Topeak's Defender iGlow X clip-on mudguards combine decent protection with useful two-mode 0.5-watt LED centre strips for extra visibility after dark and in poor light. They're an expensive option, though.
The guards themselves are made from high-quality extruded polycarbonate and, generally speaking, accommodate 25mm tyres with breathing space. That said, some 25s came breathtakingly close to tickling the sides, so whether you can fit anything wider than 23mm will depend on the brand.
Elsewhere, they follow the classic 'race blade' narrative – stainless steel stays, paint-friendly rubberised feet, straps and connector system. The rear attaches behind the brake calliper by a horseshoe-shaped bracket, whereas the front employs an expanding wedge plug.
In practice, these essential components hold everything in alignment, but fitting is a bit of a faff because of the tiny screws used – the sort you struggle to hold, which require tiny 'jewellers' screwdrivers (especially the stay-to-guard ones). Resist the urge to rip open the packet and get cracking – pop them into an old ice cream tub for safekeeping first, because they're easily lost under fridges and the like (replacement kits are available).
I also found they could pop out mid-ride. With two departing during my first ride, the guard section moved and rubbed annoyingly against the tyre, especially over low-level-vibration washboard tarmac. I resorted to a lick of superglue, which solved the problem but isn't something I'd expect to do on a set of £65 guards. Otherwise, components seem pretty rugged.
Both front and rear offer decent protection by clip-on standards, with the rear's length keeping my derrière surprisingly dry along some very wet sections. Just take care when wheeling bikes upright through tight spaces around the house/garage, as it has a tendency to scrape floors and set teeth on edge...
They keep spray down too, which is good news for group rides, although overshoes are a must if cold, wet feet and sullied shoes are to be avoided. Protection to the bike is secondary – gritty, silty stuff still gets blasted along the bottom bracket, front mech, rear triangle and brake callipers, but there's much less of it.
And so to the lighting. It's a simple two-mode, 0.5-watt setup, with switchgear and four CR2032 batteries nestling within a waterproof, rubberised housing. A quick lick of silicone grease on the contacts at the same time as a battery change is good insurance, but hardly essential: these have been subjected to torrential rain and spray without missing a beat.
Powering up/off is intuitive, even in gloved hands.
Compared with rear blinkers boasting comparable numbers, in low light their presence is relatively modest, although pretty effective from dusk onwards. Other riders reckoned they could spot the rear at 150m in constant and 200m in flashing, dipping to around 100 and 150m respectively through town. Drivers also seemed to pick me out faster, although I can't help thinking this has more to do with their relatively novel location rather than power.
Topeak quotes optimal run times as 50/100hrs – I managed 43 using the stock batteries in constant mode, 87 in flashing with pound shop specials – not poor, but quite pricey in the longer term, especially for those of us racking up big nocturnal mileages.
Ultimately, I like the concept, but I wasn't impressed by the tiny screws, and while the lighting component is surprisingly useful, I'm not sure their overall performance justifies the additional cost over standard Defenders (£39.99) or comparable quality race blade types.
Effective guards with useful integral lighting but this and so-so fittings don't justify the asking price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Defender iGlow X
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?
Topeak says: "DeFender™ iGlow X combines a compact road fender set with Integral Glow (iGlow) illumination technology for safety at night and low visibility conditions. Lightweight polycarbonate is tough and flexible. Adjustable stainless steel struts and rubber connector system for perfect alignment and good tire coverage. Fits road tires up to 700 x 25c".
Some genuinely nice touches but these don't justify the asking price and silly screws make fitting a faff.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fits road tires up to 700 x 25c.
Attachments Quick Release Center Bolt Clip with Adjustable Rubber Band System on Struts
Adjustment Adjustable Angle and Position for Perfect Tire Coverage
Material Extruded Polycarbonate with Stainless Steel Struts
Lamp 0.5W Super Bright Red LED
Battery CR2032 x 4 (included)
Control 2 Modes Constant / Blinking
Burn Time (approx) 50 hrs / 100 hrs
Generally good but not great, primarily due to tiny screws that are so easily lost. I would expect better design for this kind of money.
Offer surprising amounts of protection to the rider and the inbuilt LEDs are a nice touch, but I wouldn't say they were radically better than those on offer from other established marques.
So far so good, but small parts are easily lost.
Surprisingly okay, but not markedly better than much cheaper designs.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Defender iGlow X is a nice set of mudguards made using solid materials and offering decent protection to the rider. My main problem boils down to tiny (read easily lost) fittings and the fact that they're not markedly better than some German benchmarks - okay, SKS - costing considerably less.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality guard sections, LED strips are nice, and protection from rain/spray was better than I had expected.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Small screws and, apart from LED strips, not markedly better than a tsunami of mid range designs.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
I quite enjoyed using these, but while the bling element comes in handy, it does so at a price. Decent 'race blades' and standalone LEDs arguably represent better value.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)