Hyro, my TCX, is perhaps most famous on social media as one of the bikes that introduced full-length fenders into the consciousness of the Filipino riding public. Many of the questions I get revolve around the SKS P45 Longboards he runs and where I got them.
As great as they are, and as fantastic as their coverage is, they are not perfect. I’ve written about how their sheer size works against them and their plastic-with-aluminum construction in a number of ways. In my experience, they are very susceptible to skewing and twisting along their length, the stays combating the torsion by only a certain amount. Additionally, the vibrations from riding on our not-so-smooth roads have contributed to their cracking crosswise, which is why I’ve had two sets of these so far, and now run rubber washers on the mount points as a mitigating measure.
Note that the fenders SKS makes as standard equipment on some Dahon and Tern bikes have the same construction; however, the much smaller 20″ (406 mm) wheel diameter they are made for means they can keep their shape and integrity better. I’ve never had issues with Bino’s fenders, much less needed to replace them.
Unfortunately, my second set of Longboards developed cracks earlier than before, the damage held at bay by duct tape. I was mulling over the cost of another set plus shipping fees…when I chanced across Bike-ary Bicycle Lifestyle on Facebook and their pre-order announcement of some SKS fenders, referred to by the article number “10434” and pegged at PhP2,000 a set. Bike-ary is a small-batch importer of more obscure bike accessories and other “contraband,” gaining popularity due to the growing bikepacking and bicycle touring movement.
As it turns out, “10434” is the article number for SKS’ 53 mm Bluemels fender set in matte finish – a full 8 mm wider than the 45 mm Longboards I run. I immediately had concerns about fitment on Hyro.
Fortunately for Hyro, his fork and frame fit the Bluemels snugly and nicely, which actually break 60 mm when measured across the top.
Examination of the Bluemels themselves reveals a much beefier construction. I actually tried bending these crosswise, thinking it might be needed to fit them into the TCX frame and fork. They feel solid and resistant to twisting in a way the Longboards could only dream of. The packaging seems to imply that this time around, SKS has used more aluminum – and slightly more weight.
This being my third SKS fender set on the same bike, I already knew the vagaries of installation and what to expect from the hardware…but met some pleasant surprises.
I hooked up the rear fender first. SKS replaced the metal sliding bridge with one made out of more snug-fitting plastic, very similar to Planet Bike’s design. The sliding bridge also has two small loops on the top that can be used to run zip-ties to, allowing bikes with no seat stay bridge to mount the rear fender directly to their seat stays. Up at the chain stay junction, I used zip ties to fasten the front edge of the rear fender as before.
Up front, SKS changed the previous Secu-Clip design with an ASR-Plug. Both devices are safety mechanisms, designed to release the front fender to prevent any large debris from getting stuck, locking up the front wheel and causing an accident. The Secu-Clip was a large plastic tab on the fork that served as a “clip” that the front fender stays plugged into. The ASR-Plug reverses this concept: what mounts onto the fork is the plug, and the stays themselves have the socket. The whole thing slims down in the process.
Full-length fenders can be tricky to deal with, but I was impressed with how smoothly the install went with the Bluemels. They have the same marvelously large rubber mudflaps the Longboards came with. One difference is the shorter forward projection and 20 cm shorter overall length on the front fender, perhaps indicating slightly less protection from a mouthful of dirty, muddy street water…but that’s still better than nothing.
Arguably, the best thing about this particular fender set is that it’s available locally without having to resort to the expense of private importing or a cargo forwarder. The Bluemels also come in other widths, all the way down to 25 mm, so if these 53 mm units are too much for your frame, you’ve still got options, although you may have to bring them in yourself.
5 thoughts on “A tale of two mudguards: Longboards vs Bluemels”
Hey. Appreciated your write-up. I’m randomly a pinoy in NYC, and trying to decide between getting SKS Longboard or Bluemels. After a few months, what’s been your take? Is the extra length of the Longboard worth it?
I’m prepping for a ride this April from Seattle to SF, along the coast, and setting-up my cyclo-cross bike for touring. I’m little bit concerned about the installation around my disc brakes. Thanks G.
Hi. The two fender sets are broadly similar if you compare like-for-like widths. For ultimate longitudinal coverage, the Longboard is my pick. The Bluemels seem tougher and more substantial, but give up some coverage.
I’ve gone through two pairs of Longboards, and they tend to last me a couple years when permanently fitted to my TCX. They tend to crack crosswise due to road vibration, which you can mitigate by sandwiching rubber washers between the mounting bolts on the fork crown, seatstay bridge, and chainstay bridge.
The Bluemels, I’ve had for about a year. Using the same rubber washer strategy to dampen road vibrations, they seem to be holding up well. No cracks yet. Coverage of the front fender is a little shorter, so your toes will end up a bit wetter, but otherwise I’ve got no complaints so far.
Regarding mounting around disc brake calipers: Canadian company Axiom has recently started selling their Disc Runners, which are essentially spacers to help fender stays clear disc brake calipers.
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Thanks! I went the Bluemels and should get them shortly. I also ordered those Disc Runners. Hopefully the install won’t be as nasty as I’ve read.
Do hope to take my bike home, the next time I visit my parents Awesome to find your blog. Definitely curious about a long distance bike tour there.
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I am looking for fenders to my bike. I have noticed that we have two types of SKS Blumels – version Matt and version shiny besides the mud flaps. Does shiny version have a better construction than matt version? From Your review I see that Longboard version is better than Blumels?
The difference between glossy and matte Bluemels isn’t huge. They are pretty much identical, although the matte set I got for my wife’s bike has reflective piping and a red rear reflector.
As far as Longboards being better than Bluemels – please read the review again. The Longboards have worse longevity in my experience. I’ve broken two sets at the front due to road vibration. By contrast, the lone Bluemels set I have for my bike is still going strong and is in no danger of cracking.