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Best road bike mudguards: Fantastic fenders to fight off winter

A close up of a silver rear mudguard on a retro road bike
(Image credit: Velo Orange)

When it comes to preparing for winter cycling, many roadies turn their nose up at the prospect of the best road bike mudguards (or fenders), 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, 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 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.

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, you should aim for full coverage.  

The industry's growing affinity for disc brakes and wider tyres is leading to frames being built with more 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 mudguards, 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 to how to choose the best road bike mudguards for you.

Jump straight to:

Best clip-on road bike mudguards

(Image credit: Crud Products)

Crud RoadRacer MK3

Stick-on lightweight fender

Specifications

Material: Plastic
Max tyre size: 38mm
RRP: £34.99 / $47.50 / €39.99 / AU$68.19

Reasons to buy

+
Painless install
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Adhesive strips will always be on your bike
-
Lack of coverage

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

(Image credit: SKS)

SKS Raceblade Pro XL

The gold standard in clip-on fenders

Specifications

Material: Plastic
Max tyre size: 32mm
RRP: £50.99 / $70.49 / €57.99 / AU$90.99

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustability problems solved
+
Frame protectors included

Reasons to avoid

-
Tyres above 28mm may require some stay bending 

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. 

(Image credit: Ass Savers)

Ass Saver Regular and Mudder Mini

Flexible, lightweight fender set

Specifications

Material: Polypropylene
Max tyre size: Unlimited (to an extent)
RRP: Regular £9.99 / $13.00 / €9.00 / AU$18.70, Mudder Mini £11.00 / $15.00 / €12.50 / AU$23.88

Reasons to buy

+
Works with any bike
+
Any brakes and any tyre

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited protection

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.

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 (opens in new tab)?

(Image credit: Flinger)

Flinger Race Pro

Easy install full-coverage clip-on mudguard

Specifications

Material: Polycarbonate
Max tyre size: 25mm
RRP: £55.00 / $67.00 / €69.00 / AU$104.00

Reasons to buy

+
Simple install
+
Rattle-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Max tyre clearance 25mm

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

Road bike mudguards: SKS Bluemels Longboard

(Image credit: SKS)
The best plastic fenders you can by

Specifications

Material: Plastic
Max tyre size: 37mm
RRP: £42.99 / $50.00 / €32.99 / AU$TBC

Reasons to buy

+
Unbeatable coverage
+
Improved design
+
Ease of fitting

Reasons to avoid

-
Longevity was a problem with older generations

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. 

Road bike mudguards: Kinesis Fend Off

(Image credit: Kineses)
Budget-friendly metal mudguards

Specifications

Material: Aluminium
Max tyre size: 34mm / 45mm
RRP: £55.00 / $78.00 / €55.00 / AU$83.00

Reasons to buy

+
Alloy construction
+
Weight competitive
+
Zero oscillation or flapping

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly fiddly to fit stays
-
Riveted-on front bracket restricts compatibility unnecessarily

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. 

(Image credit: Velo Orange)

Velo Orange Steel

Classic looking steel fenders

Specifications

Material: Steel
Max tyre size: 29mm (37mm version)
RRP: £65.00 / $76.00 / €TBC / AU$150.00

Reasons to buy

+
Aesthetic
+
Easy installation

Reasons to avoid

-
Steel subject to rust
-
Heavy

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. 

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Bontrager NCS Alloy Fender Set

Full covererage metal fenders with a built in blendr light mount

Specifications

Material: Aluminium
Max tyre size: 45mm (large version)
RRP: $124.99

Reasons to buy

+
Blendr light mount
+
Metal construction
+
Rolled inner edges

Reasons to avoid

-
Rear tail could be longer
-
Only available in the US

Unfortunately, this option from the Trek accessory brand Bontrager is a US only item. For the rest of the world there is a similar option with a polycarbonate construction but those in the US get the option of a full aluminum model. It's a solid design that uses a rolled inner edge to channel water down and away from the bike and rider. There's also a double alloy strut design that means easy installation, easy adjustment, and no need to cut anything. The most unique feature though is the integrated blendr light mount. It makes it easy to mount a light without ever needing to worry about a bag getting in the way. 

(Image credit: Portland Design Works)

Portland Design Works Full Metal

Anodised spray catchers

Specifications

Material: Aluminium
Max tyre size: 25mm (30mm version)
RRP: £94.99 / $140.00 / €130.00 / AU$200.00

Reasons to buy

+
Anodised aluminium\mounting hardware galore

Reasons to avoid

-
No additional mud flap available
-
Expensive

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 the best road bike mudguards for you

What's the difference between braze-on and 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 calliper 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. 

Which length and shape mudguards do I need?

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.

How close should it sit 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. 

Mildred Locke
Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike