Anybody that's flirted with mountainbikes for even the briefest of time will be aware of the Crud Products range of mudguards and widgets to keep mud off riders and away from bike components.
The Crud Catcher down-tube mounted mudguard is the iconic mainstay of the brand almost becoming, like Hoover is to vacuum-cleaner, the generic name for a mountainbike mudguard. It first appeared in 1991 and has evolved from a bit of bent plastic to the current Mk9 version with its sophisticated dual-density and variable thickness plastic construction.
Now Crud Products, AKA Pete Tomkins (or Mr Crud to you) and his son Jamie, have brought all their mudguard expertise to the road market and after 8 months of R+D have come up with the Crud Roadracer. As it says on the packet – designed for "fast commuting and hard training" the mudguard is primarily aimed at close-clearance road frames where fitting mudguards has always been a bit of a bodgey issue.
Claimed to weigh a paltry 180g including all the little bits ours came out at 188gms on the kitchen scales, even so they're still the lightest guards out there.
Set-up is relatively simple; initial assembly with needing to look at the instructions and loosing bits under the fridge had the guards all together, tweaked and adjusted in under half an hour. Future fittings will be considerably quicker as we now know what's going on and the component parts are bolted together. The usual mudguard fiddling and faffing is made considerably less frustrating by the Roadracers tool-free installation, all fixings are via thumbnuts and zip-ties, so no fumbling with 6mm spanners and dropping them onto the chainstays and chipping the paint here.
The mudguards stays bolt into plastic lugs that are attached to the frame and fork by o-rings, a simple and secure solution that also means that these guards should fit the boggling selection of frame tube and fork profiles that abound these days, a layer of protection between the lugs and the frame to avoid cosmetic damage is recommended though. The top of the guard simply fixes to the body of the brake via a re-usable zip-tie.
What sets these mudguards apart and what keeps their weight down by negating the need for heavy metal stays is the pilestrips. These little fuzzy brushes fit inside the stay in line with the rim and effectively 'float' the guard off it, self-centreing it and allegedly eliminating rattles and rubs.
Should anything substantial get caught between the tyre and guard or stuck between the spokes and stays the guards are designed to break away at the top of the stays to save expensive componentry breakage, and the stays themselves are made of a spoke-saving snap-happy nylon should they get dragged into the wheel. There's a demonstration of this in this product testing video which is also on the Crud website.
Although designed primarily for close clearance frames and 23-25mm tyres these will clearly fit on other gappier bikes, and obviously the more clearance the frame has the larger tyre you can fit under the guards, Mr Crud says they've fitted over 32's on some bikes. It's an intimate fit on this Enigma with race clearances, exactly the type of bike this guard is designed for.
Aesthetically they look not displeasing and almost unobtrusive, quite elegant even, and once on the bike it's hard to see they're there with the tip of the guard poking out from the front brake being pretty much the same width as the tyre, mudguard purists will complain that they don't come down far enough out the back or towards the bottom-bracket to be practical but that's missing the point. For those that have eschewed guards because they will ruin the lines of their bike this is now a far less of an argument.
The Roadracer guards have direct competition from the already popular SKS Raceblade, but these new boys in the pack wrap further round the wheel, are lighter, look considerably neater, may be less rattly and could elbow them into the gutter.
As soon as it starts raining we'll give these a thorough testing. Today then.