The humble mudguard, the forgotten hero of many a rainy or winters cycle. Important for a number of reasons - firstly, they keep the worst of the muddy road or trail spray off of your clothing and secondly, they keep a lot of the worst of the dirt off of your bicycle meaning less maintenance and cleaning. Here, we will take a look at why mudguards are important for a number of different bicycle styles and the different options available.
We will take a look at road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes and hybrid bikes and all the different mudguards such as; full length mudguards, clip on mudguards, mountain bike mudguards and enduro guards. Each giving a different benefit depending on what you are looking for and your personal preferences.
Contents and Quick Links
- Road Bike Mudguards
- Mountain Bike Mudguards
- Gravel Bike Mudguards
- Hybrid Bike Mudguards
- Mudguard Models
Road Bike mudguards
A lot of pure road bicycles are designed with efficiency in mind so it is common for road bikes to have very little clearance for a set of full length mudguards but there are occasions where you possibly can add them as more and more endurance road bikes are coming with extra clearance and mudguard mounts to fit full length mudguards and the relatively recent introduction of disc brakes on road bikes has allowed more clearance in the fork and in the rear frame.
Benefits to mudguards on a road bike
There are a number of reasons a set of mudguards are a benefit on a road bike. They keep the spray off of your clothing, keep it out of your face which can be distracting especially when descending and, if you ride in a group with other cyclists, it keeps the worst of the spray out of the face of the person behind you (which, if you've been on someones wheel on wet roads you'll know this is not pleasant).
Considerations to having mudguards on a road bike
As road bikes are carefully designed to be as lightweight and efficient as possible, adding any unnecessary weight means you are less efficient - it is up to you to decide if the benefits above outweigh this. Another argument is that they ruin the clean look of a sleek road bike (we have heard this argument more than once from the road cycling world). Also, as mentioned above, due to the lack of tyre clearance on many road bikes, the only mudguards you can fit are raceblade style (more about these later) which attach with thick rubber bands and because of this, they will never fit as securely as full length mudguards.
Mountain Bike mudguards
It is not uncommon to have some type of mudguards on MTBs and what and where you ride will dictate what style of mudguards you would opt for. For downhill or trail bikes, there are the minimalist enduro guard that fit on the fork under the stanchion and on the rear bridge of the seatstays for the rear mudguard. For something a bit more substantial, clip on mudguards offer more coverage when used as a rear mudguard and the front mudguard is a little longer to stop more of the spray.
Benefits to mudguards on mountain bikes
When descending off road on trails or cross country on wet rides, it can be very distracting to have the mud spraying in your face from the front wheel so an enduro guard or a clip on mudguard will stop the worst of this allowing you to concentrate on the terrain. For rear mudguards, these will either protect your bike frame from the mud (enduro guard) or protect your clothing (clip on mudguards). It is very uncommon for mountain bikers to fit full length mudguards unless the bike is only being used on roads and light gravel and has the necessary mudguard eyelets.
Considerations of mudguards on mountain bikes
When fitting mudguards to a mountain bike, you need to be careful that the guards do not interfere with the suspension mechanisms especially with full suspension MTBs. Another thing to watch would be that you still have plenty of mud clearance with the guard attached if you ride when it is very wet as mud clogging up your wheel is not a particularly good thing on the trails.
Gravel Bike mudguards
Gravel bikes are very similar in shape to a road bike but one of the main differences is that gravel bikes have more clearance for tyre width or to add mudguards with almost all of them having the mudguard eyelets required for full length guards. Of course, you also have the option for the raceblade style or clip on mudguards, all depending on personal preference. Apart from some pure cyclocross bikes, most gravel bikes will take full mudguards as one of the main uses we see for gravel bikes are as all-weather commuter bicycles so mudguards are vital in the unpredictable British weather.
Benefits to fitting mudguards to a gravel bicycle
The benefits of fitting full length mudguards to a gravel bike are that they give you the maximum coverage around the wheel size so the amount of road spray that gets on your clothing is greatly reduced. The other benefit of the full mudguards is that they protect your bike frame and componentry from the dirt from the road, especially in winter when there is salt on the roads that will rust your groupset very quickly. The fitting of clip on guards or race blades will have a similar benefit but will not give you as much coverage as the full guards. The plus of these is that they are easy to remove if you are going out on a dry day.
Considerations to guards on a gravel bike
Depending on what you are using your gravel bike for will give rise to potential drawbacks to certain mudguards. Fitting a full mudguard to your gravel bike will reduce the potential maximum tyre width you can fit to the bike sometimes reducing it by as much as 47c to 42c. If you are using your gravel bike off road in muddy and wet conditions, you might have the concern of allowing clearance for the mud to escape and not clog up as is common for full guards in mud.
If you are fitting raceblade or clip on guards to a gravel bike, it is best to do this when cycling on roads or light gravel as anything rougher and the guards will tend to bounce about a bit just from the way the attachments are designed.
Hybrid bikes mudguard options
With a hybrid bike, it is most common to fit full length mudguards for the protection of your clothing and bicycle but you absolutely can fit clip on guards if you are looking for a guard you can easily remove. We tend to see the vast majority of hybrid bikes leaving our stores and online with mudguards attached.
Benefits to fitting guards to a hybrid
Many of the above reasons apply here - the traditional full length mudguards will give the maximum protection to you and your bike's frame and componentry. If you were to fit clip on mudguards, the benefit of these would be some protection to you and your clothes and they are easy to fit and remove from your bike. Of course, even if you prefer to cycle in the nice weather, living in Britain means a rain shower is only around the corner.
Considerations of fitting mudguards to hybrid bikes.
The only real considerations for most people is how mudguards affect the look of the bike - some prefer the clean look of a bicycle without mudguards. We suppose it is worth mentioning that you will be slightly less aerodynamic with mudguards fitted so you will be a little less efficient between A and B but the price of that is a nice line of dirt up your back.
As you have probably gathered from the above, there are a wide range of mudguards available depending on the bike you are riding, the type of riding you are doing and personal preference. Some mudguards will not be compatible with some bike types which we will detail here in the individual mudguard and above, the "compatible mudguard" section will tell you which ones will work with which bike style.
Full length mudguards
Full length mudguards are designed to cover the majority of the bike wheel which results in the maximum coverage and the maximum protection for your clothing and your bike and components, especially the gears but will also keep the worst of the muck and water off of your rim brakes. In the past, you were unable to fit full guards to pure road bikes but now you can fit full guards to some road bikes but these will usually be disc brakes road bikes as the rim brake callipers do not have enough clearance to be able to fit them. Please note: there will still be a lot of road bikes that cannot accept full guards. Contact us if you are unsure.
The SpeedShield RGX is a sturdy, lightweight fender series designed to fit virtually all Giant and Liv bike frames, featuring stable length-adjustable struts and two widths for maximum versatility. There are two versions of these mudguards available: the 38 version which fits wheel sizes up to 700*32c, and the 45 version that fits wheels between 700*32c and 700*42c.
SKS P-series Mudguards Wide Road
SKS chromoplastic mudguards formerly known as ESGE, are the best-made conventional mudguard set for hybrids and touring bikes. Quite simply, no other guards do a better job of keeping you dry. The tough chromoplastic construction is virtually indestructible, and the stainless stays and fittings are by far the best of their type in terms of weather protection and resistance to corrosion. Once these are fitted, they are a permanent fixture to your bike as some work is required to remove them. If you are looking for easily removable mudguards, check out the raceblades below.
