If you do any group riding in bad weather then there’s one piece of equipment all your riding mates will thank you for – mudguards. They are a very altruistic product; not only do they keep the road spray off you; they help keep it off everyone else as well. Try sitting behind someone who hasn’t got mudguards on in the wet and you’ll see why it’s often a topic debated on club and group rides. If you have been on the receiving end of any banter about not having them and wondered what the fuss and difference is then here’s a guide to several types of mudguards that should fit any race bike.It’s ok to look like this in Paris-Roubaix, not on the club run.
Everyone has their thoughts on mudguards but until you use them you never really see the benefits. Feet are kept drier so hopefully warmer, dirt is kept from splashing on to drink bottle tops, vision is clearer as there’s no spray coming up from the front wheel to blind you and your backside and back stay drier for longer as there’s no spray coming up from the back wheel – all adding up to keeping you drier for longer when the road is wet. We’re not saying mudguards are going to keep you dry in a rainstorm as water coming straight down will eventually seep into everything but it is surprising the difference in comfort they make.
Traditionally bikes would have to have special fittings (eyes) on your frame where mudguards would bolt on to and the frame would geometry would be altered slightly to fit them. If your bike has these eyes then you can use the traditional style with hard plastic guards and metal supporting stays. These are available in a selection of widths with wider tyres needing wider guards. You may have to use deep drop brake calipers to accommodate the extra clearance needed between mudguard and frame so worth checking before you purchase. Once on a set up properly, these types of mudguard are very stable and robust and usually never need to be removed.
Nowadays, mudguard eyes are becoming rarer on all but dedicated bikes and close clearance geometry means there is no room for traditional guards. Don’t worry though, as always, somebody has found a solution and there are now a range of lightweight guards available for bikes without mudguard eyes.
These types of mudguards attach to the frame and fork with special adapters or simple heavyweight rubber bands. No more worrying about needing special mudguard eyes or longer drop brake calipers either as all these new type of guard are ingeniously designed to fit even the closest of clearance frames. Fitting is relatively simple, first time is always a bit longer as you work out the intricacies of your particular frame but after that it’s a matter of minutes to fit and remove them. This is good if you want to use your bike all year round as you simply take the guards off when the weather improves and there’s no sign the guards were ever fitted.
They weigh next to nothing and don’t look as cumbersome as some traditional designs so won’t make your pride and joy look bulky. What they do offer though is a great amount of protection against the elements and an increase in comfort when the weather turns foul. So you really have no excuse not to run mudguards, unless of course you like a mud line up your back and muddy face!