Review: Road bike mudguards
Review: Road bike mudguards
A decent set of guards can make for an infinitely more comfortable ride in wet conditions. They stop road spray from flicking off both wheels, keeping your feet, lower legs and back drier for longer – not to mention your kit cleaner. Your frame, components and drinks bottle get protected from the grit, salt and pollutants that sit in standing surface water. Last but not least, they save the kit and eyes of the person riding behind you if you venture out with groups.
While some folk are lucky enough to have dedicated winter bikes with conventional guards, others rely on temporary measures for a single bike that they use all year round. However, an increasing number of modern road bikes don’t have sufficient clearance or fixings for guards. Designs of ‘quick-release’ options have improved hugely to match the rise in minimal-clearance, race-orientated bikes.
All the guards I’ve tested are designed to go on and off quickly, so taking them off for dry days, as well as bike cleaning or fettling, should be a two-minute job – likewise putting them back on.
These guards offer excellent coverage for you and anyone behind you, and they look great. Fitting is a little fiddly as the guards clip onto bridges that fit at the brake callipers; the brakes need to come off completely for this. The stays are anchored using the quick-release skewer, which gives a stable fixing but may hinder roadside puncture repairs. On rougher roads, I found that the short element at the front resonated against my front wheel. It’s thankfully small and the guards still offer great protection without it.
Installation takes time but gives excellent overall coverage.
Flinger Race Pro £59.99
These guards attach at the brake calliper; you only need to loosen (rather than remove) the calliper to fit the brackets. The stays attach to the fork and frame using rubber straps. Tape is supplied to wrap the frame first. This doesn’t make for a tidy look and could affect paintwork in the long run. The guards are stable enough to avoid rattle on tyres up to 25mm, though there may be issues with bigger tyres at the seat tube. Adjustment using the barrels on the stays is easy. Personal protection is good but anyone behind will be sprayed.
Easy to fit/adjust but a little short at the rear and not the tidiest.
Quickguard Mudguard £29.99 (each)
These require you to remove the standard quick-release nut and replace it with the Quickguard nut. The guards then clamp onto the nut. Front and rear are identical. They offer limited coverage: the rear will offer protection for you or fellow riders but not both. I had plenty of teething problems, making many minor refinements to avoid rub – be sure that the clamp bolt passes through the stays. Once adjusted, they protect well, fit tyres up to 32mm and don’t rattle. Check axle compatibility before investing.
Good if you ride alone more than in a group. Fiddly at first.
Crud Roadracer MK3 Mudguards £34.99
These British-made guards were the easiest to fit. They attach to the frame and fork using Duotec, a heavy-duty Velcro. Out of the four I tested, they are the only ones to protect the frame right down to the bottom bracket area and to offer full coverage under the brake callipers. Personal protection is excellent but following riders will get some spray. The Duotec is robust if stuck on correctly (follow the tips video on Crud’s website). The guards look neat. There was a degree of rattle from the front guard on rougher roads.
Neat looks and great protection for your bike. Front may vibrate.
If you don’t want to mount guards on your frame, get a pair of Quickguards. They accommodate wider tyres and offer rattle-free riding and decent personal protection. Following riders might not thank you, though.
You can get better protection from any of the three frame-mounted guards. SKS Raceblade Longs are the least likely to be affected by rougher roads, look tidy, and protect those behind.
The Flinger Race Pros are similar but don’t look as tidy, and clearance at the seat tube could be problematic.
The Crud Roadracer MK3s win hands down on protection for both you and your bike; those behind are left wanting a little. They are also good value for money. If you ride on narrower, harder tyres, consider potential rattle on rougher roads.
Our test promise
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Details: What to look for
A guard offering generous coverage will protect you, your bike and riders behind. Some extend in front of the brakes, while others offer nothing at all here. If you ride alone, you can get away with something shorter at the rear.
Are you willing to use straps/bands/ adhesive strips directly on your frame? While there are some designs that don’t touch your paintwork, many attach directly to the fork and seatstays, which could compromise the frame’s finish.
Guards not using eyelets are likely to have a degree of play. Incessant vibrations from rough surfaces can result in shaking, rattling and rubbing. Fine adjustments can avoid this but if you have wider tyres it might be unavoidable.
Check manufacturer websites for videos and hints. Some written instructions are vague, so watching an expert do the job can save you time and hassle. When you receive your guards, never assume that any bolts already fitted to them are secure.
Check every fixing before heading out and take necessary tools for minor adjustments. Very few guards will be perfectly fitted before your first outing. If mounting requires pads/ adhesive/straps, take spares out with you. Don’t forget to clean guards frequently to avoid a build up of dirt and debris.