[This article was last updated on April 11, 2018]
Do you want a carbon fibre road bike with mudguards? We’ve picked out ten road bikes that combine the performance of a carbon frameset with the practicality of mudguards.
Your choices though are limited, but that’s starting to change. A few years ago I wrote an article about carbon mudguard-equipped road bikes being The Next Big Thing. That hasn’t really happened quite as quickly as I expected. I’ve sent my crystal ball off to be calibrated. But there is now quite a bit more choice now if you really want a carbon fibre road bike that will take mudguards, and the world's three biggest bike brands — Giant, Trek and Specialized — have something for you, as do many smaller companies.
Why might you want carbon fibre road bike that is compatible with mudguards? If you want the performance and weight benefits of carbon fibre for summer sportives, but don’t want to skimp on the practicality of mudguards for grinding through the winter weather, then you want a mudguard-equipped carbon road bike. Fit some mudguards for the winter, take them off for the summer.
One thing that's helped manufacturers get on board with mudguard-compatible road bikes is the rise of disc brakes. To squeeze a mudguard between a tyre and a standard rim brake is tricky. The fork legs have to be slightly longer, or the seatstay brake bridge a little higher, and the brake pads lower in the caliper. It's doable, but it means using up all the brake pad height adjustment. With disc brakes, it's easy to make room for mudguards and fatter tyres.
There's nothing to stop you fitting clip-on mudguards to a regular carbon road bike, but clearance can often be a problem, and they're never as secure or reliable as proper full-length mudguards. Most of these bikes have hidden eyelets that accept proper mudguards and don’t ruin the smooth lines when no 'guards are fitted.
The growth of adventure and gravel bikes is also having an impact because these bikes more than any other are really being designed for the demands of today’s cyclists. In many ways, adventure bikes are a modern update on the classic touring bike, with the benefits of bigger tyre clearance brought about by the disc brakes. These are bikes that are being pressed into service for weekend training bikes, sportive challenges, Audax, touring and even commuting.
If you want a carbon road bike that can take mudguards, here are nine options for you. Few of these bikes are pictured with mudguards because they're an optional extra, but a set of mudguards is a relatively small cost and they're easy to fit. A good bike shop will do that for you at the point of purchase.
Even newer than the Genesis is the brand new Cervelo C3 and its super-light big brother the C5, the first ever Cervelos with mudguard mounts. Those mounts are fitted to full carbon fibre frames with space for up to 32mm tyres. They're packed with the latest technology such as flat mount disc tabs and bolt-thru axles front and rear, and they're light, at a claimed 850g for the C5. Cervelo says the C-series bikes are more endurance than gravel, but it’s clear they could lay a foot in each camp quite easily, dependent on tyre choice. They're not cheap, though, with the base model C3 with Shimano Ultegra at £3,899 and the Dura-Ace Di2 C5 running at £7,499.
Introduced in 2009, the Dolan Dual is one of the few really good looking carbon road bikes that features eyelets for mudguards to be fitted. I’ve ridden it and the ride performance is very impressive, just what you’d expect from a carbon road bike. Handling is sharp and comfort is good, the geometry on just right for a mix of fast group riding to commuting and Audax use. A Shimano 105 model will cost about £1,400, and you can customise the build to your liking. A good choice if you want mudguards.
The Genesis Datum bagged the road.cc Sportive Bike of the Year 2015/16 award. It’s a bike that straddles the fine line between an endurance bike and a gravel/adventure bike, with details that trace their way back to a cyclocross bike, particularly the tall fork with its huge tyre clearance. There’s space for properly wide tyres – 33mm will go in a treat – and even with proper full-length mudguards fitted there is space for 30mm tyres. If you want your cake and be able to eat it, this could be the one for you.
The 2018 Datums (Data? We'll leave that for grammar obsessives) aren't in the shops yet, but you can read about them in our look at the 2018 Genesis range.
Giant went all-carbon and all-disc for the 2017 incarnations of its Defy endurance bikes; the aluminium-framed models were renamed Contend. The 2018 range starts with the Defy Advanced 3 for £1,499, and goes right up to the luxury option, the Defy Advanced SL 0 with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 at £7,499.
Now if you want a bike with disc brakes, massive tyre clearance and a carbon fibre frame, the gravel/adventure category is the place to look. GT’s Grade came along just as the style of bike was spreading from its birthplace in the US to the UK, and it’s a bike that is well suited to British roads and cyclists. And of course, the frame has mounts for mudguards and, depending on the exact choice of tyre, can be modified to suit your requirements, whether’s weekend club training rides or the daily commuting. It’s available at a wide range of price points and in a choice of carbon fibre or aluminium – the aluminium Grades start at £1,000.
Like the Roubaix, the Orbea Avant has discrete mudguard eyelets on the frame and fork. Without ‘guards, it looks like any other carbon road bike. With ‘guards fitted, it’s a practical bike for winter riding. Fit mudguards for the winter, take them off for the summer. The geometry of this Avant leans towards comfort with a tall head tube promoting a position that places less stress on your back and neck.
The BMC Roadmachine is an endurance road bike that is lighter than the company’s Granfondo and offers some aerodynamic aids for the cyclist that wants a sporty ride. It’s only available with disc brakes and uses 12mm thru-axles, and the top version gets a nifty integrated stem and handlebar to keep all the cables tucked away. There’s space for up to 30mm tyres on the carbon version, 32mm on the aluminium frame, and mudguard mounts on the Roadmachine 02 and 03 models - the top-end model does without them.
Trek tucks away the mudguard mounts on its Domane endurance bikes so you hardly notice them, but they're waiting unobtrusively until you need them. The cheapest model in the range, the Domane SL5 above, has the signature IsoSpeed decoupler in the frame with rim brakes. If you want discs, your carbon-framed starting point is the £2,500 Domane SL5 Disc.
British brand Tifosi used to offer the Corsa carbon road bike with mudguards, but that has gone now and in is the new Cavazzo, which combines disc brakes with space for up to 35mm tyres. It’s tapping into the gravel/adventure popularity and the promotional spiel talks about it being a “multi-terrain carbon adventure road bike”. The bike has discreet mudguard mounts, maintaining the clean lines when they’re not fitted.
British brand Whyte has a good handle on the demands of the British cyclist. The Wessex is a lightweight carbon fibre road bike, with disc brakes and eyelets for mudguards. And with Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes, 25mm tyres and sub-9kg weight, it’s a bike that combines comfort, control and performance in one very smart package. Here’s a bike you could commute to work on during the week, and tackle a hilly sportive at the weekend. Whyte has designed its own mudguards which integrate seamlessly with the frame and fork and cost just £30.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.