The Bike List

SKS Chromoplastic mudguard set £30 (700c) £33 (MTB)

Tested by Jon Adams, tester for The Bike List

It's always surprising how much water hits you from underneath when riding during or just after a rain shower, and the bad news is, this water is much muckier than the stuff falling out of the sky. We've all had the familiar murky stripe from the back tyre up our backs, and though for weekend warriors, the grime may add to the fun of a good thrash, those who are a little more utilitarian in mind will like the idea of avoiding water and mud as much as possible.

Mudguards are pretty much essential for touring and commuting, and though they might seem a bit like sensible shoes, they're also a social requirement for group riding. Drafting someone on a wet day isn't much fun, and damp weather is probably the only time when everyone will want to be taking the wind up front, rather than taking what's coming off someone's back wheel.

The Chromoplastics from SKS come in a front and rear pair and can be bought with a mudflap on the front guard and a reflector on the rear. They're available for both 26in and 700C wheels, so are suitable for anything with enough clearance like rigid MTBs, hybrids, tourers and cyclocross bikes, and they come in different widths from 35mm to 65mm to cover different size tyres. The material used for the body of the guards seems to be almost unbreakable. You can bend it back on itself, and it just springs back into shape. The guards are supplied with a fitting kit, and this is all good, solid stuff, made in the main from stainless steel. The supporting stays that hold the guards in place are made from 3.4mm stainless rods fashioned into a V shape, and these are really beefy. There's a downside to this, as you may well have to cut them down to get a snug fit on the front guard on a 700C set, and you'll probably have to cut both front and rear down to get a good fit on a 26in bike.

I've cut them using a junior and regular hacksaw with and without a vice, and believe you me, it's MUCH easier if you use a vice. Even if it means waiting to borrow a bench vice (or buying one for £20), it's worth it, as cutting sprung steel being held by your fingers isn't much fun, and is likely to lead to harsh language at best, or injury at worst. You may have to cut the front stays down, simply because leaving the lower arm too long may well interfere with your feet when turning, and you don't want any part of the front wheel assembly getting caught on your feet.

Cutting the stays down to the right length is the only part of fitting the Chromoplastics that can be fiddly, and it's worth taking your time and getting it right, so leave yourself a good couple of hours for the whole job if you have to do it. The basic fitting itself is simple - just whip the wheels off and use the supplied bolts to attach the guards, then, having fitted the largest tyres you're likely to use, put the wheels back on and offer up the guards to see if you need to trim the stays. Plastic end caps that cover the ends of the stays are included in the fitting kit, and though they leave a really neat, professional finish, the way they attach to the guards doesn't leave much room for error in the stay length. Just remember ­- measure twice, cut once! You'll need a file to smooth off the rough edge left by the hacksaw, and though you can fit the guards quickly and much more easily by ignoring the end caps altogether, don't be tempted to do this: the ends can be razor sharp, and you don't want razor sharp edges this close to bare legs!

Once the guards are on, you can fine-tune the side-to-side position by pushing or pulling the stay in or out the endcap a little and locking the 10mm nut. Once the position is centred up and nice and close to the tyre, a final tighten of everything does the job. It's worth using a little Loctite or some sprung washers on the bolts that hold the stays to the front and rear forks, as these suffer a lot of vibration, and can rattle loose over time.

The Chromoplastics are well-made, neat, robust and very effective. They'll stop any ground water from soaking you, and the front mudflap will keep your feet from getting a drenching as well. They're designed with safety in mind too, as the front stays will break away from the fork mount if an item becomes trapped between the tyre and the guard. After you've sorted the problem, the breakaway joint - known as a Secu-Clip - simply pushes back into place.

For £30 or £33, the Chromoplastics offer excellent value, as they'll last for years and put up with all sorts of abuse. There's no denying that the fitting can be fiddly, but use a vice to hold the stays should you need to cut them down, and everything is made much easier. Once in place, these guards really can't be faulted, and as well as looking good, they do a cracking job.

Buy from: www.chainreactioncycles.com

SKS Says:

Mudguard set for front and rear:

  • With traditional and unmistakable decorative stripes 
  • 3.4 mm stainless steel stays.
  • Bolts and nuts from stainless steel.
  • Front fork crown fitting, sliding bridge and fixed bridges of stainless steel.
  • Including stainless steel assembly kit. 
  • Security fastening Security clip (DIN 79100).
  • 35mm-65mm diameters available.
  • Narrow/Wide/MTB/Hybrid.
  • 700c - 35mm/45mm/50mm Black/Silver
  • 26in - 55mm/65mm Black/Silver

Find out more: www.sks-germany.com

At a glance

Verdict Superb, full-length mudguards that are robust and dependable and come in a variety of widths for different tyre sizes. Fitting can be fiddly, but once they're on, they're great.
Value
Performance