Unlike SKS' Raceblades or Crud's Roadracer the Topeak De-Fender RC11 mudguards set is a more utilitarian style with the short front and the rear sticking straight out from behind the seatcluster.
They do having an interesting fitting design though which makes them perfect for attaching in seconds should you get caught out in the rain while commuting. Maximum tyre size is 700x25c and they weigh about 140g for the pair.
This attaches via the rear of the front brake bolt, a neat little adapter passes through the rear hexagonal hole and screws into the thread of the brake bolt. This in turn has a little plastic adapter which allows the mudguard to snap on and off. Adjustability is taken care of by pivoting arms that are tightened in place by small screws. The whole assembly is then Velcro'ed in place.
In use the RC1 is bit pointless really. It's too short to really offer any protection from road spray as your feet and legs are still going to get soaked - and it's too narrow at the fixing point to fully stop water and grit being fired at the headset. The lack of any forward protruding section also means the front brake and headset takes a hammering from the front as well.
Once fitted, it can easily get knocked out of position as it is flexible from side to side. The removal/reattaching process is easy though and takes a minute to reset it to its position.
This is an even less permanent affair being held on by a rubber bungee around the seat tube and a fabric strap around the crossbar. The angle is then adjusted by the usual allen bolt (allen key is supplied) style fixing - and jobs a good 'un.
The rubber bungee will fit a seat tube up to a maximum diameter of 36mm and along with the Velcro strap it stays put on pretty much any surface. The coverage is decent with a 25mm tyre and keeps the majority of rain and mud off your rear. Your bike's seat cluster still gets a soaking though thanks to the gap inbetween the two joining strips and obviously it isn't going to keep the rest of the drive components dry either.
The Topeak Defender set are obviously a solution for keeping the rider dry rather than the bike. The front and rear are a nice design which looks pretty good when attached to the bike and as I've said above the rear does a good job at keeping your back dry. Priced at £21.99 they cost virtually the same as the SKS X-Blade recently tested so the fact that the front isn't much cop still makes the rear decent value.
The fitting does literally take a minute once the initial adjustment is sorted which means the rear now sits in my commuting rucksack ready for those rogue showers that pop up when you're about to head home from the office.
All in all then the Topeaks are ideal as an emergency stopgap to avoid a soggy chamois. They fit well and are easily put on and taken off the bike, plus the quality of construction is very good; Topeak must be confident of that to be able to offer a 2 year warranty.
Impressive rear performance paired with quality construction, don't bother with the front though.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak De-Fender RC11 mudguards
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?
The Defender RC1/RC11 set is designed specifically for road bikes and Topeak say they provide maximum protection from road spray and grime. They do a reasonable job for their size to be fair.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Quick release fixing front and rear
Fits tyre sizes up to 700x25
High Impact Plastic construction
Smooth underside to stop dirt and mud build up
well built and a two year warranty
Front- poor, rear- good.
No issues so far and can't imagine any in the foreseeable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There are some flaws but on the whole the entire kit is saved by the performance of the rear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ease of fitting and removing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pointless front guard.
Did you enjoy using the product? The rear has come in handy a couple of times.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With a background in engineering dabbling as a CNC programmer/machinist, draughtsman and product development engineer how a bike is made is just as important to Stu as how it rides.
He knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and has been chucking bikes around the west country ever since and the only reason he climbs is so that he can descend like a nutter down the other side. After years as a competitive time triallist Stu is on the lookout for a new form of competition after realising that the choice of a few glasses of wine in the evening versus riding up and down dual carriageways at 5am was becoming very one sided.