You can fit mudguards to pretty much any road bike these days. Yes even those with close clearances and no mudguard eyelets.
Summer is gone and the weather is turning murky. One way to help make riding a little more comfortable in wet and cold weather is to fit a set of mudguards to your bike.
What some riders may say is lost in aesthetics is more than made up for in comfort while riding.
Keeping road spray off the body and shoes means you stay drier and – more importantly – warmer for longer. Shoes remain remarkably drier for longer and you’ll be surprised how much water actually comes from the road compared with the rain coming down from above.
Do it for others
In group rides your companions will also thank you for using mudguards. Without ‘guards you’ll be spraying them with filth from your rear wheel. Not nice behaviour.
There are now many types of road mudguards available from traditional mounted, full-length guards to thin, lightweight clip-on versions for racier frames, right the way down to the latest simple-as saddle-mounted plastic fin things.
Full mudguards are the traditional long versions with V-shaped stainless steel stays which attach to eyelets on the frame. You will need to have eyelets on the rear dropouts and bottom of the forks to use this type (the fittings screw directly into the frame and forks).
Once fitted, you can forget about them. They give the best coverage – especially if they have the rubber flap at the tail which protects not only you but especially your fellow riders.
These type of guards are available in several widths so check your tyre width before purchase.
Pros: The best coverage and once fitted don’t need fettling.
Cons: You need to have mudguard eyelets on frame and forks.
Clip-on race mudguards
If your frame and forks do not have mudguard eyelets – and these days most road bikes don’t – you can still fit a set of longish mudguards by using clip-on types.
These mudguard struts are attached by either toughened rubber bands or P-clips on the rear stays and fork blades. They are designed to be thin around certain contact areas but still provide good splash protection to the rider.
They tend to be lighter and easier to fit and remove but they do take a certain amount of initial fettling to get them right. Once fitted though they tend not to move during rides but you do have to careful when leaning your bike up and so on.
Pros: Fit practically any frame, the best protection if you don’t have mudguard eyelets on your frame and/or forks, lightweight, easy to remove.
Cons: Not as much coverage as traditional type (but still good regardless), can be fiddly to set up initially, not as robust as traditional long mudguards.
Seatpost mounted mudguards
If you only want a rear mudguard to keep the spray off your back then there are several mountain bike-style plastic mudguards which attach to the seatpost.
This style is great for anyone wanting basic protection and it will fit any bike so no worries about clearance or eyelets. It does mean your feet get wet (from the front wheel) but it’s still better than nothing. Easy and quick to attach and remove, which is handy if you’re switching bikes a lot.
Pros: Fits any bike, easy to install and remove.
Cons: Only protects the back from spray, cumbersome.
A fairly recent invention. This piece of shaped plastic doesn’t require any fittings – or indeed tools – as it slots into the saddle rails. It sticks out of the back to take the worst of the spray off the back.
This is very popular with racers and more and more are being used in unpredictable summer days in inclement weather as they are easy to attach and remove, weigh nothing, and if not needed can be simply put in the back pocket.
They fit any frame and are inexpensive. They are so minimal and lightweight that some professional teams use them in the biggest races in the world, further adding to the professional kudos for us ordinary folk that use them. Just don’t expect to come home dry though!
Pros: Lightweight, easy to install and remove, inexpensive.
Cons: They only keep the worst off your back
Which mudguards should you buy?
Anyone who rides in bad weather will benefit from using mudguards. The main consideration is if your bike has mudguard eyelets or not.
Got mudguard eyelets on your frame and fork? Go for full traditional guards.
No eyelets? Clip on mudguards will give very good coverage and can be easily removed.
For more casual riding then a mountain bike-style rear guard which attaches to the seatpost will give you protection from spray.
For racers, the Ass Saver type will keep the worst of the spray from coating your back and they weigh nothing if you really don’t want to fit mudguards.