Carbon mudguard-equipped road bikes: the next big thing?

Carbon bikes that don't compromise on winter performance from Dolan, Hewitt, Pearson, Tifosi and Ribble

by David Arthur   October 2, 2012  

Riding on rain-drenched roads isn't many peoples idea of fun, but needs must if you want to keep cycling through the bad weather that is such a frequent occurrence in the UK. And now, with autumn settling in, is the time of year many might be considering a mudguard-equipped road bike.

There's lot of choice if an affordable winter bike is what you're after. But carbon road bikes with mudguards? Now that's a rarer combination, yet one that, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. The most common mudguard-equipped road bikes are made from steel or aluminium and are specced with affordable components to keep the price down, as they're commonly second or third bikes.

A carbon fibre road bike with provision for permanent full-length mudguards is another thing entirely though. Yet this trend (if we can call it that) is starting to emerge. A handful of British brands have realised that there are people who might want to ride a bike with mudguards year-round, and not just during the winter, and don't want to compromise on their choice of frame material just because they want mudguards. After all, it's not like we get months of unbroken sunshine round here.

There's a lot to be said for a carbon mudguard-equipped road bike. Traditionally one might ride a carbon road bike through the summer, and come winter store it away and press a steel bike with 'guards into service until it's dry and warm enough to bring the best bike out of hibernation. That's all very good and everything, but what if you don't want to compromise and want to ride your 'best' bike all the time? And still want the convenience of mudguards?

How about if you could buy one bike that you could ride year-round. Mudguards fitted for the winter months and come the summer season of sportives whip them off and the bike is good enough to hold its own against carbon road bikes that don't offer mudguard versatility? Is it possible to have your cake and eat it? Not everyone has the money or space to have several bikes or even a summer best bike and a winter training bike. These carbon mudguard-equipped bikes neatly sidestep that dilemma with a all the benefits of a carbon frame and fork and the weather protection of a mudguard-equipped bike.

Such a bike is a fast performance steed designed to cope with British weather and its infinite unpredictably from January to December.. Optimised from the outset to take full-length fitted mudguards and bigger tyre, with little weight compromise. Not a bike for winter riding then, but year-round. A truly versatile ready-for-everything bike.

The downside is there isn't a lot of choice. That’s starting to change however and a mini trend is happening behind all the fuss about disc-equipped road bikes that a few people in the know are getting excited about. Us included.

It's no surprise that most of the brands offering carbon bikes with mudguards are British. Ribble, Tifosi, Pearson, Hewitt and Dolan each offer really nice looking carbon bikes.

Tifosi is distributor Chicken Cycles own brand, which they started some 12 years ago. Synonymous with good looks and great performance, the Corsa is a full Toray uni-directional carbon frameset with a carbon fork and the convenience of removable mudguard mounts. There's little compromise to it is performance with the geometry deliberately kept racy. There's capacity for 25mm tyres with the mudguards in place. A frameset costs £1,139.99 and is available in five sizes from XS to XL, and choose from black or white.

Ribble's Sportive 365 is based on the Bianco carbon fibre sportive bike but designed for all year round use with the addition of mudguards. Ribble have a great reputation for well priced bikes and their bike builder makes it easy to spec a bike . Or you can buy the frame on its own for £399.95.

Based in Lancashire, Hewitt Cycles offer their Carbon Audax. A monocoque carbon frame allows 28mm tyres and mudguards to be fitted.. Available in six sizes.

Dolan's Dual has been around for a couple of years, I tested one when they first came out back in 2009 and was immediately impressed. A well designed Toray uni-directional carbon frame that wouldn't look out of place in the peloton but there's enough space between the frame and fork to take a set of full-length 'proper' mudguards. They'll build with with Shimano Dura-Ace if your wallet stretches that generously, but starting with Sora builds means there's a bike for most budgets.

The Carbon Audax from Surrey-based Pearson Cycles follows similar lines to the other bikes here with a uni-directional carbon monocoque frame with a full complement of mudguard eyelets. The fork marries carbon legs to an alloy steerer. Pearson offer one build option consisting of a full Shimano Ultegra groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels for £2,499, and offer four frame sizes. Or you can buy the frame and fork on their own fro £1,299.99.

While these bikes come pre-fitted with mudguards, it's worth noting that it's very easy to remove them. So come the summer (and fingers crossed it's a dry one) you can whip them off and you're left with a very regular looking carbon road bike. What's not to like about that?  Another upshot of these bikes is that with the modifications required to allow fitting of mudguards is that they'll usually take fatter tyres. Get yourself a set of lightweight 25 or 28mm tyres and enjoy the extra comfort the bigger air chamber offers.

Fitting mudguards for the winter

If you're already the owner of a bike with mudguard clearance then mudguards like the classic SKS P35 Chromoplastic are the go-to choice (but others are available). Called 'full-length' on account of the fact they wrap as much as each wheel as is feasible and with their deep sides, they provide the best protection from road spray. They're usually made from lightweight aluminium so they're robust and durable, and held in place with lightweight aluminium struts means they're very solidly fitted to the bike.

If you don't have proper mudguard clearance, or eyelets, then there are other options. A regular carbon road bike could be easily retrofitted with Crud's excellent Roadracer Mk2 mudguards. Using nothing more complex than rubber bands and cable ties, the 'guards easily clip to the frame and provide a decent barrier to the spray churned up by the wheels. They're light too, weighing just 205g for the set and at under £30 they're cheap too.

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Having ridden 210 miles yesterday on my new carbon frame I can vouch for carbon as a distance choice. My old, good, steel Audax bike was I thought was excellent - but the carbon bike is faster, smoother, more comfy and less tiring to ride. But it doesn't take guards...

The argument has been that steel is comfy, tough, well now I KNOW that carbon can be more comfy, so that only leaves tough. So the training bike/commuter is still steel.

If ever I get the money to buy a new frame it will be one of the above. The Dual is £699, which looks a bit of a steal compared to the others. Well at least until Planet X come up with something similar!

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [276 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 11:51

7 Likes

Wow, i had no idea there were so many options. I know of the Hewwit but the only other one i found (and not mentioned here) was the Trek Domane, which has removable mounts but i think that will only take 23mm tyres, tho being carbon thats not really a problem.

I had been planning a custom steel 'good bike' with room for guards, but since that would come to the same price as a lot of these, be heavier and maybe not as comfortable (if its built stiff enough for my 200lbs) as some of these carbon offerings. Hope you guys can get some of these in for tests!!!

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [418 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 12:56

8 Likes

I've only got one bike, and it's a carbon frame of the Graham Weigh/Dolan/Ribble mould. I fit low-profile guards for the winter (about due now actually), fart about a bit to ensure they don't rub, but it's all good then.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3329 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 13:05

8 Likes

If sales of road bikes weren't driven largely by marketing BS, most of them would come with mudguard eyelets and clearance for 28mm tyres.

Bikes that barely take 25mm tyres are a joke.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 13:15

9 Likes

BBB wrote:
If sales of road bikes weren't driven largely by marketing BS, most of them would come with mudguard eyelets and clearance for 28mm tyres.

Bikes that barely take 25mm tyres are a joke.

My old Time carbon frame only took 23mm tyres (with Crud RR's) and that was as comfy as a lovely worn in sofa.

Ive now got some 32mm 'Grand Bois' on an Alu frame, comfy-ish but not a patch on the carbon frame with 23mm. In addition you have to run the 32's at low pressures in comparisson to 23's so climbing when standing results in extra drag from my weight being over the front and squishing the tyre down (and dont dare try spirited sprints!)

Give me comfy carbon with fast wheels and tyres any day.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [418 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 13:45

6 Likes

None of these have rack mounts, do they?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1358 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 17:49

5 Likes

I suspect that for every one of these that are bought as pragmatic choices by people without the space for multiple bikes, another two or three are bought by people with more money than sense, as their winter bikes, who will run through a complete set of Dura-Ace each winter because they think cleaning and lubing is for plebs. Still, I'm in favour of anything that even slightly reduces the number of people riding club runs on wet days without mudguards.

posted by handlebarcam [529 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 19:49

5 Likes

I ride a piece of mud guarded, boring crap all winter -that way I work harder in the winter and my very nice summer bike feels even better. It's the way it should be.

Carbon mudguards are equivalent to Heston Blumenthal food - the debauched and twisted logic that preys on the jaded palette of the weak minded and easily led.

Free yourselves! Dynamo electrically heated saddles are just around the corner....

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 23:57

4 Likes

Err, I would ride a carbon bike with guards in Summer, given the quality of the summer recently and because I ride Audax and do not race or do sportives. I too have a steel fixie for riding to work on in the winter.

These things are not mutually exclusive. Mudguards don't exclude summer riding.

I guess some people will ride their mudguarded carbon bikes into the ground over winter and I guess some people will hook up their dynamo to their seats. Errr, so what? They'll be plonkers with no taste but then we are all plonkers with no taste from someone else's point of view...

A list of things that people have rubbished since I started riding a bike:

Aluminium frames - too brittle
6 speed clusters - 5's enough for the pros
Anything easier than a 42 on the front and a 21 on the back - Good enough for the pros
STI gears - Unreliable
Clip-in pedals - Heavy
Plastic soled cycling shoes - Slippy
Lycra - Not warm enough, smells
Rims deeper than 20 mm - Unfair advantage
Less than 28 spokes in anything but a time trial wheel - Will break under the influence of a hard man
Mountain Bikes - Trendy
Disc Brakes on anything - Not needed
Front suspension - Gimmick
Tribars - Poncey
Back suspension - Buy a motocross bike instead
Time trial frames - Too specialised
Carbon frames - Too fragile, too expensive
Disc brakes on a road bike - Too heavy

Etc etc etc etc etc

Some of those things won't suit some people, so what? I bet you you're riding at least one of those previously rubbished innovations - why? Because it suits your needs at the time.

