Are you getting continually wet and cold on your winter bike rides right now? Do you put up with grimacing through each and every puddle? Have you been negotiating flood waters, only to find your feet and bum are soaked after just a few miles riding?
The solution is to invest in a good pair of cycling mudguards!
Mudguards help you:
- Protect your back and bum from the majority of wet and spray thrown up by your wheels. You remain dry and comfortable riding through multiple puddles and they lessen the chance of getting a chill.
- Protect your feet from getting completely soaked riding on wet roads. Mudguards help to reduce the amount of wet that hits your feet, so they keep warm.
- Protects your face from getting sprayed in dirt and helps prevent grit getting in your eyes. You should wear glasses for this reason, but unfortunately, heavy muddy spray can get clogged all over your glasses obscuring your view.
- Protect your frame from constant splashing up of grit and wet which has a tendency to wreck bike frames and bike components. You need full length ‘permanent’ mudguards for these for which I will shortly explain below.
- Protect cyclists following your wheel from getting completely covered in wet and mud! In fact, in some club runs you may even be considered ‘unsociable’ for not wearing mudguards!
Some drawbacks of using mudguards:
- Look ugly over a road bike. Mind you, winter riding isn’t really about a fashion show!
- Bend and twist easily without going back into shape. A real nuisance at times, as this means they don’t catch all the spray. In other words, they need good TLC.
- Rub on the tyres if they are not aligned, and annoy the heck out of you with the dynamo type noise they make.
Fitting a set of mudguards:
The first thing to do when fitting mudguards to check whether your bike frame has ‘mudguard eyes’. Mudguard eyes are the small holes in the ‘lugs’ of your bike (you see on the front and back of your bike) to fix the mudguards to using ‘fittings’.
Not all road bikes and mountain bikes have mudguard eyes, so it’s very normal not to have any.
Permanent versus temporary mudguards:
If you have mudguard eyes you can fix top-end quality mudguards that can stay ‘permanently’ on your bike. The advantage of these permanent mudguards is they can come in ‘full length’. Full length mudguards mean that in addition to keeping you well protected from the wet/mud, the frame is also protected as much as it can be, as well as major components like brake calipers.
If you don’t have mudguard eyes, you have to go with the more ‘temporary’ style mudguards. These are still good, but not quite as good as ‘permanent mudguards’. The advantage of temporary mudguards is you can take them on and off relatively easily (depending on the type), but the drawback is you don’t get them in full length to protect the bike frame.
So, which mudguards should I get?
Here’s a run down of what we’ve used in the past and what we are using this winter:
1. Euan is using ‘permanent’ style mudguards on his road bike right now:
Pros: these are as they say the Rolls-Royce of mudguards because they come with high quality fittings, are sturdy, very easy to fit and require almost zero maintenance once fitted.
Cons: These can be rather heavy, and as I’ve mentioned above, these permanent models do require mudguard eyes on the frame. The other drawback is they take up a lot of space in a car when attached to the bike, so it makes taking them in and out of car quite tricky.
2. I’m using these ‘temporary’ style mudguards on my road bike, because I don’t have mudguard eyes on my bike:
Pros: These mudguards are easy to fit! The quality of the fittings are excellent too. The mudguards are really lightweight and easy to remove at any moment – takes seconds. They have not let me down and keep my feet and bum dry even when cycling through some atrociously wet conditions.
Cons: The mudguards can bend easily if knocked and then rub against the tyres. As I mentioned, these are temporary mudguards, so can’t protect your frame or brake calipers.
3. Euan has a mountain bike he often uses to commute to work. You may think a mountain bike doesn’t need mudguards as half the fun is getting muddy:-). – well, not until you start riding to work or wanting to train on the road with slick tyres:
He has front suspension on his bike, so requires a special front mudguard that attaches to these forks. He uses:
Pros: When fitted to the forks, the bottom bearing of headset is protected.
Cons: This front mudguard does not fit all suspension forks, so be wary. MTB mudguards in general are not brilliant and you’ll find it does not stop front wheel spray going over shoes/chainset. Ideally, not meant for proper off road mountain biking either, because the mudguard gets clogged up completely in muddy conditions.
4. Note: for other suspension mountain bikes where this type won’t fit, go for a frame mounted front mudguard, either:
Pros: These are much easier to fit than the fork-fitted mudguards and will fit nearly all frames.
Cons: Again, not brilliant protection from mud and wet and you can still get spray going into your face, or over shoes and chainset.
5. An addition to a frame-attached mudguard for MTB we’ve used which works quite well:
This simple accessory prevents spray from front wheel spraying up into riders face, because the frame attached mudguard doesn’t stop water spraying forward and into the riders face.
It works surprisingly well.
Note: only works with frame-mounted front mudguards and suspension forks.
6. For the rear of the MTB, Euan uses:
Pros: This mudguard fits to seat post, so accommodates any suspension types.
Cons: It does not provide full protection; spray reaches front mech/chainset/shoes.
Note also: the flap style mudguard can obscure rear light and saddle bag fittings, and any pannier racks, so do be sure to test your flap position with your lights before heading off the next morning.
7. An exceptional alternative we’ve looked at are these ‘permanent style mudguards’ for MTB are the SKS Commuter Mudguard:
- but remember you need mudguard eyes for these.
We don’t have mudguard eyes, so can’t use these but these look one of the best for MTB riding:
Although mudguards look nasty beasts, you’ll love the tough job they do to help keep you dry and relatively clean over a long distance bike ride. So don’t delay today – get a good pair of mudguards and you’ll be smiling through every puddle for the rest of this winter!