These reflective blades-style mudguards will fit to most road bikes and do a reasonable job of keeping the road spray off you. The reflectivity is a nice touch and they're pretty simple to fit too. Your feet and gears won't get a lot of protection, though.
We tested the longer version of these mudguards a while back and praised the sturdy construction, but found fitting a bit of a pain. That's not the case here. Fitting them to a rim-braked Cannondale Synapse proved pretty simple, taking an unrushed half an hour the first time, and massively less than that for subsequent reattachment.
'Blades', in mudguard terminology, has generally meant a shorter clip-on style of mudguard rather than the traditional longer version. Competitor products from the likes of SKS and Crud have been pretty popular with riders wanting to use fast bikes in the winter months. These are a fairly similar product to the shortest version of SKS's Raceblades, adding in a visibility-enhancing sprayed on reflective layer to the outside, and some differences in the mounting hardware.
The latest version of the SKS Raceblades features small screws to allow for radial and angular adjustment to the stays. With the Widget blades, you can adjust the length of the stays with a screw-down collar at the outer end, while angular adjustment is a question of bending the stays as needed. The outer ends of the stays are attached to the mudguards with small screw-down gripper devices, allowing you to choose where they attach. To be honest, I don't think there's much in it, in terms of ease and flexibility of installation.
Attachment to the bike is very similar between the two brands, with rubberized blocks which are strapped to the fork and seatstays with stretchy straps. However, here, the attachment is rather lower down, only a couple of inches above the axle at the rear, in fact. If you had disc brakes with the caliper mounted above the seat stay (rather than inside the rear triangle as is more commonly the case now) then you might need to do some bending to allow the mudguards to attach above it, but I would think that this wouldn't be too challenging. There are some helpfully detailed instructions on fitting on the Widget website.
The advantage of blades is that they'll fit bikes without mounting bosses and there is no faffing around getting them to fit under your brake calipers, although at the obvious price of less complete protection from road spray. Here I found that feet, brakes, drivetrain and friends were the main victims, although they certainly trap a lot of what would otherwise paint your back and face.
As there is no stabilising attachment to the brake bridge or fork, blades-style mudguards can be a bit bouncy. The trick seems to be to fit them so their typical range of bouncing movement doesn't allow them to come into contact with anything (for example brake calipers) and then it isn't really a problem. I found it wasn't difficult to fit them in a way that they didn't rub or bang into anything. Occasionally you might bend or displace one, by leaning the bike against something or putting it in a car, but this was a simple matter to rectify and never caused any damage.
Widget says that these will fit 20-28mm tyres (who's using 20mm tyres in conditions where they need mudguards?!) and they worked fine with 25mm and 28mm tyres during testing. The whole outer surface is painted with Scotchlight "black" reflective paint, which is a major boon to your night-time visibility under car headlights, while still looking pretty smart in the daylight. I felt that in urban commuting conditions this reflective finish was a big benefit. The testing period wasn't enough to verify the long-term durability of this paint, so I can't confirm how well it'll cope with prolonged winter grot and jetwash ministrations.
The truth is that these blades are probably mostly aimed at riders who want moderate protection for the occasional time they have to ride in a shower over the colder months. If you're a hardcore year-round commuter, your bike was probably chosen to have proper mudguard mounts, allowing you to mount full-length 'guards. Once set up, these are much faster to fit and remove than full mudguards, and that will be what appeals to the typical buyer, I think.
Should you buy them, then? Well, the reflectivity and RRP at a fiver less than the SKS alternative are certainly two marks in their favour, as is the fact that they'll easily accommodate 28mm tyres. If your bike won't take full-length guards, then then these are a simple-to-fit option which offers reasonable but certainly not complete protection from water and dirt. I didn't like the fact that my brakes and drivetrain were exposed to spray, and for this reason, I'd probably be more likely to look at alternatives like the Crud Roadracer for bikes where I couldn't fit 'proper' mudguards.
Simple to fit mudguards that help you be seen; offer only moderate protection from spray
road.cc test report
Make and model: Widget Mudguards Blades Set
Size tested: 700c x 20-28mm
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?
Aimed at riders whose bikes don't have mounts for mudguards, and want to enhance their night-time visibility
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made from a composite material coated with a reflective coating. The hardware is stainless steel and the frame mounts are made of plastic.
Simple but goes together easily and - pleasingly - doesn't leave any jagged ends on display.
A reasonable job for blades-style mudguards. They don't bounce *too* much, they keep *most* of the gunk off you, if not your bike. The substantial boost to your night-time visibility is definitely a bonus if you ride in the dark.
No issues in testing. In the longer term I wonder if you'd start to see problems where the stays attach to the mudguards, but this wasn't a problem for me.
Lighter than full mudguards
I'd say forty quid seems quite steep, but it is a fiver less than the non-reflective SKS Raceblade Pro 'guards. Wiggle do some basic Lifeline blades for a bargain £15.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They did well for the most part. Pretty easy to fit and certainly effective enough to keep you mostly dry during the winter months. Visibility enhancing properties are a boon.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of fitting and great nocturnal visibility
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Wet feet and drivetrain are probably deal-breakers for me, especially given that Crud Roadracers do a marketly better job at protecting both.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they wanted this type of mudguards
Use this box to explain your score
If you're in the market for this type of mudguard, then this is a pretty decent option. I personally would favour other sorts of mudguards which offer more protection to feet and mechanicals.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.