Rant over!

@cat1 - solution is a three point rack - ends in mudguard eyes and rack end to brake bolt.

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [276 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 8:38

6 Likes

I believe the Trek Madone 3.1 will also fit mudguards

My cycling blog: http://girodilento.com/

posted by girodilento [31 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 8:42

7 Likes

So what is the effect of winter road salt on CF? It makes a right mess of aluminium and isn't that kind to steel... will CF shrug it off, or will it degrade the polymer?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [417 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 12:35

4 Likes

Bez wrote:
So what is the effect of winter road salt on CF? It makes a right mess of aluminium and isn't that kind to steel... will CF shrug it off, or will it degrade the polymer?

Well its not going to do anything to the carbon itself but it 'could' effect the glue i suppose. But then most CF frames are not lugged anymore so no actual joins to fail, and many people ride carbon/alu bike without them falling in half so id guess its not actually an issue. Same as the 'threat' from UV i expect.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [418 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 13:38

5 Likes

Ti every time . Sabbath rules

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 19:24

6 Likes

STATO wrote:
BBB wrote:
If sales of road bikes weren't driven largely by marketing BS, most of them would come with mudguard eyelets and clearance for 28mm tyres.

Bikes that barely take 25mm tyres are a joke.

My old Time carbon frame only took 23mm tyres (with Crud RR's) and that was as comfy as a lovely worn in sofa.

Ive now got some 32mm 'Grand Bois' on an Alu frame, comfy-ish but not a patch on the carbon frame with 23mm. In addition you have to run the 32's at low pressures in comparisson to 23's so climbing when standing results in extra drag from my weight being over the front and squishing the tyre down (and dont dare try spirited sprints!)

Give me comfy carbon with fast wheels and tyres any day.

Comfort is very subjective and largely depends on a riding style, body weigh and road surface.

There's no technical reason why high end road bikes couldn't have a few mm more tyre/mudguard clearance.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
4th October 2012 - 4:48

6 Likes

Just fitted my crud mk2's back on my carbon race bike thinking that it was the second week of june before they came off!

Like others have mentioned can't wait to go out in damp conditions so that I can get covered in sh1t from others who can't be bothered to fit guards.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [595 posts]
5th October 2012 - 10:53

4 Likes

Ive been riding a Jamis Xenith Endura fitted with mudguards and a rack to work for a couple of years - I don't take the mudguards off in summer. I also use it for transport on the weekends. Now, if only it had discs ...

posted by Sakurashinmachi [48 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 11:15

5 Likes

Apart from when I cycle 2 miles to the station in the clothes I wear to work I never use mudguards.

So you get wet and dirty on a training ride, big deal, Harden up.

So your bike gets dirty, big deal - muc off does a wonderful job in seconds

Mudguards are evil

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [355 posts]
15th November 2012 - 12:00

6 Likes

Simmo72 wrote:
Apart from when I cycle 2 miles to the station in the clothes I wear to work I never use mudguards.

So you get wet and dirty on a training ride, big deal, Harden up.

So your bike gets dirty, big deal - muc off does a wonderful job in seconds

Mudguards are evil

Ooh, good for you. Have a biscuit, Hardman. Or maybe you don't eat on rides less than 6 hours long?

Mudguards keep crap off you and off your bike, which means there's less wear and tear, and you're also not flinging road muck into the faces of your companions.

Racing excepted, a bike without mudguards is a toy.

posted by thereandbackagain [155 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 11:09

12 Likes

There may, perhaps, be a few more road bikes with fittings for mudguards, but that doesn't mean they have the clearance. Note how some of those rear guards dip into the tyre as they pass the brake. You can expect no end of trouble and fiddle in maintaining that minuscule clearance and rubbing noises whenever the road is the least bit dirty. It's experiences like that, with bikes of which the salesman said: "and look, you can also fit mudguards", that gives these accessories such a bad name in roadie circles.

Here's the trick question for those salesmen. Ask: Can I also fit a Campagnolo brake? If the answer is "Why of course!" - maybe you can fit mudguards, but only with little tyres and lots of troubles.

What you want to hear from the salesman is something like this: "I'm sorry sir, the frame of this bike requires a brake with 57mm reach, like those fitted, and whilst both Shimano and Tektro have several good examples in their product range (up to the Ultegra quality level), Campagnolo's brakes are all too short."

And that, I guess, is why nobody AFAIK has invested in the tooling to make a carbon frame with genuine clearance for mudguards. But if anyone knows different, I'd like to hear about it.

Crankwinder

Crankwinder's picture

posted by Crankwinder [17 posts]
15th July 2013 - 15:39

10 Likes