A rear mudguard keeps your backside dry when it’s raining, while a front mudguard does the same for your feet. Mudguards also protect a bike’s drive train, bearings and paintwork from the corrosive effects of road grit. They’re pretty much essential for utility cycling in the UK, yet many bikes are supplied without them, to save on cost, so mudguards often need buying and fitting as accessories.
What to look for in mudguards
With mudguards, the longer, the better. The rear mudguard must come at least half way down the wheel, level with the rear spindle, to prevent road spray from hitting the cyclist. It needs to be slightly longer to prevent spray from hitting following road users; this is particularly important if cycling in a group.
An essential feature is break-away stays for the front mudguard. These are designed to prevent the front wheel locking up if a stone gets lodged between the tyre and the mudguard.
Quick release mudguards for road bikes without clearance
Although modern road bikes are designed to be used without mudguards and often lack the necessary clearance between the tyre and the frame, there is a product that may help. Raceblades are made by SKS, specifically for road bikes without clearance. Although they are less secure than full mudguards and they do not offer quite as much protection, they are better than nothing.
Where a road bike will take a mudguard at the frame but not at the fork, a conventional mudguard can be used at the rear with a Raceblade at the front. This set up is also useful when transporting a road bike in the back of a car where the front wheel needs to be removed, as Raceblades are quick release.
Fixing mudguards to frames without eyelets
For bike frames with clearance but no eyelets, the mudguards stays can be fixed to P-clips. For bikes where there’s just one set of eyelets for mudguard and rack, or where the mudguard stays rattle against the rack, there’s a way to attach a mudguard to the rack, explained on this page.