Most cyclists will, at some point or another, find themselves riding in the rain. Bicycle mudguards will be the difference between riding with a smile or a grimace

While they may not be the most fashionable, sporty-looking or cool accessory you can attach to your bike, the improvement that bicycle mudguards bring to the quality of your ride in bad weather can be immeasurable.

Once you’ve experienced the difference quality bicycle  mudguards can make, you’ll never want to go back. Never underestimate how much better you’ll feel an hour into ride in the rain if your shoes aren’t full of water and your chamois is still dry. It isn’t until you ride with mudguards that you realise how much water comes up from the road!

Our seven of the best

SKS Raceblade Pro Stealth bicycle mudguards

SKS stealth bicycle mudguards

SKS Raceblade Pro Stealth bicycle mudguards

The matte black finishing on these mudguards inspires the name and gives your a nice finishing touch if your bike isn’t of a glossy nature.

Disc brake compatible and with an accommodation of larger tyres, these mudguards from SKS are ready to take on anything. While they may not be full length, the additional mudflaps that can be detached are a nice touch to prevent any possible back spray.

>>> Read the full review here

>>> Buy now for £32.49 at Tredz

Bontrager NCS Road bicycle mudguards

bontrager bicycle mudguards

Bontrager NCS Road bicycle mudguards

If you’re looking for something a little more from your mudguards and you’re lucky enough to have eyelets on your bike then these full length bicycle mudguards from Bontrager will keep you bone dry.

Naturally, Bontrager products work best with Trek bikes but don’t be put off, all you need is some screw eyelets and you’ll be able to fit these sturdy full length mudguards. Much more secure than clip on mudguards, full length ones like these won’t rattle and are a more permanent fixture on your bike making them great for riding year round.

>>> Buy now for £39.99 from Evans Cycles

SJS Roadguards bicycle mudguards

SJS Roadguards bicycle mudguards

SJS Roadguards bicycle mudguards

The price, at £19 less a penny, is very attractive, the length of the guard is very good and the nylock fittings make set-up simple, preventing too much wobbling and faff when finalising the positioning.

However, we did have issues on some bikes. With a large, hard plastic block incorporating a jubilee clip-style adjuster we found them limiting on almost anything other than smaller, rounded tubing and fork legs. Tapered or aero shapes are a definite no-no. If these fit your bike, they’ll work pretty well but we can’t help knocking them down a mark due to their inflexible design.

>>> Buy now SJS Roadguards at SJ cycles for £18.99

Crud Roadracer 2 bicycle mudguards

Crud Roadracer 2 bicycle mudguards

Crud Roadracer 2 bicycle mudguards

Now in their second iteration, Crud’s road guards are infuriatingly simple. Rather than try to offer an overly solid fixing around the brakes, the designers used tiny pile strips that buff up against the rim should the fender wobble in use.

The rest of the plastic fittings hold the set-up pretty solid, and once set up — they are a little more fiddly than most but worth persevering — we had no rubbing issues whatsoever. Only the fiddly set-up and removal, and quantity of parts prevents them getting a perfect 10.

>>> Buy the Crud RoadRacer Mk3 Mudguard Set now at Wiggle for £24.95

Topeak DeFender R1/R2 bicycle mudguards

Topeak Defender bicycle mudguards

Topeak DeFender R1/R2 bicycle mudguards

Despite seeming similar to many clip-on road mudguards, Topeak’s DeFenders have a distinct advantage over others in this test — three-point fixings. Rather than just attaching to the forks or stays, the fixing is triangulated by attaching to the brakes.

They are on the shorter side but still usable — fine for protecting the rider, but less so for anyone riding behind. The finish is good; they are solid in use and with integrated straps there’s nothing to lose when they’re not in use. Only a longer variant could improve them.

>>> Buy Topeak Defender Road R1/R2 Mudguard Set now at Tredz for £35.99

ETC M/guard bicycle mudguards

ETC M/guard bicycle mudguards

ETC M/guard bicycle mudguards

At first glance these ETCs look very similar to the SJS guards and in fact use an almost identical stay/fork fixing. This means they suffer from the same compatibility issues but at the fender end of the stays the fittings are quite different.

Rather than a visually old-fashioned but very solid nut and bolt, a plastic threaded adjuster grips the stay allowing for a small amount of adjustment. We had no issues on any of our test bikes but there is less adjustment than on some other designs.

>>> Buy ETC Quick Release 700C Mudguard Set now at Amazon for £24.37

Giant Defy bicycle mudguards

Giant Defy fenders bicycle mudguards

Unlike any others in this test, the Giant fenders will need frame fittings or aftermarket p-clips to attach them to. However, unlike other standard guards, the area that slides past the brakes is cut away to allow for fitting on bikes with pretty much zero clearance.

