Many roadies turn their nose up at the prospect of mudguards, often saying that they're ugly and rattly before spinning off into a rant about hardening up. That's all good and well until you're two hours into a ride and your chamois is saturated and you're wearing the road on your face thanks to the uncovered rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Even the best cycling overshoes and even winter cycling shoes will yield under the never-ending torrent of spray during a multi-hour training ride, so along with the best waterproof cycling jackets, the best road bike mudguards are a gamechanger when the weather isn't playing nice.
Fenders and mudguards protect you from the water (and accompanying gunk) that gets flung off your wheels as they spin. They come in a range of different shapes and sizes from simple flaps to keep your bum dry to full-length coverage designed to protect you, your bike, and the rider behind you. The correct length mudguard will depend on your circumstances, but if ever you plan on riding with others, aim for full coverage.
The industry's growing affinity for disc brakes and wider tyres is leading to frames being built with more tyre clearance than ever before. In turn, this leaves extra space for full-length mudguards alongside a wide pair of winter road bike tyres. However, many of the best road bikes still don't have quite enough clearance, and even fewer have the correct mounts for traditional mudguards. Thankfully, there are plenty of low profile clip-on fenders that will work on just about any bike.
Cycling clubs and group-rides the world over will have differing policies when it comes to mudguard usage. Some clubs will flat-out ban riders from joining if they don't have full coverage, with the argument that if Rider A invests time and money into fitting full-length mudguards for the benefit of the riders behind them, it's unfair to then have to sit in the permanent-shower behind Rider B's uncovered wheel.
If you're planning to kit out your road bike with some fenders to help you get through the perils of winter cycling, then you're in the right place. We've rounded up our list of the best road bike mudguards, and divided them into those that braze-on, and those that clip on. Not sure which type of fenders you should go for? We've also included a handy guide about what to look for in road bike mudguards.
Best clip-on road bike mudguards
Crud RoadRacer MK 3
Stick-on lightweight fender
Material: Plastic | Max tyre size: 38m | RRP: £35 / $54 / AU$80
The Crud Roadracer mudguard utilises a unique velcro system to connect the fender to your bike. The DuoTech strips are essentially velcro and require one side to be stuck on your bike with adhesive (which may turn some off), but the hold is robust — you can hardly notice them on the inside edge of your fork blades and chainstays when the fender stays at home.
Installing it is tool-free and super quick, and the Road Racer MK 3 are long enough to keep you and your bike dry - not so much the rider sitting on your wheel. There is clearance for up to a 38mm tyre, and there are no issues with disc or caliper brakes
SKS Raceblade Pro XL
The gold standard in clip-on fenders
Material: Plastic | Max tyre size: 32mm | RRP: £48 / $60 / AU$65
SKS makes a few versions of the Raceblade mudguards, but we like Pro XL because you can use them no matter what brakes or axles are on your bike, and they are the easiest of the bunch to install — even over the previous version of this very fender.
Notched rubber straps attach to the frame, and the support stays are height and angle adjustable with eight 2.5mm hex bolts. They don't cover quite as much of the wheel as the Race Blade Long, but it's more than enough to keep road spray at bay, especially with the extra-long mud flaps.
Ass Saver Regular and Mudder Mini
Flexible, lightweight fender set
Material: Polypropylene | RRP: Regular £10 / $12 / AU$13 Mudder Mini £12 / $15 / AU$21
Quite possibly the easiest fender to fit, the Ass Saver slots in under your saddle locking on the rails and does surprisingly well to keep your butt dry on a wet ride. Available in two sizes, it's a lightweight option, but the Ass Saver doesn't offer anywhere near as much protection as more substantial road bike mudguards.
Such is the performance of the Ass Saver, it's a common sight on the bikes of professionals in wet road races such as the 2019 World Championships.
It's not just your derriere that Ass Savers are looking to keep dry, the brand also offers a mini polypropylene front fender that borrows the design pioneered by the Mucky Nutz Fender Bender flexible front MTB mudguard. It fits in just under the fork crown and is secured to the fork legs by velcro, catching some of the road spray which would otherwise end up on your face.
And while we're on the subject, if you're also looking to kit out your mountain bike with fenders, then why not check out Bike Perfect's guide to the best MTB mudguards?
Flinger Race Pro
Easy install full-coverage clip-on mudguard
Material: Polycarbonate | Max tyre size: 25mm | RRP: £55 / $N/A / AU$104
There are a lot of clip-on fenders that require a ton of faffing, especially when you have to start unbolting brake calipers. The genius in the Flinger guards is that the bracket which sneaks under the brake caliper doesn't require you to remove the pivot bolt fully — simply loosen it and slide in the hardware. From there secure the reach stays to your frame with the notched rubber straps, and you're golden — though we'd recommend cutting off some of the excess, so it doesn't get caught in your wheels.
The Flingers are made from polycarbonate; they are long enough to protect you and your bike from flying rain-soaked road debris, but the rider on your wheel is out of luck. The other trouble with these guards is the maximum tyre clearance is a 25mm tyre.
