1 Mar 2016
MUDGUARDS: WHY USE THEM? AND HOW TO CHOOSE THEM
Mudguards might not be the sexiest accessory, but the truth is they bring huge advantages for very little weight or cost. They can actually boost your performance, simply by keeping you drier, warmer and more comfortable – you can ride and train longer and harder when you’re not soaking wet, frozen and miserable.
The benefits of mudguards are:
• They keep your feet drier and consequently warmer
• They stop you getting a brown streak up the back of your shorts and jersey…
• They make pack riding far nicer / possible
• They protect your brakes, mechs and lights from water and filth
• They add little weight for the benefits they bring
Riding alone or in a group, mudguards keep you dry and improve visibility
You’d be surprised how much of the soaking you get in winter is coming up from the wheels, especially the front. The spray can rapidly soak your feet, while mountain bikers – check out FSA’s MTB wheels – must contend with flying mud affecting their vision.
Different bike types have different needs, of course, and not every mudguard will fit your bike. These are your main options, starting of course with road bikes:
Full-length ‘traditional’ mudguards
They’re the most awkward to fit, but for road bikes once they’re on, they’re the toughest type and can take all kinds of action without needing readjustment. They also give the greatest protection, especially if they include a flexible mudflap at the end.
Can you fit them? First you must check your bike has the necessary eyelets on the frame and fork – if it’s designed with them, it’ll also have enough clearance behind the seat tube and beneath the brakes. The brakes may need to be long-reach to wrap around both a mudguard and a tire that’s 25mm or bigger. Such mounts are most common on touring and Audax bikes, but they are also starting to appear on more racier carbon frames.
Full length mudguards – complete with extra rubber flap – keep the wet and dirt at bay for you and you club-mates
If you don’t have the right eyelets or extra clearance necessary for traditional guards, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of choice. Clip-ons will fit to almost any road bike, and still give pretty decent coverage. It’s worth doing a bit of research first, however – no one design is compatible with every frame, and some will fit yours while others won’t.
Fitting involves rubber straps, cable ties and other such quick and easy solutions, but once again that keeps any additional weight to a minimum.
There are a number of options for MTB, and while you’re considering what will keep the worst of the elements off, also make sure it doesn’t hamper your movements on the bike
Mountain bikes need something road bikes don’t – mud clearance. Consequently guards fit high up, on the seat tube and down tube.
You can fit this type of mudguards to road and commuting bikes too, and while not as effective as wheel-hugging designs, they still help considerably.
Be aware that these rear guards will keep spray off you but not the rider behind, so they’re not that welcome on group rides. Off-road, They can also restrict off-road riders’ movement, and they’re easy to knock askew. They don’t play well with dropper posts either.
Downtube mudguards are very useful on CX bikes.
If you have a suspension fork, you have two further options. One is a neoprene guard that stretches from the fork crown to the arch, filling the hole that 90% of the mud flies through. They’re extremely light, unbreakable and do a fantastic job. You can even make one yourself from a sliced-open inner tube and zip ties.
The other is a substantial, MX bike-like solid plastic guard that bolts to the fork arch. There are several models available, and while aesthetically they may not be to everyone’s tastes, they are extremely effective.
However you ride, have fun out there and stay dry!