Riding when the roads are wet is something that we have to deal with a lot here in the UK, but it needn’t be a one-way ticket to a soggy bottom and muddy shoes. A good mudguard is the saviour of the cyclist and they come in so many varieties, you can find something for road, gravel, urban, mountain bikes and everything in between. Here’s how to identify what you need for your bike and some of the benefits of each system.
The two key factors to look for on your road bike are, firstly, whether or not your bike has eyelets, and secondly, how much space there is between the frame and the tyres.
On my trusty Kinesis, I have both space and eyelets. That means that I can fit full-length guards with the stays bolted to the frame. This can take some fitting, but once they’re on, they offer the best coverage and are usually nice and quiet too. We know that many riders simply leave these types of guards fitted to their bikes all year round. For me, this is my trusty winter steed, so I want maximum protection from the wet roads.
Full-length mudguards like the SKS Chromoplastics will also cut down your time spent washing your bike as they stop all of that nasty stuff that coats the road in winter from plastering itself onto your frame.
But not all road bikes have eyelets, or an abundance of space to play with. If you’re riding a bike without one of both of these features then a set of clip-on guards will give you most of the benefits of those full-length guards, but with the ability to whip them on and off should you wish.
You’re not going to get as much protection as full-length guards, but these RaceBlade Pro XL guards cover the important bits, keeping you and the riders behind you far drier.
The design of these means that you can fit them to both rim-brake and disc-brake bikes and you don’t have to worry about tiny clearances either. Plus once you set them up, they’ll be easy to pop on should you wake up to find the rain falling outside.
Now, some of us that are simply big kids head off on gravel and cyclocross rides with the intention of playing in the mud. But if you intend to stop at a cafe or pub during your ride then being absolutely caked in mud isn’t the best idea. Ideally, we want something that is really quick to install and remove. A guard like the SKS S-Guard can be absolutely ideal for keeping your rear end a bit cleaner and stopping cold water from soaking your lower back. The fast installation and lightweight design mean that we see a huge number of road, cyclocross and gravel riders with this type of guard. They’re just really easy to use.
You’re likely to find wider tyres on cyclocross and especially gravel bikes so make sure that you get a guard that is wide enough for your tyres is really important. The easiest way to do this is to check the printed width on your tyre’s sidewall and then compare that to the stated width range on the mudguards. These Speedrockers, for example, will fit everything from a 23mm tyre right up to a 42mm tyre.
If you’ve got even bigger tyres, or you’ve got a mountain bike with suspension then a seat post-mounted mudguard is often the easiest way to add protection to your bike. We also see a lot of entry-level mountain bikes being used for riding to work and short distances and this is where something like this Nightblade comes in handy. You can quickly fit it to any round seat post and it has a built-in rear light that adds a bit of visibility that is especially useful when commuting hours fall into the hours of darkness in the winter.
For more serious mountain bikers, the issue of mud splatter doesn’t come at the rear end of the bike, but rather it rears its head at the front end. When charging down a section of single track, the last thing you want is to be blinded by mud splatter from the front wheel. These nifty little guards attach via zip ties under the fork bridge and it’s just enough to stop mud from heading towards your face.
Now, personally, I really enjoy seeing where I’m going, especially when there are a number of trees around me that I could easily get cosy with. Aside from allowing me to stay well clear of those trees, these guards are small, lightweight and dead easy to fit. Once on they just get left to quietly do their job with the minimum amount of fuss.
The ride to work probably brings out the biggest number of different bike types. I personally use my winter bike as it’s the one I have easily to hand but there are plenty of bikes out there that are specifically designed for town riding and commuting. Generally, these bikes often feature a decent amount of clearance and eyelets, along with wider tyres. The best feature found on mudguards like these Bluemels that are designed for urban bikes is the amazing coverage and protection that they give.
The front and rear guards wrap around a large portion of the wheel, stopping road spray from flicking up onto your clothes. That means that even when the roads are soaking, you can safely ride around in regular clothes without getting mud splattered over you. So if you’re riding to work in the stuff that you’re going to be working in, full-length guards could be an easy way to make your working day far more comfortable.
If you’ve got any questions about fitting mudguards to your bike then please leave them in the comments below and we’ll try our best to help.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.