The extra width compared to Crud’s similar length Roadracers means it offers even more protection, and the four fixing points offer a perfect, solid fit. If you plan to keep guards on for the whole of the winter, there is no reason to buy anything else.

>>> Buy Giant Defy/Avail Fender Set now at Tredz for £26.99

Watch: Winterise your bike

As road bikes have become lighter and more sport focused, fittings and/or clearance for ‘proper’ mudguards has fallen out of favour and many people don’t have the financial wherewithal or inclination for a dedicated winter bike. All is not lost, though. There are now plenty of options for the ‘close clearance’ bike, from simple clip on and off options that avoid the brake and normal attachment issues, right through to fenders that look like traditional guards but bypass clearance issues through clever design — and plenty in-between.

What to look for in a bicycle mudguard

The basic idea behind a mudguard is to stop water coming off the wheels onto the body: the longer the guard, the greater the coverage and the more protection they offer — full guards also keep a lot of salt-laden winter road spray off your bike. Very narrow guards or those that are too flat or far away from the tyre will also reduce protection.

Mudguard fittingBicycle mudguard Fitting
Having a plastic cover close to your tyre means there is a chance of additional noise as flopping guards can rub on the side of the tyre or bounce up and down on top of it. No one wants to ride a noisy bike, so the quality and security of the fittings is just as important as the length and coverage.

Mudguard fittingEase of bicycle mudguard fitting
As the guards will be going on a bike that is also ridden ‘sans fender’, the ease of fitting and removal is important, as is the speed and simplicity. We like a mudguard set to be easy to keep together off the bike. Too many parts to get lost or slide under the fridge are never a good thing.

Words by Neil Webb

  • linked1

    To be fair, SKS did replace my first set for free after chunks started falling off of the first set. But when it started happening to the second set I decided it was futile. The strange thing is, it wasn’t happening as a result of anything out of the ordinary. The last bit that fell off was the front portion on the safe side of the front fork (the bit that you see when you look down when you’re riding, and that keeps the spray out of your face). It fell off just from riding over a bump, and it’s not in a place where it would get battered by anything.

  • Edward Guyatt

    Ah that sounds expensive, but on the brightside they might have saved your life. Mudguards are a pain though… my quest to get some decent ones has been difficult!

    I initially went for the SKS thermoplastics, which have ‘secu-clips’ that detach them when something gets caught, though they’re made of aluminium (iirc) sandwiched in plastic, so I’m guessing that mades them not-brittle. Anyway, they didn’t fit — Evans said the would but I missed their generous 90-day returns window.

    Then I got a pair of crud roadracers on the basis that the website said there was only thing I needed to measure — clearance from frame or something. Anyway it turned out they were too small for my tyres, so I repacked them neatly (box had been opened by another customer who presumably found they didn’t fit anyway) an did a return on Amazon.

    Now I’m using SKS Velo 47. They seem like decent quality, were miles less painful to mount and cost very little. Fit on back wheel wasn’t perfect so I bought a metal strut set for them from some little german bike shop on eBay, whch for some reason I haven’t managed to use on the back wheel (yet) anyway and could do with some sawing to fit the front wheel properly — not done yet since I’ve yet to acquire a hacksaw.

    So yeah, getting some appropriate mudguards has been an arduous task. Would have been better to have bought a more appropriate bicycle in the first place: I got a hybrid (Dawes Discovery 3 Sport) with disc brakes but would have been better off with one designed for mudguards, pannier racks and the like in the first place. Moral of the story: don’t trust what you read on a newspaper website (in this case the /guardian/) saying the best way to acquire a bike is to go to a ‘bike nut shop’ and ask for advice! Bit of homework (reading the Dawes catalogue, for instance, which is very helpful) in advance would have been useful.

  • linked1

    They are good until they shatter to bits. Two pairs I’ve used have been falling apart one chunk at a time until last week I heard something fall as I was riding and couldn’t figure out what it was – until it rained and I realized the front section had vanished. The brittleness is an intentional design safety feature (so the fender doesn’t get jammed in the fork and toss you over the bars), but as a result these fenders are basically disposable. Two pairs have lasted me 1.3 years before both sets were unusable.

  • Edward Guyatt

    What about SKS? They seem to be very popular at the minute.

  • Andrew Higgins

    I liked those Road Bike Mud Guards, I am riding since a long time and I can surely say with my experience that those guards are really nice for road bike.