift” section of road with 20 tandems on our rear wheel I heard a couple rattles and then saw the fender piece shoot of the front of the bike as it was clipped by the front tire. As you’d expect, the trajectory landed the little fender in our own path and I’m fairly confident it was rolled-over several times by the tandems that were following us. Needless to say, I decided the risks posed by attempting to stop and retrieve the little part didn’t seem worth the reward and that was that.
On Sunday I attempted to use the rear fender extension from the SKS Racerblade Long in place of the front one but it too was rubbing so I quickly pulled it off the bike so as not to have it jettisoned into oblivion.
I’ve sent off a note to SKS to see if that little fender extension is available as a spare part. I suspect that it’s not, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I’d really rather not buy a second fender set just for the one small part. But, I’ll definitely need that for the Calfee so one way or another I’ll need to come up with some way of replacing that part.
Anyway, can’t really report on how well they work on wet roads since our installation of the mud guards ensured a rain-free event!! However, I would note that the metal tabs that install over the skewers seem a bit flimsy and don’t hold the fender as well as a true attachment point at the fork.
A slightly thicker metal tab would go a long way towards stiffing-up the installation. Front wheel removal for transport with the Racerblades is also a little awkward in that you need to remove the front skewer vs. loosening it up. For occasional use, it’s not a big deal. However, if I was to leave the mud guards on all the time I’d likely cut a channel in the mounting tab so that I could slide the mud guard lower support bracket ends into the hub/skewer without removing the skewer. I think it was originally designed that way, but I can easily imagine that consumers left the springs on the skewers when they installed the Racerblades and that, in turn, created issues.
At the end of the day I will say that having the mud guards on the bike… well, OK; 95% of the mud guards… was a non-issue. Once the small front fender piece that was rubbing was gone I couldn’t detect that the triplet had mud guards installed except on two occasions when something stuck to the front tire and was pulled through the mud guard with a loud rapport. Although highly subjective, I will also say that a bike with mud guards certainly looks a lot more complete than one without. Although not exactly “current” here are some photos of my Calfee Tetra Pro without an earlier version of the SKS mud guards. There’s just something about the mud guards that I like, and the newer full-coverage Raceblade Longs and Longboards more so than the shorter length versions.