Zefal Shield R30 mudguards are a new option for those who want a dry bum in the winter despite riding a close-clearance road bike. They do keep the spray off, once you've puzzled your way through getting them installed.
If you ride a road bike with no mudguard eyes and and you want to stay dry when it rains, you have three widely-available choices: Crud Roadracer Mk 2s (£29.99), SKS Race Blade Long (£44.99) and these new Shield R30 guards from French accessory maker Zefal.
Once they're fitted, the Shield R30s do indeed keep your bum dry. They also have a fairly long rear section so they'll reduce the spray you fling over anyone behind you, an important consideration unless you're a real Billy No-mates. The front mudguard comes a long way round the wheel too, which makes it very effective at keeping your feet dry.
Shields are made from what Zefal describe as 'technopolymer resin' and looks like thick, tough moulded nylon. There's more material here than you'll find on a RoadRacer, and they're noticeably more robust, though not as tough as SKS' plastic/aluminium laminate.
The stays are steel, which also helps keep the guards stiff as well as being hard to break. If you get something stuck in your wheel, they should pull out of the frame clamps rather than break.
They mount using a combination of O-rings, rubber ladder straps and plastic clips, with metal stays that are held in clamps on the frame, tightened by T10 Torx screws. If all that sounds complicated, it is. Of the alternatives, SKS Long Raceblades are the easiest to install, while the Zefals make Crud's slightly fiddly Roadracers look straightforward.
The problem is that there are lots of bolts, straps and widgets here. Parts need tightening that the Ikea-style instructions fail to mention, and the directions give you no help in deciding which of certain optional parts you should use.
For example, the U-shaped metal stays are held in place by plastic blocks that are attached to the mudguards with self-tapping screws. You have to tighten these or the mudguard will slip sideways in the block and rub.
The mudguard is held in place at the brake by a rubber strap that grabs a plastic piece under the brake bolt. That part clips into the top of the mudguard. That squanders the precious space between the tyre and seatstay bridge that's always the limiting factor in cramming mudguards into a road race frame.
You get several spacers that go between the mudguard and the brake. The instructions imply that they allow you to adjust the angle of the mudguard, but on my bike the guard ended up so close to the tyre here that was a superfluous option. To be honest I can't see how you'd ever need it.
The rear mudguard ends at the seat tube, and when I say ends I mean just that. It simply stops with no way to pull it away from the tyre. I took a hot skewer to it and put a zip-tie round the seat tube to stop it rubbing.
As you might be gathering, these are fiddly guards to fit. Once they're fitted, they work well enough, though they lack the front mech protection of the Roadracers or the easy removal of the Race Blade Longs. They're less fragile than the Roadracers, which tend to break under very light loads so there's no chance of them getting snagged in your wheels, and they provide a little bit more coverage on the front wheel than the Race Blade Longs.
If you want mudguards that are fairly tough, and provide good coverage, the Zefal Shield R30s are worth a look, but give yourself plenty of time to nut out the assembly.
For lots more on mudguards, see our buyers' guide. /content/buyers-guide/96939-buyer%E2%80%99s-guide-mudguards-keeping-you-dry-winter
Fiddly to fit, but tough and effective once you're over that hurdle.
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Make and model: Zefal Sheild R30 road mudguard set
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 Shield R30 has been expressly made for road bikes. This mudguard ensures stable mounting via its U brackets and offers the best protection by covering almost the entire wheel.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MD-QUICK FIXATION -> Easy to mount and remove.
ROAD BIKES -> Made for road bikes with a 30 mm width.
WHEEL COVER -> Better protection of the rider and following companions by covering more than 80% of the wheel.
U STAYS -> Keep the mudguard rigid. No vibrations even on rough terrain.
ADJUSTABLE CLIP -> Adjustable mounts tube to fit each bike's geometry.
EXTRA LONG SPOILER -> Included for optimal protection.
Blade width : 30 mm / 1.18''
Material : Technopolymer resin
Mounting : MD QUICK
Weight : 370 g
Wheels diameter : 700c
Nicely moulded parts, everything well-finished.
Not quite the coverage of a Roadracer, but a little better than a Race Blade Long.
Not as tough as a Race Blade Long, but a lot more robust than a Roadracer.
Roadracers are well ahead in this department; Shields sit between them and Race Blade Longs, but this is one category where I don't think weight really matters that much.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Generally very well. The long front guard keeps your feet dry - wet feet are a pet hate of mine - while the extended rear flap reduces spray in riding buddies' faces.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Long front guard, decent rear flap.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fiddly assembly, short section between rear brake and seat tube.
Did you enjoy using the product? Using yes; assembling not so much.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only if they were very mechanically adept.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
In terms of keeping you dry while riding, these guards are a solid 8/10. But their assembly fiddliness really pulls them down. If ease of fitting had a score category they'd be a 3/10, which makes their overall score 6/10.
Age: 46 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.