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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Giant Defy 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.
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.
Bicycle 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.
Ease 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