Our Guide to Buying: Mudguards

What are Mudguards?

In a nutshell

Mudguards protect you and your bike from spray and water. They will make your riding experience more comfortable and cut down on bike washing and maintenance time. Mudguards are one of the most effective ways of keeping you warm and dry while on a mountain bike, but are also useful pieces of kit for both commuter and road bikes. Take a look through our mudguard buying guide to help you choose the right style for your bike.

Commuter Mudguards

If you’ve taken the plunge and decided that cycling to work every day is the best way to keep fit and save cash, then a full set of commuter mudguards is likely to be a worthwhile investment.

There’s nothing worse than cycling through town and country when it’s wet – even when it’s not raining the spray from the road can soak you in minutes. Wet roads won’t just spray you with water either, but also the oil and pollution that vehicles drop onto the road.

What are the main features of commuter mudguards?

A full set of commuter mudguards should offer as much wheel coverage as possible, which will minimise the water and debris that will otherwise get flung up towards you. Commuter mudguards tend to come in plastic or metal variants, and are usually black or silver. Some mudguards will also have mudflaps for extra coverage, or feature reflectors to help increase your visibility.

Many commuter bikes have eyelets built onto the frame and forks to which mudguard struts can easily attach. If your bike doesn’t have any, don’t worry because you may be able to fit them with a set of Tortec P-Clips (depending on the frame’s tube diameter), or other adapters which may come with the mudguards. The Crud Road Racer MK2 mudguard set comes with rubber straps which don’t require any frame mounts – they just wrap around your frame’s tubes and use zip-ties to attach.

Generally, pricier ones will last longer, with SKS commuter mudguards being a very popular option among commuters. The SKS Raceblade Long quick release set are some of the best commuter mudguards on the market..

Is it easy to fit mudguards to your bike?

Fitting mudguards on commuter and road bikes can take a bit of time, as they generally have to fit around your brakes, but with a bit of patience, once set up they’ll keep you dry and clean throughout the wetter months of the year!

Road Bike Mudguards

What types of mudguard can you get for road bikes?

Mudguards for road bikes come in two types. There are the fixed, permanent guards that require threaded bosses to attach to your bike, or there are occasional guards that you can quickly attach prior to a ride. Permanent road bike mudguards offer the very best in protection from road spray. They are available for a wide range of wheel and tyre sizes and require tools to fit. Quick-release, and quick fitting guards, also come in a range of styles.

One example is the large, full-length blade-styles of the Topeak Defender range, which are simple to affix but bulky on a race bike. At the other end of the spectrum are the SKS Raceblades, which offer a half-way house between full permanent guards and quick-release systems, but require a little more time to fit.

By far the most minimal but effective rear road bike mudguard is the saddle-fitting Ass Saver which clips onto your saddle rail in seconds and protects your backside from the worst of road spray. It won't keep you completely dry, but it will keep you comfortable.

Mountain Bike Mudguards

Mudguards for mountain bikes might not be the most fashionable item to bolt to your beloved bike, but with the amount of rain we get throughout the year, they can make the difference between a comfortable ride and one where you just want to go home as quickly and cleanly as possible.

What are the benefits of fork guards on a mountain bike?

Fork guards are good because they are a minimal addition to your bike and as water and mud sprays off the front your wheel, they catch it before it gets flung into your face. Small, neoprene fenders that strap onto your suspension fork between the lower leg brace and the crown, such as the NeoGuard fork mudguard are also popular.

What sort of mudguards should I use for mountain biking?

At the rear of the bike, MTB mudguards can help you avoid the brown-trouser look by catching mud before it’s thrown onto your shorts, back and pack. If you want complete and full protection, the best system is probably a full, fork attached front mudguard in conjunction with a matching rear.

It might not sound like a big deal, but over long distances, the mix of mud and moisture can lead to chaffing and a chilly ride. Most rear mudguards fix to the seatpost, with the Crud Catcher being a bit of a classic. A novel approach comes from the Ass Saver, which is a mini fender that attaches under your saddle. They’re useful for catching the odd puddle splash, but might not keep you totally dry during a full-on downpour.

Topeak’s Defender set comes with front and rear mudguards, with the front attaching with a bung in the fork steerer tube, they’re one of the best mtb mudguards. Their plastic construction means they’ll take the odd hit, and their quick release mechanism means you can whip them off in an instant.