There are a number of different size mudguards available in the p-series as below;
SKS raceblade Pro are the perfect option for road bikes that do not accept the full traditional mudguard due to tight clearance or lack the proper mounts on the frame. The Raceblade Pro also make an excellent option for road and gravel bikes if you want a high degree of protection but would like to easily remove or fit the guards dependent on the weather. These easily fit with rubber fasteners on the fork legs for the front mudguard and attach by rubber attachment to the seat stays for the rear mudguard. The are fully adjustable so can adapt to almost every frame shape. Available in two sizes dependent on the width of tyre you are running with the Raceblade Pro fitting tyres up to 700c x 25mm and the Raceblade Pro XXL fitting tyres up to 700c x 35mm.
The SKS SPEEDROCKER has been specifically developed for compatibility with gravel and adventure bikes, cyclocross bikes and road bikes with tyres exceeding 32mm and offers incredible stability over the roughest tracks while also providing optimum protection in all weathers
At the front, protection is enhanced with a new dual-height front spoiler, which deflects water and mud onto the wheel and downwards, away from the rider’s face. The rear mudguard utilises an innovative telescopic extension for greater coverage near the seat tube, and everything is held firmly in place with an all-new rubber fastening system to suit a multitude of frame designs, including integrated recesses for brake or gear cables as required.
The SPEEDROCKER also showcases an update to SKS’s stay design, the ESC Vario Safety System. The sturdy but lightweight black anodised aluminium stays have been designed wider than normal, to run over the top of the mudguard, and covered by a protective plate. This not only gives the SPEEDROCKER a sleek overall appearance but also maximises the available clearance between the tyre and mudguard.
Mountain bike mudguards
The available mudguards for MTB's are a little different to the full length mudguards above because of the design of MTB's, particularly the suspension fork and, when it's a full suspension MTB, the shock at the back. Depending on which mountain bike you are riding, will depend on which particular mudguard will suit your needs. Below are a few of the most popular MTB mudguards.
The ProGuard is RRP amazing new range of REAR mudguards for disc brake MTBs offering unmatched protection from mud and spray, it is perfect for Trail, Enduro or Downhill racers and essential for the weekend warrior looking for the very best protection. The ProGuard REAR is made from super high impact recyclable polypropylene, the finish is matte black with gloss highlights for the logo and centreline. Attaches to the seat stays with zip ties for a secure fit even when on the roughest downhills.
One of the most underrated and innovative mudguards on this list. An Enduroguard is the perfect minimalist mudguard for front fork MTB's or as either a front and/or rear mudguard for full suspension bikes. Simply attaches to the fork crown with zip ties and deflects the worst of the spray and mud away from the riders' face and on the rear, it will protect your linkages and backs of your legs from the worst of the dirt. A truly innovative wee mudguard.
It is worth noting that these guards are only also to be used on hardtail bikes or full sus MTB's due to the way they are designed. For that reason, these cannot be used on hybrid, gravel, road or touring bikes.
Another option for mountain bikes, both hardtail and full sus are the Crud Racepac guards, also known as clip on mudguards. These easily attach to the down tube for the front mudguard and will protect your thighs and torso from the spray. Whyte hardtail mountain bikes come with handy bosses to screw the front mudguard on for extra stability when on technical trails. The rear mudguard attaches to the seat post to protect your clothing from the dirt and wet.
Quick Tip: particularly on children's bikes, you need to ensure that there is enough of the seat post showing for the rear mudguard to be attached to and that, when fitted, it does not rub on the rear wheel.
These are super minimalist rear mudguards favoured by road cyclists. Affectionately known as ass savers, these do exactly that - they fit in the rails of your saddle and protect your rear from road spray. Simple and effective. These are excellent road bike mudguards but can actually be fitted to any bike saddle that has saddle rails.
Well, there you have it. Our ultimate guide to everything you wanted to know about mudguards (and probably some that you didn't). Compatibility is sometimes a tricky area so, as always, if you are unsure, please get in touch with our stores in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Leeds or one of our three in Edinburgh (Bruntsfield, Canonmills or Hamilton Place, Stockbridge) or contact our friendly online department for advice or which mudguards would be best for your bicycle. As with all things cycling, personal preference comes in to is so please get in touch.