Widget Component's Part Reflective Mudguards are just that and well worth closer inspection if your winter/training bike is blessed with 'race blade' clip-on clearances. They don't offer the same protection as the new school über-long audax types, and fitting proved a time- and patience-gobbling chore, but the overall results were still favourable.
The mudguards themselves are made from a sturdy though lightweight UV-repellent composite, which feels much sturdier than traditional chrome-plastics. Stainless steel fasteners and stays are of a similar grade, though a quick drop of oil on the threaded sections ensures a more secure fit and stops them seizing.
One of my favourite road frames hails from 1991, a time when small scale builders would add eyeleted ends to race models and market them as winter/trainer bikes. Adequate clearance at fork crown and seatstay bridge confirmed, everything slotted in perfectly, but only just.
Threaded composite fasteners offer much sleeker aesthetic than the traditional eyelet and bolt combination, but they are unforgiving of anything less than precision pruning of the stainless stays – measure, check, measure and prune very carefully.
I went the bolt cutter route, although in retrospect a sharp hacksaw blade would have achieved a more accurate cut. P-clips make this juggling act trickier still, hence the clever little anodised 'axle runners' that slip aboard the quick release skewer.
Two hours, several diesel strength coffees and some tense moments later, they were in situ, snugged tight and glitch free!
Ultimately, performance was worth the preparation time, although I still needed to be wary of that old enemy – toe overlap.
In terms of safety, the reflective piping proved surprisingly effective under street lighting or vehicle lights – and up to 200m along unlit roads.
Protection is good, rather than great, so the 'longboard' type are a much better bet if frame clearances allow. That said, the degree of protection to bike, rider and approaching riders was pretty good with 23mm tyres. Haring along rainy rural backwaters littered with twigs and similar debris, the majority of wet stuff was confined to the guards, although forgoing overshoes resulted in pretty soggy feet after 90 minutes or so.
Run with 25mm tyres in identical conditions for two weeks reinforced the need for more substantial mud flaps, and overspray was apparent along the guard's outer section, the bottom bracket shell and chainrings.
By the same token, I remained completely dry, no one complained of getting a face-full and coverage was superior to the old Salmon profile types. Speaking of lumpy lanes and washboard tarmac, the mounting system keeps rattles and chatter to an absolute minimum and they have only required a quick roadside tweak in 28 days and 350 miles.
So would I recommend them? Yes, for older/racier frames with slimline clearances, our 700x25-28 versions proved superior alternatives to the clip-on types. While competent and relatively lightweight, less highly strung road-biased builds are spoilt for choice. In these contexts, I'm not sure I'd choose these over similarly priced Axiom, SKS or Topeak models.
Sturdy godsends for bikes with more limited clearances and on calorie controlled diets
road.cc test report
Make and model: Widget Components Part Reflective Mudguards
Size tested: Black/Silver, 700cx 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?
Widget says: "Complete mudguard set 20-28mm wide 700c with FT-04 mud flaps and widget riveted badge fit kit 1."
I would describe them as sturdy and attractive full length mudguards with some neat detailing/safety features.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Composite guard with retro reflective detailing, rubberised mud flaps and stainless steel fasteners.
Good quality materials.
Fitting can prove tricky and therefore time consuming, but they bring the joy of full length guards to frames with clearance challenges. Contrary to the blurb, 25mm is in fag paper territory and 23mm tyres prove a better choice in terms of clearance and coverage.
Decent materials should prevent warping or failing in the long term.
Fair given the quality of materials and overall performance, but competition is fierce and we're spoilt for choice at this price point.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Widget guards are nicely made and superb for situations where clearances are a headache. Protection to bike, rider and companions is pretty good too, although a more generous mud flap would be welcomed, and those looking for the ultimate protection are better off with the latest generation of long chrome plastics.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that their narrowest section makes full length guards practical on frames where clearances are prohibitive, and protection is good in this context.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fitting requires more patience and care than many.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, for frames where clearances traditionally preclude proper guards.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above.
Use this box to explain your score
Brilliant for some builds, but outside of this context they're goodo rather than great.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81cm Weight: 70kg
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)