Best braze-on road bike mudguards
SKS Bluemels Longboard
The best plastic fenders you can by
Material: Plastic | Max tyre size: 37mm | RRP: £41 / $45 / AU$75
The SKS Bluemels Longboard mudguards are made from plastic reinforced by 'superfine' aluminium strips for a sturdy rattle-free ride. The Longboard version features an extra-long flap at the end, which extends well beneath the axle to catch every bit of spray from the tyre.
As with all SKS guards, they feature the SECU safety release clips which prevent the wheel from locking should someone get jammed between the fender and the tyre, and all the mounting hardware is made from stainless steel to keep them going for years to come.
Kinesis Fend Off
Budget-friendly metal mudguards
Material: Aluminium | Max tyre size: 34mm / 45mm | RRP: £55 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Made from anodised aluminium with laser graphics, the Kinesis Fend Off provides full-wrap coverage and won't empty your wallet in the process. The standard Fend Off fenders are compatible with tyres up to 34mm wide, or there's a 'Wide' model that'll fit 45mm gravel tyres. They offer full coverage, and the packaging is designed to be converted into durable poly mudflaps for even more protection - a nifty little touch that certainly impressed us.
To prevent the aluminium from damaging your fork, the guard is given a pinched section that is narrow enough to slot between your fork legs, while remaining wide enough to not affect tyre clearance. This is great if your braze-on mount is on the front of your fork crown, but for anyone whose mounting point is hidden behind, the pinch is positioned incorrectly, so a bit of aluminium bending may be required.
Like SKS Longboards (and others), the rear guard is held in place with four stays in total. They can be a little fiddly to fit (no harder than the aforementioned SKS guards) but they offer an infinitely customisable fit, and because the body of the fender is aluminium, there's no chance they come out of the box warped - as can be the case with others. Also, while you might think Aluminium weighs more than plastic, these weigh just 637 grams, which is very competitive, and once they are on they remain rattle-free, good looking and work exactly as advertised.
Velo Orange Steel
Classic looking steel fenders
Material: Steel | Max tyre size: 29mm (37mm version) | RRP: £65 / $76 / AU$150
For those who abide by the fenders-are-ugly mantra, the fenders from Velo Orange may change your opinion. Available in smooth, hammered, faceted and snakeskin finishes, the retro-steel road bike mudguards come in widths from 37mm up to 63mm in a 700c wheel size.
The full-coverage fenders come pre-drilled with a wide selection of mounting hardware to fit just about any frame. Velo orange recommends purchasing a mudguard that's at least 8mm wider than your tyre and also offers mudflaps for ultimate spray protection.
Portland Design Works Full Metal
Anodised spray catchers
Material: Aluminium | Max tyre size: 25mm (30mm version) | RRP: £95 / $120 / AU$TBC
The Pacific Northwest is famous for its wet weather, so it's no surprise that Portland Design Works makes some of the best fenders out there. Made from anodised aluminium, the PDW Full Metal fenders offer full wrap coverage and laser-etched graphics.
Available in widths from 30mm up to 45mm, the full metal mudguards feature safety release tabs to ensure your wheel doesn't lock up if something gets lodged between the fender and tyre. PDW also includes special hardware to fit around brake calipers, under forks and mounts for bikes that don't have eyelets.
How to choose road bike mudguards
1. Braze-on or clip-on
This is probably the easiest decision you can make surrounding fenders because your bike makes it for you; it will have eyelets for braze-on mudguards or it won't.
Clip-on fenders, on the other hand, are built with brackets and straps, which attach to the fork legs, seatstays, downtube or seatpost.
However, there's a saying among mechanics that you can fit mudguards onto any bike, all you need is patience and P-clips. With that in mind, if your bike doesn't have provision for bolt-on mudguards, but you want a more secure fit, you can use P-clips fit onto your fork legs or seat stay to create an eyelet - however, be sure to protect the frame with either heat-shrink, insulation tape or rubber tabs (the sort that are used to shim bike light mounts) at the point of contact. Otherwise, the contact will damage your paintwork.
Threading your mudguard through a rim brake caliper isn't always a simple task, and must be considered when investing in a set. Some fenders are designed to split at this point to offer full-length coverage on race bikes.
2. Length and shape
Mudguards come in all shapes and sizes, and the more wheel coverage they offer, the more spray they will prevent. A full-length fender will not only protect you and the rider sitting on your wheel from tyre gunk but also your frame and bottom bracket will be pelted by less salt-infused road grit.
Look for fenders that have some contouring or a rounded shape, if they are too flat they won't offer all that much protection.
Even full-length mudguard coverage doesn't necessarily prevent that arc of spray that comes from a fast-spinning wheel, fitting a flap (an Ass Saver performs well) to the end of your mudguards is a great way to offer absolute coverage, and it'll probably help you make friends on the winter club run.
3. Snug against the tyre
For a mudguard to work correctly, it needs to sit close enough to the tyre that water is captured, without being too close that it will consistently rub. Beyond keeping an eye on what the maximum tyre clearance of your fender of choice is, keep in mind that if a rock or something similar gets jammed between the tyre and the fender it may cause the wheel to come to an abrupt stop — a big problem if it's your front wheel.
Some fenders have safety release clips where the fender can pop out of the way and allow the tyre to keep spinning if something does get wedged.
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