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If your road bike doesn't have eyelets then winter riding means one thing - a thick stripe of cack up your back. Round these parts that cack is distinctly organic, with a hint of nervous cow. Not so great, unless you're a big fan of e-coli, which is where snap-on guards like these DeFenders from Topeak come in.
Half length mudguards like these have long been used by roadies to winterise their bikes, the classic example being SKS Raceblades. Like Raceblades these use rubber straps to attach and they'll accommodate pretty much any shape or size of fork. They fitted the flat, wide and narrow profile of the Columbus Carve forks on the test bike surprisingly well, the strap holding the 'guards securely in place. If you have painted forks then you'll probably want to put some tape on them (and the seat stays) to prevent unpleasant chafing. The front 'guard also has a wedge expander bolt to attach to fork crown or brake bolt. I had trouble getting this to attach firmly, although it didn't work loose under normal riding. Apart from this niggle they were easy to fit.
As anyone who has ever sworn at a rubbing mudguard knows, setting them up correctly is vitally important and can try the patience of a saint. These have plenty of adjustability but I'd recommend checking their position very carefully before setting the teeny-tiny screws that secure the stays to the mudguard as they are hard to screw in and you don't want to have to do it twice. The threaded collars on top of the stays allow further fine tuning for height. Once set they stayed in position.
Performance once fitted is pretty impressive. Although the short cut design means they don't give the same amount of coverage as 'proper' mudguards, spray from the rear wheel will still cover the seat tube, they kept off the worst of the road grot. Best of all, they were quiet, with only a little low-grade chatter over the roughest surfaces.
One issue to be wary of, and it will apply to any mudguard fitted to a bike that isn't designed to take them, is that the extra width on the front wheel can cause toe overlap. I reckon these guards add about an inch, so check before you buy.
Topeak say that they'll work with tyres up to 23c but you might just get away with 25s, provided you have enough clearance at the rear brake bolt and fork crown.
Although they look smart on their own, once fitted they do make your bike look as if it's wearing wellies, but that's par for the course and it's the price you pay for having a dry bum.
Sturdy strap-on guards to keep you clean through a mucky winter.
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Make and model: Topeak D-Fender R1/R2 mudguards
Size tested: 20-25c
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?
Blurb:- "The DeFender™ R1 and R2 offer road riders great protection from water and road spray in a tough, versatile lightweight package. The fenders are constructed of lightweight polycarbonate with stainless steel struts for stiffness and durability. The unique quick release mounting system is fast and easy and requires no tools using a combination of flexible rubber connectors, adjustable seat stay bands and center bolt clip to optimize strut alignment and positioning. Fits road tires up to 700 x 23c."
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 40 Height: 5\' 8 Weight: er....86kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
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: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,