Rapid Racer Products (RRP) has been making minimalist mudguards for mountain bikes for quite a while, and more recently has turned its attention to cyclo-cross bikes. Its CX-Guard is designed to stop spray from the front wheel ending up in your face, and to keep it out of your headset bearings. It does the job to some extent – but how useful it is really depends on the conditions, and where you ride.
At first glance the fork crown-based mudguard doesn't look like it'll do very much, only covering a very small area of the rotating wheel. But I found that in really properly wet conditions where the mud is as thin as water, it did actually keep some of the spray out of my eyes. On drier rides with the odd puddle it was also quite good.
However, the predominant conditions in Bath, where I spend most of my time riding, are rather bog-like. Often the main issue on cyclo-cross rides and in races is trying to avoid the bike grinding to a halt due to clogging up. As such, tyre clearance is king, and unfortunately here the CX-Guard does more harm than good, as it effectively reduces tyre clearance.
In particular, during boggy races I found that the build-up of mud was considerably quicker using the guard than when not. At times it would clog with mud, rubbing on the tyre, which was not only annoying but also hindered progress – the last thing you want while racing.
Installation of the CX-Guard is really simple. I had it attached to the fork crown of my Ridley X-Bow test bike within about two minutes. All it involved was taking the front wheel out, using three supplied zip ties to attach the guard to the fork legs and the hole at the top of the fork.
The bike I tested it on had disc brakes, but RRP says the guard is compatible with cantilever brakes too. I reckon it might take slightly longer to install on a bike with cantis, but not hugely so. There's no need to take the brakes off in any case.
The CX-Guard isn't designed for V-brakes, but RRP tells us people have used it with them – it depends on clearance. "The only way to know is to try," says Craig from RRP. "Some work, some interfere with the brakes."
All in all I found the RRP CX-Guard a bit of a mixed bag. You can hardly complain about the price, at a penny under £8, and when it's really wet it does help to reduce the amount of spray going into your eyes a little. But in the conditions I generally experience out on a 'cross bike, the guard proved more hindrance than help.
A cheap way to reduce spray going into your eyes while riding 'cross, but can be a hindrance in some conditions
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapid Racer Products CX-Guard
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
RRP says: "The CX-Guard is a simple front mudguard that significantly reduces the amount of spray and mud thrown up into your face and eyes, it also stops the lower bearing seals from being hammered at high velocity increasing their durability and saving you money.
"We have built-in a cable relief section either side of the RRP logo at the front to allow you to use with cantilever brakes as well as disc."
Kind of depends on the conditions you're riding in to be honest.
It's made from pretty tough plastic.
Not going to add any real weight to any CX setup.
Can't really complain for eight quid.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of installation, and it's quite useful on properly wet trails where a lot of spray gets chucked up by the front wheel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Less useful on boggy/claggy trails.
Did you enjoy using the product? I'm a bit on the fence about it.
Would you consider buying the product? If I lived somewhere with less clay-based mud than Bath, I'd consider it, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Depends on where they ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Pro6 My best bike is: The first steel bike I made
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking