No one likes ice cold water funnelled up their backsides, or mud up the back of their jersey making them look like Pepé Le Pew. To avoid looking like a skunk, get some mudguards.
The quick fix
There are plenty of reasons not to have mudguards. Even in dreary England, it doesn’t rain most of the time, so why ruin the aesthetic of your bike and pay for the privilege? That’s where the Ass Saver Smart Ass fits in.
This ingenious piece of kit folds under your saddle and is out of sight when not in use. When needed, you fold it out so that it keeps the worst of the wet off your backside. It doesn’t offer the cyclist behind you any protection, and you’ll still get spray from your front wheel, but at least you’ll have a dry rear when you reach the office.
Front and rear damage limitation
A front and rear set will protect more than your bum – your front wheel will spray water and corrosive minerals onto the underside of your bike and onto your chain and gears. The Crud Racepack is the classic mountain bike solution – quick, easy to fix, and the practical aesthetic has many imitators.
The other advantage of this type of guard is how quickly they can be removed when the sun is shining, which explains why their popularity extends beyond mountain bikes. You’ll often spot these on fixies and the occasional road bike. Nothing wrong with that.
As a road bike enthusiast, I think I’m entitled to say this – we’re a bit vain… or at least a bit obsessive when it comes to keeping our bike pristine, and our clothes as mud-free as possible. Mudguards like the SKS Chromoplastic fit close to the wheel and hug the lines of the wheels.
The advantage is they cover every part of the wheel that needs to be covered to prevent any spray hitting the underside of your bike, or any part of your leg. If you want to ride comfortably in the rain, accept no substitute. My advice – given that parts of your bike may be carbon fibre, and road bike design is being pushed to the limits, get your local bike shop to fit the guards for you. You can’t put a price on comfort.