Let’s say that it’s winter and you are trying to maintain a cycling routine but, as is common in winter, the ground is wet, gritty and even muddy. You come back home and your partner takes one look at your damp, gritty and muddy clothes and says, “Take them off before you come into the house.”
Maybe that will inspire you to think about buying mudguards (or, in the US, fenders,) for your bike. Yes, they will add weight to the two-wheeler and even a degree of wind resistance, but you won’t be racing in the rain anyway and you’re probably getting tired of tossing your clothes in the washer and cleaning your bike after every ride – not to mention riding with a wet, cold rear on longer trips. And mudguards keep your bike cleaner and drier, thereby reducing maintenance and increasing the lifespan of your components.
Mudguards are nothing but good for you and your bike. Here, then, is a rundown of the best on the market. Before you run out to buy the pair that appeals to you, make sure that your bike has eyelets needed for full mudguards so that you don’t need to buy a clip-on set (as is common for race bikes). And keep in mind tyre width and clearance.
Bluemels SKS P35
In terms of price, durability and availability, the Bluemels SKS P35 mudguards, which have been on the market for so long that they are already classic, are your best option. Their chromoplastic construction – the result of sandwiching aluminum strips inside a plastic housing – makes them stiff and sturdy. They are also not unattractive and add less than a half-kilo to your bike’s load.
The P35 are rated for 20-28mm tyres, but they also come in versions (P45, P55, P65, etc.) up to 60mm. They are not only the best but they are also the best value, selling for only £33.99 on Amazon.
Bontrager’s NCS mudguards are easy-to-fit and affordable, and they offer options for tyres from 25 to 45mm. A pair of ingenious clamps on each stay allows you to adjust their length without having to cut the stay, which makes them a cinch to mount for the most clueless mechanic and easy to adapt if you decide to use different tyres.
The Bontrager NCS mudguards are made entirely of polycarbonate, which means they’ll be useful for years if they are properly fitted; if not, they tend to wobble and be prone to cracking. Recent versions of the mudguards include an integrated Blendr mount for fitting Bontrager rear lights, a real bonus. However, they are not as accessible as the SKS fenders, and are not available on Amazon. But you can get them for £39.99 at Evans Cycles.
Finally, if your road bike has tight clearances and/or no eyelets, you will want to buy Crud Roadracer mudguards – even though they’re a little tricky to fit and don’t give you the complete coverage of full-cover mudguards.
The MK2 version of the Roadracer use O-rings to attach them to the bike, but the MK3 use “super Velcro,” which is cleaner and involves less bother. They work with disc- and rim-brake wheels, as long you have 700c wheels and tyres no wider than 38mm.
That’s a lot of ifs, but if your bike doesn’t have eyelets, at £45.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles, they are cheaper than a raincoat.