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In the second part of this series, the bike was coming together, but I was still sorting out the rack and fenders. The folks at SKS had generously provided fenders for a couple of our projects, including this one, which I thought was going to be more difficult to fit since the frame wasn’t really designed with commuting in mind. The seat stays are actually a single section of tubing, formed into a large U, with no bridge. The chain stays have a tiny bridge, yet it’s not drilled either. Mounting a fender off the seatpost could be a quick and dirty solution, except that I expected interference from the rear rack. Enter the X-Blade from SKS. It’s got a quick release clamp where it attaches to the seatpost, and it adjusts at the clamp and fender, allowing for the perfect angle on just about any bike.
Installation of the X-Blade couldn’t have been easier, taking less than a minute. Adjusting it may take another two, but once adjusted, no tools are required to install or remove it. There’s some heavy duty nylon webbing that’s held in place by friction on one side of the clamp. Just pull it through or let some out to accommodate the diameter of your seat post. After that, wrap it around and snap the durable plastic buckle into place. Simple as that. Need to remove the fender? Pull the buckle to release it. You’ll need an allen wrench to adjust it to the proper angle, but that’s not the least bit difficult either. Whether by luck or design, the forward struts for my rack fit right through the fender mount, making the whole installation much smoother than expected. If I decide to remove the rear fender, I’ll have to take the two upper bolts for the rack out, and tilt it back, but that’s no trouble at all. Shop tip: Use tall 4mm allen head bolts, rather than flat 3mm ones, for your upper rack mounts. They can take more torque, and don’t strip as easily. Be sure to grease them too. The rack I chose is an older Topeak Super Tourist DX that was used on this bike when I commuted on it in Australia. The lower mounts have standoffs to clear the disc brakes. It’s wider than normal, but very sturdy, plus it’s QuickTrack™compatible, so their matching trunk bags slide on and lock into place without tools. Pretty slick design.
Mounting the Shockblade front fender was equally painless. After removing the front wheel, we selected the appropriate sized expanding cone from the three that SKS includes with each fender. All you have to do is attach the adapter to the bottom of the cone with the nut and allen bolt, then insert into the steering tube and tighten until it’s snug, but still has a bit of movement. Press the orange button and slide the fender onto the adapter. It will lock into place, but can be released by pressing the orange button all the way down, and pulling it back off. (We’re going to have some video of this on our Youtube channel just as soon as we can organize it) It actually took me longer to type the instructions than it takes to just do it. Note that although the Shockblade is designed specifically for suspension forks, it will work on rigid forks too. The difference is that rigid forks will usually have a hole in the crown for mounting a fender, where suspension forks may not. Since the Shockblade’s cone fits inside the steerer, you get the added bonus of a fender that keeps dirt, grime, and water out of your steerer tube.
With this project mostly complete, we have a rolling test bed for various components and accessories of interest to commuters. Although we certainly didn’t take the budget route, you could get similar results for much less with some careful shopping. As mentioned earlier, a used rigid MTB should be easy to find for $100 or less. Racks show up on our local classified ads for as little as $20. SKS offers another fender set, the Bluemels, for under $20 retail. Panniers and maybe a trunk bag will probably be the biggest expense, but even a large set with waterproof covers can be bought for less than $100. If you’re a savvy shopper with a bit of mechanical skill, you could probably reproduce this project in a v-brake version for $150, maybe even less.
For those interested, the X-Blade comes in two sizes, for 26″ or 27.5″ wheels, and a slightly larger model for 28″ and 29″ wheels. Most retailers and websites offer them for under $30. The Shockblade is available in the same sizes as well, and is priced about the same. Both are a semi-matte black plastic, with softer grey flexible accents. sks-germany.com